For the uninitiated guitar player, Hagström guitars may not ring a bell that much. But for more experienced axemen, Hagström is actually one of the best electric guitar brands in history. Experts and rockstars will agree that Hagström guitars are truly outstanding, even when compared head-to-head with the biggest names out there.
Hagström’s expansive catalog features a variety of high-quality instruments, as well as audio equipment, but it is their electric guitars that made an indelible mark around the world. The achievements of Hagström as a company is a reflection of their passionate and long-lasting dedication to instrument-building.
The roots of Hagström is actually a story worth digging up, since it is just as interesting as the innovative music instruments that they have produced for the past few decades.
Hagström Guitars: A brief history
Established in Sweden in 1925, Hagström holds the distinction of being one of the first companies outside the United States to build electric guitars for the public. Hagström’s advancements in making guitars is an impressive feat, considering their humble beginnings as importers of German and Italian-made accordions.
After years of selling instruments from abroad, Hagström finally opened their first manufacturing plant in 1932 and then ventured into amplifiers and guitars in 1958. Their earlier guitars implemented a lot of features that drew inspiration from their accordions, including their unique pearloid celluloid finish and art deco stylings.
As a company that has always offered fresh ideas to musicians, Hagström is noted for inventing the Swede Patch 2000, which is a hybrid of the guitar and the synthesizer. They are also the first company to manufacture 8-string bass guitars, which were used by the likes of Mike Rutherford of progressive group Genesis, Jeff Ament of grunge band Pearl Jam, and heavy metal lord Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead.
Building instruments may be Hagström’s forte but they are also excellent in producing effects pedals, guitar strings, mixers and speakers, as well as educational books and other learning tools for budding musicians. Hagström’s impactful efforts in Sweden definitely helped empower local artists in the region and even put Swedish lutherie on the map.
Hagström decided to cease building guitars and basses in 1983, after major brands started to move their factories offshore and lowered the prices of their instruments. However, the company was revived in 2004 after constant requests from their supporters all over the globe.
Where are Hagström guitars made?
Hagström guitars were originally made in Sweden until competing companies moved their production to Asia. Hagström attempted to create some prototypes in Japan but the company was not satisfied with the outcome and decided to put a halt to their operations.
Since their return in 2004, Hagström has been producing their guitars entirely in China.
Prominent Hagström guitar and bass models
Inspired by the brave seafaring people of Scandinavia, the Viking is Hagström’s first semi-acoustic guitar. The Viking went into production from 1965-1979 and was reintroduced in 2004, to the delight of Hagström aficionados.
Swede Patch 2000
The Swede Patch 2000 is the very first guitar/synthesizer hybrid in history. This joint project with Ampeg was launched in 1976 and its production ceased in 1979. The Hagström Swede Patch 2000 allows guitar players to utilize the instrument as a guitar, a synthesizer or they can opt to combine both.
The Hagström Jimmy is an archtop jazz guitar that the company designed and built with Italian-American luthier Jimmy D’ Aquisto. Before his partnership with Hagström, D’Aquisto was already known in circles for his apprenticeship under legendary New York luthier John D’Angelico of D’Angelico guitars.
At first glance, the Hagström Fantomen looks like a love-child between an Explorer and a Firebird. When it comes to sound, the Fantomen is just as ferocious as those hard rocking Gibsons, only more affordable.
Pat Smear Signature
Pat Smear of The Germs/Foo Fighters is well-known for having the biggest collection of Hagström guitars in the United States and has high praises for the durability and sound quality of his Hagströms.
It is only fitting that Hagström chose to pay tribute to their number one client, a rock guitar god in his own right. After all, Pat Smear is responsible for inspiring countless artists in the grunge era, including Dave Grohl and Kurt Cobain.
Produced between 1967 and 1969, the Hagström H8 was the first mass-produced 8-string bass in the world. The H8 worked the same as a four string bass, but every string is doubled, similar to how a 12-string guitar is designed. The Hagström H8 produced a rich and unique sound that was perfect for bass solos.
Who plays Hagström guitars?
Here are a few guitarists and bassists who have used Hagström instruments for recording and live performances:
- Björn Ulvaeus (ABBA)
- Bob Hardy (Franz Ferdinand)
- David Bowie
- Elvis Presley
- Frank Zappa
- Jimi Hendrix
- Joe Walsh (Eagles)
- Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age/Them Crooked Vultures)
- Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
- Nick McCarthy (Franz Ferdinand)
- Noel Redding (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
- Rutger Gunnarsson (ABBA)
- Ryan Ross (Panic! at the Disco)
Are Hagström guitars good?
Hagström guitars are one of the most revered brands in history even though they are not as omnipresent as Fender and Gibson. The Swedes have put in place some very high standards when it comes to building music instruments. Moreover, their vintage guitars are also sought-after by collectors.
Countless guitar players believe that Hagström’s move to China didn’t actually affect the quality of their instruments, although a few have claimed that Hagström Guitars are not as perfect as its Swedish counterparts. The best way to know how good Hagström Guitars are today is to try them out and see, hear and feel for yourself whether it fits your style and taste perfectly.