Other Guitars

Pre-Xmas 2020 Double NGD … or … Dumbest Thing I’ve Done Lately?

1

Or...

I don't know...Hagiography?

The jury is still out on the smarts, but I have indulged (accidentally) for only the second or third time in recorded history in a Double New Guitar Day.

Accidentally? Well, I ordered them both on the 21st, from different vendors, never imagining they'd get here on the same day, with different carriers, in the midst of Covid Xmaseason, when I'm still waiting on packages sent weeks ago - much less make it here for the 25th.

But that's what transpired, so Mewwy Kwitsmuts from me to me.

2

Right, well, why in the world two red Hagstrom centerblockers?

It's partly the color - Hagstrom's Wild Cherry Transparent just looks so delicious in all their adverts, and I'm a sucker for nice reds.

(It's also that someone else who lives here with me knows guitars mostly by their colors, and two of the same color might pass unchallenged - as long as they aren't seen at the same time. Aaaand, since I already have the trans cherry red Casino, they could all be the same guitar. You see what I'm saying.)

OK but WHY, if I have a trans red maple-bodied thinline doublecut, would I possibly think I "need" these? Well of course I don't need them. But look hey, they are different from the Casino, and more substantially from each other than is evident at first glance.

For one, they both have the 335-ish centerblock.

The Viking Deluxe has a 25.5" scale, which differs not only from the Casino, but from my 335 and those other thinline semis I might have. And it has a trapeze tailpiece, unlike most semis.

The Alvar is a small-bodied planker, of 24.75" scale, whose trapeze string termination differs from other small-bodied plankers I may or may not have (which all have the expected stop tailpieces), and is lighter than they are.

In any case, I took my own advice from last month's rave about the Viking Baritone (the passion of that honeymoon continues undiminished - and shows every sign of becoming an orgy): to wit, that anyone shopping for a semi would do well to consider the Viking. I wasn't shopping for a semi...but the more I got to know the Viking bari, and the more I studied Hagstrom's lineup...

Well, one thing led to another.

3

It was meant to be. Congrats

4

I'm all for buying guitars based on attractive colour. Merry Christmas!

6

Or, rather, two things. Because it's 2020, see - a twinned year. Two twenties? Get it? It seemed an augur, a veritable sign from the Norse gods: "Go forth with not just one ruddy sword, old man, but two."

Also, the ludicrous excess of two new red guitars, one simply a smaller version of the other, seemed inherently entertaining.

So far, I'm suitably amused (though I haven't plugged them in yet).

Impressions?

Both are lighter than other semis of their general size; maybe the centerblock is less centerblocky. Both are flawless, perfect in build detail, fit and finish. (The SuperV was bought as B-stock, and I had to fine-tooth-comb it to find a slight scratch in the clearcoat, on the binding, on the neck - likely inflicted during its tenure on display at the store.) They're Chinese, and not the most expensive Chinese guitars, and show as much attention to detail as Electromatics (with better nutwork, I think). Just really well sorted out.

The pots on both feel great, with more viscous damping than I expect. (Except for the tone pots on the SuperV, which push-pull for coil-tapping.)

They both have the gorgeous Hag take on Imperial tuners, slightly downsized and with a slight twist given to the shape of the graduated steps, both sleek and elegant. These are not just good-looking, they work really really well.

Of course both have the rather overdone Hag headstock (which I'm getting used to), composite "Resinator" fingerboards (to which I have no objection), and medium, lowish frets. Maybe just slightly bigger than medium, but I wouldn't call them jumbo.

Thinnish but not freakishly thin necks like some vintage Hags. Very comfortable. 15" radius; not my usual thing, flatter than I normally like, but it's working OK for me, and it does allow easy bends.

7

They look very nice. I think I could get along with one of those, maybe even two.

8

Alas, I can't report on the pickups yet. But the question comes appropriately in the compare-and-contrast part of the presentation.

I love the pickups on the Viking baritone - their "P-Urified" P90-in-bucker-shell at the neck, and 58C humbucker at the bridge. They're ideal on that guitar.

Hagstrom never tires of stressing that their pickups are all designed inhouse, some for specific models, and based on my satisfaction with the combo on the bari, I was inclined to trust that their other guitars are similarly spec'ed with well-chosen pickups.

Turns out the Super Viking has a pair of the 58C buckers - so I'll see how I like it at the neck - each with its own coil-tap. I expect to be happy with these.

There are two versions of the Alvar out and about, though oddly documented. I have the "standard," with trapeze tailpiece and "HJ-50" humbuckers reportedly designed for this guitar. Hagstrom suggests they're great clean, with lots of definition, and also rage well. (But much of their catalog and ad copy employs metaphors of rampaging Viking slash-and-burn Norse metalism, so grain of salt.)

The other Alvar, the Limited, has stop tailpiece and the same pair of pickups as the baritone. I liked that about it - but I didn't like the colors, it's more expensive, and most Limiteds are found in Europe, making for more expense. Also, I have a small-body semi with stop tailpiece, and am interested to see if the trapeze on this one makes a sonic difference.

If I don't like the pickups, I already have a line on a P-Urified/58C combo from a dealer in the Netherlands.

9

I've had a hard time getting the color right in photos. It's not quite as bleeding-oversaturated as these look on my screen - but if you consult the beauty shots on Hagstrom's website, they're very true to the actual color. (So unlike the colors on Gretsch's site, which are often not even in the ballpark.)

10

I also coulda called this thread Double-Dating with Two Hags.

Or, Black-headed stepchildren.

11

Eaten up w/ Modern World Hagstrom? Go for it!! Not stupid one bit.

Back when I was a Little Dork in NJ, say 1966-67 Hagstroms were everywhere.

The cool kids had a Hagstrom/Amepg Gemini, or Guild Starfire/Vox Buckingham.... and the less fortunate ones had an Esquire and Princeton under the tree. What was thought of as cool was so different then!

The first bass I ever spent much time on was a red ca. 1965 Hagstrom

12

And onward to contrasts.

The Super Viking, as befits its superosity, has nicely variegated maple in the top, with clear but not too vivid transverse flame, and the two halves are closely book-matched. The back has similar flame, less vivid vertical grain, and what appears to be offset matching. As I'm not a fan of outrageous figure, it's just right for me. Elegant, just flamboyant enough, still dignified.

The Alvar has no flame whatever, just fairly plain maple front and back. A little flame would have been nice, but maybe it's the kind of thing reserved for the deluxe versions. (Alas, the Alvar Limited gets metallics - the blue-green quite striking, the metallic red a bit cartoony, and the other colors generally yuck.)

The SuperV has chrome metal knobs with script H embossed in the top, so Gretschlike, along with a Gretschy fluted metal switch tip. Alvar has black fluted top-hats with reverse moon inserts and a flared black plastic switch tip with the script H imprinted in white. I'm going to try to get the crhome knobs from the Dutch dealer along with the pickups.

Both have the swoopy trapeze tail with enameled embossed red-gold-black Hagstrom coat of arms medallion under clear plastic. GOLLY I feel royal! As befits the smaller body of the Alvar, its tailpiece is shorter.

Both have Hagstrom's long-throw tuna-whatever bridge, almost certain to be replaced with Tru-Arcs in the future.

And while both have rounded block inlays (which I like a little better than hard-edge blocks, but still don't come near the top of my favorite-inlay hit parade), the Alvar dispenses with the first fret marker which SuperV has - but has the cool double-thin-block motif at the 12th fret (like the baritone).

13

Both seem resonant and lively, both acoustically, and against the body, with a clear open ring but also nice mechanical sustain. Seems like they both strike a great balance between solid and hollow properties. A guitar's position along that continuum is always among its most interesting (and important) qualities to me - always one of the reasons I explore new guitars - and I'll be interested to compare them to the rest of the fleet.

One more thing. While the action on both is superb, with no fretting out or clanging or unwanted buzz...the Alvar has, without doubt, the lowest action I've ever felt on a new guitar. Brand new, unwrapped, still in its baggie and cardboard box, and it came out tuned about a step down, with strings all but laying on the frets. Like ridiculous shredder-low - and it works. I raised the bass side a little, because I whack them puppies pretty hard, and fret buzz down low usually results.

If there's anything I find so far that's beyond merely perfectly pleasing - all the way to jaw-drop amazing - it's this crazy Alvar action. Don't know if it's a fluke or a general rule, but it's something.


I'll put in some quality time with the Scarlet Hags over the next however-long-it-takes, and know soon if it's a red-letter NGD...or a holiday of dumb consumerist self-indulgence.

14

Eaten up w/ Modern World Hagstrom? Go for it!! Not stupid one bit.

Kinda eaten up, yes. We'll see how these wear long-term...and then I have some interest in their bolt-neck, 6-on-a-side-headstock Viking 67...

Back when I was a Little Dork in NJ, say 1966-67 Hagstroms were everywhere.

a reissue of the guitar which was around during your Little Dorkdom.

The cool kids had a Hagstrom/Amepg Gemini, or Guild Starfire/Vox Buckingham.... and the less fortunate ones had an Esquire and Princeton under the tree. What was thought of as cool was so different then!

Well, ain't that the truth - but in rural midwest, Hagstrom-Ampeg-Guild-Vox, even Gretsch - never swam into my ken. There the cool kids had Fenders (I didn't know any!) and the merely lucky ones had Supro, Kalamazoo, Silvertone, and Japan Inc. I guess I was extra-lucky (but never made it to cool) with Japan Inc...and a Wurlitzer guitar.

The first bass I ever spent much time on was a red ca. 1965 Hagstrom.

And I understand Hag is famous for their 8-string bass, which I think has been reissued. I'm sure I'd like it.

I've also looked over the Impala and Condor, from the Retroscape series. We'll see how these go, and how deep the eaten-up goes.

15

Well, ain't that the truth - but in rural midwest, Hagstrom-Ampeg-Guild-Vox, even Gretsch - never swam into my ken. There the cool kids had Fenders (I didn't know any!)

**Back In My World, back then if you wanted a Fender at all, it would be a Mustang or Jaguar. We thought of Telecasters as like one step up from Danelectros

* I also thought well of the original Hagstrom 12, as I noticed right away the neck was somewhat wider.

16

Oh, not Telecasters, no. Or even Strats. Those were for country guys. (Well, until August 23, 1967.)

Theoretical kids who were so cool nobody I knew even knew one would have had, yup, Mustangs and Jaguars (not so much Jazzmasters) - and, for sure, Coronados.

Tavo was apparently a cool kid. He not only had a Coronado, but his dad built it at the factory. Talk about roots and authentic cred. But as a Californium, he had a head start on us.

17

Der Emblumb.

According to big-enough pics on the internet (it's too small on the guitars for my eyes to resolve), the words on the banner under the shield are "Swedish Design."

Which I'm thinking may not be what it said in the 60s.

Reminds me of Apple, "Designed in California." (When we know where they're built.)

18

Yep, in the 60s they read..."Made in Sweden".

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Double congrats to you!

Not as dumb as me buying a 3/4 size Mosrite thinking it was full size. Nice guitar but dumb.

20

Eaten up w/ Modern World Hagstrom? Go for it!! Not stupid one bit.

Back when I was a Little Dork in NJ, say 1966-67 Hagstroms were everywhere.

The cool kids had a Hagstrom/Amepg Gemini, or Guild Starfire/Vox Buckingham.... and the less fortunate ones had an Esquire and Princeton under the tree. What was thought of as cool was so different then!

The first bass I ever spent much time on was a red ca. 1965 Hagstrom

– DCBirdMan

A Hagstrom and a Gemini under the tree would be a Merry Christmas indeed.

21

Having once had GAS on an early 70's Hagstrom Swede Natural Top, I envy you.

22

Reminds me of Apple, "Designed in California." (When we know where they're built.)

This reminds me of the ads for Royal Enfield bikes. They suggest designed in England but built in India...and my Mini (Cooper), British design but made by BMW.

23

...and Wow! A symphony in RED! Love it.

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...and Wow! A symphony in RED! Love it.

– Bob Howard

I must not be the only one eaten up w/ red guitars.


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