Maybe you have (or had) a mother-of-pearl DeLuxe from 1958, a red semi-acoustic Viking, Hagström’s flagship Swede or the later Super Swede? If you are younger, you have probably tested a new Hagström built after 2007, when the company re-emerged. We tested a Super Swede Tremar (Studio 1-2011) and gave it a good rating. The instruments are no longer built in Älvdalen (or Tjyörtjbynn in älvdalska), but that is where it started.
AB Albin Hagström was founded in the early 20s and imported accordions. Ten years later, they began making their own bellows playing, but when rock’n’roll took over the airwaves in 1958, the company began building amplifiers and electric guitars, the latter often as mother-of-pearl as the company’s accordion.
The company became a small empire with music stores throughout the Nordic region and exports to the rest of the world.
Took up the fight
Many guitar models were later launched by Swede, then to take up the fight with the major American guitar manufacturers. It drew a lot of inspiration from Gibson’s Les Paul and the first copies from 1970-71 were called Hagström LP but were later renamed Sweden. No one knows for sure how the name came about, but according to a legend, the name Super Swede – which was first called Swede DeLuxe – comes from a test in a British music magazine, but also our Swedish F1 star Ronnie Peterson had the same nickname.
Most of the Swede guitar had clear family traits from Gibson’s Les Paul models. Some of them are woods: mahogany in body and neck, the fingerboard in ebony with 22 bands and cutaway and two humbucker mics with three-position switch. But there were also details that separated them.
Swede had (fairly) discreetly screwed neck attachment with one or two screws, no maple top or edging on the fretboard. An elegant guitar head with a so-called French lily was borrowed from
Hagström D’Aquisto’s jazz guitars, so the look and design were quite classic. But – this is important – it differed from the instruments made in Japan and which today are called “lawsuit models”. The latter were largely cloned copies of the originals.
When Super Swede was launched in 1977, the model was called Swede DeLuxe. It had a glued neck attachment, an ebony fingerboard but with edgings and a longer mensur (the distance between the stable and the upper saddle) and a so-called zero band. In retrospect, one can speculate whether the reason was that they wanted to give Super Swede more attack? Super Swede was available in other types of wood, such as maple, and with wider necks and ribbon rods, and you could even order your own finish.
Many musicians have over the years played at Swede / Super Swede. Some of the most famous are Björn Ulvaeus and bassist Rutger Gunnarsson, who played on a Swede bass during a US tour with ABBA.
Frank Zappa, Henrik Schyffert in Whale and jazz guitarist Larry Coryell are others who have chosen Hagström. Today, many artists play Hagström’s newly built instruments.
Over 1,500 guitars and just under 350 basses were built by the Super Swede model until 1983. A Super Swede was (and is) basically a decent instrument and one reason why it did not compete with American competitors was certainly the mic.
Model: Sweden / Super Sweden
Type: electric guitars
Year of manufacture: 1970-1983
Price range: approx. SEK 20,000 (Super swede, used)
Footnote: Mikael Jansson’s excellent book Super Swede, Hagström’s guitars fifty years, Reverb publisher, ISBN 9789185697151 has been used as a reference.
The article was previously published in Studio 3-2013