Hagstrom Viking Review – Attack of the Killer ToneGuitarSpotting
Hagstrom Viking Electric Guitar Review
Turns out those vikings really did know how to handle an axe.
In this Hagstrom Viking review, you’ll learn about a popular semi-hollowbody electric guitar with a cool look and killer tone.
The modern day version of this guitar is based on the original Viking design, which was first launched in 1965.
The Hagstrom Viking produces excellent sound, and can be used to play a wide range of musical genres including blues, jazz, and rock.
Got a viking ship to catch?
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- 1 Hagstrom Viking Electric Guitar Review
- 2 Hagstrom Viking Models
Where is the Hagstrom Viking Made?
Founded in Sweden by Albin Hagstrom in 1925, Hagstrom made accordions for years, and began manufacturing electric guitars in 1958. Hagstrom’s guitars were fairly pricey in America in those days, so they were considered a bit of a luxury item, but were generally thought of as high-quality guitars with a great look and sound throughout the sixties and seventies.
The company ceased production in 1983, but returned in 2004 and started making guitars again based on their original designs, but updated to incorporate modern standards of sound and build quality.
Hagstrom guitars are made in China. However, the designs and manufacturing machines used were sent over from Sweden, the wood is imported from Canada, and Hagstrom produces every individual part of the guitar themselves.
Design and Build
The Hagstrom Viking body design was re-created from the vintage model, and is made with a semi-hollow contoured ply maple body, and set maple neck.
The term “semi-hollow” means the neck is a single piece of wood that runs through the middle of the body. This results in two smaller sound compartments, rather than a single larger air pocket.
The design is elegant and striking, with a pretty finish and just an overall cool look.
The Viking’s headstock and f-holes were originally designed by famous guitar designer Jimmy D’Aquisto.
It has a scale length of 24.75”, nut width of 1.69”, and 22 medium-jumbo frets.
The Resinator Fingerboard is made from Hagstrom’s proprietary Resinator-material, a composite of resin and birch fibers. These fingerboards were created to function as a man-made alternative to ebony, and are similar in terms of sound, look, and overall stability.
The Viking also includes an H-expander truss rod for a strong, straight neck, one of the reasons they stay in tune longer. It has a Tune-o-matic bridge system and a trapeze tail-piece.
They’re large guitars in terms of body size, though not particularly heavy (8 pounds).
The Viking doesn’t come with a carrying case.
Despite being manufactured in China, Hagstrom generally produces quality guitars, and there’s no debating the quality of the design. They have a solid manufacturing process in place, and make or import all the individual guitar parts themselves.
Some people have experienced minor issues with build quality, including cracked fretboards and uneven construction details. If you get one, check it over to make sure it’s in great shape and ready for pillaging (and loud guitar sounds).
Hagstrom Viking Models
The Hagstrom Viking is part of the Hagstrom Vintage Series, and there are multiple options to choose from:
The regular Hagstrom Viking is a tone monster, providing a thick sound, impressive volume and lots of sustain.
The Hagstrom Viking design incorporates a couple of unique features including the H-Expander Truss Rod and Resinator Fretboard.
The Viking is Hagstrom’s flagship guitar, and it’s an “all-rounder” capable of being used for pretty much any musical genre.
It comes equipped with a pair of HJ-50 humbucker pickups, along with 2 volume and 2 tone controls and a contoured, semi-hollow ply maple body.
The Viking is currently available in 3 different styles:
- Tobacco Sunburst
- Wild Cherry / Cherry Red (pictured here)
- Black Gloss
Hagstrom Viking Deluxe
The Hagstrom Viking Deluxe is another all-rounder and quite similar to a regular Viking, with the same shape, size, and electronics.
Differences include the flamed maple body, pearloid block inlays on the fingerboard, and a slightly different f-hole shape.
The Viking Deluxe is currently available in Black Gloss (pictured), Natural, Tobacco Sunburst, Emerald Green, and White.
Hagstrom Viking Deluxe Baritone
The Hagstrom Viking Deluxe Baritone also uses the Viking Deluxe design as a base, but it’s got a larger scale length of 28”, making it a heavier guitar.
Baritone guitars can be tuned to a lower pitch for expanded range in the lower register, and provide a deep and resonant baritone sound.
The Viking Deluxe Baritone has a pair of pickups designed for this model, including a custom semi-open coil Hagstrom 58C Humbucker in the bridge position, and a full-sized P-90 neck pickup, adding openness and warmth to the sound and offering “controlled feedback” even at high volumes.
The Baritone Viking is available in Cosmic Black Burst (pictured), Tobacco Sunburst, and Black Gloss.
Hagstrom Viking P
There is also the Hagstrom Viking P, a regular Viking except that it’s equipped with two P-90 pickups (named Custom P-50) for a warmer sound. It can handle most styles of music just like a standard Viking, but is a little more suited to an “arena rock” style of sound.
The Viking P is available in Tobacco Sunburst and Black Gloss.
Hagstrom Viking Deluxe DLX12
This one is also very similar to the Viking Deluxe, but a 12-string version.
The Viking DLX 12 is available in Black Gloss (pictured above), Wild Cherry Transparent, and Tobacco Sunburst.
Who Plays a Hagstrom Guitar?
An impressive list of musicians have played Hagstrom guitars. Pat Smear (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) is probably their most well-known aficionado, having used them throughout his career, and he owns a massive collection of vintage Hagstrom guitars.
During the ’68 Comeback Special, Elvis Presley played a Hagstrom Viking Deluxe.
Elvis Presley – Blue Suede Shoes (1968 Comeback Special):
Jimi Hendrix played a Hagstrom 8-string bass in 1967 (the sixth one ever made), and can be heard playing it on the Summer of Love Sessions album.
Other well-known musicians who have used them include Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Bob Seger, Frank Zappa, Cat Stevens, Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Ryan Ross (Panic at the Disco), Randy Meisner (Eagles), and Tim Armstrong (Rancid), among many others.
Weird Frank Zappa Hagstrom radio ad:
- versatile guitar with killer tone and lots of sustain
- cool, stylish retro look
- beautiful finish
- plays extremely fast with a thin neck and low action
- provides the experience of playing a Gibson 335 style guitar at less than half the cost
- occasional issues with build quality
- smaller neck feels “cramped” to some guitarists, especially those with large fingers
- doesn’t come with a case
The Hagstrom Viking plays loud with a wide range of tones and mega sustain. And the look is stylish and cool.
Hagstrom has a lot of fans who really dig the sound, look, feel, and history of these unique guitars. They’re versatile and can handle many styles of music with ease. There are several models to choose from depending on your needs.
The Hagstrom Viking looks pretty similar to a Gibson ES-335. It can hold its own in terms of sound and playability, too.
Now there’s no denying the Gibson is a better guitar. It’s got better tone and a better build. It’s also a lot more expensive.
But if you’re interested in a similar look and sound at less than half the price, the Hagstrom Viking will help you take your sound to new lands.
Plus it has loads of personality and style.
Final Word: Wield the Hammer of the Gods, and meet your Destiny.