1960s Hagstrom Viking Deluxe Semihollow Electric Guitar

This guitar is actually already on its way home in the post as I write this. It was sent up for some care and feeding for its owner and while it was parked in stasis before work, its grim and ancient hard case piqued the interest of many a passing guitar-quester. Once they did the case-look, everyone said, wow! -- as they, like I, have never seen a Hagstrom exactly like this one in person. Once you poke around online, though, it becomes a little clearer that it's not that rare, but the black finish is certainly harder to find.

It dates to the late '60s -- probably between '67 and '69 as the pickups changed in '70 -- and it even has a Hagstrom-branded Bigsby installed without a downpressure bar (ace for me: I like the smooth feel without the extra bar). The somewhat-microphonic pickups and the hollow-plus-centerblock semihollow build give it a distinctly-retro and surprisngly-full sound (Hagstrom pickups are often kind-of brittle and zippy)... something more akin to a late-'40s or early-'50s Gretsch vibe, maybe.

The neck is absurdly sports-car-fast with a slim, C-shaped rear, steep 9.5" fretboard radius, and narrow 1 5/8" nut width. Mix that with a Gibson-like 24 5/8" scale and this thing just screams play me faster, play me faster!

Work included: a refret with jumbo stock, repair of mangled and missing binding at the neck's edges, and sorting-out of a bum 3-way switch (fixed it) and tangled wiring which had some grounding-out issues. It now plays bang-on with hair-over 1/16" E and 1/16" ADGBE action at the 12th fret, a straight neck with a working truss-rod, and a set of 49w-11 gauge strings installed.

Condition notes: it's entirely original save for a replacement strap button, new frets, and one replacement (but same type) high E tuner. There's a couple repaired chip-out-style cracks in the headstock and there are tons of finish cracks in the top that've led to finish flake-off, but otherwise it came in good order. The hardware was all originally gold-plated but has aged and mellowed considerably and looks glorious. One more thing -- the original pickguard is long-gone.

The 16th-fret neck joint makes this handle a bit more like a Casino than an ES-335. It pulls the neck in closer to the body for the left hand, which makes it a very comfortable guitar to hang-out with.

Thankfully, someone glued the bridge base down to the top in the correct location. That meant that I could adjust the Hagstrom-style adjustable saddle enough to make intonation spot-on. I really like these saddles, actually -- they work well with vibratos as they rock easily back and forth with the strings like a Bigsby-style saddle. One can also dial-in whatever string spacing is desired.