1960s Hagstrom H8 8-string electric bass guitar

My friend Wayne dropped this Swedish-made Hagstrom off eons ago for repair. It sat and sat and sat and grew cold, weary, and dejected as I continued to ignore it. You see, it looked simple on the surface -- replace some neck binding, add four tuners at the headstock, and reconvert it back into an 8-string bass from the 4-string it'd been modded to at the factory -- but anyone with a trained eye for instrument repair knows that an 8-string bass is a creature that requires time to solve.

I finally got that time to fix it and on the other side of repairs this beast is so dang cool. I've never handled the real thing before so I was excited the moment he dropped it off. It needed a lot of help, though, and a lot of tweaking to get it playing right. I love the sound of it, though, especially through those clear/punchy Hagstrom single coil pickups. It not only sounds like the world's best bajo sexto, if you stick it in "bridge only" position it would make a killer instrument to fill a "bartione 12-string" role.

That's all played with a flatpick, mind you, guitar-style. If you up-pick with your fingers, the strings start their attack with the thicker bass strings rather than the octaves, yielding a mellower "12-string" vibe to the sound -- sort-of like you're getting thicker overtones or using a really mild octave pedal on a normal bass. It's all good.

I also want to really hand it to the engineers at Hagstrom of the '60s -- those folks knew how to build stable, accurate necks. I've never had an old Hagstrom through with a dodgy neck so far. They're all super-thin and '80s-hair-band fast, true and straight, and have truss rods that work like a charm. That's even more impressive on this character due to all the excess tension from the extra strings.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, cobbed replacement saddles (4) for the bridge, replacement neck binding (a real odd shape), modding the bridge plate to allow more adjustment room of the bridge's travel, wiring cleaning, un-plugging filled holes in the headstock and adding/moving-around the tuners, a new bone nut, cleaning, and a ton of fuss setting it up.

Made by: Hagstrom

Model: H8

Made in: Alvdalen, Dalecarlia, Sweden

Serial number: 753045

Body wood: solid mahogany

Bridge: plated brass

Fretboard: rosewood

Neck wood: mahogany

Pickups: 2x Hagstrom oval-polepiece single coils

Tone: bright, clean, aggressive, punchy

Suitable for: rock, roots, folk-rock, some traditional, some metal

Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: GHS 8-string boomers 90w-40w (w/octaves)

Neck shape: very slim C

Board radius: 12"

Truss rod: adjustable (works)

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium-low

Scale length: 30 3/4"

Nut width: 1 11/16"

Body length: 18 1/2"

Body width: 13 3/4"

Body depth: 1 3/8"

Weight: 7 lb 10 oz

Condition notes: four non-original saddles, slightly-modded bridge plate, some replacement neck binding, some replacement tuners -- otherwise original throughout. It's fairly clean, too, save the usual minor wear and tear throughout the body. The headstock shows some extra holes from previous tuner installs, too. This was originally shipped as a 4-string from the factory with some black plastic covers and plugs that hid its 8-string origins at the headstock. I can only assume that Hagstrom was not selling many H8 models so they converted them to 4-strings to sell-off. The guitar/bass tuner hybrid set at the headstock is the original layout per the headstock's screw-hole evidence.