With a design reminiscent of a Gibson Les
Paul, the Swedish-made Hagstrom Super Swede
was introduced circa 1977 and had a production
run of just about five years.
at the guitar’s output jack, the serial number
indicates that this particular Super Swede could
be one of the last built in Älvdalen, Sweden.
I own a vintage Hagstrom Super Swede
with a serial number of 53 078140.
I’ve played and displayed this guitar in
my home ever since I bought it back in
the mid-’80s. I read that these models
were available in mahogany and maple,
and I think mine has a maple top, but
I’m not sure. It has a beautiful sunburst
finish and I love this guitar—I’m just
hoping to get more information on it
and the company. There are sites for
Hagstrom information out there, but
the Super Swede is not mentioned as
much as the company’s surf-style guitars
that were produced earlier.
Leonard in Vancouver, British
Let’s begin with a little history. Albin
Hagström of Älvdalen, Sweden, began his
career selling German accordions, founding
Hagstrom in 1921 and incorporating in
1926. By 1932, the company had established
its own production facility, and in 1936, the
first of many attempts to set up distribution
in America with a sales office in New York
was made. Because of World War II, however,
a U.S. sales office wasn’t actually in place
until 1946, and it only lasted until 1949.
Hagstrom began producing electric guitars in
1958, and at first, these guitars were imported
into the U.S. by the Hershman Musical
Instrument Company in New York, and
labeled under the Goya brand name.
Hagstrom-branded instruments started
appearing in the U.S. around 1962, with a fully
expanded lineup of guitars and basses showing
up by the mid-1960s. Initially, Hagstrom
guitars were visibly influenced by the pearloid
finish of the accordions the company produced
for so many years, but their guitars became
more traditional-looking as time progressed. A
good example is the James D’Aquisto-designed
Hagstrom Jimmy, released in 1969.
With the introduction of their pioneering
“H” Expander-Stretcher truss rod,
Hagstrom was also known for innovation.
This was further evidenced with the Swede
Patch 2000—the first guitar with a built-in
synthesizer—and the Hagstrom H8, an
8-string bass with four sets of string pairs.
Unlike the many other guitar manufacturers
that moved production to Asia in the
1970s, Hagstrom continued to produce their
guitars in Sweden. By 1983, however, they
could no longer compete with all the Asian-made
guitars on the market, so Hagstrom
experimented with having a few prototype
instruments built in Japan. The quality of
the prototypes was not on par with their
Swedish-made counterparts, so instead of
compromising the Hagstrom brand, the
company discontinued guitar operation
altogether. Hagstrom continued to build
accordions, and still does today. In 2005,
the Hagstrom trademark for guitars was
revived for a line of guitars built in China,
styled mostly after the popular Hagstroms
of the 1960s and 1970s. Today, Hagstrom
is distributed in the states by U.S. Music
Corporation in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
The Les Paul-influenced Swede was
first introduced in 1970, while the higher-end
Super Swede (originally called the
Swede DeLuxe) was introduced circa 1977.
Hagstrom catalogs are quite vague regarding
specifications, but the main difference between
the two is that the Super Swede boasts a set
neck, while the regular Swede has a bolt-on.
Another difference between the two is that the
Swede has two 3-way switches. Separated by
the neck and located in the upper bouts, one
is a traditional pickup switch while the other
is a 3-way tone switch. The Super Swede is
absent of this tone switch, but does have a coil
tap mini-switch near the knobs. It also appears
that the Super Swedes featured maple tops
for select finishes, including golden sunburst,
wine red, and tobacco brown. Keep in mind
that there are a few different variations of the
Swede and Super Swede with different body
sizes and pickups/electronics.
According to the serial number, your guitar
was the 140th guitar built from batch 078.
The “53” appeared before all Hagstrom serial
numbers beginning in the early 1970s, simply
to help with bookkeeping. I found out that
batch 076 was produced around 1980, so it’s
possible that your Super Swede could be one
of the last produced in Älvdalen. Hagstrom
manufactured a total of about 1,500 Super
Swedes before the company shut down.
Other nice features of your Super Swede
include the ebony fretboard with pearl-block
inlays and the pair of humbuckers with individual
volume and tone knobs. In excellent
condition, your Super Swede is worth between
$1,400 and $1,750. According to sources,
some Super Swedes were custom finished and
have become very collectible. Since the Super
Swede was only produced for about five years,
it is certainly one of the more rare Hagstrom
guitars out there. Definitely a treasure!
Zachary R. Fjestad
is author of Blue Book of
, Blue Book
of Electric Guitars
, and Blue
Book of Guitar Amplifiers
For more information, visit
Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org