Here we take a look at the semi-hollow Viking 4-string bass—a variation on the company’s 1960s Concord bass.
We’ve been hearing a familiar story in guitar and bass manufacturing lately: A company enjoys success for a decade or two, and then changing economic climates and world influences force it to close its doors. Fast-forward 30 years, and scores of brands are coming back with “new” old instrument lines.
The Hagstrom story follows a similar plotline, having ceased guitar manufacturing in 1983. The Swedish brand was resurrected in 2004, with manufacturing taking place in China under strict quality control and exacting specifications. Here we take a look at the semi-hollow Viking 4-string bass—a variation on the company’s 1960s Concord bass.
The Nuts and Bolts
At one time, the hollowbody bass was a staple on the rock scene. Though the popularity of this style will probably never again reach the same heights it achieved during its heyday, there is plenty of room for it in today’s market. In that light, constructing a retro-model instrument is a tricky undertaking. When designing a bass of this nature, there needs to be a certain amount of give and take with regard to features and engineering—capitalizing on the good and eliminating the bad. Hagstrom has shown both respect and restraint with the Viking by bringing modern touches to a vintage design.
The first thing that struck me when I saw the Viking was, well—the whole thing. From its trapeze tailpiece to the slick 22:1 tuners (which have the same regal aesthetic as those on Hagstrom’s über-popular Swede guitar model), the instrument screams classic. The 6-position, chickenhead pickup selector on the treble bout is a nice touch (more on that shortly), and the Hagstrom designed, alnico-5 Dyna Rail humbuckers, with their “Razer-Mesh” covers, runneth over with vintage vibe.
Oftentimes instruments as affordable as the new Viking exhibit finishing touches that are a little rough, but this bass not only featured a flawless transparent wild-cherry finish, but it also felt really solid—no mystery rattles, loose screws, or fittings. The binding on the body and the thin, low-profile neck was beautiful, but, more importantly, the neck passed my initial “cut test” (which entails running my hands down the sides of the neck to check for sharp fret ends). For whatever reason, smoothing down the fret ends is not always a priority in some factories, but not in this case. They were smooth as silk.
The Viking felt really good in my hands when I went to play it, too—like I had owned it for a long time. Though the contoured semi-hollowbody was not as light as expected, my shoulders would easily welcome it for a three-hour set. The chambered maple design allowed it to open up and breathe unplugged—which is the first test I put any instrument through—showing tons of sustain and clarity without even touching the amp. The hard-maple neck is fast, almost J-bass thin, and is topped with a “Resinator” fretboard, a composite material Hagstrom likens to ebony. However, the neck-heavy Viking needed a little help to keep it level, having taken a bit of a dive when I attached a strap. The strap button is behind the heel, and though I appreciate the nod to the classics, a little more balance would be welcomed.
For this review, I plugged the Viking into a trusty 1965 Ampeg B-18, an Eden WT800 and D410XLT, and a Korg headphone amp. I was wrong in thinking beforehand that I would only hear long-gone tones from the Summer of Love—this bass is way more flexible than the vintage classic I expected. With the volume and tone controls cranked and the rotary switch engaging both pickups, the tone was rock solid and powerful, which got me wondering how I could work it into my next gig.
Selecting the neck pickup only is what really drew the vintage side of the Viking out. The tone was smoooooth, and when I moved my plucking hand directly over the pickup, it inspired soulful grooves that had me thinking about the closest R&B clubs in town. One more turn of the selector knob, and I found the tone more pointed, with more attack. Where the neck pickup had a laid-back sound that begs you to play behind the beat, the bridge pickup was its brash little brother with its strong, defined tone. Scrolling through the other pickup combinations, I found them all to be useful, distinct variations on the theme—but each still had an individual identity. And while the Viking was not designed to win first place at a slap competition, that’s okay—this bass has other places to be.
Being a sucker for vintage semi-hollow and hollowbody instruments, I really appreciated this bass. When Hagstrom talks about their signature sound, they have a legitimate claim. And this holds true for the Viking, which has a tonal character all its own and makes no promises it can’t keep. The sound may not be as instantly recognizable as a P bass or a Rickenbacker, but it should be at home in a wide variety of applications. I would take it to a rock or a country gig, and would love to use it in the studio. I wouldn’t play metal with it, but I would put it through the rigors of a surf-punk band. Likewise, the Viking might not be the first choice for a funk outfit, but it would be perfect for an R&B or soul act.
The problem with older hollowbody basses is their limited applicability—they’re often only useful for specialized situations. Hagstrom has overcome this with the Viking and produced a bass that brings the past forward and adds new life to the company’s storied line. While some players may find themselves leaving the rotary switch in one place over the course of a gig, the beauty isn’t just switching tone, but rather knowing you can switch it. This bass is a solid value for the price, and most certainly worth exploring a little deeper.
you want refined vintage tone.
your tastes run a bit more modern.
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Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.