Hagström ['hɑ:gstrøm], or Hagstrom as the name is sometimes spelled, was a musical instrument manufacturer in Älvdalen, Dalecarlia, Sweden. Their original products were accordions that they initially imported from Germany and then Italy before opening their own facility in 1932. During the sixties, the company started making electric guitars and later amplifiers. The early guitars were heavily influenced by the accordion production and had a special look and feel. Hagström were the first company to massproduce 8 string bass guitars as well as the first to build a guitar/kyboard hybrid (Swede Patch 2000). In 2004 the brand was resurrected and is now in production in China. In 2008 Hagstrom expanded their line of products and will launch their own line of basses including a re-issue of their famous Hagström H8, an 8 string bass later this year.
Albin Hagström began importing accordions from Germany and Italy in 1925 and founded Firma Albin Hagström. Albin expanded his business with shops in Sweden, Norway and Finland and in 1932 he started manufacturing accordions himself in Älvdalen. In 1936, Hagstrom hired two Italian accordion builders who helped to update and streamline the manufacturing process. In 1939 Hagstrom started to establish themselves in USA by opening the Hagstrom Music Company Inc in Rockefeller Center in New York as well as Albin Hagstrom Inc in Jamestown. However in 1940 the launch was canceled due to World War II and the people hired to run the company disappeared with the company's funds. In 1946 Sven Hillring was sent over from Sweden to oversee a new launch of the new accordion factory in Jamestown, which was in business until 1949.
Back in Sweden the brand continued to grow throughout the 1940s and 1950s and at one time had a total of forty-eight shops in northern Europe. In 1953 the accordion production reached its peak with 15,000 units being built. At this time the company also started a number of accordion schools; it is estimated that over 70,000 people have attended these schools. Founder Albin Hagström died in 1952 at the age 47 and was succeeded by Erik Wisén. In 1968 the Super Cromatic was introduced which came to be the last accordion built, with the last one being built in 1970.
In 1984 the company returned to its roots by once again importing accordions Germany and Italy, the shops were sold and employees were encouraged to venture out on their own, which resulted in two new companies in Älvdalen.
Musitech was started by Rolf Lindhamn, who is the currently is the official Swedish retailer of Aria and Guild guitars. Per-Åke Olsson who participated in the development of the Super Swede founded Amtech which is producing PA-systems and light rigs as well as computer equipment.
The original AB Albin Hagström company still exists to this day and still owns many of the facilities in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, one of which Musitech is located in.
In 1958, Swedish-based Hagström started manufacturing electric guitars. The early Hagstrom Deluxe solid body guitars featured a distinctive sparkle and pearloid celluloid finish that was previously used on their line of accordions. Soon Hagstrom expanded their line-up of guitars to include hollow body guitars like the Viking and the Jimmy. In 1961 the first line of Hagstrom basses was available to the public, this eventually came to include to groundbreaking 8 string bass.
Models of electric guitar included the Hagstrom 1, the H series (h II, h III, h II N), the Swede (Originally called The Hagstrom LP, or Les Paul, due to the instrument's resemblance to the popular Les Paul manufactured by Gibson Guitars), the Super Swede, the Impala, the Corvette (called the Condor in the US), the Viking, the Swede Patch 2000 (one of the first synthesizer guitars) and the Jimmy (designed by Jimmy D'Aquisto, a respected New York luthier brought in by Hagstrom to design the Jimmy). Basses include The Swede Bass and the Hagström H8 - the first ever massproduced eight stringed bass guitar, which found fame when used by the likes of Noel Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Mike Rutherford, and others. Another innovation was the H-Expander™ Truss Rod, which gives the neck extra strength and allows it to be extra thin as well as allows the action to be set extra low.
Beside their line of instruments Hagstrom also produced amplifiers, speakers, effects, guitar strings and mixing consoles, which was used by ABBA on their first world tour. A very small run of lap steels, banjos and mandolins were also built but are were rare to come across. In 1962 Albin's son, Karl-Erik Hagström returned from working 5 years in the USA with establishing their Line O guitars. In 1967 he took over as CEO of the company.
Production ended for Swedish-made Hagstroms in 1983 due to the inability to keep up with the competition using labour from Asia to make guitars. Hagstrom did make some Japanese prototypes; however, they were not pleased with the workmanship and would rather close down the company than cheapen the brand. The interest in the original Hagstrom brand still has a cult following around the world and a Hagstrom Festival has taken place in Älvdalen, Sweden around the first week of June every year since 2006.
As of 2004, Hagstrom has been reopened for the international market being internationally distributed by "Tricor AB" in Sweden, and is marketing new versions of a great number of the more famous models from Sweden, being manufactured at a dedicated Hagstrom factory in China. The official Hagstrom design team have taken certain liberties with the designs, made some improvements and other deviations from the original Swedish designs. There was a custom USA shop making master luthier versions of Hagstrom models but activity of this since 2006 is uncertain. Hagstrom is currently in the process of launching a new line bass guitars based on the old designs including a re-issue of their original 8 string bass. According to head-designer of the Hagstrom design team, there might be a limited production of Hagstrom guitars from Sweden, but solid plans for native Swedish production has yet to solidify as of 2008.
Ever since 1983 when the original production stopped, Hagstroms have been sought after collector items. Pat Smear is known for having one of the largest Hagstrom collections in America and is known for claiming it to be the most roadworthy guitars he's ever used. The red Viking II that Elvis Presley used on Elvis Presley's '68 Comeback Special was sold in the early nineties for more then $50,000 and has even been displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A 1981 Super Swede with custom blue and yellow graphics were sold for 60,100 Swedish Krones (approx. $8,850 USD), making it likely to be the second most expensive Hagstrom sold.