Hagstrom F20

Tuesday, July 1, 2008| by Alan "Frets99" Sirvent

A couple of months ago, I ran into a new guitar at a local mom and pop. It looked like a variation on the Gibson SG shape, and even evoked an SG with its transparent wild cherry color. I pulled it down and was simply blown away. It was easy to play, felt solid and had a tonal range I really loved. The stock humbucker pickups are by far the best stock combination I've ever heard on any guitar. The neck has a deep sensual range while the bridge has a warm bright honk which just shines with a little overdrive. The overall balance and clarity from string to string is exceptional. I happen to love the glassy chime of single coil guitars and generally have trouble with what I perceive as less articulate humbuckers. I have to say these are humbuckers a single coil player can love.

A little online research reveals ”All designs are created by Karl Eric Hagstrom personally, the wood comes from Canada, and the hardware is purchased from top US and Korean suppliers, while pickups are developed in Korea according to K.E. Hagstrom's exact specifications.”

I walked away from the guitar a couple of times because I had no need for a new guitar. But my dealer had it at a ridiculously low price and I eventually picked it up and brought it home. As I ran it through my amplifiers, I realized I had made the right choice. It's a solidly made guitar that just feels right in your hands. I have a single coil Godin SD with the same scale length and it's also a joy to play. I was most impressed by the fingerboard. This blurb from the Musician’s Friend website explains it best. "the Resinator Fretboard is an extraordinary, homogeneous wood composite that maintains a strong fundamental harmonic and eliminates wolf tones. Resinator Fretboards offer the articulate sound of high quality ebony but with more consistency and durability. Silky smooth, reliable, and fast, the Hagstrom neck is a guitarist's dream come true." I can attest to that. It's feel is lovely, fast and smooth. I have played ebony fretboards and I have to say, I like this fretboard as much.

I play a blues oriented rock style for which this guitar is perfectly suited. I wouldn't be surprised if this guitar shone in other genre's as well, particularly genres that utilize chunky chords play. The middle setting has a sweet chime to it that is almost acoustic.

Overall fit and finish is absolutely beautiful with as much attention to detail as I've seen on much higher priced guitars. I'm proud of it for looks alone! The electronics work well. The tone knob offers incremental changes that can go from bright and jangly to warm and jazzy. The guitar holds tuning very well with very pretty vintage looking tuners.

I can honestly say that if this was my only guitar, I would be very happy with it. The price I paid would qualify it as entry level but the versatility, tone and playability of this guitar would easily satisfy intermediate through advanced players.

Price: ~$270 USD
Pros: Nice attention to detail, good pickups
Cons: Unique style may not appeal to everyone

Filed Under: Reviews, Hagstrom