Hagstrom XL-5

Monday, November 2, 2009| by Alan "Frets99" Sirvent

I have been enjoying the new line of Hagstroms for awhile. It started with my F20T. A perfectly lovely simple solidbody guitar, 2 humbuckers and a trem bar. It boasted a new technology resinator fretboard which gives it the feel of ebony with better all around consistency. I went on to fall in love with their Viking PII, which is a P90 semi-hollow body guitar. And now I have their Ultralux XL-5. This guitar is a departure for me. I play blues and rock and will most often find myself with a strat or tele style guitar. This guitar is a shredders delight. It has a super thin neck, .18mm at the neck and increasing to .19mm at the 12th fret. It's contoured to give you easy access to the highest frets and it has 24 of those. It has a superstrat setup with the HSH pickup arrangement. The humbuckers are coil tapped for a total of 9 different tones. The trem bridge setup is designed to give maximum contact and incredible sustain. A graphite nut and their resinator fretboard round out the specs. It is made of basswood, which is used on some of the most famous shred machines, and a maple veneer which is finished beautifully. Mine is a quilted wine red finish that just attracts my eye everytime I walk by it.

The Ultralux XL-5 is incredibly easy to play with one of the fastest necks you will find anywhere. But where I was sold is it's tone. The pickups are modern voiced for greatest compatibility with distortion. This guitar just sings with gain. But I found the clarity of the pickups along with their slightly more treble voicing to still have an organic warmth. I really enjoy playing this guitar clean. I even find myself fingerpicking with it a lot. There's an almost acoustic guitar like response with the depth and clarity of the bass and the ringing chime of it's treble. If I can be so bold, I'd say it shares a sonic range with the PRS Mira, which is known for it's brilliant clarity and articulation. The humbuckers give as much punch and oomph as any guitarist will ever need with gain, while the tapped tones can provide a shimmery brilliance clean that is outstanding.

I find myself reaching for this guitar most often, lately. Given the assortment of tones and styles of guitars along with as uncompromising a standard of quality as I've ever seen in a guitar maker, I would highly recommend giving Hagstrom a good look. They are a mid priced guitar that compete more than favorably with their higher priced cousins.

Price: $440
Pros: Fast thin neck, strong modern tones
Cons: None

Filed Under: Hagstrom, Reviews