Review: Hagström Viking Deluxe Baritone + Northen Swede

This time Kitarablogi.com takes a closer look at two Hagström models: The Viking Deluxe Baritone is a Far-Eastern-made baritone-guitar, made to please the friends of low riffage, while the brand-new Northen Swede is part of the company’s new high-end line, which is handmade in the Czech Republic.

****

The Hagström Viking Baritone (current street price in Finland approx. 600 €) is the newest addition to the Viking-line. This long-necked beauty features the same stylish curves and semi-acoustic body as the rest of the Vikings.

The Canadian hard rock maple neck is glued into the body, which is made from flame maple plywood.

Hagström’s headstock simply oozes 1950’s glitzy panache, with its ultraclean binding and inlay work.

The top nut, on the other hand, is up to date, using self-lubricating, man-made Black Tusq.

Modern sealed Hagström-tuners keep things steady.

One of Hagström’s special features is their Resinator-fingerboard. Resinator is a man-made alternative to ebony – in both looks and sound – and is made using wood fibres and resin.

The fretwork is rather good on our test sample, apart from a few fret ends, which felt a tiny bit sharpish in places.

Inside the plywood soundbox you can see the Viking Baritone’s full-length mahogany centre block.

The centre block is what turns a fully acoustic guitar into a semi. It improves attack and sustain, as well as greatly reducing the danger of howling feedback at higher volume levels.

Hagström have optimised this Viking’s choice of pickups for use in a baritone-guitar:
The neck pickup is Hagström’s new P-Urified unit, which is a P-90-type singlecoil in humbucker-size. Employing a singlecoil in the neck position makes great sense, as it improves tonal clarity, while steering clear of any potential mushiness.

The bridge unit is Hagström’s great Custom 58 -humbucker, whose moderate output and nice dynamic range fit the P-Urified perfectly.

The three-way toggle sits on the Viking Baritone’s top horn.

It’s nice to see quality long-throw pots and clean workmanship inside the Viking.

The classic Gibson-type bridge and stopbar combination works fine on a semi like this.

****

Thanks to its nice, moderate weight the Hagström Viking Baritone sits comfortably in your lap, with good strapped-on balance, too, regardless of a whiff of neck-heaviness due to its long neck.

The neck profile is a fleshy, but not too fat ”D”. Due to a baritone-guitar’s longer scale length (28″/71,1 cm) a newbie will need a little time to adjust his (or her) technique, but after a few minutes or so muscle memory will take the reigns without any problems.

The Viking Baritone’s choice of pickups really does it for me, fitting this guitar’s acoustic tone to a tee. The freshness of the neck pickup, together with its deliciously woody response, will keep even the lowest runs clear and punchy. And the moderately-powered bridge humbucker adds just the right amount of bite and grit to proceedings.

I feel that Hagström’s Viking Baritone is a fine baritone for all occasions and all styles of music (well, probably apart from the most massive of high-gain applications).

Listen to these two audio clips (the pickup order is: neck – both – bridge):

Hagström Viking Deluxe Baritone – clean

Hagström Viking Deluxe Baritone – crunchy

****

The Hagström Northen Swede (current street price in Finland approx. 1.200 €) is a high-quality, EU-made reissue of the classic Swedish model of yore.

We’re talking about a set-neck solidbody, made almost completely from African mahogany (note: the cover plates look strange in this pic, because they still have their protective foils stuck on top).

The large pearloid inlay proudly displays the Northen-series’ logo.

The Hagström-tuners have an 18:1 gear ratio and a smooth and precise feel.

The Northen Swede’s Resinator-board looks more lively than its counterpart on the Viking Baritone. The fretwork is very good.

One special, time-tested feature of all Hagström necks is the H-Expander truss rod system. The H-Expander truss rod sits in a rigid aluminium bar with an H-shaped cross-section. The whole system is then mounted into a tight-fitting, profiled slot inside the the neck, resulting in greater rigidity and thus a better vibrational transfer than most other truss rod systems provide.

The Swede features Hagström’s idiosyncratic tailpiece, using individual string retainers mounted onto a perspex plate.

Swedish pickup-guru Johan Lundgren is the force behind the Northen Swede’s classy pickups. The guitar is equipped with a pair of No. 2 -humbuckers, which are powered by Alnico 2 magnets.

The Hagström Swede sports two three-way toggle switches: The switch on the guitar’s shoulder is your usual pickup selector, while the one on the treble-side horn is a tone filter -switch.

The tone filter’s middle position is off, with the ”up” selection giving you a mild presence roll-off, while the ”down” position results in a noticeably greater treble and high-mid cut.

The control knobs work in the standard Les Paul -fashion, with each pickup being provided with its own set of volume and tone controls.

Quality components, clean soldering and thorough screening, using conductive paint and an aluminium-lined lid, get the thumbs up from this here reviewer.

A sturdy and beautiful Hagström-case is included in the Northen Swede’s price.

****

The Hagström Northen Swede’s well-rounded neck profile feels great to me. The nicely polished frets and the ’board’s 12-inch camber make for a fast and effortless playing experience.

Thanks to the fantastic interplay between the tone filter -switch and the guitar’s controls, the tonal options afforded by this Swede are virtually limitless. The Lundgren-designed pickups have a very clear and clean basic tonal character, which enables you to make the most of the Northen Swede’s passive electronics.

In my opinion Hagström’s Northen Swede is a top-quality guitar offering a great deal of tonal variation to the discerning guitar connoisseur. In light of its Czech origin, I must say that the Northen Swede truly represents quality European workmanship at a very moderate price.

All the following audio clips have been recorded with the tone filter -switch starting at off, then going to moderate roll-off, with the last phrase using the full treble cut selection:

Hagström Northen Swede – neck pickup/clean

Hagström Northen Swede – both/clean

Hagström Northen Swede – bridge pickup/clean

Hagström Northen Swede – neck pickup/crunchy

Hagström Northen Swede – both/crunchy

Hagström Northen Swede – bridge pickup/crunchy

****

…and here we have both Hagströms in action:

Hagström Viking Baritone + Northen Swede – the video’s audio

****

Hagström-guitars

Finnish distributor: EM Nordic

A big thank you to DLX Music Helsinki for the loan of the review instruments!

****

Hagström Viking Deluxe Baritone

Current street price in Finland about 600 €

Pros:

+ sound

playability

+ workmanship

+ weight

+ pickups

Cons:

– fingerboard binding felt a tad angular on test sample

****

Hagström Northen Swede

current street price in Finland about 1.200 €

Pros:

+ made in the EU

+ sound

+ versatility

+ Lundgren-pickups

+ workmanship

+ playability

+ weight

****

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