You could call Hagström’s Fantomen (Swedish for The Phantom) a signature guitar of sorts, as it has been designed in collaboration with Swedish Metal band Ghost.
In terms of its outline the Fantomen is not a million miles removed from Gibson’s forgotten Seventies classic the RD, which was sunk by the ill-advised addition of active electronics. The Hagström Fantomen, in contrast, has been designed as a straightforward and practical, yet versatile, electric guitar for the Rock and Metal guitarist. Let’s take a look…
The Hagström Fantomen (current price in Finland ca. 850 €) marries a set mahogany neck to a relatively thin mahogany body (3.5 cm/1.38″).
The Fantomen is available in black and white finishes, too, but I must say that the sunburst finish on our test sample is a stunner, really showing off the two-piece body’s wood grain.
The front of the body sports multi-ply binding, while a comfortable ribcage chamfer has been added to the back.
Hagström’s stylish headstock is a bona fide design classic, as are the stepped tuner buttons.
Two special features are included in all Hagström models:
The Hagström H-Expander truss rod is an ingenious piece of engineering. The adjustable rod sits inside a metal rail with an H-shaped cross-section. The entire assembly is then inserted into a slot of the same shape that has been cut into the neck wood. The H-Expander requires less wood to be removed than any of the other traditional truss rod designs, which is a good thing for the structural integrity of the neck, which in turn benefits the guitar’s tone and sustain.
Hagström has also long been favouring its proprietary Resinator-material for all of the company’s fingerboards. Long before the recent ban of genuine rosewoods was even on the horizon, Hagström found a way to bond sustainable wood slivers and resin into man-made ebony, calling the material Resinator.
The Fantomen has a Fender-style scale of 64.8 cm (25.5″) and offers 22 medium-jumbo frets on its 15-inch radius fretboard.
The chrome hardware further comprises a tune-o-matic-type bridge and a stopbar tailpiece, as well as a set of Hagström’s H-embossed knurled control knobs.
For their Fantomen model Hagström turned to Swedish pickup guru Johan Lundgren, who designed a set of Far Eastern Lundgren Designed humbuckers for the model.
The neck humbucker is loaded with an Alnico II magnet, while the bridge unit uses a stronger Alnico V version.
The Gibson-type control setup of two volumes and two tones is further augmented by push/pull-switches in the tone controls that split the humbuckers.
For such a comparatively large-bodied guitar the Hagström Fantomen is rather comfortable to ”wear” and play. Our test sample’s weight is on the moderate side of medium.
The neck profile is a slim D and the excellent, buzz-free setup makes the test sample a real player. The fretwork is very competent, even though our test guitar’s frets would have benefitted from a few minutes more attention during polishing. Straight out of the box there’s a tiny amount of coarseness you can feel during bends, which will disappear by itself, though, simply by playing the Fantomen regularly.
The decision to use humbuckers with a moderate output level in the Fantomen really pays off. The tones this Hagström delivers are nuanced, dynamic and three-dimensional. The Fantomen is a guitar that faithfully translates a player’s touch into music, meaning it can be gentle just as well as aggressive. The coil splits go a long way in providing fairly authentic single-coil sounds for those Fendery moments.
Here is a clip showing you the six main pickup selections played through a Bluetone Shadows Jr. boutique combo. The full humbucker settings come first:
The demo song was recorded using a Juketone True Blood amp (Tweed Champ clone) and a Bluetone Shadows Jr. combo. No pedals were used:
Even though the Fantomen was designed in collaboration with a Metal band, Hagström haven’t fallen into the trap of creating a one-dimensional, balls-to-the-wall screamer. The looks may say ”Rock”, but Hagström’s Fantomen also offers fine clean tones, turning this model into a great all-rounder.
Current price in Finland approx. 850 €
Finnish distributor: EM Nordic
+ value for money
– gigbag not included
It was actually the bass that served as the original impetus for the Hallabird. Ville had made a slightly Gibson Thunderbird-influenced bass for his own use. The bass got so much positive attention that Ville decided to put more bread on the water, which is why he developed a guitar model along the same design ideas.
The Halla Custom Hallabird (3,700 €; including case and more, see below) is a handmade neck-through guitar with a flawless clear finish.
The through neck is made from nine long strips of wood – African mahogany (khaya ivorensis) offset with walnut. While the neck construction follows Gibson’s lead, the Hallabird takes its own path when it comes to scale length. This custom guitar comes with an extra long scale length of 67 cm (that’s approximately 26.37 inches for our Imperial readers).
The streamlined body wings have been crafted from khaya, too.
The Hallabird comes equipped with black Gotoh-hardware. This guitar also sports a brass nut to insert a little brightness into the open strings. This is probably the smoothest brass nut I’ve seen in my guitar-playing life.
Access to the two-way truss rod is from the headstock end on this Halla Custom guitar.
Twenty-four gleaming Jescar Evo jumbo frets have been installed into the Hallabird’s ebony fingerboard. The fretwork is nothing short of excellent – this is one of the areas where a handcrafted guitar tends to outshine production models, regardless of their price.
Gotoh’s hardware is known for its consistently high quality, and the Hallabird’s TOM-bridge and stopbar are no exception.
Ville Mattila mostly uses his own pickups in his Halla Custom guitars. The Hallabird comes equipped with a pair of handmade P-90s, niftily placed inside EMG-style plastic covers. The pickups are reverse-wound/reverse-polarity, meaning they act as a humbucker, when used together. The pickups’ golden polepieces look great with the Jescar EVOs and the khaya mahogany.
The Hallabird’s electronics are a little bit different than what you’d expect, judging by the knobs. There’s a three-way toggle for pickup selection, as well as a master volume control (sans treble bleed). What looks like a tone control is in fact what Ville calls a three-way impedance rotary. While the rotary switch minutely changes the treble content of the overall signal, it clearly influences the volume control’s roll-off taper. This allows you to fine-tune the way the guitar’s volume control reacts to your playing style and your amplifier.
Halla Custom’s Hallabird is one heck of a guitar. It is one of these rare cases, where a new design manages to look classic and fresh at the same time. A guitar that is understated, yet flashy. The quality of workmanship is excellent down to the smallest details.
The Hallabird is very lightweight, making it an ideal choice for long sessions or gigs. Thanks to the guitar being a non-reverse design, the Hallabird balances very nicely despite its longer-than-usual neck.
The neck profile is reassuringly round and chunky, without feeling clunky or unwieldy. Thanks to the outstanding fretwork the Hallabird came with a setup that made a set of 010s feel very slinky, even on the extra long scale neck. I’m quite sure many players won’t even notice the extra scale length, but if you wanted to order something more ordinary, I’m sure that Ville would happily oblige.
Acoustically, the Hallabird displays a piano-like attack with a long and even sustain. Note separation is excellent, even with complex chords, and there’s a great balance between warmth and clarity.
P-90s are a fantastic choice if you need humbucker-type power and girth, coupled to a single-coil’s dynamics. Even though its looks are probably a little ”too Rock”, the Hallabird can glide effortlessly into Country and Jazz mode, and then turn into a Rock machine at the proverbial drop of a hat.
These two clips have been recorded using a 1980s Boss SD-1 and a Bluetone Shadows Jr. boutique combo:
For the demo song I used a 1980s Ibanez SC10 chorus pedal on the rhythm guitars, and a Morley M2 Wah for the lead, through the Shadows Jr.:
Halla Custom’s Hallabird is a great-sounding and classy-looking guitar, made by somebody who clearly knows what he is doing. Don’t be fooled by the Classic Rock looks – this is a very versatile instrument for the discerning player.
Naturally, handcrafted quality like this never comes cheap. This is a true boutique guitar, made by a trained luthier-artisan highly dedicated to his craft.
Halla Custom Hallabird
Handmade neck-through electric guitar
3,700 € – includes hard case, high-end guitar cable, quality strap (with Schaller locks), one free setup (after 6-12 months of use), and lifetime tech support
Contact: Halla Custom Instruments
+ handcrafted in Finland
Halla Customs’ Ville Mattila is a member of the Guild of Finnish Luthiers.
Chapman Guitars tulee!
”Greetings, I’m Rob Chappers!”
Nämä sanat ovat tärähtäneet kitaristien tärykalvoille Rob Chapmanin YouTube-kanavasta jo yli 200 miljoonaa kertaa.
Nyt meillä on ilo ja kunnia ilmoittaa, että miehen perustama Chapman Guitars -kitaramerkki rantautuu Suomeen Musamaailman maahantuomana! Vielä tämän kuun aikana meille tulee mahtavia Chapman ML1 Pro Modern- sekä Chapman ML3 Pro Modern -kitaramalleja. Myöhemmin kesällä valikoima laajenee lisää.
Halla Custom Hallabird
Handmade neck-through electric guitar
• Made in Finland
• 9-stripe khaya/walnut through-neck
• khaya body wings
• long scale – 67 cm/ 26.37″
• ebony fingerboard
• brass nut
• 24 Jescar Evo frets
• two-way truss rod
• black Gotoh hardware
• two Halla Custom P-90 pickups
• three-way toggle, master volume, three-way impedance switch
Amp used – Bluetone Shadows Jr.
Pedals used – 1980s Ibanez SC10 Chorus (rhythm guitars), Morley M2 Wah (lead guitar)
Mic used – Shure SM57