Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe Electric Guitar (Cream Red) Review

Posted by Sherrie Kearney on Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hagstrom Tremar Viking Deluxe Electric Guitar
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I think the Gibson ES-335 is the best overall electric guitar. But it costs thousands of dollars. And when I listened to it blindly vs a decently made semi-hollow guitar of the same body shape, I'd barely notice the difference in sound quality. So I went hunting for a reasonably priced semi-hollow for myself and finally bought this one.

I really love this guitar. I read good reviews of it, but couldn't find it in a local store to try out first. So I just gambled on it when I saw it for a "see price in cart" that was several hundred dollars lower than I could find anywhere else. Price is back up to expected levels at this moment, but even at this price, this guitar is great and I'd buy it again at this price. I was initially worried because the guitar is made in china (most guitars unfortunately are). However, the workmanship seems quite good and I went over it pretty thoroughly. Fretboard is very smooth, the frets are level, and even the intonation was almost perfect right out of the box. The neck is very very thin, and yet it doesn't appear twisted or off in any way. The factory setup was much better than I expected. The sound both amplified and unplugged is great. The tremar (bigsby) works well with its enlarged grip and the guitar stays in tune pretty well after using it. This is probably the best 335 style guitar at this price range. I almost bought an Epiphone Sheraton II (which I sampled in a few stores), but after I received this, I almost immediately knew the Viking was better. I encourage you to at least try this guitar out. I think you'll be surprised how good it is.I kinda wish the "cream red" was a little bit darker or richer, but that's just a very minor detail. It's still a very good looking red.

A few things that noticeably stand out to me about the Viking vs a 335. The instrument jack is in a more traditional spot on its side (the 335 jack is on its face, by the pots). The pickup switch is above the neck pickup, not by the pots (335). I think both of those favor the Viking's design. I don't want to hit either of these inadvertently on an aggressive downstroke. 335 has fancier and smaller F holes. The Viking's seem large and not nearly as attractive. The Viking headstock has an off-center design, but it's very attractive. I like the unique appearance of it. And the Viking has a tailpiece. In terms of appearance, the 335 probably looks better without a tailpiece, but I think the tailpiece (with its coat of arms logo) does add to the uniqueness of the Viking.

The Viking II & IIP are quite different from the Viking, Viking Deluxe, and Viking Deluxe w/Tremar. They have noticeably different hardware and design differences.

If you're wondering whether to get the Viking Deluxe or just the Viking (about a hundred dollar difference), here's what I noticed differs. First, the Deluxe has block inlays on the fretboard (not dot). Second, the wood is flamed (really visible if the guitar's finish is translucent or natural). One nice aspect unique to the Viking Deluxe w/Tremar: it has metallic knobs, not plastic. I can't tell exactly what they're made of (probably stainless steel), but it's definitely heavier, and looks & feels much better than plastic. (The models without the Tremar have normal knobs.) Fourth, the truss rod cover on the headstock says "Viking Deluxe" on it. As far as I can tell, these are the differences. Would I say the Deluxe is better looking? Yes. It's up to you if it's worth the extra price. I think the Deluxe w/Tremar is the best looking of the 3, but again, up to you whether it's worth the additional cost and whether you'd use a Tremar.

Here's what these models have in addition to the standard Viking:
Deluxe: Flamed wood finish, Block fretboard inlays
Deluxe w/Tremar: same as Deluxe, but also with Stainless steel knobs & tremar (obviously)

Anyway, I'd recommend you buy this guitar. But even if you don't, at least give this guitar a try. You'll probably be surprised like I was. By the way, it does NOT include a case. So budget another $100 or so for a hard case. Aside from the packaging materials, it includes two allen wrenches in a small pouch (for saddle and truss rod adjustments). But it has no documentation whatsoever. (serial # is on the back of the headstock)

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Product Description:
The Hagstrom Select Series, Vintage Series, and UltraLux Series guitars recapture the original glorious Hagstrom style.They are built to the same stringent quality standards and feature Hagstrom's exclusive technologies including the legendary H-Expander Truss Rod while introducing a number of new technological advances such as the Resinator Fretboard in order to guarantee that these are the finest guitars on the market.The Vintage Series Tremar Viking Deluxe combines a vintage Hagstrom Vibrato roller bridge with custom hardware to match. This Vibrato hollow body is the ultimate in elegance.The Tremar Viking Deluxe opens up a new dimension of tone, playability and nuance. The Hagstrom Tremar bridge was designed to ensure the perfect tuning and intonation, even under heavy use.The Tremar Viking Deluxe features a Contoured Flamed Maple Body with a Maple Set Neck. The fingerboard is made from Resinator wood with Hagstrom Pearl Block Position Marks. Resinator wood is more stable than any standard wood product. It is the perfect fingerboard material in that it eliminates wolf tones or hot spots, and it has a smooth, articulate sound.The H-Expander Truss Rod provides tension at either end and running the entire length of the neck, and the rigid yet lightweight alloy truss rod allows for a very low action and thin neck, two factors that were instrumental in earning Hagstrom its reputation as the world's fastest playing guitar.Other features are: Hagstrom 18:1 die cast tuning keys, 24.75 inch scale length, a 3-way toggle, a Tremar Vibrato with Tremar Roller Bridge, 2 x volume/ 2 x tone, and 2 x Hagstrom HJ-50 Humbuckers.

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