Hagstrom Select Super Swede Electric Guitar (Vintage Sunburst) Review

Posted by Sherrie Kearney on Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hagstrom Select Super Swede Electric Guitar
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I love my Select Super Swede.I was fortunate to have spotted the SSS in Vintage Sunburst when there was just one of them left in the Amazon inventory.Sometimes items go on sale when there is only one or two left, so I took a chance on it, since I had read good reviews on this guitar.Before purchasing, I was torn between a Swede and a Super Swede.My preference was the Super Swede since it had the longer 25.5 inch scale (good for bass note clarity at the expense of slightly higher string tension making bends slightly harder) and it has the coil tap switch which I thought might be more useful than the tone filter that the Swede has.The only reason I got the Select edition was because it came up on sale and ended up much cheaper than the everyday price of the standard Super Swede.I don't think I would have paid the extra $100 for the quilt top and chrome plated plastic knobs, although it is pretty and I can see where some players might really go for it. Other differences include wood binding on the Select instead of 5 ply black & white and uncovered humbuckers (vs. chrome covers on the standard) which I didn't feel strongly about one way or the other. Also, presumably to show off the quilted top, the Select has omitted the LP-like pick guard that the standard Super Swede sports.

When it arrived it was in great shape.No problems during shipping, so I dusted all the foam dust off it, admired the beautiful quilt top, and promptly began tuning it up to pitch.At once I noticed the tuner knobs were a sort of unique Hagstrom-ish shape, which looked quite cool, but were made of a pretty cheap hollow plastic with a thin (and in some cases already flaking off, chrome paint).Of coarse this is only something you will notice if you study the instrument with intent scrutiny, but it is worth noting.Tuning this guitar is a real pleasure though.The 18:1 tuning machines are great, and the graphite composite nut is self lubricating so that even a slight turn on the pegs results in tiny pitch change without having to constantly fight the nut hysteresis.Very nice.

Once up to tune, I played some chords without any amplification.The tone of the unplugged guitar is clear and very melodic.Plugging into my Peavey Classic 30 tube amp resulted in some beautiful blues sounds in all pickup and coil configurations.The single coil tone is sparkly, but a little more mid-rangy than my strat.Some have described it as sounding more like a tele than a strat, and I agree with that description as it seems to have just a hint of country twang in it.The humbucker tones were darker and again very melodic.The pickups are called Custom `58s, implying a vintage sort of output (and tone-wise they are).But with the Alnico V magnets they put out a pretty strong signal so they can still hit your amp pretty good and get some nice breakup. I like these pickups a lot.The pickup selector switch on mine is a little goofy though.A couple of times I flipped it and got no sound out at all.Flicking the switch got it to work again, but I'll have to watch this and see if it gets to be a problem.Playing a few songs made me realize the pure elegance of the neck.The ebony-like fretboard is very fast and smooth and makes this a very easy guitar to play.Bends were buzz free and easy with the 9s this guitar ships with.The stock set-up was good with nice action and intonation right out of the box.

Switching from my amp to Amplitube 3 running on my computer, I tried outa variety of medium and high gain amp models.I was impressed with the clarity of solo notes and power chords.Classic rock and modern metal territory are both in easy grasp of this guitar with a good dirty amp.Amlitube's Mesa/Boogie Triple Rect and Peavey 5150 are my cranked distortion amps of choice, and this guitar drives them beautifully. The humbucker in the bridge position just rips with bristling chunky tone and nice strong pinch harmonics, and the neck pickup sings with a sustain that just goes on and on.Even though I would not classify this as a metal monster's guitar, the combination of beefy tones and fast neck make it fun to shred as long as you're not looking to dive bomb.I have no doubt that the heavy mass and multiple attach points of the fixed bridge (each string has it's own block) contribute to the incredible sustain this guitar has.

In summary, I would say it is a beautiful looking guitar with a few quirks, but when it comes to the important things (tone and playability for me) it stands out head and shoulders above the competition.I can't stop playing the thing.It sounds and feels so good.

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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 Hastrom'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 Select Series Super Swede is a magnificent example, a luxurious and majestic instrument. Select mahogany and premium select quilted maple woods provide a mighty low end with excellent clarity and articulation in the mid and upper ranges.Stunning sonics and gorgeous finishes are featured in the Select Series, with real wood flame maple bindings on the body and neck and distinctive pearl/abalone markers on the Resinator fretboard.The Select Super Swede is a solid body cutaway, with Hagstrom 18:1 die cast tuners, 2 x Hagstrom custom 58 Humbuckers, 3-way toggle, and a long travel T-O-M bridge with Hagstrom Stop tail piece and 6 individual brass string blocks. The H-Expander Truss Rod provides tension at either end and running the entire length of the neck. 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.2x Volume / 2x Tone/ Mini-Toggle Coil-tap Switch.

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