Price paid: € 880
Purchased from: Thomann
Sound — 9
It is an awesome guitar, and that is not because it's new or something. I have owned U.S.A Strats, a Vintage Epiphone LP, Gibson LP Studio, Gretsch 5125 and this guitar beats them all, hands down. The sounds are a sort of hybrid between the older Gibson LP sound, but with a twangy edge you get from a Gretsch hollowbody. You also get the endless Gibsonesque sustain, but without the compressed sound when playing a modern LP clean. It could do Jazz, but I think it is better at everything else except hard rock/metal (it does a great job at Stoner rock, 70's psychedelic sounds, rockabilly, blues, etc.)It has been compared to a Strat-like sound, but that's nonsense, it is warmer and more dynamic than the average Strat and does not have a Strat "quack" at all. I use it with a Marshall JCM900 stack and my modded Jet city 20 tube amp. I use a Fulltone GT-500 overdrive/distortion, MXR Phaser, TC Nova Delay, Fuzzfactory and EHX Holy Grail. It suits my style very well, I play a lot of genres from alt. Rock to stoner rock and an occasional blues tune or symphonic rock song. I like creating soundscapes, so I need a guitar that sound uncompressed and has lots of natural sustain. The P90 are single coil, but the middle pickup is reverse wound so you have several hum free options there. Variety? What guitar has variety? We all know a coil tapped LP does not sound like a Strat and we all now that complex triple coil tapped PRS-like contraptions do all the sounds, but none as convincing as "the real deal". Taking that in consideration, this is the most versatile guitar I have ever owned.. Why? Because everything it does has its own unique vibe to it. Some may not like it, but at least it's something different!
Overall Impression — 8
This guitar is unique in sound and looks. No review can describe it's sound, or the way the fretboard feels. The movies on YouTube do a great job in making it sound "average", and that's is exactly what it is not. GO OUT AND PLAY IT, you will either love it or hate it. I have been playing for 15 years, owned about 10 guitars, lots of tube amps. If this guitar was stolen I'd buy the exact same one (how many well made triple P90 guitars with vibrato tailpiece are out there?) One word of caution: This is a very heavy and unusual guitar with several parts that should not be screwed with by an unexperienced guitar player. The unique headstock is not suitable for the beginner that does not know how to handle a guitar and the sound needs proper dialing in because it is different from anything else. This instrument must be played through a proper tube amp. I tried it on a friends (expensive) multi FX unit and those processors are built for either single coil or humbuckers, the P90's suddenly lost all of the "tonal goodness" I had experienced earlier. Because of the above, I would not recommend this guitar to any beginner. They would be better of with a "mainstream" guitar. That being said, If Hagstrom where to sell this guitar for twice the money, I still would have bought it. See it as a really, really cheap boutique instrument, at least soundwise.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I have not played it enough to say anything about it's durability. In my opinion durability can only be judged after years of playing. It is a solid (real heavy) mahogany guitar. With solid (real heavy) hardware. The only thing that might not last long are the pickup covers, these are plastic and that is the only thing they should have done better. For a vibrato equipped guitar it will stay in tune incredibly well, even with .09 strings. Yesterday I rehearsed with the band for 3, 5 hours. I tuned the guitar twice. That means this Super Swede detunes exactly as fast as my HardTail (LP) guitars and that is awesome. Do not expect to be divebombing or something. If that's your thing you are totally reading the wrong review, this is a Vintage vibrato tailpiece.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Factory setup was great, but the action could have been a bit lower and I think the bridge pickup should sit slightly higher. The guitar was shipped here from Germany and it was freezing out. So I unboxed it in freezing temperatures. Strummed an E-chord... In tune right out of the box! Truly amazing. I think that has to do with the weird H-Expander trussrod (one of those "Swedish design" things). The finish is very well, better then you'd expect from a guitar in this pricerange. The best thing is the Swedish engineering. They really tackled all those little issues other brands seem to ignore, like the "Tremar" design. That vibrato is not a Bigsby knockoff, it is the Bigsby 2.0, enhanced in every way. The pickup selector switch takes some getting used to, some love it some hate it. I think it is a well thought out solution for getting 6 pickup configurations without resorting to a Fender style toggle switch (that would have looked hideous on this guitar).
Features — 8
Probably Asian made, given its pricepoint. Built in 2011. Mahogany body with 10mm Carved Maple Top, set mahogany neck, Resinator Fretboard, 25.5" scale length, Graph Tech Black Tusq XL 43mm nut, Bigsby style vibrato with Roller Bridge. 3 P90S (S means "spiced") pickups woth rotary selector switch. 3 tone pots and 1 volume. Hagstrom brand tuners. It is painted gloss black with great detail. Heavy gauge strap knobs and very well designed body shape. It comes without a case or bag, so I ordered the original Hagstrom hardcase with it for 80, - extra.