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Hagstrom HJ-500 Guitar

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It’s been a while since the name Hagstrom was kicked around by jazz guitarists. In the ’60s, the Swedish company manufactured a Jimmy D’Aquisto-designed guitar with an oval soundhole and a floating humbucking pickup. It resembled an Epiphone Howard Roberts model, though at a more affordable price. Hagstrom is now back on the scene with their new line of affordable jazz-friendly guitars introduced at this year’s NAMM show.

The new HJ-500 and the old ’60s D’Aquisto are two entirely different animals unplugged. A sound block underneath the HJ-500’s saddle braces the maple top and back. Two HJ-50 humbuckers are routed into the top along with four pots mounted to the body. Very little acoustic sound emanates from its f-holes, but one gets the impression that archtop resonation wasn’t the objective here. When plugged in, the HJ-500 boasts a warm and punchy tone, electric in nature with lots of sustain. There’s a patented new design that may be a contributing factor, a wood composite “Resinator” fretboard that also aims to maintain solid intonation and eliminate buzzing strings, dead spots and wolf tones. The fretboard, sound block, pickups and composite graphite nut all seemingly work together, producing enough sustain to make even Nigel Tufnel smile. The 16-inch body with a depth around 2 7/8-inches makes for comfortable seated playing, and its weight is moderate enough for easy stand-up play.

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