Ah, the simplicity of the Hagstrom HIIN. Two buckers, three-way switch, and you’re off! There’s no denying that even though tons of switches and pickups and knobs look cool, when it comes to ripping through songs at the speed of light, well you just have to give props to simple designs like this.
This Hagstrom body style first appeared around 1965, but the humbuckers and wide headstock design didn’t arrive until 1969. Listen, I LOVE Hagstrom guitars! I love the early sparkle stuff, I love the single coil, vinyl, mesh stuff. I love the big ol’ Vikings and the big ol’ Swedes. But this model, right here, is my “desert island” Hagstrom! When I was younger a friend of mine had a black one just like this, but with a stop tailpiece. Years later I answered a Craigslist ad and drove 65 miles one way to get this cherry killer.
These twin humbucker Hagstroms had a good run, lasting from 1969-1976. Based on the loose dating that’s out there, this one was born around 1973, same as yours truly! Hagstroms were always known for their ultra thin necks, but with these HIINs, the necks are bigger and very comfy.
Top quality wood was used, the components are great, the tremolo (often Tremar) works wonderfully and was a carry-over from previous models. These guitars just seem to be built really well. I’m so used to getting guitars from the 60s and having to do hours of work to get them playable, but this one didn’t really need anything! I think we replaced the jack! No re-fret, no re-wiring, no wood clamps and heat gun to straighten out the neck. It’s sort of nice to get a used, working guitar!!!
Just look at that dern headstock! I love it! These Hags are often compared to Gibson SGs, but really they’re only similar in design. I really like Gibson guitars, and I really like my SG, but I would never say that owning an SG and an HIIN is redundant. They really sound different. My HIIN has this incredibly biting tone, and in the bridge position, it’s like there’s a boost or overdrive circuit in there! Seriously, this guitar has spank!
So why title this one “Slash and Burn”? Well, one of my favorite all-time bands is the Germs. Well the guitarist, Pat Smear, collects Hagstroms!! I own a book about the Germs (I can’t find it at the moment) and Pat tells a story of how his guitars were like an afterthought. He’d just borrow or play whatever was handy (until he touched X’s Billy Zoom’s vintage Gretch Jet!!). After the band broke up and Darby went to England, he came back and shortly afterward played a last show of sorts. Anyway, for the occasion, Pat decided to buy a new guitar and went to a local store because he saw an ad for a Hondo that included, as an extra incentive, extra pickups or something like that (when I find that book I’ll fix all this shotty recall). But then it happened, Pat saw a guitar just like this one here, and he’s been playing Hagstroms ever since. In fact, he’s played that same guitar in all his bands, including the tail end of Nirvana. Here’s some clips for you to enjoy!
First, here’s Mike Dugan playing my HIIN….
And here’s some Pat Smear videos and Germs songs, etc. I should interview him!