Member Review: Hagstrom Deuce F
Alright, much thanks to mdrorick for this detailed and honest review of his new axe. Keep them coming everyone!
Body: Mahogany with 10mm carved maple top
Neck: Mahogany, set
Fingerboard: Resinator fretboard with Hagström pearl block position marks, 15in radius
Tuners: Hagström 18:1 die cast
Scale length: 25.5”; Graph Tech Black Tusq XL 43mm nut
Pickups: 2 x Hagström Custom 58 (humbuckers)
Pickup selector: 3-way toggle
Bridge: Long Travel Tune-O-Matic with stop tail piece
Controls: 2 x Vol, 2 x Tone push/pull tone knobs (for independent coil splits)
The LH version is currently available only in Tobacco Sunburst – thank you, thank you for giving us an option other than black!
After having a chance to give it a good workout over the past couple weeks, I largely agree with the reviewer. It’s a substantial axe – mine weighed in at around 8.3 lbs – but it’s well balanced and feels more solid than heavy, if that makes any sense.
The signature Hagström headstock has mother-of-pearl inlays and that up-do Deco shape; the die cast tuners are deco as well and are a great touch stylistically. The vintage-toned cream-colored binding around the body and neck match the pickup rings and contrasts well with both the Tobacco Sunburst top and oxblood stained mahogany of the body.
Here’s where I run into a mixed bag with the Deuce F.
On the big big positive side: the Resinator fretboard feels amazing. I’ve never played an ebony fretboard (which the Resinator material is designed to emulate), but if this is what ebony feels like then I’m pretty sure it rocks too. I’m not a fast player, but this stuff makes me feel like I’m flying. And with a thin yet super-stiff neck (a combination due to the unique H-Expander truss rod, the Hag website tells me) the playability of this guitar is awesome.
Also a huge positive: the mind-boggling amount of sustain that this guitar generates. The MusicRadar.com reviewer suggests that perhaps it’s the oversized headstock, plus the chambered mahogany body, plus the 10mm maple cap, plus the crazy Hag tailpiece (each string is threaded through it’s own brass block, which is then anchored to the aforementioned thick cap via a piece of acrylic), which gives the Deuce F sustain for days. I’m inclined to think he’s right, but whatever it is that keeps the notes ringing out of this guitar, I’m glad of it. It sounds great… and just keeps on sounding.
The Classic 58 humbuckers are perfectly serviceable, with full-on in-your-face nastiness from the bridge and a clean bright tone (with just a touch of smokiness) out of the neck. Combined, they’re quite appealing as well – in all, there’s a lot of tonal territory to cover with those three toggle-selected options. And I’m glad for that, because here’s where we start to run into the other side of the mixed bag.
I should indicate here that this guitar was built in China and finished at the Hag plant in Sweden. Knowing this going in, I was curious to see what kind of quality I’d end up with (particularly after watching Jesse’s positive review of the Chinese-built Dean Dime From Hell). And as you’ve read above, there’s a lot to like about what Hagström has delivered in the final package. The big stuff – body design and finish, neck setting, playability, ease of tuning (and holding tune – the machine heads aren’t just pretty to look at, they feel solid and smooth and keep things tight as a tiger) and intonation – they nailed. But when it came to the knobs they apparently decided to cut some corners. The three-way pickup toggle works just fine, but feels cheap as chips (and the small plastic covering on the end of the toggle fell off when I took the guitar out of the box: that’s a fine how-do-you-do). The volume and tone knobs are pretty damn cheezy too; they look all right but are slightly warped and so appear to wobble around as you run them through their full range of motion. A little disconcerting, but has no effect on the tone or playability of the guitar – and, admittedly, these are small details, but this next bit I’m plenty frustrated by. The MusicRadar reviewer had mentioned that the push-pull tone knobs were tough to get your fingers under, and that he wished they were a little easier to operate – suggesting that perhaps chunkier knobs instead of the stock witch-hat covers might be easier to use. Well, I dug my fingers under there and all I could manage to do was pop the witch hat off, again and again. Finally I opened up the back cover and had a look; in fact there are no push-pull pots in my guitar at all. I’ve sent an inquiry to Hagström for clarification and at the time of writing this review I’m still waiting for a response; I will update this review when it arrives. I’m expecting to hear something along the lines of “oops yeah no coil-splitting pots on the lefty model”, but who knows. Hope springs eternal. Maybe it was a factory error and they’ll forward me some push-pulls.
Even still, though, those knob issues can’t take away from what for me is the bottom line: playability. This guitar seems to want to jump into my hand – seriously, it feels so good to play I have a hard time walking past it without picking it up. It’s killing me on my work-from-home days ‘cos I’m not getting much work done… The versatility of tone is great (and will take on a whole new dimension once I install those damn push pull pots that were supposed to be stock), and it’s plenty good looking. Ask it to wail? It wails. Ask it to weep? No problem. Ask it to kick you in the teeth with all the dirt and grit you can handle? Done (and can someone give me a ride to the dentist?).
Hagström has done well with their Deuce F. Minor problems and all, I’m extremely happy with the guitar and look forward to getting my hands on their other LH models in the near future.
MusicRadar.com wrapped their review with this:
5 of 5 stars