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Hagstrom H I O Rebuild


My brother bought this Hagstrom H I O new in 1972 for $150.00 from Bill Lewis Music in Vancouver. Its serial is 787134.

Originally single-pickup, fire engine red and truly handsome, he decided later to sand it down, stain it, and add a humbucker. Unfortunately, whoever did the wiring really messed it up and it never sounded good again.

I inherited it a decade later and it has stood against many a wall since - until last week, when I decided to play with it. Being on a zero budget, and realizing that a true restoration was out of my league, I let things flow as inspiration and searches through the junk bin dictated.

After sanding, the wood didn't justify being stained - so I went to the co-op and bought a little can of Tremclad Rust paint. The result was great. I sprayed a dozen coats of glossy urethane on top, which didn't come out the way I expected, but isn't so unpleasant either.

While that was happening, I dremeled the pick guard to even out the curves and got to thinking about the electrics. I didn't want to buy anything, so I settled on radical - out with the old and plugged straight through to the pickups. I cut off some carriage bolts to cover the holes in the pickguard, lined everything with foil and soldered the jack directly to the three-way switch and on to each pick up.

It sounds great - hard and edgy on the humbucker and distant, but warmer on the neck pickup. Even better, with real thin strings I was able to drop the actiojn to the bare minimum; it's really comfortable to play. Perhaps I'll buy a stompbox for it, or maybe even a volume pedal one day. The only problem is a dodgy jack - next time I change the strings I'll have to pop the cover and switch it out.

What it might have looked like.

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