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Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
#3030983 02/29/20 08:04 AM
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https://www.hagstromguitars.com/basses/retroscape/h8-ii-bass.html

I spotted this by accident at a GC on-line sale tonight, and found a few (but not many) audio demos on YouTube of the original (mostly) and the reissue (two at most).

It matters who is playing, and most of the demos are awful, but the ones by highly musical people are quite good, and make this sound more like an octave-down lead guitar than an octave-up bass guitar, which is perfect in my mind and also there wouldn't be tracking issues as with an octave pedal.

At 20% off, combined with a points-based rebate that will expire soon, I could get this for close to $600 vs. $900 typical street price. I'd need a bag or case too, and wonder about availability of strings when it comes time.

Frankly though, my ONLY hesitation is due to the four Jaguar-style toggle switches. I have never kept any instrument that has them, and was happy to find a Schecter bass VI model that doesn't use them (the third and most recent rev of the Hellcat VI).

Note that it's a 30.75" scale bass, and has through-body strings. All of the design decisions seem spot-on for idealizing the balance between low and high strings.


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031010 02/29/20 04:15 PM
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I owned one of the original Hagstrom basses. I also did set up work on a customer's. I do love the sound. You will make adjustments in both fingering and picking but it's easy to get used to it. It IS a BASS but can be played somewhat like a guitar as long as you don't attempt string bends. And yes, no glitchy octaver

In my mind there are 2 fatal flaws. They are headstock heavy and the short upper horn does not help. Expect it to want to hang with the headstock pointing earthward.

The bridge has a single intonation point for each pair of strings, the strings have notably different intonation points. Leaving you with 3 choices, all of them not desireable.
You can intonate for the lower strings and the higher strings will be out of tune as you go up the neck. You can intonate for the higher strings, lower strings out.
Or you can intonate in between those two settings, reducing the error for both strings. I found this third solution to be the "least worst" of the 3.

If you never plan on going past the 5th fret you won't hear it. Slighty out of tune sounds sort of cool. Up past the 12th fret you will really notice it, annoying.

In your price range Dean and LTD both made/make 8 string basses. The longer upper horn should alleviate most of the headstock dive but the headstock is heavier than a 4 string and will tend earthward.

A few years back, I was first in line for a Warmoth custom built 8 string with case, the owner was asking $200. He was moving to Thailand with his wife in a week and got behind on clearing out his stuff so he had to flip it fast. Fantastic bass but with a solid hard maple body it weighed a TON, would put your leg to sleep sitting down and send you to the chiropracter if you tried it standing up.
It did have a Schaller 8 string bass bridge, fully intonatable and a bargain. https://www.warmoth.com/Schaller-471-8-String-Bass-Bridge-Chrome-P917.aspx

I would find out which was lighter - the Dean or the LTD and buy a used one. Then install the Schaller bridge.
It may not have the "bling" but it will be a better choice.

Edited to add, Schector makes an 8 string bass also.

Last edited by KuruPrionz; 02/29/20 04:20 PM. Reason: Plus Schector

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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031034 02/29/20 08:48 PM
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Thanks; useful feedback. The last time I looked into 8-strings, I tried a Spector at the NAMM show and didn't like it. Wasn't aware of the models you mentioned so will look for them.

The re-release isn't as authentic as their write-up claims, but I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing overall. I notice it has two strap hooks at the base, both off-center.


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031038 02/29/20 09:49 PM
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No wonder I didn't know about the ESP LTD model, as it was released in 2018, after I stopped looking regularly at their catalogue:

https://bassmusicianmagazine.com/2018/08/ltd-b-208sm-8-string-bass-review/

It's off the list due to being active; I have sworn off batteries permanently, for quite a few years by now, and have had no regrets.

The Dean Edge, and Schector Stiletto 8-string, are also both active basses. I'm checking eBay to see if anything else shows up.


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031039 02/29/20 09:53 PM
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The Rickenbacker 4003/8 from 1983 is probably passive, and stereo like most Ricks:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/1983-Rickenbacker-4003-8-Bass-Mapleglo/174168705166?hash=item288d43888e:g:e5oAAOSwSlVeKtNk

Probably ergonomically awful, like most Ricks, and of course uber-expensive, so out of the question, but interesting nonetheless.

I believe the sale price on the Hagstrom is good until 11 March, so I'll take some time to look into bridge replacement w/ the Warmoth.

That was my main concern initially as well, as it did look like four vs. eight saddles, even though I couldn't zoom for much detail.


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031040 02/29/20 09:54 PM
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I wouldn't be using this at gigs; just for an occasional song in the studio, and maybe at home based jam sessions -- just as for 12-string guitars.


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031041 02/29/20 09:56 PM
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For the Schaller replacement bridge, the strings must terminate at the end vs. going through the body, so I'm wondering if that would interfere with tension and other issues with the bass itself. Not sure if they had a specific model in mind, and didn't yet check either to see whether the other 8-string models out there (including some boutique makers I didn't list) are short scale editions.

Last edited by Mark Schmieder; 02/29/20 09:57 PM.

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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031042 02/29/20 10:03 PM
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I'm thinking the short scale will make it less forgiving of intonation issues. Going beyond the fifth fret would be common, and even twelfth fret would not be a typical limit. I'm trying to remember whether I replaced the bridge on my Danelectro Baby Sitar or not, as that might provide a clue. I can also print the Schaller info and take it to a luthier for assessment.

Last edited by Mark Schmieder; 02/29/20 10:03 PM.

Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031073 03/01/20 02:17 AM
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I've decided not to do the Schaller upgrade, as I don't like doing permanent damage to the original instrument; it destroys the resale value. So I will make my decision based on whether I think I can live with the intonation issues.

Also, I checked my Hellcat VI and it does have Jaguar switching after all -- though not used for the same things necessarily as Fender tends to do with theirs.

The one on this 8-string bass is actually four separate rocker switches, which should be more reliable overall and hopefully hard to hit by mistake while playing.


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031094 03/01/20 06:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Mark Schmieder
I've decided not to do the Schaller upgrade, as I don't like doing permanent damage to the original instrument; it destroys the resale value. So I will make my decision based on whether I think I can live with the intonation issues.

Also, I checked my Hellcat VI and it does have Jaguar switching after all -- though not used for the same things necessarily as Fender tends to do with theirs.

The one on this 8-string bass is actually four separate rocker switches, which should be more reliable overall and hopefully hard to hit by mistake while playing.


I am not here to tell anybody what to like or what to do. We all must make our own choices. It is important to be happy with your instruments.
Since I've owned a couple of 8 string basses and adjusted a couple I thought I'd pass along what my experiences were.

As to a couple of your comments, it has been my experience that short scale basses are going to have strings that are under less tension. Since they aren't as tight but still have considerable mass they tend to vibrate in a larger arc, which puts the string under slightly more tension briefly and that extra tension sharpens the pitch until the vibration subsides after the intial attack. So yes, they don't tend to sound as in tune as a longer scale instrument. A lighter touch on the right hand can help.

I've heard all sides of the strings through the body vs strings top loaded through the back of the bridge discussion. All I can say is both methods can and should sound very good, especially on a bass. The design and implementation of the bridge probably makes a bigger difference if you are at the extremes (wooden bridge on a Hofner with a floating tailpiece vs a solid metal bridge screwed down tight to the body). I'm not sure anything sounds bad so much as some of us like some sounds more than others. Which is all the reason to get what you want and like!!!!

Both of my basses are top loaders and both sound great. That's about I have for now. Keep us posted when you get something! Cheers, Kuru


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031095 03/01/20 06:54 AM
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Oh, I just meant that some basses claim that every aspect of their design, from a tension point of view, depends on the through-the-body stringing. I have gone back and forth on my P-Bass and a couple of others as well; sometimes depending on what strings I'm using. I haven't drawn firm conclusions that I feel confident could be considered generalities.

My concern about the Schaller design is that the screws would possibly go where the through-strings currently pass, but a luthier could probably figure that out before any money is invested. Also, I wouldn't want to weaken the wood if there's enough other stuff going on in that region that something could crack or split. But probably there's just a level cavity in the stock design of the bass, and no likely harm. It just doesn't look like a good form fit, when comparing pictures on the web.

I will probably buy this bass as I have some songs where I wanted an 8-string, and I very much liked the two audio demos I found by good players using this reissue vs. the original, and disliked other models I have tried or have heard in demos. The hardshell case might be a back-order, and the Schaller bridge is cheap and is probably a quick shipment if I decide to go for it.

In some ways, I like the all-black look best in GC photos, but at Hagstrom's own site, which has much better lighting and a larger quantity of photos as well as higher-resolution, I think I prefer the "SG Bass" look of the cherry red finish. The tobacco burst finish doesn't look good to me with the black pick guard and the rosewood fingerboard.


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031101 03/01/20 09:47 AM
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It's on its way and should arrive in a few days. Hardshell case might be quite a wait though; no one has it in stock.


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold Top, G5422DC-12, T486-RB, ES295, PM2, EXL1
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031119 03/01/20 04:33 PM
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I am an experienced luthier and it appears the Schaller would be a straightforward installation but there is one critical dimension that you need to consider.
I did not mention it since we didn't know what bass you might be getting.

Since the string slots have not been cut you have a variable, which is nice. But you will need to first measure the distance between the two outside strings on the Hagstrom bridge and then you need the specs on the Schaller. If it is too wide, you will have strings too near the edges (or even over the edges). A little too slim (unlikely) would still be workable, especially with the variable string width.

Taking into account that adjustment could be made cutting the string slots it is probably fine.

And yes, I would hesitate to install one on an all-original vintage bass but I would make a new bass into the tool that I need to get the results that I want without worrying too much about resale value. It will be a LONG time, if ever that the re-issue becomes "collectable".


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031200 03/02/20 06:52 AM
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Thanks; all good advice. It should arrive on Thursday. I'm excited!


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold Top, G5422DC-12, T486-RB, ES295, PM2, EXL1
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031223 03/02/20 03:05 PM
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I played an original that belonged to a friend about 40 years ago. It was an interesting cup of tea -- I could really only play it with a pick, couldn't figure out how to do it finger style.

Interesting sound though -- I could see how it could really help fill out the midrange in a power trio, particularly if the guitar player is soloing.


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031660 03/04/20 09:04 PM
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It sure is a purdy bass, but I wonder what need or use I would personally have for the 8-string sound. On the other hand, I play fretless and never really wondered if it would fit in with my band.

Any soundbites, Mark?


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031670 03/04/20 10:00 PM
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It arrives tomorrow. I only found two YouTube videos that use the current model; it really sounds different (and better) to my ears than what I found for either the vintage model or other brands.

I don't have much use for an 8-string bass, but I have some specific songs where I think it will help in final production, and that's enough to earn its keep. Otherwise it gets sold.

I have no intention of using this instrument live, but I also thoroughly decouple my recording projects from my gigging projects, as it avoids most of the drama that causes bad blood between musicians. And anyway I use so many different instruments that it would only work for me to be a solo artist who has a gazillion hired guns on stage; not very affordable!


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031821 03/05/20 07:13 PM
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Please let us know what you think after you've had a few days to play with it.

I do check out YouTube videos but there are so many factors that could compromise or enhance the quality of the sound.

First and foremost is who is playing the instrument. There are some "famous" YouTubers reviewing gear who cannot play their way out of a paper bag and use a cell phone (with a built in mic) to record their videos.
The best gear in the world fails in their hands.

Then there's stuff like Jeff Healey performing See The Light for the first time on television. He's playing a Squier and he is playing it "incorrectly", setting it in his lap and frettig primarily with the thumb of his left hand. Sounds totally amazing, he was a great player with great tone thrashing the crap out of a cheap guitar and showing the world how it's done.

Gotta have it in hand! Cheers, Kuru


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3031879 03/06/20 01:38 AM
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First impressions are that it is a very good deal for its price. Nice feel, no neck diving, easy to play finger-style (I haven't even tried with a plectrum yet), and good intonation even beyond the 12th fret. I haven't plugged it in yet, and probably won't until Saturday, as my amp is pretty buried at the moment (I practice acoustically at home, so mostly just get it out for gigs).

It looks unlikely that the replacement bridge would work, but I'm not sure I'll feel that I need it anyway. I'll know more once I track it on the three songs I have targeted it for initially (all influenced by late 60's Stones and the like).

Glad I ordered the red, even though it's not as nice as I had hoped, as it at least makes it easier to see what I need to see while playing (compared to all-black).

Too bad the Hagstrom hardshell bass case isn't available at the moment (even for back-ordering). I don't really want to waste money on a temporary bag, so I may just double it up in the bag I bought for my Schecter Hellcat VI (which doesn't have a case made for it), until I can get a case. I could order one from the U.K. but it would add huge shipping costs and take forever.


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3032035 03/06/20 10:33 PM
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So far so good then!


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3032181 03/08/20 01:30 AM
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Alright, great news: the Jaguar-style switching makes this a VERY versatile bass from a tonal point of view, as you can also minimize the high-string jingle so that it just provides a slight sheen on top but isn't really directly "heard" as an octave-up string per se.

With all controls at max (i.e. "on", as there's no tone knob per se), the high "G" course has a louder-sounding octave string than the others, for some reason. Maybe the string gauges aren't 100% ideal, but the alternates on the market wouldn't really work well on this bass so one is pretty much stuck with the custom set from Hagstrom (.040/.013, .050/.023, .065/.038, .090/.052).

EDIT: I thought both of the top two high strings were unwound, but using a magnifying glass, I was able to verify my suspicion that only the top-most high string (the "g") is unwound, so that would explain why it uniquely rings out with a bit more focus and harshness than the others, thus lending the impression (right or wrong) that it is much louder than the low "G" string and the others.

I'm not convinced I'll use this bass much at all, but I definitely feel it is the best 8-string, period. Meaning now or in the past. And it definitely obviates the need for an octave-up pedal (I only have an octave-down pedal currently, so would still "need" that one even though it too is rarely used and more often I just use an EHX Bass Big Muff Pi fuzz pedal as I sold the Aguilar octaver).

Last edited by Mark Schmieder; 03/08/20 01:36 AM.

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Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold Top, G5422DC-12, T486-RB, ES295, PM2, EXL1
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3032183 03/08/20 01:31 AM
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I would say overall that the plectrum is generally the way to go vs. finger-style, for most settings, and sticking with a standard pick vs. a felt pick, but the latter does diminish the high frequencies a bit as one would expect and is a little closer to finger-style in sound, just as on a Precision Bass.


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold Top, G5422DC-12, T486-RB, ES295, PM2, EXL1
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3032229 03/08/20 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark Schmieder
I would say overall that the plectrum is generally the way to go vs. finger-style, for most settings, and sticking with a standard pick vs. a felt pick, but the latter does diminish the high frequencies a bit as one would expect and is a little closer to finger-style in sound, just as on a Precision Bass.


Finger style involves upstrokes and the primary string is thicker than the octave string. You'll hit the primary string first and mostly miss the octave string unless you go for a deep pluck or angle the stroke downward.

Rickenbacker reversed the position of the primary and octave strings on their 12 string guitars so a downstroke strum with a pick would be less trebly.

Playing up near the neck with a thinner pick would probably fatten up the tone but it makes palm muting (partial mute) impossible or difficult at best. Still easy to mute with the left hand but not the same sound.

I guess this is why tone controls and EQ exist. Cheers, Kuru


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3032312 03/09/20 05:51 AM
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Depends on how you play. With super-vintage type instruments like this, as well as thick-body arch-top basses, I do what the players of the time did, and play down-stroke with my thumb (or pluck).


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3032346 03/09/20 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark Schmieder
Depends on how you play. With super-vintage type instruments like this, as well as thick-body arch-top basses, I do what the players of the time did, and play down-stroke with my thumb (or pluck).


With 5 decades of playing guitar/bass behind me, I work with what an instrument has to offer and try to find the variations that are available.
There is never an incorrect way to play with the exception of causing physical damage to oneself or others. The more tones you can create, the more places it can find a spot in a composition.

So yes, all of the above. ++++

There are a LOT of tones in there, no doubt about it!


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3032423 03/09/20 11:49 PM
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I think the most important point is that the hyperbole is not to be believed, and that's a good thing! In other words, this is a new instrument vs. a recreation of an old one. I'm surprised they pretend it's a vintage replica, considering how every major detail differs from the original, but probably it's hard to sell a specialty instrument without evoking one from the past that did reasonably well and is somewhat well known within musician circles due to the famous players that owned and used the original Hagstrom back in the day.


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold Top, G5422DC-12, T486-RB, ES295, PM2, EXL1
WX5, XK1c, Voyager
Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3032441 03/10/20 02:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Mark Schmieder
I think the most important point is that the hyperbole is not to be believed, and that's a good thing! In other words, this is a new instrument vs. a recreation of an old one. I'm surprised they pretend it's a vintage replica, considering how every major detail differs from the original, but probably it's hard to sell a specialty instrument without evoking one from the past that did reasonably well and is somewhat well known within musician circles due to the famous players that owned and used the original Hagstrom back in the day.


They wanted the "bling" of "re-issuing" the first ever 8 string bass. At the same time, technology has come a LONG way in those years.

A true reissue would be more expensive to build since parts like the original bridge would need to be retooled and the total number of sales for an 8 string bass is probably not really high.

I play a heavily modified Strat and P-Bass and those instruments were designed so long ago. Yet the designs remain classic due to great ergonomics and styling from the get-go.

Sounds like you are having fun and that's really all that matters! Cheers, Kuru


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Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3032940 03/12/20 04:27 PM
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I coveted that bass when it came out! But I don't think I'll get the re-issue. After trying to "fake" 8-strings with an octave up box, I found that the sound quality was a lot better if I played an octave higher, and used an octave down box. On the rare occasions when I need that sound, it's..."good enough." Still. if I had the disposable income sitting around...:)

Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3032987 03/12/20 09:40 PM
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Good feedback, Craig. I'll do some comparisons when I have time, with octave-down on higher-up playing, and see if I have a preference.


Eugenio Upright, 60th P-Bass, Geddy Lee J-Bass, Hofner HCT-500/7, Yamaha BBP35, Viking Bari
Select Strat, Select Tele, Am Pro JM, LP 57 Gold Top, G5422DC-12, T486-RB, ES295, PM2, EXL1
WX5, XK1c, Voyager
Re: Hagstrom re-releases the world's first 8-string bass from 67
Mark Schmieder #3033213 03/14/20 05:37 AM
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The main difference for me is that the ear is more sensitive at higher frequencies, so it's more likely to identify the octave above sound as "fake." With a "real" octave higher, the ear hears the lower octave as just filling in the sound.

But sometimes I just throw in the towel and use a sampler smile I play the part on bass, convert it to MIDI, and drive a sampler that layers the low notes and octave higher notes. Delaying the octave-higher notes by 20 milliseconds or so emulates the delay between hitting the two strings. Of course, the big issue there is cleaning up the MIDI track of any glitches and weirdnesses. You also give up some degree of expressiveness, but it's tolerable IMHO.

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