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Guitar of the week #86 - Hagstrom Condor

Hagstrom Condor

Those crazy Swedes are at it again.

Here we have the Hagstrom Condor. Three pickups, one knob and six toggle switches.

Yikes.

Your eye is immediately drawn to the array of switches, of course.

Are they all functional? In fact, yes they are, and here's what they do, in order (front-to-back):

  1. Neck pickup on/off
  2. Middle pickup on/off
  3. Bridge pickup on/off
  4. Tone toggle (treble cut)
  5. Rhythm/Lead toggle (changes output level as far as I know)
  6. "Top" (more or less a bass cut)

So yes, this means that tone controls are handled by toggle switches only as the knob is a volume control.

What does it sound like?

I can best describe the Condor is sounding like a cross between a Fender Stratocaster and a Rickenbacker 360.

In other words, this guitar totally has the "sound of the '60s". As in the early '60s before everything got distorted later on.

Pickups on their own is where you get the Ric sound, and pickups together is where you get Strat-like tones (with hum canceling). Also, if you use a bridge + neck pickup combo, you get Telecaster-like tones out of it.

Confusing to use?

Not really. The 6 toggles at first look intimidating, but when you realize the first 3 are just pickup on/off switches and after that you have "tone", "boost" and "top", it's actually easy to figure out.

"Versatile?"

I honestly don't like using this word to describe a guitar because there are so many idiots that toss this word out to describe an instrument when they don't know what it means.

However, I know what the word means, and versatile does describe the Hagstrom Condor well. It can sound like a Ric, a Strat or a Tele. It has the electronics to boost and/or cut frequencies to wrangle just about any tone you'd want to get out of it.

The Condor is a borderline weird guitar but in the end isn't because everything it offers does actually make sense. There isn't anything on the guitar "just for the sake of being there". Everything on it is functional and serves a legitimate purpose.

I dig it. It's different, but in a way where you can actually get more out of it. The Condor is definitely not just a one-trick pony.

On a final note, the 2-pickup version of this is called the Impala, but even though I champion 2-pickup electrics, this is one of the rare instances where I say go for the 3-pickup because you get the most tonal options.

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