1948 Hagstrom Orkestra Jazz Guitar

1948 Hagstrom Orkestra acoustic jazz guitar

This Hagstrom Orkestra used to belong to a famed Norwegian jazz guitarist and I’ve owned it for longer than any other guitar in the collection.

I got to know Finn Westbye in my teens. He was in his 80s and retired, but liked working on setting up and repairing guitars at a music store in downtown Oslo, Norway. I bought my first electric from that store (an Epiphone Stratocaster in red) and got in the habit of chatting with him every time I went in. Sometimes I even went in just to talk. He shared bits and pieces of his long career, playing with Robert Normann, and ridiculing the rockers for slinging their guitars so low. I found him both endearing and entertaining and was sad when he passed away in 1994. A few weeks later I spotted this Hagstrom in the window with a note that it was Finn’s and up for sale. I inquired and was told it was available as a silent auction. I placed a modest bid and left hoping it would be mine. A few weeks later I received a call from the store. They told me the only other bidder was Marius Müller, a fantastic Norwegian guitar player. “He’s on tour and won’t return for a while, so the guitar is yours!”

Hagstrom is a Swedish guitar company, but between 1947 and 1963 the company made a range of acoustic guitars and a few mandolins and basses in a barn outside of Oslo, Norway. I was told this Orkestra was made in 1948 and Finn Westbye installed the pickup himself much later.

More information about Hagstrom’s acoustic guitars (in Norwegian) here. Scroll down to read about the Orkestra model and see a photo of this one.