Me and my guitar: Meshuggah's Mårten Hagström

(Image: © Future)

Mårten deals with arthritis on tour using this unique version of his M8M signature model by the Ibanez Custom Shop...

Shouldering the burden

“I first noticed a problem with my shoulder a couple of years back at a German festival - me and someone got into a wrestling fight in a corridor… he fell on top of me and I busted my shoulder. But I didn’t get it checked. 

We’ve been on the road for a lot of years - your body takes a beating. I expect this to happen, I’ve just got to handle it right

“I usually work out at home so I just worked my way through it, but then when I busted my other shoulder and tore the AC [acromioclavicular] ligament I started overusing this one and I had to go and see the doctor because it hurt so much. 

“I had an x-ray and he told me, ‘You’ve got arthritis and it’s pretty bad.’ From there on it’s been rehab. But it’s not a big deal. When I’m playing, sometimes it’s worse, but I’m 45 and we’ve been on the road for a lot of years - your body takes a beating. I expect this to happen, I’ve just got to handle it right.

“This is one that I had Tak [Hosono, Ibanez Master Builder] from the Ibanez Custom Shop make for me with my shoulder in mind. The Custom Shop guys are amazing. For them to do a guitar can take a while, but they made it happen in two months.”

Scale length

“This is not the usual 29.4-inch scale, it’s a 28-inch. It’s alder like my standard M8M, but shorter, and he hollowed it out [in places]. He really didn’t tell me how but he’s done stuff inside the body - it’s lighter.

“You lose a bit of the baritone thing but it’s not a major change as far as a live setting is concerned, it’s not going to show. It’s just going to feel different. For me playing stuff like [plays the clean arpeggiated part from Meshuggah’s Future Breed Machine] it’s pretty long and as it’s the last song of the set, you’re usually pretty tired, too… so that inch and a half makes a shit load of difference.

The Lundgren [M8] pickup is a representation of what the guitar is; it’s very all-round. It doesn’t really freak out in any one frequency

“It doesn’t feel an inch and a half - it feels like ukulele to baritone because it’s so much more in your hand. It kind of makes sense to sacrifice a little bit of tone to have playability when you’re hurting.”

Tuners

“We always have locked nuts and fine tuners, whichever way we choose to do it, because it just wouldn’t work in a live setting otherwise. We hammer away and I’m pretty rough with my guitars.”

Pickups

“The Lundgren [M8] pickup is a representation of what the guitar is; it’s very all-round. It doesn’t really freak out in any one frequency. It doesn’t have a lot of low end punch, it doesn’t really sit with that EMG active kind of top end, it doesn’t have the power of an old DiMarzio. But it represents the guitar because it’s pretty linear - it doesn’t boost in a lot of areas. 

“If you put it in a bad guitar it’s not going to sound as good, but when you have a balanced build that sounds good acoustically it’s going to be clearer. And the way you can play with all this distortion going on… it’s not a dynamic guitar tone, but these pickups make it so. Because you can play the instrument - it doesn’t translate shit you don’t want.”

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