First impressions of Hagstrom's demure semi-hollow Viking baritone guitar are that it's a straight jazz and rock 'n' roller, and that's certainly half-true.
The P-90-esque P-Urified single coil in the neck has enough teeth to bite through those low frequencies and articulate jazzy chords with a fair degree of separation, while with a breaking-up amp, the Viking can handle bluesy rock 'n' roll as easily as warm, sonorous jazz tones.
The neck, meanwhile, is thick but comfortable, while the Resinator fretboard, unique to all Hagstrom guitars, is a composite material that's designed as a more tonally reliable alternative to ebony. Although string-bending with a set of 0.013s is an Olympian chore and access to the upper frets is like getting a work visa for North Korea, there's a litheness to the Viking.
The Custom 58B humbucker in the bridge is bright and resonant, capable of dishing out a subterranean country vibe a la Lee Hazlewood, and chewy, sinewy classic-rock tones - albeit rendered in sphincter-troubling registers.
Indeed, the more you crank up the gain, the more the Viking Deluxe reveals itself as a surprisingly good option for metal, certainly alternative rock and grunge, with full-blown fuzz pedal action bringing out a harmonically rich and throaty roar, underpinned with the authority of its lower tuning.
Whether you love its Dr Jekyll cleans or succumb to its Mister Hyde alter-ego, the Viking Deluxe is sure to appeal to traditionalists and iconoclasts alike.