I haven’t been posting for quite a while, I’ve been busy with the family. We managed to get through a pretty complicated pregnancy and were lucky enough to get a little baby boy out of it. So now the family have grown and Frida got her little brother, Vilke.
I finally put the second Harmony H-162 back together. I got two late 1960’s Harmony H-162 acoustic guitars about 2-3 years ago and it has taken forever to actually find the time to re-set the necks on them. The first one I put together back in November and that one was sold straight away. This one is reserved for a friend of mine but if he decides to get one of my Levin guitars instead then I will put it up for sale. They are really nice these Harmony guitars, wide neck, strong tone and great wood. Harmony used the same wood supplier as Martin back in the day. These were called folk guitars which is a grand concert size, the exact same size as a Martin 000. The Harmony H-162 was produced in Chicago from 1940-1971, this one is most likely from the late 1960’s looking at the headstock. Even though it was an inexpensive guitar at the time they were built with all solid woods, back and sides of selected quality mahogany with a resonant spruce top. It’s a surprisingly well sounding guitar for being a mass produced ladder braced guitar, way better sounding than any Gibson B-15 or B-25 I’ve heard and it cost a third. The neck is pretty wide which makes it extremely comfortable for finger picking. Considering the price of a late 1960’s Martin 000-18, or even a Gibson B-25, the Harmony H-162 is a bargain for a USA made all solid wood vintage guitar.
Fender Blues Deluxe™ Reissue, 40W tube amplifier 2011
I recently sold my Fender Blues Deluxe™ Reissue amplifier. It was my first proper amp and I will miss it for sure, until I find another Fender amp that sounds the same but is smaller. The problem was the size and volume, 40W tube amps are really loud. I couldn’t use it at home and we rarely do gigs where I could use a 40W tube amp. I’m thinking of getting a Fender Blues Junior™ Lacquered Tweed instead, it’s 15W so that would suit my needs better. Unfortunately I haven’t found any guitar shop in Barcelona where I could try one so I guess I will have to get it online and hope the reviews are accurate enough. Other recommendations are more than welcome, just write a comment below.
Levin W-30, Made in Sweden in 1979
Sometimes I feel like a recovering Levin-oholic who keeps falling off the wagon time after time. I promised myself, and my wife to stop buying Levin guitars but just seems to be unable to. I recently found this beautiful and very unique Levin W-30 in Sweden that I couldn’t resist and had to buy. Now I’ve realised that I probably shouldn’t have. I’m running out of wall space for guitars and I could do with the money for other more pressing family related things, apparently guitars is not a high priority in the joint family account. Therefore I’ve decided to put it up for sale. I believe this guitar to be a rare one off, most likely built by one of the Levin builders for himself and outside of the normal production. They stopped making the Levin W-30 in 1975 so that’s the first sign that this is a unique one. The previous owner bought a lot of parts, material and finished guitars when the Levin factory closed down in 1979, well actually an old man called Friis did, who had a music shop in the north of Sweden and when he died and closed his shop the previous owner bought parts of his left-over Levin stock and this guitar was one of them. He claims that it was built in 1979, otherwise it wouldn’t have been around when the factory closed, which makes perfect sense. The original Levin W-30 came with block inlays while this has beautiful snowflake inlays in the bound ebony fingerboard instead. The alpine spruce top and the rosewood back and sides are bound with a five layer wood binding which looks really classy. It’s also treated with a thin layer of lacquer instead of the heavy clear coat that the mid 1970’s Levin W-30 came with. That gives a really open and beautiful sound, very Martin like. The guitar is in very good state but has some small marks around the body. The neck is in perfect condition and so is the frets. The spruce top has had a dry crack professionally repaired, these type of cracks are very common on Levin guitars because of the dry winters in Sweden. The guitar is equipped with an under saddle pickup and ready to play with live. This is a unique 40 years old hand built Swedish guitar for a third of what a vintage Martin would cost.
Goliath size: Body width: 400 mm, body length: 505 mm, body depth: 95/120 mm
Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm
Spruce top with 5-ply bound wood binding and 4-ply bound three-piece rosewood back. Mahogany neck with adjustable truss rod. Bound ebony fingerboard with snowflake inlays. Bone nut and saddle. Nickel plated individual Levin stamped tuners. Ebony bridge, natural finish and ten year warranty
Levin LDR-28H, Made in Japan in 1979
I have a lot of Swedish made Levin guitars but I’ve never actually had a Japanese made on in my hands, until now. After C. F. Martin & Co. purchased Levin in June 1973 they started to import Japan made Sigma guitars for the European market under the Levin brand. There are actually quite a few of these mid 1970’s low end Sigma’s, especially in Sweden, but it’s a lot rarer to see a high end 1979-1982 Sigma made in Japan with Levin on the label. There is a very rare version called Sigma DR-14, which is a DR-41 but with a 3-piece back, that was imported through Levin. When the Levin factory closed down in Sweden in 1979 they had a short run with making Levin guitars in Japan, mainly Martin copies. I have to say that owning a 1982 Sigma DR-41 and now a Levin LDR-28H, they are very similar in build, sound and feel. Even though they are two different models, you can tell they are made in the same factory and both are excellent guitars. Now when I have a fancy pants real Martin to compare them to, my 1999 Martin HD-28LSV, there is something very special about these Japan built Martin guitars. There is a punch in the mid range and a cleanness to them, less woody and more sparkly perhaps. It’s very hard to explain but I really like the sound and I guess that’s why I got in to Japanese built acoustics in the first place.
The Levin LDR-28H is in pretty good shape for it’s age. There is an old crack on the lower bought of the top but it’s well glued and doesn’t look too bad. I really like the eye for details on this Martin HD-28 copy, diamond volute, herringbone binding and zig-zag backstrip, just like on my Martin HD-28LSV.
The Levin LDR-28H and my Sigma DR-41, most likely made in the same factory in Japan under the supervision of C.F. Martin & Co.
Martin HD-28LSV, Made in USA in 1999
Last week I changed the pickup in my new Martin HD-28LSV. It came with a LR Baggs Anthem SL installed which sounded good but I had a feeling that a LR Baggs Lyrics might sound even better. I’m also not a big fan of having things stuck under the saddle, when I installed the LR Baggs Anthem SL in my 1966 Goya T-16 I felt that the tone died a bit. I’m sure there might be some other pickup system out there that is even better, but for me, nothing beats the Lyrics for the dry and woody sound that I am after. Now I have the LR Baggs Lyrics system installed in my 1981 Sigma DR-41 and my 1968 Levin LT-18, my main guitar for the Claes Anderson Band. I really enjoy this new Martin HD-28LSV and will use it for our gig tonight at La Sonora de Gràcia but I think I will stick to the 1968 Levin LT-18 as my main guitar for playing live, it’s Swedish and just looks nicer on stage. Here is a quick comparison of the LR Baggs Lyrics and the LR Baggs Anthem SL.
I finally got myself a Martin D-28. Well it’s actually a Martin HD-28LSV which is a HD-28 but with a large soundhole and a vintage vibe, LSV: large soundhole, vintage series. It has an Adirondack spruce top with forward shifted scalloped X braces and solid East Indian Rosewood back and sides, apparently they changed from Adirondack to Sitka spruce in 2000 so this is one of the last ones with a red spruce top. The mahogany neck has a really nice modified V profile, not as fat as I would have hoped for but the chunkiest neck I’ve felt on a modern Martin. It has all the nice vintage trimmings of a HD-28V, fine herringbone binding and zig-zag back strip. It has a bound ebony fretboard without any position markers, just like Tony Rice old 1935 Martin D-28. The Martin Book says: HD-28LSV (1998-2000), based on D-28 #58957 owned by Clarence White and later Tony Rice, 4 15/16″ sound hole, bound finger board with no position markers. It doesn’t have the same pickguard as the legendary #58957 Martin D-28 and the machine heads are closed Kluson style, I believe the original ones would have been open back Waverly’s. Considering the $5,999.00 list price for the now discontinued Martin D-28CW, Clarence White Commemorative Edition, I think I got a decent Tony Rice copy pretty cheap. The sound is very deep, warm and woody but at the same time resonant and very punchy in the midrange. I’ve never played a guitar this fine so I’m still blown away every time I pick it up. It’s such a perfect bluegrass guitar so now I really need to learn some reels and become a bluegrass player. Last night I removed the LR Baggs Anthem SL that was installed, I love ebony bridges with long bone saddles so I really didn’t want to have a piezo strip stuck under it. Now it’s even more resonant and clear sounding. I’ve ordered a new LR Baggs Lyrics that I will install as soon as it arrives so I can take this baby out in public.
The unofficial Tony Rice model, the Martin HD-28LSV. Adirondack spruce top, scalloped X bracing, Rosewood back and sides with the large soundhole and a bound ebony fretboard without any position markers. I used to own a Martin SPD-16R that I could never get used to the neck on, too flat and modern profile but it sounded pretty nice. Having said that, there is a huge difference between a Martin and a MARTIN. This Martin HD-28LSV will blow the sock of any standard Martin D-28 and most Martin HD-28.