Claescaster

LR Baggs Lyrics

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAMartin 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.

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Martin HD-28LSV

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USA
Martin HD-28LSV, Made in USA in 1999

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.

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAMartin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAThe 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.

1978 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1978-79

Earlier this year I decided to buy a late 1970’s Fender Telecaster but ended up with three identical 1978-79 Fender Telecasters. The first 1978 Fender Telecaster was bought from a music store in Italy and served me really well during the summer but then I found this 1978-79 Fender Telecaster from Andy’s Really Great Guitars in Worcestershire, UK that I just couldn’t resist. I should of course have stopped there but stumbled upon a third 1979 Fender Telecaster from a record store in Southport, UK which I bought but now have sold. I’m planning to keep this 1978-79 Fender Telecaster since it’s lighter, 3.8 kg instead of 4.3-4.5 kg, the grain is amazing and most importantly it sounds awesome. It has a really nice full neck profile and I guess this is the Nancy I’ve always dreamt of. Well done me.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978 Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978

It’s always a bit disappointing to take a late 1970’s Fender apart since you realise that the headstock shows one year and all the other parts another. In this case the headstock and body sticker says 1978, #S840573, the pots say mid-May 1979, #1377920 and the neck stamp shows 17th of August 1979, #3395. Well done Fender, well done.

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978Taken from Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978A Fullerton built Fender Telecaster from 1978-79. Body and headstock shows 1978, pots and neck stamp shows mid-1979.

3 original Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978-79The three late 1970’s Fender Telecasters together, 1978 Fender Telecaster, 1978-79 Fender Telecaster and the now sold 1979 Fender Telecaster 

LR Baggs Lyrics

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1968Levin LT-18, Made in Sweden in 1968

I recently installed a LR Baggs Lyrics in my 1968 Levin LT-18 and I’m well pleased with the result. This has been my main guitar for the past year and I’ve already tried a LR Baggs M1A, M80 and now a Lyrics. I’ve had a LR Baggs Lyrics installed in my Japan made Sigma DR-41 for about two years but I never really use that guitar since I have so nice Levin guitars to play on. The Sigma sounds fantastic with the Lyrics so I decided to leave it there and buy a brand new one for the LT-18 instead. The LR Baggs Lyrics sounds similar to the LR Baggs M80 but better, more natural and woody. I’ve also had a lot less feedback issues with the Lyrics, the M80 has been a nightmare with a full band on stage. Here you can compare the LR Baggs M1A, M80 and Lyrics fitted in the same guitar, a 1968 Levin LT-18.

Harmony H-162

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960'sHarmony H-162, Made in Chicago, USA in the late 1960’s

Two years ago I came across a couple of Harmony guitars, two late 1960’s Harmony H-162 acoustic guitars and a late 1950’s Harmony Monterey H1325 archtop guitar. I sold the archtop pretty much straight away since I got two Levin archtops at the same time. Both of the Harmony H-162 were in desperate need of a neck reset and were unplayable so they got packed away for the first year and a half and then in April I got around to remove the necks and now last week I finally managed to reset the first of the two. This Harmony H-162 feels a lot like my 1965 Goya T-16, but of course ladder braced instead of X-braced. 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 last 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. This guitar is now for sale.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960'sOnce the neck was reset all the hard work was done. The rest was just cleaning, polishing frets, oiling fretboard, repairing some binding, installing machine heads and creating a new truss-rod cover.

Harmony H162, 1959 Harmony catalogue
I got myself two late 1960’s H-162 so now I will start on the second one and get that neck reset as well. Taken from a 1959 Harmony catalogue

How to… reset a neck

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960'sHarmony H-162, Made in Chicago, USA in the late 1960’s

This is a project that could have been done in two days but has taken two years. I guess it’s partly my fault, I wasn’t really sure how to reset a neck so I kept putting it off. I also have a 1.5 years old daughter and she is like a black hole when it comes to making time disappear. Anyway, now it’s done and everything worked out pretty great. I steamed off the necks back in April and then I had a lot of gigs and moved house in the middle and then last week I finally managed to get the guitar back together.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
I drilled a small hole under the 14th fret and tried to steam it off that way but it worked really badly so in the end I got frustrated and just removed the fretboard and got the neck off that way instead. I glued the fretboard back straight away so I wouldn’t mix the parts between the two late 1960’s Harmony H-162 that I had lying around at home. Once the neck angle was corrected I glued the neck back with Tite­bond 506/​4 classic wood glue.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
The late 1960’s Harmony H-162 in parts, it was actually quite easy to reset a neck. It’s pretty worn but the solid woods are really nice, mahogany back and sides with a two piece spruce top.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
I cleaned up the dovetail and heel with a chisel and then adjusted the neck angle with a file, it felt less risky than doing it with a chisel. I didn’t have to remove much for getting the action down and making it playable again.

 

Levin guitars for sale

I need to clear some space so I’ve decided to part with the following Levin guitars, there are some other guitars for sale too. If you are not familiar with the Swedish guitar maker Levin then please click on the link. All guitars were hand built in Gothenburg Sweden and made with the finest solid tone woods. Their alpine spruce tops were one of the reasonw why C. F. Martin & Co. bought Levin in June 1973.

Levin Model 2 Parlour Made in Sweden 1914
Levin Model 3
, Made in Sweden 1914 1100€ SOLD
A beautiful all original over 100 years old Levin parlour guitar. Spruce top with ladder bracing, birch back and sides. Pyramid bridge, bone machine head buttons and real mother-of-pearl dot inlays. It’s in great shape for it’s age and sounds amazing for it’s size. Neck, fretboard and frets are fine but the action is little bit high, it could improve with lighter strings. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Levin Goya F-11 Made in Sweden by Levin 1963
Levin Goya F-11, Made in Sweden 1963, 550€ SOLD
A typical folk guitar, fan braced and made for both nylon and steel string. It’s pretty worn but still very beautiful with it’s flamed birch back and spruce top. These type of guitars got really popular in the mid 1960’s during the folk boom in the US and Levin built quite a few under the Goya brand to compete with the Gibson F-25 and other Spanish guitar sized steel stringed folk guitars of the time. A great guitar for finger picking and very fun to play. It had a recent neck reset so the action is low. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Rondo Model 29 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1960
Rondo Model 29, Made in Sweden by Levin in 1960, 550€ 450€
A lovely little Swedish made parlour guitar. Rondo was made by Levin for Musik AB Westin & Co, a music store and publishing company in Stockholm with a large mail order business. It looks pretty similar to a Levin 119 and was made for both steel and nylon strings, this was pretty common on smaller Levin guitars in the 1950-60’s. It’s a very nice little guitar to play and it has more volume and sounds sweeter than expected, perhaps because it’s fan braced instead of ladder braced. This guitar can’t be compared to a cheap machine made guitar like Harmony, Silvertone or Framus. The action is a bit high but would easily come down with lighter strings. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946
Levin Model 32, Made in Sweden 1946, 650€ SOLD
A really cool Levin archtop from the 1940’s. Hand carved Romanian spruce top with mahogany back and sides. The Levin archtops are loud and sounds almost as good as a Levin flat top guitar acoustically, you can’t compare this to any of the machine made archtops like Harmony, Silvertone or Framus. It has some damage to the side which has been glued and is now solid, but can be seen. It’s all original but has an Artec MHFC93-CR pickup installed so it’s ready to be taken out and gigged with. If you are looking for a worn old archtop that sounds amazing, well here it is. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Levin LT-14 / Goya T-14 Made in Sweden 1965
Levin LT-14, Made in Sweden 1965, 850€ SOLD
An extremely rare Levin guitar, I’ve never seen another. It’s the smallest of the 1960’s high end Levin guitars and is roughly like a Martin 00 in size. It’s an awesome guitar, pretty much like a Levin LT-16 but smaller and with a bit less bass but with more clarity in the upper register instead. It’s ladder braced instead of X-braced which gives it a perfect sound for finger picking. It has a beautiful alpine spruce top with a bit of bear claw and mahogany back and sides. The guitar is all original and incredible well-kept for being over 50-years old. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Levin Goya 172 Made in Sweden 1970
Levin Goya Model GG-172, Made in Sweden 1970, 800€ 650€
The Levin LT-16 if my favourite Levin shape and this is the late 1960’s Goya version with the large headstock and individual height adjustable saddles. These guitars are 38 cm wide just like a Martin 000, it’s a very nice size to play. Slightly smaller than a normal Dreadnought but with decent bass from the solid mahogany back and sides. The guitar has some wear but the neck is straight and fretboard and frets are fine. The original Van Gent machine heads are in good shape but the pickguard is a bit uneven from being badly glued in a previous life. Overall a great Levin guitar and very hard to find outside the US. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Goya Model 163 Made in Sweden 1968
Levin Goya Model 163, Made in Sweden 1968, 950€ 750€
The classic Levin LM-26 in it’s late 1960’s Goya version with the large headstock and individual height adjustable saddles. It has a nice sunburst alpine spruce top with solid flame maple back and side. The guitar has some wear and there is a glued crack in the top but the neck is straight and fretboard and frets are fine. The original Van Gent machine heads are in good shape but the pickguard has been replaced. The sound of this Levin is very Gibson like, think Gibson J-45 from the 1960-70’s. Overall a great Levin guitar and very hard to find outside the US. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Levin Model 174 Made in Sweden 1972
Levin Model 174, Made in Sweden 1972, 1150€ 850€
In 1969 Levin replaced it’s flagship model the Levin LT-18 with the Levin Model 174, marketed in the UK as the Super Goliath Model 1855. The Levin Model 174 still had the characteristic bass side pearloid block inlays, ebony fretboard and bridge, alpine spruce top with flamed maple back and sides, but now came with the large headstock and individual height adjustable saddles. This example of the Levin Model 174 is quite unique since it has a dovetail neck-joint instead of the usual Levin bolt-on neck system. The guitar is in great shape and sounds amazing, really deep, warm and woody, like a good Levin dreadnought should.  The original Van Gent machine heads has been replaced at some point and now it has Wilkinson WJ-309 in gold on, for that Art Deco look.  Overall a great Levin guitar and very hard to find outside the US. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

 

 

1979 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant on the 4th of July 1979

As usual when it comes to me and guitars I never just buy one, well I do at first but then I always end up with two or three in the end. Since I really liked my 1978 Fender Telecaster I started to search for others and ended up with three different 1978 Fender Telecaster. Now after serious consideration, and  moving house and realising that I don’t have as much guitar storing space as before, I’ve decided to sell two of them. It was great in a way to get to explore three identical guitars from the same year, to compare the sound, build and feel of them and to learn more about late 1970’s Fender Telecasters. This one is great, it has a few battle scars and the frets are a bit low but that just builds character. All three of these Telecasters have a pretty chunky neck, something I love. They are around 23-24 mm on the first fret and about 24-25 mm on the 12th, not bad for a Telecaster. Unfortunately they weigh like a Les Paul, around 4-4.5 kg, perhaps that’s where the great twang and sustain comes from. As soon as I get the new flat in order I will make some videos of all three to compare them. This guitar is now for sale.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979
Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979I took this guitar apart and checked all the numbers and this one was made in 1979 even though the S8 headstock serial indicates 1978. The neck stamp says #2794 which means week 27, 1979, day 4, that was Thursday the 4th of July 1979. Here are the basic numbers to check:

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978

The colour codes I mentioned in my previous post might just have been for Stratocasters because these Telecasters are stamped with a large A, which I assume means nice good looking grain for a natural see through top.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979I filled all the dents on the back of the neck with Nitro lacquer so now you can’t feel them when you play. The volume pot has been changed at some point and the knobs are not the same as on the other two S8 Telecasters. The frets are quite low and I need to replace the first five since they are pretty worn but she plays fine as it is. Except for that, it’s all original and sounds amazing. If I had space for them, I would have kept all three.

Levin

I made a post about my Levin guitars back in 2011 when I started to collect them but it feels like it’s time for an update. Here they are:

Levin Model 2 Parlour Made in Sweden 1914Levin Model 3 Made in Sweden 1914

Levin Goya F-11 Made in Sweden by Levin 1963Goya F-11 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1963

Rondo Model 29 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1960Rondo Model 29 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1960

Levin LT-14 / Goya T-14 Made in Sweden 1965Levin LT-14 Made in Sweden 1965

Levin LT-16 Made in Sweden 1966Levin LT-16 Made in Sweden 1966

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965
Goya T-16 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1965

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966
Goya T-16 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1966

Levin LS-16 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LS-16 Made in Sweden in 1963

Levin LS-18 Made in Sweden 1960Levin LS-18 Made in Sweden 1960

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1963

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1966Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1966

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1968
Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1968

Levin Goya T-18 Made in Sweden 1966Goya T-18 Made in Sweden by Levin 1966

Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966
Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966

Levin LM-26 1959Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963

Levin Goya 172 Made in Sweden 1970Goya GG-172 Made in Sweden by Levin 1970

Levin Goya 163 Made in Sweden 1968 #307008Goya Model 163 Made in Sweden by Levin 1968

Levin Model 174 Made in Sweden 1972Levin Model 174 Made in Sweden 1972

Levin Model 3 Royal Made in Sweden 1951Levin Model 3 Royal made in Sweden 1951

These Levin guitars used to be a part of my collection but I had to sell them to make space for other Levin guitars:

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946Levin Model 32 made in Sweden in 1946

Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950

 

Vorg by Pearl

Vorg by Pearl Telecaster Made in JapanVorg by Pearl, built in Japan by Matsumoku in the mid 1970’s

I recently got myself a Vorg Telecaster. These where built by Pearl in the Matsumoku factory and named Vorg for the German market. The previous owner claimed that it was built in 1977 since the serial starts with 7 which could be true, it’s built in the mid 1970’s for sure. It’s all original except for the machine heads which has been upgraded to a set of Schaller. The guitar has been converted to a string through with bushings on the back instead of being top-loaded something that obviously improved the sustain and overall tone. The original pickups looks like they were made by Maxon, something that makes perfect sense for a Matsumoku built guitar of that time. The neck is fantastic, really chunky for being a Japanese guitar. It’s a great sounding and playing Japanese Telecaster that I unfortunately can’t keep. I bought it for my birthday last month but the same week I found another late 1970’s Fender Telecaster so this Vorg has to go. It’s for sale here.

Vorg by Pearl Telecaster Made in Japan