Claescaster

Month: December, 2013

Levin

Goya Model 163 (1968), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Model 13 (1950), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin Model 65 (1942), , Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 174 (1972)
Update: February 15, 2014 with my 3 new Levin guitars. From left to right: Goya Model 163 (1968), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Model 13 (1950), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin Model 65 (1942), Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 174 (1972)

I was back in Sweden over the weekend and I was really hoping to extend my Levin collection. I had seen a couple of guitars that I wanted to go and try but in the end I didn’t have time to do anything more than just visit my family, which was the reason why I went back in the first place. I really don’t need any more guitars but since I’m so happy with my Goya T-18 I can’t stop looking for other Levin’s. I actually did manage to extend my collection but not while in Sweden, I won a Levin LM-26 from 1959 on eBay the night before I left Barcelona. It needs quite a bit of work so as soon as it arrives here and I’ll start to fix it up I will post some pictures and write more about it. What I have gathered so far by talking to Levin owners on Swedish forums is that the Sixties ones sound more like old Gibson’s and the Seventies Levin’s are closer to Martin, which makes sense since C.F. Martin & Co bought Levin in 1973. It might all be in my head but I think there is a bit of Gibson sound over my Goya T-18. The three Levin models that I’ve been dreaming of, after the Levin LM-26 but that’s already sorted now, is the stupidly beautiful Levin/Goya M-50, the awesome Levin/Goya 174 and the less impressive looking but supposedly amazing sounding Levin W 32 J. To find a Levin/Goya 174 shouldn’t be too hard, I might actually have already found one that I like. It would be a lot harder to come across a Levin/Goya M-50, I think it will be almost impossible so maybe that’s more of a lifelong Holy Grail project. They were too expensive to produce with all the extra bling, gold machine heads and mother of pearl cloud shaped inlays all over the fretboard so they stopped making them in the early Sixties. The Levin W 32 J is not that rare, they actually produced quite a few but people doesn’t seem to be too inclined to sell them and when they do, they are quite expensive. I have seen one, that I actually wanted to go and try, in Jam a guitar shop in Stockholm for 9500 SEK, around 1100€, which felt a bit much. It’s actually not that overvalued since The Fellowship of Acoustics in the Netherlands are selling their Levin’s on eBay for 1400-1600€. These are top end models we are talking about but since normal people that have inherited an old Levin or want to sell their old guitar see those guitar prices they of course think that their guitar is worth over 1000€ too, which isn’t always the case. I guess this over valuation makes my guitars worth more but at the same time it’s extremely annoying when you want to buy a new one and people wants an arm and a leg for them, or 1000€.

1963 Goya M-50
1963 Goya M-50
© Vintage Guitars

1970 Levin Model 174
1970 Levin Model 174 © Vintage Guitars

1979 Levin W 32 J
1979 Levin W 32 J © Vintage Guitars

Photo of the day

Jackson Browne, credit Roni HoffmanJackson Browne with a moustache, taken by Roni Hoffman

Japanese guitar catalogues

Morris catalogue Japan 1976

I’ve recently come across I pretty good source for old catalogue scans for Japan made acoustic guitars. It’s called oldguitar and has about 50 different Japanese guitar brands represented, some brands has more scans than others and most of them are in Japanese but it still pretty nice to see your guitars in old catalogues. Unfortunately I only managed to find my Morris W-40K. Yairi TG-40 and Suzuki Three-S F-120, my Morris WL-35 and Kiso Suzuki WE-150 seems a bit harder to track down.

Morris W-40 1973
Morris W-40
Made in Japan by Terada 1973

Morris catalogue Japan 1975Morris W-40 in the Morris catalogue for Japan 1975

K. Yairi TG-40 Made in Japan 1977
K. Yairi TG-40 Made in Japan 1977

Yairi TG-40 Japan Catalogue 1970'sYairi TG-40 in a Japan Catalogue from the late 1970’s

Suzuki Three-S F-120
Suzuki Three-S F-120
Made in Japan 1976

Suzuki Three-S catalogue USA 1979Suzuki Three-S F-120 in the Suzuki Three-S catalogue for USA 1979

Kiso Suzuki Violin Co. LTD. WE-150
Kiso Suzuki WE-150
Made in Japan 1970’s

Kiso Suzuki Violin Co. LTD. catalogue Japan 1976My Kiso Suzuki WE-150 seems to be a mix of the W-150 and then WH-200 in this catalogue from Japan 1976

Goya T-18

Levin Goya T-18 1966
My beloved Goya T-18, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966

When my Goya T-18 arrived from the US back in September I didn’t really know where to start. It had an amazing tone, actually every time I pick it up I think it’s my best sounding guitar, but it needed work. The action was way too high, there was three deep really annoying dents on the back of the neck and the pickguard was loose. Last weekend I actually got to work on all three problems and I managed to get my Goya up and running and now I struggle to put it down.

Levin Goya T-18 Made in Sweden 1966

Levin LT-18 / Goya T-18
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, flame maple back and sides, 4-ply bound top, single-bound back
Mahogany bolt-on neck with adjustable truss rod
Single-bound ebony fingerboard with bass side pearloid block inlay
Nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons
Ebony bridge, natural finish and ten year warranty

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Super Goliath Model 1855

Goya T-18 1966 / Levin LT-18
First I had to try to fix the three deep dents in the back of the neck. Since they went through the original finish down to the wood I actually added some water first to let the mahogany swell a bit and that way make them less deep. After a couple of days I added the first layer of Nitrocellulose lacquer with a toothpick, just one drop at the time. I had to repeat the process quite a few times to get it even, the lacquer sinks when it dries. Next step was to get rid of the edges with a razor, like mentioned in my previous post, and then sand it even. I used 400, 800, 1500, 2000 and 2500 grit and then added a layer of  Carnauba wax and a lot of elbow grease and then buffed it up with a fine microfiber cloth. I guess because of the thickness of the original finish my repair blended in really well and it’s even hard to notice.

Goya T-18 1966 / Levin LT-18
The pickguard was loose so I decided to remove it completely and then glue it back again. I cleaned off the old glue with a razor blade and made sure that both the top of the guitar and the back of the pickguard was smooth and even before I glued it back with my trusty old fish glue. I added some pressure with a clamp, I had a little block of wood on the inside and half a wine cork on the outside for not ruining the finish.

Goya T-18 1966 / Levin LT-18
The main thing that was needed on this Goya T-18 was a neck reset to get the action down. I was pretty worried about this and that’s why I have put it off for so long. I have never done anything like this before and I wasn’t even sure what I could use to loosen the two bolts on the inside, these Levin / Goya guitars have used a combination of glue and the Levin bolt-on neck system since the early Sixties. It turned out that a normal Philips screwdriver no 2 fitted perfectly, they are square in the base of the tip. Once the bolts were off I tried to remove the neck completely but without any luck, well the heel came loose straight away but not the fretboard. I tried with heat, steam and all sorts of magic but it didn’t budge and since I didn’t want to do anything too drastic and ruin the guitar I left it. Then I read on a Swedish guitar forum that you could leave the neck on and just lift the heel, get a bit of sandpaper in under, add some pressure and then pull. That way you would get some material of the heel off without removing the neck completely. The guy in the forum mentioned that he had done 40 pulls on both the left and the right side so I did 30 on each to be on the safe side. I fastened the bolts and strung the guitar up again and it worked, it actually worked really well. I played it for a couple of days and then decided to sand off a bit more, so I loosened the neck again and did another 15 pulls on each side and now it’s perfect. Crazy Swedes, coming up with such a quick and easy way of resetting a neck on an acoustic guitar. Thank you Levin for thinking of me 47 years down the line.

Levin / Goya catalogue 1965Levin / Goya catalogue 1965
The Goya T-18 was top of the line back in 1965 and cost $219.50 new, I wish they still cost that.

Blog of the day

The Selvedge Yard, The Rolling Stones guitars backstage in 1969
The Rolling Stones guitars backstage in 1969

I really love The Selvedge Yard it’s easily one of my favourite blogs. It’s such a great mix of everything a modern man that is stuck in the past likes. Here is a great new post, The Rolling Stones | Road worn, forlorn & almighty guitar porn

 

Movie of the day

Not really related to music, or guitars, but if you like The Wicker Man like I do, then you will love this.

The Power Of The Witch is a documentary about witchcraft as it was practised in the late 60s and early 70s in the UK – apparently it was only screened once and there is practically no information about it on the web. The Power Of The Witch is worth a watch even if you are not particularly interested in the occult – rather watch it as a document of its time, capturing as it does people’s attitudes, beliefs, fashions and plummy Brit accents. It’s a curious mixture of patriarchal stiff upper lip-ism and unerring belief in both Christianity and the forces of magic, making it feel very much as if it comes from a completely different era. Not to mention, it’s a goldmine of potential witch haus footage. Taken from Dangerous Minds

Hondo II P-bass

Hondo II P-bass
It took 3 months but now it’s finally ready, Verushka’s Hondo II P-bass

We had such a bad luck with the pickups we ordered for Verushka’s Hondo II P-bass. First we ordered a set of Artec P-bass pickups my favourite Hong Kong store EY Parts, but they never arrived, we waited for more than two month and finally got refunded instead. Then we decided to order from Custom World in Holland but that took ages too. Now we got everything we needed, full sized 250K Alpha pots, Orange drop cap, cloth covered wire, new jack and the Artec pickups. I put it together the other night and got it to work fine. I’m still really impressed with these Hondo II basses, the electronics and hardware are pretty cheap but that’s easy to change, and it’s so worth it for these amazing necks.

Hondo II P-bassIt was pretty straight forward to change the electronics. I checked the Seymour Duncan’s wiring diagram for P-basses and followed that instead of the old wiring.

Hondo II P-Bass
Hondo II P-Bass
I really liked the look of the Hondo II I got for Dani but this is ten times better for Verushka, all black just like her

Movie of the day

Jethro Tull Ian Anderson

I really liked Jethro Tull when I was a teenager, especially Ian Anderson’s acoustic guitar playing. The extracts from Thick As A Brick are pretty awesome in this live concert from 1977.

Suzuki Three-S F-120

Suzuki Three-S F-120Suzuki Three-S F-120 Made in Japan in 1976

I recently came across this Suzuki Three-S F-120 that I have fixed up and it’s now for sale. It seems to be a copy of an early Martin D-18, it feels less bulky than most dreadnoughts. Built in 1976 by Suzuki Violin Co. LTD in Nagoya Japan. It’s a beautiful guitar in a really good shape for being almost 40 years old. It’s very easy to play with low action and it has a great tone, very warm and rich.

Suzuki Three-S F-120I took the machine heads a part, cleaned, polished and oiled them before I put them back together. I polished the frets and oiled the fretboard and then made a new compensated saddle in bone. Now it sounds and plays great.

Suzuki Three-S F-120Suzuki Three-S F-120
I have another Suzuki for sale, however, these guitars were not made by the same company. Both were originally building violins so both are called Suzuki Violin Co. LTD but they were based in different parts of Japan. Kiso-Suzuki manufactured guitars in the region of Kiso-Fukushima. Nagoya Suzuki manufactured guitars in the region of Nagoya. 

Suzuki Three-S F-120I finally found an old catalogue for it. It seems to be spruce top, nato back and sides and nato neck with rosewood fingerboard