Month: February, 2014

Chest Fever

Chest Fever gig 1/3 2014

Tomorrow night Araceli and I have a gig with our band Chest Fever at Palau Alòs, C/ Sant Pere més Baix 55 in Barcelona. We are on at 21 so if you are in town and feel up for some Swedish/Spanish country sung in English then come by. I will bring my Levin 174 which sounds a bit like the Goya T-18 in the clip below.

Update: March 3, 2014
Chest Fever – We got to keep on moving, live at the Palau Alòs in Barcelona 1st March 2014


Photo of the day

Johnny Cash for the Life magazine cover November 1969
It was Johnny Cash birthday yesterday, LIFE magazine cover November 1969

Tanglewood Premier TW133

Tanglewood Premier TW133 2010
Tanglewood Premier TW133, designed in the UK and handcrafted in China in 2010

When I met my other half Araceli back in 2007 she already new the basic cowboy chords but never really played guitar, I had only heard her strum a handful of times. She told me that she didn’t really like to play on my guitars since I seemed to care so much about them so I thought the best way around that would be to get her a guitar of her own. I also felt that since I had experienced so much joy through music in my life that would be the least I could give to the woman I love. I talked to her family and we agreed to put in 50 Euro each and get her a guitar for her birthday in September 2010. It was down to me to find a suitable guitar within our budget so I started to do some research. I knew that a parlour guitar would be best option, she is pretty small so I thought that a small bodied guitar would be easier for her to handle. I already had an inexpensive parlour a Vintage V880N that I liked but didn’t love so I thought I would try another brand this time and started to read about Tanglewood. People seemed to really like them, especially in the UK, and they had quite a few parlour sized models so it felt like a good start. Since you can’t just walk in to a guitar shop here in Barcelona and try what you are looking for, the shops here are useless and have nothing in stock, I had to rely on reviews and then order the guitar online. In the end I went for the Tanglewood Premier TW133, since I thought she would really like the look of it, or at least I loved the dark wood and the simplicity of it. I also felt that a solid mahogany top and back would give a bit more warmth and body to it compared to most new made parlour guitars which I feel normally lack that. She was really happy with her birthday present and started to play almost daily and soon after we even started a band together called Chest Fever.

© Claes Gellerbrink, photographs can't be used without permission. Araceli and Claes Chest Fever session, Barcelona 29-04-2012
Araceli, Chest Fever session, Barcelona 29-04-2012

Tanglewood Premier Historic TW133 ASM
SHAPE: Parlour, TOP: Solid Mahogany, BACK: Solid Mahogany
SIDES; Mahogany, NECK: One Piece Mahogany
FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, BRIDGE: Rosewood
SADDLE: PPS, Compensated, 72mm, NUT: PPS (43mm)
SCALE LENGTH: 650mm, BRIDGE PINS: Black with White Dots
MACHINE HEADS: Chrome open geared (changed to gold Grovers)
FINISH Natural Satin, STRINGS: D’Addario EXP11, 12-53, RRP: £269.95

Ad of the day

Gibson S-1- “Ron Wood” Advert 1977Gibson S-1 advert from 1977 with Ron Wood

Gibson’s S-1 was a guitar that tried to find a niche and couldn’t quite succeed. Created in the late 1970s when the guitar company was owned by Norlin, the S-1 was a hybrid’s hybrid. Featuring three single-coil pickups, a four-position chicken head phase selector switch- plus a toggle switch- but only one tone and one volume knob, and a bolt on the neck, the guitar seemed like an attempt to create an American guitar to outdo the Teisco Spectrum. The guitar was sold from 1976 to 1980, but despite getting Ron Wood on board as an endorsee, he had just taken over Mick Taylor’s spot in The Rolling Stones, almost no one was interested in a Gibson that tried to be a Fender by way of Tokyo. It eventually suffered the same ignoble fate as a similarly designed and marketed Gibson, the Marauder. Taken from The National GUITAR Museum


Movie of the day

Heartworn Highways poster

One of my favourite music documentaries is Heartworn Highways. It’s based around the whole Texas scene with Townes van Zandt, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and Steve Earle, just to name a few. I thought it would be possible to find the documentary in full on Youtube but apparently not so you will have to buy it or download it. These are my two of my favourite clips from the movie. The first one because it shows how awesome session musicians were back then, check out Albert Lee on guitar playing a 335, recorded at Creative Workshop in Nashville. The second clip is because it shows how truly talented Townes van Zandt was as a songwriter.

Levin 174

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

My latest acquisition, a 1972 Levin Model 174. The story how I got this guitar is pretty amazing. I wrote a post about Levin guitars back in August 2013 when I had just started to collect them. In the end of the post I mentioned that I would love to find a Levin Model 174, it’s basically a Levin LT-18 but with a massive head. There is something about that huge head that I find very appealing, I guess it reminds me of old an archtop guitar from 1930-40’s and it’s almost a bit Art Deco. Three months later, in the end of November, I got a comment from a Danish guy called Orla saying that he had one for sale. We started to email each other and he told that a few days earlier he had seen a guy about to throw a guitar case in a skip so he had gone up to him and asked if he could have it instead. Orla took the case home, opened it and found a 1972 Levin Model 174 in pretty good shape inside. He Googled the name and model and pretty soon found my blog post saying that I was looking for one. Since Orla doesn’t play guitar himself, he just wanted to save it from a certain death, he contacted me and offered me to buy it and I’m very grateful that he did. It was a bit scary to buy a guitar from a guy I didn’t know who had contacted me through my blog, it felt a bit fishy somehow. A part of me thought it was a Nigerian email scam in disguise and another part said that I should trust the good in people, especially a Northern neighbour like Orla. In the end I decided that it was an offer I really couldn’t turn down, especially since most of the 174’s I had seen for sale were all Goya labelled and made later in the 1970’s. It took some time to get the guitar down to Spain, we had some logistic issues but finally it arrived about two weeks ago and I was stunned. Since Orla doesn’t play he couldn’t give me any info about what state the guitar was in, he had sent me some pictures but it’s pretty hard to get an idea if it’s even playable from just that. Luckily it was in a really good state and it both sounds and feels great.

Levin Model 174 Made in Sweden 1972

Levin Model 174 /Goya Model 174
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 headstock with mother-of-pearl inlay
Single-bound ebony fingerboard with bass side pearloid block inlays
Rosewood bridge with individual height adjustable plastic saddles
Nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons
Natural finish and ten year warranty

Introduced circa 1969 as a replacement for LT 18

Levin Model 174 Made in Sweden 1972I didn’t have to do much to it, the action was really good as it was. Which was very lucky because this 174 doesn’t have the Levin bolt-on neck system, they stopped with that in the early Seventies. The original Van Gent machine heads had been changed at some point, probably in the 1970’s, to Schaller’s and I really don’t like these type of buttons so I changed them for Wilkinson WJ-309 in gold, to make it look even more Art Deco. I also installed an endpin jack so I can use it live with my LR Baggs M1. I had to clean it a bit, polish the frets and oil the fretboard but overall it was pretty good from the start. There was a note hidden under the trussrod cover saying, Her blev sedlen lagt 4th of February 1995. I assume that’s referring to that the nut was raised a bit 19 years ago, something I need to redo at some point because they seem to have used some paper like material instead of bone.

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)The whole Levin family, 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).

Photo of the day

Townes Van Zandt with chicken
“There’s only two kinds of music: the blues and zippety doo-dah.” – Townes Van Zandt

Acoustic String gauge Comparison

I found this pretty interesting. I’ve always been told that the thicker string gauge you use the better the guitar will sound. I’m not entirely sure after watching this.

Goya 163

Goya Model 163 Made in Sweden 1968
A very early Goya Model 163, they were introduced in 1969 but the serial number puts this one to 1968. That would make it the earliest known example on the Vintage Guitars Sweden site. Levin serial numbers / Goya serial numbers

I thought I might as well post some images of the Goya 163 I received back in January. There was some work to be done, actually quite a lot. First I had to reset the neck to get the action down and then I had to remove the bridge and redo the saddle screws. I cut a new pickguard over the weekend, well it’s not perfect yet, I’m still looking for a better material but it will do for now. I bought this Goya from a girl called Marilyn Moser in Maynard, Massachusetts. She had used the guitar for some live gigs in the New York area but gave up on it because of the high action, it was fairly unplayable when I got it. The guitar came with a nice handwritten note to me, the new owner, that’s why I got curious to find out a bit more about her. Here are links to some of her music and her awesome 1960’s blog.

Goya Model 163 Made in Sweden 1968
Goya Model 163, made in Sweden by Levin in 1968

Levin 163 / Goya 163
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 rosewood fingerboard with bass side pearloid dot inlay
Rosewood bridge with individual height adjustable plastic saddles
Nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons
Sunburst finish and ten year warranty

Goya Model 163 Made in Sweden 1968
I still haven’t found a good pickguard material. Well the red plastic that I happened to find in the street is actually perfect but who wants a red pickguard. I’ve managed to find 0.8 mm thick matt black plastic but I need something around 1-1.5 mm and preferable in high gloss jet black or even better in red tortoise.  I fitted a strap button in the usual place, and then I painted the new bone nut orange to match the original Levin Galalith nut.

Levin Goya Model 163 1968
Update: March 21, 2014 The pickguard material I ordered from China looked a lot classier than expected so I cut in to shape and put it on

Randy Parsons

The Triple Jet with a copper top, built for Jack White in 2006 by Randy Parson

Randy Parsons is an awesome luthier, he is the man behind Jack White’s guitars. I’ve been reading a bit about him and he seems to have a really nice approach to guitar building. Here is a nice article from Premier Guitar.

Jack White’s Parsons Red Vampire
Jack White’s Parsons Red Vampire with cow skull bracing, TV Jones pickups, built-in MXR Micro Amp pedal, and African bloodwood/holly neck are hallmarks of luthier Randy Parsons’ macabre creation for the equally macabre Jack White.

Jack White with Parsons Green Machine from It might get loud
Jack White with Parsons The Green Machine from the 2008 documentary It Might Get Loud.