Claescaster

Month: May, 2015

Guitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R.

Guitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R. Mataró 1970'sGuitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R. Spanish guitar made in Mataró outside Barcelona 1970’s

I found this guitar in a Cash converters last week and felt so sorry for it. It had a broken head, a cracked brace, loose back and looked so sad that I felt I had to save it and bring it back to life. A week later she is up and running and sounds pretty damn sweet.

Guitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R. Mataró 1970's

I couldn’t find any info about the brand so if anyone knows anything more about it then please get in touch. It has a solid spruce top and what looks to me like solid maple back and sides. It says “Guitarras de artesanía” which should indicate hand crafted but I’m not sure, quality wise it feels pretty much like the Juan Estruch I got for my friend Rafa’s birthday. Perhaps all Spanish guitars were more or less hand crafted back then, the big business guitar factories hadn’t really kicked in yet. I have put this guitar up for sale since I mainly play steel string acoustic guitars and on top of that I have a Francisca Montserrat that I really like.

Guitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R. Mataró 1970'sFirst I had to try to clean her up, I have never seen a top with that much grease and grime. I used a normal furniture spray and a toothbrush, it worked like a charm. When I had cleaned the fretboard I polished the frets and oiled up the fretboard with lemon oil. She came out looking pretty descent after that.

Guitarras de artesanía, Artículos J.A.R. Mataró 1970'sNow I just had to take care of the broken head and glue the back. I have actually never glued a head on before but I assumed that you do something like this. I used to thin pieces of wood on each side to stabilise it and keep things in place, and also for not damaging the head any further with the force of the clamps. I guess it could have worked with normal wood glue too but I used my trusty old fish glue that I use for pretty much everything when it comes to guitars. It came out looking very solid after being clamped for 48 hours. I also glued the open back and a cracked brace, which was pretty straight forward. The machine heads was broken on one side so I replaced them with the leftovers from the Juan Estruch I fixed last year. They don’t match exactly but at least they are from the same time and region, that’s close enough for me. Compared to the state I found her in I think she is looking pretty good. More images can be found here.

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How to… strip a guitar body

How to strip a guitar, Sripping a guitar body

I never got around to mention this but a few months ago I helped my friend Wolf to strip his black Fender Squier Strat body. Everything went fine and it wasn’t too hard, well to be honest it was rather tedious and time consuming but the result was at least good in the end. We were pretty surprised that the body looked so good stripped with nice grain and all, I expected 8 pieces glued together and a lot of knots and crap and that’s why they chose to lacquer it black, but clearly not. Now he is going to burn in some nice country inspired patterns and then we will just ad a coat of clear lacquer.

Sripping a guitar body
The heat gun worked pretty well for the black top coat, but there was a red coat under that was almost impossible to get rid of. In the end I used my Japanese Shinto saw rasp for getting through it, especially on the sides, no other rasp or file seemed to bite on it. Once we got rid of all the lacquer it was just down to a lot of sanding and reshaping the edges a bit that I occasionally went a bit hard on with the saw rasp. If you are tired of the colour of your guitar body it could be an idea to strip it but please be aware of the effort involved and that it will smell like burning napalm and toxic poly lacquer that will make you dizzy and freak out the cat. This way of using a heat gun and saw rasp works pretty well but it would probably have worked fine without the heat gun too and that way we would have skipped the unhealthy plastic fumes.

 

Levin W 12-36


Levin W 12-36 "Made in Sweden" 1978
Levin W 12-36, Made in Sweden 1978

Last week I went a bit bananas and got a 12 string Levin. It wasn’t really planned but sometimes you make a best offer on eBay when you are slightly tipsy and then occionally you become the new owner of some old guitar, like a 1978 Levin W 12-36. I wasn’t even sure if I liked 12 string acoustics or not, I mean they do make a terrible loud noise and seemed a bit too hippie / folk for me, but then I remembered David Crosby who really likes 12 strings and I really liked David Crosby, so that was it. I got it last Friday and played it quite a lot over the weekend and I think I really have grown to like it. I mean you can’t really play it like a normal guitar since it makes too much noise and the notes tend to just eat each other, so you need to space out your strokes a bit. Once you get a hang of it it’s a pretty powerful and interesting instrument to have in the arsenal even if you wouldn’t use it everyday.

Levin W 12-36 "Made in Sweden" 1978Levin W 12-36 "Made in Sweden" 1978I bought the guitar from a German eBay seller,with a name in Spanish, compravender. I’m not sure if he had fixed it up himself or if it came straight from a luthier but the frets were polished and it was well set up so I didn’t have to do anything to it when I got it. The only downside is that the guitar has suffered a broken headstock at some point but it’s really well repaired and seems solid enough.

Levin W 12-36 "Made in Sweden" 1978This Levin W 12-36 was made in 1978 and seems to be the latest knows to Vintage Guitars Sweden. This is also the “newest” Levin I have, they stopped making them in 1979. I haven’t seen the Martin Organisation label before, or the CF Martin trussrod cover.

Levin W 12-36
12-string, non-cutaway. Body width: 400 mm, body length: 505 mm, body depth: 95/120 mm, fingerboard width: 52 mm, scale length: 630 mm
Spruce top with X-bracing, mahogany back and sides, 5-ply bound top, single-bound back, mahogany neck with two adjustable truss rods
Black plastic truss rod cover, unbound headstock with decal logo, unbound rosewood fingerboard with mother-of-pearl dot inlay, rosewood bridge.
Black and chrome plated individual Levin Schaller tuners
Natural finish and five year warranty

Guitars for sale

Maya F335G Made in Japan 1970sMaya F335G, Dreadnought acoustic, Made in Japan, 1970’s, 200€ SOLD
Japan made Gibson J-50 copy in a pretty good state for it’s age. I couple of marks on the spruce top and few knocks on the head but structurally very sound without any cracks. This Maya F334G was made by Chushin Gakki in Kobe, Japan, during the 1970’s. It has a really fat neck, it’s feels great to play, adjustable bridge with both bone nut and saddle. The sound is very full with a great booming bass. If you want more pictures  you can check the post I wrote about it.

There are a couple of more guitars for sale here

Cimar D-320

Cimar D-320 by Ibanez, Made in JapanCimar D-320, Made in Japan in the mid 1980’s by Ibanez

I recently helped my friend Tomasz to find a nice Japanese acoustic and we ended up with this Cimar D-320. Cimar were made by Ibanez in the 1980’s as their cheaper brand and even though you seen them for sale quite often, I had actually never tried one. Ibanez is owned by Hoshino Gakki and based in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. Hoshino Gakki also had semi acoustic, nylon and steel stringed acoustic guitars manufactured under the Ibanez name. Most Ibanez guitars were made for Hoshino Gakki by the FujiGen guitar factory in Japan up until the mid-to-late 1980s and from then on Ibanez guitars have also been made in other Asian countries such as Korea, China and Indonesia, taken from Wikipedia. I have a feeling this Cimar would be one of the last ones to have been made in Japan and I’m still struggle to see how they could be making inexpensive guitars in Japan in the mid 1980’s, I had a feeling that everything had already been moved to Korea or some other cheaper country. They guitar seems to be pretty solidly built and has a lot of swanky details like the snowflake inlay and herringbone binding which looks great from a distance. The best part is still the sound, I would never have expected it to have such rich bass and great response, especially not for being fully laminated. A pretty great guitar for the price. If you want to know more about different Japanese guitar brands then check my previous post.

Cimar D-320, Made in Japan in the mid 1980's by Ibanez
Cimar D-320, Made in Japan in the mid 1980's by Ibanez
Cimar D-320, Made in Japan in the mid 1980's by Ibanez

Fujigen Gakki
Fujigen Gakki began operation in 1960 as a classical guitar manufacturer, moving into the lucurative electric guitar markets in 1962. The company was the largest producer of Japanese guitars during the 1960-1980 period. They were known for producing high quality products, especially for the badged guitar market, which is why the company was selected by so many major American brands. It wasn’t until 1970 that the company began making products for the venerable Ibanez brand, which was an unqualified success. Fujigen Gakki was the main manufacturer of choice for Greco badged guitars in the 1970 to 1980 period. They also produced guitars for major manufacturer Yamaha. Badged guitars made by Fujigen include Antoria, Epiphone, Jason and Mann. Badged guitars that may have been made by Fujigen Gakki were Marlin and St. Moritz.

Martin 000-15M

Martin 000-15M, Made in USAMartin 000-15M, Made in USA 2011

I recently had my friend Rafa’s little Martin 000-15M over for a set up. I didn’t have to do that much to it, just adjust the trussrod and file down the saddle a bit to get the action down. I realised that I have completely mixed up the Martin sizes, I always thought that the 000 was smaller than the 00, apparently it’s the opposite. That means that my dad’s old Levin LT-16 is a copy of a Martin 000, at least size wise, and not a Martin 00. It could be good to know next time I’m looking for some old guitar and they refer to it as being 000 sized, smaller than that is probably not for me. I don’t like jumbo guitars, but I do like the bass response of a good dreadnought sized guitar, and I think that anything smaller than a 000 would most likely sound like a parlour guitar in my ears. These Martins 000-15M have a pretty descent bass response for their size, I guess because of the shape and the all solid Mahogany construction. It’s a beautiful looking guitar, very light and easy to play and with a warm nice sound that I can highly recommend to anyone looking for a new guitar.

Martin 000-15M, Made in USA
Martin 000-15M, Made in USA