Month: June, 2015

K. Yairi YW-130

K. Yairi YW-130 Made in Japan 1977K. Yairi YW-130 a Martin D-28 copy made in Kani, Japan in 1977

I recently came over a 1977 K. Yairi YW-130, a beautiful Martin D-28 copy. I’ve been looking for a D-28 copy for a while, just out of curiosity to see the difference between the D-35 and D-42 copies that I have. The Morris W-40 and Morris W-50 both have a 3-part back which gives them a lot of bass and punch in the middle so perhaps a Japanese made D-28 copy would be more bell like and balanced, like a real Martin, and I was right. The K. Yairi YW-130 sounds amazing, really clean and even all over, with awesome overtones that sneaks up on you if you let it ring out. It has a solid spruce top, rosewood back and sides with a simple ebony bridge and fretboard. I do love my Morris guitars and I think it’s a great brand, but nothing comes close to K. Yairi. The old K.Yairi TG-40 that I got a year a go is awesome too, but I think I prefer the sound of the new one. Perhaps my acoustic guitar preferences has slightly shifted from the Gibson sound to Martin.

K. Yairi YW-130 Made in Japan 1977K. Yairi YW-130 Made in Japan 1977I didn’t have to do anything to the guitar when I got it, I just changed the machine heads to Wilkinson WJ28NGD open gear in gold which I love. It’s a bit worn and have a few dents in the spruce top that I’m planning to figure out how to soften a bit.

K. Yairi YW-130 Made in Japan 1977I’ve really come to love guitars with the typical Martin volute, just like my Morris W-50, and the double dots on the 7th fret, it’s just beautiful. There is nothing better than a black Ebony fretboard on an acoustic guitar. I thought ebony was like rosewood until I got my Goya T-18 two years ago and it just blow my mind, there is no nicer fretboard material.

K. Yairi YW-130 1970's catalogueK. Yairi YW-130 in a late 1970’s Canadian catalogue, taken from AlvarezYairi

Goya T-23

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

Finally, it took two years but now I’m at last the proud owner of a lovely Goya T-23. When I bought my first Levin back in the summer of 2013 I started to search Vintage Guitars Sweden for different models to study and learn everything I could about Levin. There was 3-4 different guitars that I fell in love with straight away, Levin LM-50 with all it’s bling, Levin De Luxe the king of archtops, Levin 174 which I later found, and of course Levin LT-23, the cowboy version of Levin LT-18. I love my 1966 Goya T-18 so I was pretty sure that this Goya T-23 would sound pretty sweet too, but it sounds even better than I could have imagined. My friend Wolf and I had a little jam last Saturday and it seems like the T-18 and T-23 were made to be played together, I will try to sort a video. I love everything about this guitar, the ebony fretboard with it’s block inlays, the flamed maple back and sides, the amazing cowboy pickguard and plastic details, the bridge shape and most of all, the sound. It has a Gibson like bass response but with a Martin like mid and treble, kind of the best of both worlds. It was well worth the wait, the next holy grail to find would be a Levin LM-50.

Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966I haven’t done any work to this guitar yet, I bought it from a seller in Franklin, Indiana, USA and since it seemed really dry when it arrived I wanted to wait and see how it reacts to the subtropical heat of Barcelona first. Most likely I will have to sand down the heal a bit to get the action down and perhaps even remove the binding on the neck and file down the frets since the fretboard has been dry and shrunk so the frets are poking out a bit. Hopefully the humidity here will help a bit and if not I will sort this issues after the summer. It’s very playable as it is and almost in mint condition with minimal wear.

Levin LT-23 / Goya T-23
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 X-bracing, 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

Levin 1976 catalougeLevin catalogue from 1967. Now I finally have all four of them, the two top as Goya and the bottom two as Levin, but mine are from 1965-66 so they have a proper saddle instead of the adjustable saddle screws. Goya T-23 (1966), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin LT-14 (1965). Taken from Vintage Guitars Sweden

Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966It arrived with the original Goya hang tag, an unused 1960’s leather strap and this awesome looking black alligator hard case that I think is original too. Taken from my Instagram

German parlour

Parlour guitar Made in Germany 1920-30'sBefore and after, Sonora parlour made in Germany

I recently restored a little German parlour that I unfortunately don’t know anything about. The only info the seller gave me was that it was made in Vogtland in perhaps the 1920-30’s. If this would have been a Japanese acoustic or a Levin I would have had a bit more of knowledge but I really don’t know anything about old German parlours. I just bought it to practice my guitar repairing skills and for that it was pretty good, I’ve learned a couple of new things. The idea was to give it to my wife but now we found another one for her so if anyone is interested in buying this then send me an email.

Parlour guitar Made in Germany 1920-30's

The action is a bit high so it’s ideal for slide playing but you can still play it like a normal guitar if you have light gauged strings on it. It sounds pretty awesome, really clear and loud for being so small. It’s made of all solid woods, spruce top, walnut back and sides and perhaps pine or some other light coloured wood in the neck, I’m not that great at guessing woods. One set of machine heads looks original and seems to be from 1920-30’s and the other is perhaps DDR made from the 1960’s, but both works fine. Overall a pretty nice sounding little guitar with a beautiful patina and the most awesome looking one piece walnut back.

Parlour guitar Made in Germany 1920-30'sI started with taking the back off so I could re-glue all the braces. It was pretty straight forward to open it, I used a heated spatula and a knife, it worked like charm, I removed all the braces in the same way. The head was broken and pretty much everything that could be lose was lose on it when it arrived. It has a small makers mark under the bridge but I can’t really figure out what  it says, if anyone has any ideas please get in touch.

Update: August 27, 2015: The brand is Sonora

Parlour guitar Made in Germany 1920-30'sI re-glued all the braces and the two cracks in the top with fish glue. Unfortunately the top had been cracked for so long so I couldn’t get it to close perfectly but at least now it’s solid with two cleats running along the cracks.

Parlour guitar Made in Germany 1920-30'sThe next step was to glue the head back on. This was a bit harder than the Spanish guitar I glued the head on the week before since the break this time was just under the nut and therefore a lot harder to clamp. I left it for 48 hours and it seems to have worked pretty well so I carved and sanded the back smooth and then painted it black again. I glued the back on and closed the guitar with tape and clamps and this was pretty tricky too, as I’m sure everyone that has ever closed a guitar would know. The sides tend to move outwards so you have to push them in place sideways at the same time as you clamp the top down to the body. A bit fiddly but it worked fine in the end.

Parlour guitar Made in Germany 1920-30'sNow I just had to make the guitar playable. These old parlours are known for having banana necks since they lack any form of reinforcement in the neck. On top of that they tend to have a hump where the fretboard meets the body. First I heated and steamed the neck under pressure which worked quite well for straighten it out a bit. Then I took out the last 5 frets, sanded down the fretboard, put the frets back and lowered them as much as I could. I painted the fretboard brown and sanded over it to match the rest. After that it was just to level, crown and polish the rest of the frets.

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne BARTS Barcelona 2015

Last night my wife and I got a chance to see Jackson Browne live. It was even better than I had hoped, his voice was so good. Perhaps the selection of songs wasn’t the best, there was a lot of stuff in the second set that I could have done without and I missed some of my favourites from the first two albums but still, he had a great band and his singing was just amazing. If you want you can follow me on Instagram.