Claescaster

Month: November, 2017

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.

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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.