Claescaster

Category: Acoustic guitars

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€ 450€
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€ 700€
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.

 

 

Levin

I made a post about my Levin guitars back in 2011 when I started to collect them but it feels like it’s time for an update. Here they are:

Levin Model 2 Parlour Made in Sweden 1914Levin Model 3 Made in Sweden 1914

Levin Goya F-11 Made in Sweden by Levin 1963Goya F-11 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1963

Rondo Model 29 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1960Rondo Model 29 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1960

Levin LT-14 / Goya T-14 Made in Sweden 1965Levin LT-14 Made in Sweden 1965

Levin LT-16 Made in Sweden 1966Levin LT-16 Made in Sweden 1966

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965
Goya T-16 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1965

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966
Goya T-16 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1966

Levin LS-16 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LS-16 Made in Sweden in 1963

Levin LS-18 Made in Sweden 1960Levin LS-18 Made in Sweden 1960

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1963

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1966Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1966

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1968
Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1968

Levin Goya T-18 Made in Sweden 1966Goya T-18 Made in Sweden by Levin 1966

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

Levin LM-26 1959Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963

Levin Goya 172 Made in Sweden 1970Goya GG-172 Made in Sweden by Levin 1970

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

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

Levin Model 3 Royal Made in Sweden 1951Levin Model 3 Royal made in Sweden 1951

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946Levin Model 32 made in Sweden in 1946

These two Levin guitars used to be a part of my collection but I had to sell them to make space for other Levin guitars:

Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950

 

Martin SPD-16R

Martin SPD-16R Made in USA1999Martin SPD-16R, Made in USA 1999

I have this beautiful 1999 Martin SPD-16R for sale. I really like it but the likelihood of me playing on anything that isn’t a Swedish Levin is so slim that it’s not worth keeping such a great guitar. I haven’t opened the case to my beloved Sigma DR-41 for ages either, it’s so hard to put the Levin guitars down. These late 1990’s Martin SPD-16R has quite a following and is getting harder to find so if you are interested send me an email. Update: This guitar is sold now

Levin LM-26

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959Levin LM-26, Made in Sweden in 1959

In the end of March, about 2-3 weeks after I bought the 1963 Levin LM-26, I was offered a 1959 Levin LM-26 that I couldn’t resist, even though I already had one from that year. The seller Ian was quite persistent that I added his guitar, that he had owned since his 14th birthday in 1976, to my Levin collection so I of course complied. The guitar has been used playing anything from jazz, Mississippi blues to Celtic folk and now country, read Ian’s guitar history. Now I have one Levin LM-26 built in 1963 and two from 1959, well they actually both has a body stamped in 1958 but with a 1959 neck, not sure if they did a lot of bodies one year and necks the next. I have some Levin LT-18 that has a Goya serial number stamped inside and a completely different Levin serial number on the head, I guess these things happens at a guitar factory. This 1959 Levin LM-26 seems to be completely original, it even has the cheap looking machine heads that Levin used in the late 1950’s on the LM-series. On my other 1959 Levin LM-26 the machine heads were replaced by open back Grover’s by the second owner back in 1965 and I think I might have to do the same on this one. I like the ones they used on the Levin LS-18 at the time, they are rounder and look more Gibson like, these square ones look like something from an Egmond or a kids guitar. The guitar plays really nicely and sounds great, really full and warm as could be expected of an all solid Swedish built guitar from the late 1950’s.

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959
Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

Levin LM-26 / Goya M-26
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
Metal truss rod cover with a star and “1900”, nickel plated tuners
Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with centred pearl dot inlay, rosewood bridge
Sunburst finish and ten year warranty

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Goliath Model 1795

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

 

LR Baggs M80

LR Baggs M80 installed in a 1968 Levin LT-18LR Baggs M80 installed in my main guitar, the 1968 Levin LT-18

Finally, that took freaking forever. I ordered a LR Baggs M80 via eBay from the US, which first got stuck in customs and cost me 84€, then it turned out that it wasn’t a LR Baggs M80, it was LR Baggs M1A in the box. I guess it could be worse, at least it was the active M1 and not the normal. Since it would cost too much to return it and I wouldn’t get the custom fees back I decided to keep it, I paid for it and they sent me the correct pickup instead, which also got stuck in customs but this time it only cost me 23€. So it took more than a month for my LR Baggs M80 to arrive, I got a LR Baggs M1A that I don’t need and I had to pay twice as much as I was hoping for. Anyway, the LR Baggs M80 sounds pretty damn good, fuller and warmer than the LR Baggs M1A, with a lot nicer highs. Perhaps it wasn’t such a big  difference that it was worth all the money and drama that it cost to get it to Spain but now when it’s here I really like it.

Claes Anderson Band

Claes Anderson Band recording in Slim Studio Bcn 2017-04-21Claes Anderson Band in the studio, I took out my 1960 Levin LS-18 for the first time

Last Friday we got to record two tracks, Coming home and Standing tall over the ones that have fallen, with the Claes Anderson Band. It was our first time in the studio but things went pretty smooth so I think we will be back for a full album soon enough. I played on my 1960 Levin LS-18 and my 1966 Goya T-18. Now we just need to mix and master the songs and then I will post them here.

Claes Anderson Band recording in Slim Studio Bcn 2017-04-21Claes Anderson Band recording in Slim Studio 21st April 2017

Levin LM-26

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LM-26, Made in Sweden in 1963

Two weeks ago I got myself another Levin LM-26. My previous one was built in 1958/59 and feels a bit fragile, it is also in a pretty good state for taking out gigging. So this 1963 Levin LM-26 felt perfect to fit a LR Bagg M1A in and take out and enjoy on stage. Guitars are meant to be used and played, even vintage ones, so in a way I would be happy to take any of my Levin’s out of the house. It’s just that some of them feels a bit too well kept for the dangers of having them in bars around drunk people, and myself slightly intoxicated hitting them harder than I should because I play with a loud band and can’t hear myself properly and such, you all know how it is. Anyway, now I have a great backup acoustic for playing live and I was missing something in sunburst to match the Claescaster I put together four years ago.

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963
Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963I had to do the normal work to it, reset the neck by sanding down the heel. Fill all the dents and marks on the back of the neck with Nitro lacquer and then sand it smooth. Take the machine heads apart and clean them properly before I greased them up and put them back on. Cut a new bone saddle and then paint both the saddle and nut to match Levin’s original squirrel coloured Galalith parts. Polish frets, clean and oil the fretboard and then a general good clean of the whole guitar. If you want see pictures of any of this than have a look at how I restored the old Levin LM-26.

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963

Levin LM-26 / Goya M-26
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
Metal truss rod cover with a star and “1900”, nickel plated tuners
Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with centred pearl dot inlay, rosewood bridge
Sunburst finish and ten year warranty

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Goliath Model 1795

Claes Anderson Band – Standing tall over the ones that have fallen, The Cavern Club, Terrassa 17th March 2017