Claescaster

Category: eBay

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500
Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500, Made in Japan by FujiGen in August 1979

Yesterday the newest member of my Greco family arrived from Japan. I went a bit bananas last week when I saw that my favourite eBay seller Tokyowax was selling a Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500 so I bought it straight away. These Greco TL-500 are pretty rare, there are about 3-4 Greco TE-500, the Thinline version, for sale on eBay at the moment but I have only seen 2-3 Greco TL-500 for sale in the last two years. I’m not sure if they produced more Thinline copies in late Seventies than normal Telecasters or if people refuse to sell them, but you rarely see these and when you do they are normally very expensive. I got mine fairly cheap since one of the string ferrules on the back was missing. Well I shouldn’t really call it cheap and now the import tax from Japan had increased as well, I had to pay 95€ instead of the normal 75-80€.  I didn’t have to do much to her, everything was pretty well set up already. The frets looked pretty bad so I polished them, oiled the machine heads, tightened all the screws and restrung her. She plays amazingly, even better than my old mistress, my Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500 Thinline copy. It might seem weird that I put my old “Nancy”, my Fender Telecaster TL52-75, up for sale and then bought a new one the same week. The truth is that even though I love my Japan made Fender, I don’t dare to use it since it’s in such a good state. I prefer guitars that are older than me and have a couple of battle scars already. I guess I’m also a bit gay for late 1970’s Greco guitars.

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500
The body has quite a few marks on it but the back of the neck is like new and that’s the only thing I really care about.

Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500
The frets looked pretty bad so I masked the fretboard and polished them with 400 and 800 grit and then wire-wool. It looked like they had put the frets on before they applied lacquer to the neck and then after 35 years of playing half of it had worn off. The electronics seemed to be in good order and the guitar sounded awesome when I plugged it in so no reason to mess with that.

Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N, Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500, Greco Les Paul Custom EG-600C
Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N 1977, Greco Les Paul Custom EG-600C 1980, Greco Spacey Sounds TL-500 1979

Goya T-18

Goya catalogue 1965
Levin’s Goya catalogue from 1965

I’m very excited about my future Goya T-18 from 1966. I managed to find one in a fairly good state for a reasonable sum on eBay and couldn’t resist. I’ve decided that from now on I’m just buying Swedish made Levin acoustics, they were called Goya in the US. Since I haven’t received the guitar yet, it will probably spend a week or to in the customs office in Madrid, I have to stick to looking at old catalogues and dream. They have a review of a Goya T-18 from 1965 in the latest issue of Acoustic Guitar, under Great acoustics, 1965 Goya T-18 by Teja Gerken. I need to find a copy so I can get an idea of what I’ve got myself in to. It can’t be that different from my dad’s old Levin LT-16 also from 1966, which is among the best acoustic guitars I’ve ever played. The Levin LT-16 or Goya T-16, has alp spruce top and mahogany back and sides while the Levin LT-18 or Goya T-18, has alp spruce top and flame maple back and sides. The LT-18/T-18’s Goliath size is also a bit bigger than LT-16/T-16’s Grand Concert size so let’s see how the size in combination with maple instead of mahogany affects the sound. The LT-18/T-18The LT-18/T-18 was top of the line in the mid Sixties and cost $219.50 new in 1965.

Goya catalogue 1965
Levin’s Goya catalogue from 1965. Next I will have to find a Goya N-26 or Goya N-22 in sunburst from the mid 1960’s.

Levin LT-16 Made in Sweden 1966
My dad’s old Levin LT-16 from 1966

Hondo II P-bass

Hondo II P-Bass
Hondo II P-bass copy, it’s a bit roadworn but the neck is in a really good state and it feels great to play.

Hondo II P-Bass
The machine heads could do with being replaced too, it seems like Hondo II have great necks but cheap hardware and electronics.

As I mentioned before I got a Hondo II P-bass for my colleague Verushka, she plays in an awesome punk group called Sect. The bass arrived last week and I took it home and had a look at it. It was sold as untested so I presumed that nothing worked, and I was right. The wood seems really solid and good, just like the Hondo II I got for Dani a few months back but the electronics seemed to be pretty bad. I took it a part and cleaned it, polished all the metal and then started to go through the electronics. It turned out that the pickups doesn’t work. Or rather they work, but the output is so low that you can hardly hear them. We ordered a new set of Artec P-bass pickups, new pots and jack from my favourite Hong Kong store EY Parts so as soon as they arrive I can get the bass sorted.

Hondo II P-Bass
I cleaned it, polished the frets and all the hardware with wire wool and metal polish. I have to say that this cheap little bottle of Harley Benton Hardware Polish has proven to be extremely worth the 1.90€ I paid for it. I put in a little shim when I assembled it, just like I did with Dani’s and it made wonders to the action. Now it’s really low and easy to play.

Hondo II P-Bass
I took all the electronics apart, cleaned the jack, cut the ends of all the wires and replaced the mini pots with some newer mini pots I had at home, I did everything I could to make sure that all the connections would be as good as possible but it didn’t help. Well I got rid of the extremely loud humming noise that was there before but the pickups are still way too weak for being usable. Let’s see what it sounds like when the new full size pots, jack and Artec pickups arrive.

Guitar strings

Chest Fever, Araceli and Claes in action
Chest Fever in action at Palau Alòs 16/3 2013

How do you chose what strings to use? Do you listen to others, read reviews or actually try all the brands available? In my case I guess it has been a combination of what others are using, what I’ve read good things about and what I actually realised that I like. I don’t really know much about different materials or how some type of strings affect the sound in certain ways. I guess a big part for me has always been the price since I’m a hard hitter and tend to break strings a lot. When I was young I was poor and had to stick to the cheaper brands and now when I’m older and less poor I have too many guitars to afford to string them up with the best brands. I’ve always been stuck in the middle and changed brands many times depending on what’s affordable and popular in the country I’ve been living. I used Rotosound (Roto Reds 11-48) while I lived in the UK and now in Spain I’ve changed to Ernie Ball (Regular Slinky 10-46). The main reason why I changed from 11’s to 10’s was because I felt that I was old enough to use what I wanted and not care about what everyone else said. My whole life people around me have told me that the thicker the better, and that you are less of a man if you play on anything thinner than 11’s. Remember that Billy Gibbons uses 08’s and still has a pretty descent tone on his ‘Pearly Gates’ 1959 Les Paul. When I started to use 10’s my guitar playing changed completely, not only could I play faster but I also started to bend more and play in ways that I hadn’t been able to or bothered with before. My Telecasters stringed with 10’s are pure country heaven and way much more fun than before. I still use 11’s on my Hagström Viking and the Gretsch copy I have. At the moment I’m using Martin M175 (80/20 Custom Light Bronze Acoustic Strings 11-52) on my acoustics. Mainly because my girlfriend Araceli liked 11’s on her parlour guitars and it was easier to buy the same strings in bulk for both of us but also because I like to play acoustic like I play electric and don’t want to feel held back with too thick string gauge. I’m planning to put a set of 12’s or 13’s on one of my Dreadnoughts just to try if it really makes a world of difference to the tone. I would love to know what others are using and why. Please write a comment below and let me know.

Roto Sound roto reds 11
I used these for years but have now given up on 11’s

Ernie Ball Regular Slinky 10-46
My new found favourites, so smooth and easy to play without being too flimsy. I tend to buy them in bulk on eBay from USA

Martin acoustic guitar 11-52
Araceli and I tend to stick to these since you can get a 3-pack for 9,90€ from Thomann

Peavey electric guitar strings

Peavey acoustic guitar strings
I’m not proud to admit it but I do use Peavey’s discount strings occasionally. In Alfasoni you can get them for 2€ and they are perfect when you break a string or you just need to string up a guitar that you don’t use that much.

L.R. Baggs M1

David Gilmour LR baggs M1
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd with his Gibson Southern Jumbo and a L.R. Baggs M1

L.R. Baggs M1
I’m not sure if the L.R. Baggs M1 passive that I ordered comes with volume control

I just ordered myself a L.R. Baggs M1 and I really hope it’s as good as people say. I have only tried cheap magnetic soundhole pickups so far, like Artec and Belcat and they worked ok both of them but sounded a bit thin, hopefully the M1 will be more full and warm without sounding muffled or muddy. I have an old Shadow humbucker from the 1970’s that I kind of like but it’s a bit too dark for dreadnought guitars. The undersaddle ARTEC PP-607 I installed in the parlour was way too uneven when played hard, and a bit thin sounding as well. My favourite magnetic pickup is still the old Japanese 1960’s one that my dad fitted in his Levin LT-16. I got the L.R. Baggs M1 new from dont_tell_the_wife_guitars on eBay and it only cost $139.00 with free shipping so I felt it was worth a try. If it’s good enough for David Gilmour then I’m sure it will be just fine for me.

Update 2013-09-10
I just received my new L.R. Baggs M1 and it looks awesome. Cheap, quick shipping and no customs issues, couldn’t be better. I noticed that the M1 Passive doesn’t have a volume control but I’m pretty sure I can live without since I have never used that on any of my acoustic pickups. I’m really excited about rehearsing with Chest Fever on Thursday so I can try it out loud. I hope it sounds as good as it looks. 

Update 2013-09-20
Last night I finally got to play the L.R. Baggs M1 loud, we had to cancel the rehearsal last week since Araceli’s and I celebrated 6 years together. I fitted it in my Kiso Suzuki WE-150 and it sounded pretty good, well it sounded just like the Suzuki does unplugged. It was the first pickup I have ever tried that could handle my hard hitting solo playing and I’m really impressed with how responsive it is, loud enough when picking and not too loud when strumming. I can’t wait to put it in an even better guitar and really hear it’s full potential.

Levin LT-16 1966
The Japanese pickup fitted in my dad’s old Levin LT-16 from 1966


A nice example of L.R. Baggs M1


David Gilmour playing L.R. Baggs M1, skip to 1:06

Hondo II P-bass

Hondo II P-bass

I just bought another Hondo II P-bass on eBay, this time for my work colleague Verushka from the Barcelona based punk band Sect. The listing stated that the bass was untested so hopefully it doesn’t work and I got a lot of work to do before it’s ready to be played. Dani is selling his Hondo II but Verushka and I decided that black was more her and then we found this beauty.

How to… refret a guitar

Tokai Love Rock LS-55 Les Paul Standard "Made in Japan" 1991Tokai Love Rock LS-55 Les Paul Standard “Made in Japan” 1991

Today I did it, I decided to go all in and cross the final frontier when it comes to DIY guitar work and ordered everything needed for refretting my Tokai. It has really poor frets, well not only does the frets have big groves in it but it’s hardly any frets left. It’s such a nice guitar and she deserves to be brought back to her former 1991 glory. I have thought about this for a long time, well I’ve thought about refretting her since I bought her, but if I should pay someone 240-340€ to do it or if I should just learn how to do it myself. I have to say that my trust in the quality of any form of workmanship south of the Pyrenees is pretty low. I have seen too many people charge too much for things that I could have done better myself, hopefully I’m right this time to. I bought quite a lot of things from G.M.I. tools in Greece, a fret leveler, fret puller, hammer and then I got a neck support caul and a fret rocker from Guitars & Woods in Portugal. I always try to buy things from my Mediterranean neighbours if I can to help their economy out during the recession, even though I doubt that any of these eBay sellers pay tax.  I struggled a lot when it came to what type of crowning file I should get, I watched a lot of Youtube videos to see what people were using but everyone had a different opinion. In the end I went for two fancy Japan made Uo-Chikyu files from Japarts in Canada, mainly because they were made in Japan and I’m gay for Japanese guitar things, and they had a cute fish as their logo which made me happy. I read a lot of good things about Dunlop’s fret wire on European forums, they seem to be pretty standard here, and a lot of bad things about them on American forums so in the end I trusted the Yanks and bought Jescar fret wire instead from Philadelphia Luthier. All in all I spent 172.73€ for tools that hopefully will last me a lifetime, two sets of fret wire, one for my Tokai Les Paul and one for a Strat/Tele, I don’t think you can get Jescar here so I thought I might as well get an extra set. I also got a cheap set of fret wire to practice with, I was going to refret my old Morgan neck, the original neck to the first Claescaster, just to try to get used to pulling frets and hammering new ones in. If I would just refret one guitar I guess I could just have paid someone 300€ to do it for me, but the main thing for me is to be able to crown and polish the frets on all my guitars, before they get big groves in the frets so I can’t play them. I’ve also notice that I tend to not play some guitars just because they have a bit of fret wear, not because they are hard to play, just because I don’t want them to get worse. That’s a ridiculous excuse for not playing your favourite guitars. I prefer to learn how to do it myself so the cost of refretting a guitar is 12-14€ for the fret wire, and then of course a huge amount of my time but that’s not as precious as having to pay 300€ for someone else to do it for me. Wish me luck!

Here is a list of what I ordered:
Hiroshima Files Uo-Chikyu Medium Radius Fret Crowning File
Hiroshima Files Uo-Chikyu Fret End Dressing File
G.M.I. fret-fingerboard LEVELER 400mm(15.75”)
G.M.I. fret puller-luthier’s tool-MADE IN GERMANY     
G.M.I. fret hammer-luthier’s tool-MADE IN GERMANY
G.M.I. fretboard guards    
Bahco replacment files for G.M.I. fret bevel(3 different cuts)
Guitar Neck Support Caul
Stainless Steel Guitar Fret Rocker Laser Cut – Luthier
Set 2.5mm Wide Nickel Silver Fretwire
Jescar FW47104 Electric Medium/Jumbo Fretwire Pre-radiused 12″
Jescar FW43080 Electric Medium Fretwire Pre-radiused 9.5″

Hobbs Music P-bass

Hobbs Music
Dani has decided to put the Hobbit up for sale. It’s a really nice bass that I helped him to fix up, more about that here.

Martin D42/D45 Made in Japan copy

Alvarez Yairi 5070

I’m after a Japan made Martin D42/D45 copy. If anyone happens to see one for sale, please let me know. It doesn’t have to be a Alvarez or Yairi, Morris, Mountain, Suzuki, Aria and pretty much anything else would do as long as it’s made in Japan in the 1970’s or early 1980’s. However, it has to have the hexagon inlays and binding around the top and soundhole.

Levin De Luxe 1938

Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt is playing Fred Guy’s Levin De Luxe backstage at the Aquarium in New York City 1946. © William Gottlieb

I really love my Swedish made Levin LT-16 from 1966, it’s without any doubt the most comfortable acoustic I have ever played. I tend to keep an eye out for another Levin guitars on eBay but they always go for stupid amounts of money, around £400-1000 depending on the model. Yesterday I came across one of the more famous Levin guitars, Fred Guy of the Duke Ellington band’s 1938 Levin De Luxe which is up for sale on eBay for $200,000. Here is the story how he originally got it. Taken from Vintage Guitars Stockholm, they have more photos as well.
While visiting Göteborg during a tour of Sweden in April, 1939, Fred Guy, guitarist in the Duke Ellington Orchestra purchased a Levin De Luxe at Waidele. This is the guitar that Django Reinhardt is playing in the famous William Gottlieb photos. They were taken backstage at the Aquarium in New York City when Django was on tour with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1946.

Fred Guy, Levin De Luxe
Fred Guy with his 1938 Levin De Luxe

Here is the background info from the eBay listing.
Recently returned from France – as it was being shown in a Django Reinhardt Exhibition for 3 months (see picture above). Also seen in the 2011 issue of the July / Aug / Sept edition of Guitar Aficionado magazine (Find section). This is the Levin Guitar previously owned by Fred Guy of the Duke Ellington band – during the 1940’s era. This is also the same guitar that Django Reinhardt is holding in the picture above when he was in New York City, backstage with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1946, and on the cover of Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Feb 1996 edition. The guitar was given to me by Fred Guy’s ex-wife Dorothy Guy Lynch about 30 years ago. The Levin guitar is in its original case, and the guitar itself has some small cracks in it. If you love Jazz, and want to own a piece of jazz history, this is a rare opportunity for the serious guitar collector. This is the real deal. Serious inquiries only… If you want to view the guitar, I will be glad to set up a time to do so (the guitar is being stored off premises in a secured site so arrangements will need to be made in advance).  I have relisted this guitar over and over because I received many responses that provided me with additional information about the guitar, and a trip to France to show it at the Cite de la Musique for their Django Reinhardt Exhibition this past year (see picture above). So I am thankful for the opportunities! You can check out the article in the 2011 edition of Guitar Aficionado magazine.

Fred Guy Levin De Luxe 1938

Fred Guy Levin De Luxe 1938

Fred Guy Levin De Luxe 1938