I was invited to be a part of Bring It Home Music and did a tour of my home.
Harmony 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.
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
We had a gig last weekend and it was great fun. It was our second gig ever, actually our first one with a drummer so things are still a bit shaky. Jordi from Rodeo Rose has joined us on drums and it feels like we are slowly finding our roles in the band. I got a chance to play electric guitar on 8 out of 19 songs which was great fun, I haven’t played electric for 2-3 years. I played on my 1968 Levin LT-18, like last time and my 1977 Greco Spacey Sounds TE-500N which sounded pretty great. I’m already looking forward to our next gig, I think we will play in Barcelona in the beginning of April. Thanks again to Toni from Legends for booking us without actually knowing what he got himself in to, we really appreciate it.
A Rickenbacker 330 in Fireglo, Made in USA April 2000
Last week I had Sr. Chinarro’s Rickenbacker 330 at home for some minor work. This was actually the first Rickenbacker guitar I’ve ever played, I tried a Rickenbacker 4003 Bass ones but that’s all. I’m not sure why I haven’t been more interested in the brand, they look amazing and a million awesome musicians plays Rickenbacker. Perhaps I got lured in to the Telecaster cave early on and never managed to find my way out. The Rickenbacker 330 was introduced in 1958 and it really feels like it was built in an old fashioned way, perhaps not entirely in a good way. I mean when the electric guitars came in the 1950’s all the different brands had to figure things out for themselves for not infringing anyone else’s previous patents, hence why saddles, pickups and constructions varied so much in the beginning. There are a few solutions on the Rickenbacker that feels a bit weird, like the saddle, pickguard or the fact that they have lacquer over the rosewood fretboard. The problem with this guitar was that it had groves in the fretboard that I had to fill in with lacquer, scrape and then buff out with sandpaper and metal polish, which worked really well in the end. I think I will stick to my Levin orchestra guitars when it comes to hollow bodies but I really enjoyed having this Rickenbacker 330 at home so I could finally try one out. I loved the neck, both thickness and the feel of it and the pickups sounds really great, it’s a very versatile guitar.
I recently found a 000-sized Alvarez for my friend Wolf. It’s a really nice little guitar that we both were impressed by. These guitars were made in Japan for the US market and imported by St. Louis Music in Missouri, the guys behind Westone. According to Wikipedia and Alvarez own site it was the legendary Kazuo Yairi that founded the brand in 1965 to make cheaper Yairi guitars for the US market. Having said that, it’s still unclear if all Alvarez guitars were really made in the K. Yairi factory in Kani, Gifu in Japan or outsourced on other factories in Japan, see Jedistar. These early 1970’s Alvarez are a bit different to the later Alvarez-Yairi guitars that got famous in the late 1970’s and 1980’s when musicians like Crosby, Stills & Nash and Bob Weir endorsed them. Not only is the label inside and head inlays different, but they also seems to have their own models, the later Alvarez-Yairi are exact copies of the Yairi models of the time but made for export to the US. Since there is a sticker with a serial number inside that correspond perfectly to the Emperor code that K. Yairi uses things point towards the Yairi factory. As with everything made in Japan during the 1970’s, there are some questions we might never find the answer too. Either way we have an awesome Japan made Martin 000-18 copy that Wolf is very excited to play, especially with my Bill Lawrence A-300 in the soundhole.
The serial number starts with 48 which signify the 48th year of the reign of emperor Shōwa, which was in 1973. You can check the serial numbers of your Yairi or Alvarez here
My new country favorite, Sturgill Simpson is finally coming to town. He’s playing Sala Rocksound here in Barcelona on Thursday 21st of January 2016. I was damn jealous when he was gigging around Europe last year but never came to Spain. I think it’s a solo show, which is a shame it would have been nice to see his band too. Having said that, I’m pretty sure Sturgill’s voice and guitar is enough to fill the room. If you want to learn more about Sturgill you can listen to this interview.
I finally got a chance to try one of the new Chinese made Levin guitars. Levin closed down the factory in Gothenburg, Sweden back in 1981 when Svenska Levin AB bought the name and the remaining stock. A small batch of classical guitars continued to be made in Sweden by Lugnås Gitarr AB, and are still made there today. During the 1990’s there were some electric guitars and amps being produced in the far east under the Levin name, my first amp that I bought around 1997 was Levin branded. It took another 10 years until we started to see some Levin steel string acoustic guitars, these being produced first in Korea, then Indonesia and later China. Of course it’s impossible to compare a Swedish made guitar from the 1960-70’s with something being produced nowadays in Asia but I’m still quite impressed with these new Levin guitars. I emailed the owner and he told me that they had some issues in the beginning to get the finish right and I have to admit that the build quality is far from a Swedish Levin but still, if you see it for what it is then it’s a pretty great guitar for the price.
A modern Levin, built in China for Svenska Levin AB
I’ve just ordered myself a LR Baggs Lyrics, mainly because I needed a second pickups system but also because I thought it would make me as awesome as Sturgill Simpson. Either way, I needed something new and felt that the Lyrics sounded way more realistic than my old LR Baggs M1. My friend Wolf and I recently installed a LR Baggs iBeam in his Luxor Dove copy and that sounded great. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to install the Lyrics system in my new 1982 Sigma DR-41 or the 1973 K. Yairi YW-1000.
Here is Sturgill with his LR Baggs Lyrics
I found a Hagström HIII back in April that I felt really sorry for and had to rescue, or rather save it from being slaughtered and sold for parts by someone else. Unfortunately it wasn’t a bargain and I probably wouldn’t have bought it if I wasn’t drunk at time, I need to stop browsing eBay on Sunday evenings. It had all the parts but the fretboard and frets were in a terrible state and the electronics weren’t working properly, basically a nice guitar and worth the price if it was working. All the hardware cleaned up nicely, I love the Van Gent machine heads, a complete set tend to go for 100€ on their own, and it had the original tremolo, pickups and pickguard. I had to remove the old frets, even out the fretboard and then refret it to get it playable. After waiting for over a month I finally got the switch needed from Hong Kong here we are, a fully restored and working 1970 Hagström HIII. Even though I love the look and sound of this guitar I can’t seem to get used to the fast Hagström neck, the fastest neck in the world, and therefore it’s for sale.
Hagström HIII made in Älvdalen, Sweden between 1970-1972. It’s the 491st HIII made in a series of totally 708 guitars, this was the last run ever of this model since it was replaced by the more 1970’s looking Hagström HIIN
I started with taking the guitar apart and cleaning everything with a toothbrush and some soap and then polish up all the hardware.
The electronics was in fairly good state but needed to be grounded properly. Also the on/off wasn’t plugged in and the bridge pickup’s switch wasn’t working properly so I had to wait a month for a new one from Hong Kong. Now everything is soldered up properly and is working fine.
The main problem with the fretboard was the deep groves in it, it almost looked like the first 5-7 frets had been scalloped. The original frets were really uneven too so I decided to refret it completely. I pulled out the old frets, sanded the fretboard even and then gave it 10″ radius before I re-cut the fret slots and installed new Jescar jumbos.
This video was shot before I changed the bridge pickup’s switch so it’s cutting out occasionally, that has been sorted now with a new switch. I posted these two videos so you can here the difference between Hagström’s fat single coils and their humbuckers.
Here is a new video of the Hagström III with all the switches working, unfortunately my amp is acting up and is making hell of a noise