Claescaster

Tag: 1959

Fender Factory Tour 1959

Fender Fullerton Factory 1959
The Fender Fullerton Plant at 500 South Raymond Avenue in 1959

After including a tour of the K. Yairi factory yesterday I came to think of a video I saw about a year ago, a tour of the Fender Fullerton plant in 1959. Enjoy!

1959 8mm Film by Forrest White. Digital Film Restoration by CinePost http://www.posthouse.com Edited by Ross Lenenski. Read the story behind this film in “Fender: The Inside Story,” by Forrest White available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fender-Inside-S… Music by Russell Eldridge

How to… reset a Levin neck

Levin LM-26 1959A fairly unplayable 1959 Levin LM-26 before I reset the neck

I’ve been very lucky and managed to get my hands on a couple of really nice Levin and Goya guitars over the last year. I would probably have thought twice about getting any random 50 years old acoustic since the action is normally a bit of an issue but with Levin it’s quite easy to reset the neck. They have been using a bolt-on neck system since the 1950’s which makes the job pretty manageable.
How to reset a Levin neckRemove the two bolts that attach the heel with the neck block, you can see them if you look inside. A normal Philips no 2 screwdriver fits if you don’t have a square Allen key. The heel is normally not glued in so you will feel it loose as soon as you remove the bolts. If not, apply a bit of pressure upwards to loosen the heel. Now you will be able to fit a sanding strip under the heel and can start to sand it down and that way change the neck angle and lower the action. Apply a bit of pressure on the neck and just pull, it might take 40-60 pulls on each side so so be patient. Check the neck angle with a straight edge once in a while so you don’t take it too far. As long as the straight edge doesn’t go over the bridge it should be fine. I have done the sanding strip trick on two guitars so far, my Goya T-18 and a Goya 163. On my Levin LM-26 I felt it was better to remove the whole neck so that made the sanding process even easier.

Goya 163 neck removal
Update: January 27, 2014
I needed to sand down the heel a bit further on my Goya Model 163 and realised that the fretboard started to come loose. It looked and felt just like the bridge, like the glue had dried up and started to crack and fall apart. I tried a new trick that I learned on Youtube, to heat up the spatula instead of heating the neck, like a did on my Levin LM-26. My God, this was so easy and quick, I think it took me 7 min to remove the neck. When I had sanded down the heel a bit further I glued the neck back with some fish glue and a couple of clamps.

Levin bolt-on neck

Levin LM-26

Levin LM-26 1959Levin LM-26 1959Update: January 26, 2014 My Levin LM-26 from 1959 is now finished

Levin Goliath ad 1962
Bell ad from 1962 for the wonderful extra large sized Levin Goliath Model 1795

As I mentioned in my previous post about Levin I managed to win a Levin LM-26 on eBay back in December. It turned out to be in a worse state than I expected which I guess is both good and bad. Bad because it’s unplayable so I still don’t know how it sounds, good because I’m forced to learn a lot of new things, like how to remove the neck on an acoustic guitar. The Levin LM-26 was sold as The Levin Goliath Model 1795 in the UK and I think they sold pretty well, even Pete Townshend had one. They have spruce top with flame maple back and sides, all solid as always with Levin. If you want to know how old your Levin or Goya is then check Vintage Guitars Sweden. Levin serial numbers / Goya serial numbers

The Who in 1963 as the Detours, Pete Townshend playing a Levin Goliath LM-26
Pete Townshend is playing a Levin Goliath LM-26 in 1963 with Detours, later The Who

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 centered pearl dot inlay, rosewood bridge
Sunburst finish and ten year warranty

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Goliath Model 1795.

Levin LM-26 1959Levin LM-26 from 1959, well the body is actually stamped with a number from 1958, the year this model was introduced. I’m not sure if they used an old body when they put they guitar together at the Levin factory in Gothenburg in 1959 or if someone changed the neck when the guitar came to the UK. The previous owner for the past 51 years, Roger, bought the guitar second hand in 1963 for £40 from Bill Greenhalgh Ltd, 125-127 Fore Street in Exeter. Roger changed the original machine heads to Grovers in 1965, it’s otherwise all original. The action was so high that I could almost fit my hand under the strings so I had to remove the neck and reset it. There are a few things that needs to be glued as well, the back is lose and there are 2-3 cracks in the top.

Levin LM-26 1959I have never removed a neck before so I was pretty nervous about this part. It’s supposed to be one of the trickier things to sort on an acoustic guitar but luckily this neck was fixed with the Levin bolt-on neck system which made it a lot easier. I removed the two bolts inside and the heel came lose straight away, now I only had to loosen the fretboard overhang. I removed the pickguard with a razor blade, cutting under the edge, just to make sure I wouldn’t melt or damage it while removing the neck. Then I used a normal clothes iron to heat up the fretboard, I don’t have any fancy pants Stew Mac tools or special gadgets. I heated up the fretboard for 1-2 min and felt with my hand every 30 sec to make sure it didn’t get too hot, I thought if I could still touch it maybe I wouldn’t burn or damage the lacquer on the top. It took ages to get it off, I think I probably spent 1-2 hours per night for 3 nights in a row on this. The glue loosened more and more and in the end I could get a flat screwdriver in and bend it loose. Unfortunately a chunk of spruce decided to stick to the neck instead of the body but to be honest I expected worse damage than that on my first attempt to remove a neck. I used my clothes steamer and steamed the spruce loose from the mahogany neck, it peeled right off, and just glued it back in the neck pocket again.

Levin LM-26 1959
I masked off the top and sanded the pocket even so now the neck will fit fine once I’m ready to put it back on. I had to get the gap on the back closed. I’m not a master gluer and since you pretty much just get one shot, or rather it’s really annoying to remove and re-glue things if they aren’t perfect, I was a bit concerned about this too. I used plenty of fish glue and then 4 strong straps that could not only press in the back but also press down the the sides to close the gap as much as possible. I’m pretty pleased with the result, the gap is gone and it seems pretty solid.

Levin LM-26 1959Next thing was to try to close the cracks on the top. One was all the way through and two was smaller hairline cracks. I filled everything with fish glue and used a suction cup to try to push in the glue in the cracks, I saw this on Youtube and it made sense to me so I tried it. Then I just strapped everything up and put a piece of wood the keep the main crack flat while it dries.

Levin LM-26 1959Once I had glued the cracks in the top, the first image shows before I started, I painted and lacquered the crack. I used normal matt black acrylic paint for the dark parts and just darkened the rest with furniture oil before I applied the nitrocellulose lacquer. Once the lacquer was dry I sanded the surface smooth with 400, 800, 1500, 2000 and 2500 grit. It worked really well, it’s actually hard to even see the big crack that went all the way from the edge to the bridge. I removed the old glue from the pickguard and then glued it back again. 

Levin LM-26 1959The neck was in really poor state, deep groves and marks all over it. I filled it with nitrocellulose lacquer, as mentioned in my previous post about how to repair lacquer damage. I had to take out the heavy artillery in order to get the neck smooth and used 180 grit. Then it was just a matter of sanding it back to it’s former shine using 400, 800, 1500, 2000 and 2500 grit. You can still see the marks but the neck is perfectly smooth and shiny again.

Levin LM-26 1959
According to Roger the guitar has been stored in a back room in it’s case for the last three decades and I guess the humidity wasn’t ideal, hence the cracks. As soon as I got the guitar I started to humidify it with a wet sock in a plastic container inside the body and then sealed of the hole with a lid from a Mercadona lunch box. The Grover machine heads from 1965 got a good clean and is now oiled up and works fine.
In the last picture you can see what lied hidden in the accessory compartment in the old hardcase. Old guitar and banjo strings, an old sellotape box full of fingerpicks and best of all, an original Levin trussrod key. I’ve been looking all over for one of these. Thank you Roger.

Guitar of the day

Peter Green 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard
Peter Green 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

One of the most famous and highly collectable vintage guitars of all time, the infamous Peter Green Les Paul. Most Blues fans will know that as well as being revered for his amazing tone and unmistakeable vibrato, B.B. King once remarked “He has the sweetest tone I ever heard. He’s the only one who gave me the cold sweats.”, over the years Peter’s Les Paul has built up a similar legend in guitar folklore. Now in the hands of a private collector, it made it’s journey through Peter Greens hands and into the arms of Gary Moore who put it to good use on a number of his albums and live shows. Earlier on in his career, Peter Green played a  Harmony Meteor, a cheap hollow-body guitar, but quickly started playing a  Gibson Les Paul with  The Bluesbreakers after he replaced Eric Clapton in the band. Green’s guitar was often referred to as his “magic guitar”. “I never had a magic one. Mine wasn’t magic…It just barely worked” said Green in 2000. “I stumbled across one when I was looking for something more powerful than my Harmony Meteor. I went into Selmer’s in Charing Cross Road [central London] and tried one. It was only £110 and it sounded lovely and the color was really good. But the neck was like a tree trunk… It was very different from Eric’s Les Paul, which was slim with a very fast action.”

In part, his unique tone derived from a modification to the neck  pickup which was reversed and rewired, a modification made after 1967. For anyone looking to modify their guitar in the same way, we found a link to a nice blog here on how to perform the tone mod in detailed steps http://www.geetarz.org/axes/green.htm

It was in the early 70’s when Green passed the guitar over to Gary Moore. Peter was suffering from mental health problems and would put his guitar down for the best part of 8 years. At the time, the Irishman was a friend and close neighbor of Green’s in London. Green initially tried to give the Les Paul to him on the understanding that he could ask for it back when he was well enough to play again but Moore insisted on paying the £110 that it originally cost and Peter Green never did ask for it to be returned. Once in the hands of Gary Moore, the guitar went on to be used on a number of recordings, most notably the ‘Blues For Greeny’ album of Fleetwood Mac covers dedicated to the orginal owner. Green used it extensively until he sold the guitar in 2006.

Peter Green and Gary Moore with the 1959 Les Paul Standard
Peter Green and Gary Moore with the 1959 Les Paul Standard

Gary Moore explained why he parted ways with the iconic instrument: “It’s a long story. The instrument itself was a very special instrument, obviously. But it got to the point where I couldn’t take it anywhere. I didn’t want to sell it. I had to sell it for various reasons because I injured my hand a few years ago and the insurance didn’t pay up, and I had to cover the tour costs for canceled shows with my own money, and I didn’t get paid for any of the shows, obviously, or for anything. I ended up with debt. So it was kind of a financial thing, really, and that was the quickest way to do anything about it. So I never wanted to sell it. I mean, why would I? I kept the other ’59 Les Paul and I sold that one. That guitar was played by Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher played it, and I’ve played it. It was a very special instrument. Les Pauls are all so different. That one is a big old battle axe. Peter Green never really liked that guitar because the neck was too big. He wanted me to have it because he said he wanted it to go to a good home.” Taken from Interactive Guitar

Photo of the day

Waylon Jennings and Buddy Holly in 1959
Waylon Jennings and Buddy Holly in 1959

“Buddy was the first person to have faith in my music. He encouraged me in my music and my writing. He was my friend. If anything I’ve ever done is remembered, part of it is because of Buddy Holly.” – Waylon Jennings

Guitar of the day

Jimmy Page's Gibson Les Paul Gibson #1 and #2Jimmy Page’s Gibson Les Paul #1 (1958) and #2 (1959)

Jimmy Page's Gibson Les Paul #1 (1958)Jimmy Page’s Gibson Les Paul #1 (1958)

Jimmy Page #1 1958Jimmy Page’s Gibson Les Paul #1 (1958)

Guitar of the day

Billy F Gibbons ‘Pearly Gates’ 1959 Les Paul

Billy F Gibbons ‘Pearly Gates’ 1959 Les Paul

Billy F Gibbons ‘Pearly Gates’ 1959 Les Paul