Claescaster

Tag: 1968

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.

Claes Anderson Band

img_7979-copy3Claes Anderson Band at Legends Dance Hall in Terrassa 4th February 2017, photo by Meritxell

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.

 

 

 

Levin LT-18

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

I’ve tried my best not to buy more guitars, hence why I’m selling most of my Japanese acoustics. Having said that, if a Levin LT-18 shows up on eBay and the seller contacts me via email, after a couple of shamefully low best offers from my part, and I happen to lie at home with pneumonia, it was just impossible to resist. I’m so weak for these top of the line Levin flat tops from the 1960’s, they sound amazing and they are pretty rare to find, people tend to cling on to them until they die, and then their kids will sell them. It’s also quite rare to see a Levin branded LT-18 for sale, I already have a Goya T-18 which is the same guitar but branded Goya for the US market and they tend to be a bit easier to come across. I always prefer early to mid 1960’s Levin guitars, before they opened the new factory in Lessebo in 1965, having said that, most of my Levin guitars are actually from 1965-1966 and they sound pretty damn amazing. This one from 1968 is pushing it a bit, I thought it was from 1967 until I got it home and could check the serial number properly. The problem after 1967 is the new invention of Levin, the individual height adjustable plastic saddles, I hate them. I will have to carve a new bridge in ebony, to match the fretboard, and cut a slot for a real bone saddle.

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

Levin LT-18 / Goya T-18
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
Single-bound ebony fingerboard with bass side pearloid block inlay
Nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons
Ebony bridge, natural finish and ten year warranty

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Super Goliath Model 1855

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1968There were two things that I couldn’t stand with this Levin, first the lack of lacquer on the back of the neck, and then the rosewood bridge with the individual height adjustable plastic saddles. I’m not sure how they managed to loose most of the lacquer on the back of the neck but that was easily filled in with a couple of layers of Nitrocellulose lacquer. The second part, with the rosewood bridge and the plastic saddles is something we are going to have to deal with. The sound is not terrible with the plastic saddles, it ads a kind of 1960’s Gibson bass to it but it lacks a lot of clarity in the trebles and I always prefer a bone saddle. I also don’t like the look of a rosewood bridge to a ebony fretboard, they should match. I will try to carve a new bridge in ebony as soon as I get time.  

the-big-three-at-the-cavern-decca
This Levin LT-18 was apparently owned by Brian Griffiths from The Big Three, a Liverpool band that was active during the days of The Beatles. However, since the guitar was made in 1968 he must have bought it long after the Liverpool glory days were over.

 

Ad of the day

Hagstrom H8 Eight String Bass, 1968 Hagstrom advertisementHagström H8 Eight String Bass, Hagström advertisement from 1968

Levin 174

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

My latest acquisition, a 1972 Levin Model 174. The story how I got this guitar is pretty amazing. I wrote a post about Levin guitars back in August 2013 when I had just started to collect them. In the end of the post I mentioned that I would love to find a Levin Model 174, it’s basically a Levin LT-18 but with a massive head. There is something about that huge head that I find very appealing, I guess it reminds me of old an archtop guitar from 1930-40’s and it’s almost a bit Art Deco. Three months later, in the end of November, I got a comment from a Danish guy called Orla saying that he had one for sale. We started to email each other and he told that a few days earlier he had seen a guy about to throw a guitar case in a skip so he had gone up to him and asked if he could have it instead. Orla took the case home, opened it and found a 1972 Levin Model 174 in pretty good shape inside. He Googled the name and model and pretty soon found my blog post saying that I was looking for one. Since Orla doesn’t play guitar himself, he just wanted to save it from a certain death, he contacted me and offered me to buy it and I’m very grateful that he did. It was a bit scary to buy a guitar from a guy I didn’t know who had contacted me through my blog, it felt a bit fishy somehow. A part of me thought it was a Nigerian email scam in disguise and another part said that I should trust the good in people, especially a Northern neighbour like Orla. In the end I decided that it was an offer I really couldn’t turn down, especially since most of the 174’s I had seen for sale were all Goya labelled and made later in the 1970’s. It took some time to get the guitar down to Spain, we had some logistic issues but finally it arrived about two weeks ago and I was stunned. Since Orla doesn’t play he couldn’t give me any info about what state the guitar was in, he had sent me some pictures but it’s pretty hard to get an idea if it’s even playable from just that. Luckily it was in a really good state and it both sounds and feels great.

Levin Model 174 Made in Sweden 1972

Levin Model 174 / Goya Model 174
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
Single-bound headstock with mother-of-pearl inlay
Single-bound ebony fingerboard with bass side pearloid block inlays
Rosewood bridge with individual height adjustable plastic saddles
Nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons
Natural finish and ten year warranty

Introduced circa 1969 as a replacement for LT 18

Levin Model 174 Made in Sweden 1972I didn’t have to do much to it, the action was really good as it was. Which was very lucky because this 174 doesn’t have the Levin bolt-on neck system, they stopped with that in the early Seventies. The original Van Gent machine heads had been changed at some point, probably in the 1970’s, to Schaller’s and I really don’t like these type of buttons so I changed them for Wilkinson WJ-309 in gold, to make it look even more Art Deco. I also installed an endpin jack so I can use it live with my LR Baggs M1. I had to clean it a bit, polish the frets and oil the fretboard but overall it was pretty good from the start. There was a note hidden under the trussrod cover saying, Her blev sedlen lagt 4th of February 1995. I assume that’s referring to that the nut was raised a bit 19 years ago, something I need to redo at some point because they seem to have used some paper like material instead of bone.

Goya Model 163 (1968), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Model 13 (1950), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin Model 65 (1942), , Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 174 (1972)The whole Levin family, Goya Model 163 (1968), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Model 13 (1950), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin Model 65 (1942), Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 174 (1972).

Goya 163

Goya Model 163 Made in Sweden 1968
A very early Goya Model 163, they were introduced in 1969 but the serial number puts this one to 1968. That would make it the earliest known example on the Vintage Guitars Sweden site. Levin serial numbers / Goya serial numbers

I thought I might as well post some images of the Goya 163 I received back in January. There was some work to be done, actually quite a lot. First I had to reset the neck to get the action down and then I had to remove the bridge and redo the saddle screws. I cut a new pickguard over the weekend, well it’s not perfect yet, I’m still looking for a better material but it will do for now. I bought this Goya from a girl called Marilyn Moser in Maynard, Massachusetts. She had used the guitar for some live gigs in the New York area but gave up on it because of the high action, it was fairly unplayable when I got it. The guitar came with a nice handwritten note to me, the new owner, that’s why I got curious to find out a bit more about her. Here are links to some of her music and her awesome 1960’s blog.

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

Levin 163 / Goya 163
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
Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with bass side pearloid dot inlay
Rosewood bridge with individual height adjustable plastic saddles
Nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons
Sunburst finish and ten year warranty

Goya Model 163 Made in Sweden 1968
I still haven’t found a good pickguard material. Well the red plastic that I happened to find in the street is actually perfect but who wants a red pickguard. I’ve managed to find 0.8 mm thick matt black plastic but I need something around 1-1.5 mm and preferable in high gloss jet black or even better in red tortoise.  I fitted a strap button in the usual place, and then I painted the new bone nut orange to match the original Levin Galalith nut.

Levin Goya Model 163 1968
Update: March 21, 2014 The pickguard material I ordered from China looked a lot classier than expected so I cut in to shape and put it on

Global Shipping Program

1968 Levin / Goya 163 head
Goya Model 163 , made by Levin in Sweden in 1968

You might have noticed that eBay have started with something new, well fairly new, called Global Shipping Program. Basically you pay all the import taxes and charges straight away and therefore don’t have to go through the customs when the item arrives to your country. I have had some issues in the past when I have bought things from the US, like my Claescaster body and my Goya T-18. It took the Spanish customs a month the process the item and deliver it to me and they charged me 40% of the original price including shipping in import tax and other fees. I recently purchased a lovely Goya 163 from Massachusetts using the Global Shipping Program and it took exactly 14 days to get it and I only had to pay 32.5 % tax on the actual price of the guitar, not final price plus shipping as they normally charge me when it goes through the Spanish customs in Madrid and best of all, no paperwork. So for anyone living in Spain I can highly recommend buying things from the States using the Global Shipping Program.

Levin

Goya Model 163 (1968), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Model 13 (1950), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin Model 65 (1942), , Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 174 (1972)
Update: February 15, 2014 with my 3 new Levin guitars. From left to right: Goya Model 163 (1968), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Model 13 (1950), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin Model 65 (1942), Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 174 (1972)

I was back in Sweden over the weekend and I was really hoping to extend my Levin collection. I had seen a couple of guitars that I wanted to go and try but in the end I didn’t have time to do anything more than just visit my family, which was the reason why I went back in the first place. I really don’t need any more guitars but since I’m so happy with my Goya T-18 I can’t stop looking for other Levin’s. I actually did manage to extend my collection but not while in Sweden, I won a Levin LM-26 from 1959 on eBay the night before I left Barcelona. It needs quite a bit of work so as soon as it arrives here and I’ll start to fix it up I will post some pictures and write more about it. What I have gathered so far by talking to Levin owners on Swedish forums is that the Sixties ones sound more like old Gibson’s and the Seventies Levin’s are closer to Martin, which makes sense since C.F. Martin & Co bought Levin in 1973. It might all be in my head but I think there is a bit of Gibson sound over my Goya T-18. The three Levin models that I’ve been dreaming of, after the Levin LM-26 but that’s already sorted now, is the stupidly beautiful Levin/Goya M-50, the awesome Levin/Goya 174 and the less impressive looking but supposedly amazing sounding Levin W 32 J. To find a Levin/Goya 174 shouldn’t be too hard, I might actually have already found one that I like. It would be a lot harder to come across a Levin/Goya M-50, I think it will be almost impossible so maybe that’s more of a lifelong Holy Grail project. They were too expensive to produce with all the extra bling, gold machine heads and mother of pearl cloud shaped inlays all over the fretboard so they stopped making them in the early Sixties. The Levin W 32 J is not that rare, they actually produced quite a few but people doesn’t seem to be too inclined to sell them and when they do, they are quite expensive. I have seen one, that I actually wanted to go and try, in Jam a guitar shop in Stockholm for 9500 SEK, around 1100€, which felt a bit much. It’s actually not that overvalued since The Fellowship of Acoustics in the Netherlands are selling their Levin’s on eBay for 1400-1600€. These are top end models we are talking about but since normal people that have inherited an old Levin or want to sell their old guitar see those guitar prices they of course think that their guitar is worth over 1000€ too, which isn’t always the case. I guess this over valuation makes my guitars worth more but at the same time it’s extremely annoying when you want to buy a new one and people wants an arm and a leg for them, or 1000€.

1963 Goya M-50
1963 Goya M-50
© Vintage Guitars

1970 Levin Model 174
1970 Levin Model 174 © Vintage Guitars

1979 Levin W 32 J
1979 Levin W 32 J © Vintage Guitars

Guitar of the day

The Fender Stratocaster Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock in 1969
Jimi Hendrix’ “Woodstock” 1968 Fender Stratocaster. Microsoft’s Paul Allen reportedly paid 1.2 million dollars for this guitar in 1998.

Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock 1969

Guitar of the day

George Harrison's 1968 rosewood Fender Telecaster

George Harrison’s 1968 rosewood Fender Telecaster

George Harrison’s 1968 rosewood Fender Telecaster