Claescaster

Tag: 1978

How to… Replace frets

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6 Missouri, Made in Sweden 1978

Last weekend I tried a trick that I had seen some old luthier in the US doing on Instagram, replacing the first three worn frets with the last three, instead of re-fretting the whole guitar. This seemed like a really good solutions for my 1978 Hagström Western 6 which had terrible wear on the first three frets.

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978It seemed a bit pointless to do a complete re-fret when it was just the first three that was worn, I also like to keep things as original as possible. I just pulled out the first three and the last three and replaced the first three with the last three and then added three new frets where the last three used to be, easy peasy. I just had to nip off the edges with some pliers, file them down and round them a bit to get them smooth. Since you don’t play on the last three frets, or at least I don’t, you don’t have to level and crown them too much.

Hagström Western 6

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6 Missouri, Made in Sweden 1978

Last week a new Hagström acoustic arrived from Sweden. Just like my 1975 Hagström B-60 this was made by Bjärton in the south of Sweden.  Hagström / Bjärton guitars feels pretty different from Levin, a bit more boxy somehow, less refined. Having said that they are very well sounding guitars with a pretty unique tone, not quite the Gibson bass but that’s the best comparison I can think of. This Hagström Western 6 comes with more or less a Hagström Swede electric guitar neck. Same head shape, inlays and ebony fretboard, I love ebony. These actually came not only with ebony fretboard and bridge, they had ebony nut and saddle too. Mine has a rosewood bridge for some reason but it doesn’t seem to have been re-glued so I assume that someone at the factory took the wrong bridge or just preferred rosewood. Everything can happen in a guitar factory, hence all the mismatched mystery guitars that doesn’t exactly match the catalogue images. I really like this guitar, it looks awesome, sounds great and has something quite Swedish Country about it, a bit like me I guess.

hagstrom-western-6-made-in-sweden-1978-1
hagstrom-western-6-made-in-sweden-1978-2
Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978The guitar has quite a few battle scars, I presume it has lived through a Swedish midsummer or two. The head has been glued at some point, looks to have been done a very long time ago. There are quite a lot of scratches on the top and the back of the neck had some dents but I filled them so now you can hardly feel it. Notice the double sticker inside, one for Bjärton and then a Hagström on top.

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden catalogue 1978Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6 in a 1979 German Hagström catalogue

Hagström Western 6
Specifications:  Body width: 410 mm, body length: 510 mm, body depth: 120 mm, scale length: 630 mm. Spruce top with X-bracing, mahogany back and sides. 4-ply bound top and bound back. Unbound ebony fingerboard and ebony bridge, mahogany neck.  Matte natural finish and 10 year warranty.  Offered in two versions: Fully acoustic (Western 6) or with pickup and controls (Western 6 EL).  Marketed in Germany as Missouri.  Introduced around 1977.

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6 and 12 in a 1979 Hagström catalogue

I tried the guitar last night at Alfa en Viu and it sounded pretty good, even with just a cheap removable Belcat pickup

 

Levin W 12-36


Levin W 12-36 "Made in Sweden" 1978
Levin W 12-36, Made in Sweden 1978

Last week I went a bit bananas and got a 12 string Levin. It wasn’t really planned but sometimes you make a best offer on eBay when you are slightly tipsy and then occionally you become the new owner of some old guitar, like a 1978 Levin W 12-36. I wasn’t even sure if I liked 12 string acoustics or not, I mean they do make a terrible loud noise and seemed a bit too hippie / folk for me, but then I remembered David Crosby who really likes 12 strings and I really liked David Crosby, so that was it. I got it last Friday and played it quite a lot over the weekend and I think I really have grown to like it. I mean you can’t really play it like a normal guitar since it makes too much noise and the notes tend to just eat each other, so you need to space out your strokes a bit. Once you get a hang of it it’s a pretty powerful and interesting instrument to have in the arsenal even if you wouldn’t use it everyday.

Levin W 12-36 "Made in Sweden" 1978Levin W 12-36 "Made in Sweden" 1978I bought the guitar from a German eBay seller,with a name in Spanish, compravender. I’m not sure if he had fixed it up himself or if it came straight from a luthier but the frets were polished and it was well set up so I didn’t have to do anything to it when I got it. The only downside is that the guitar has suffered a broken headstock at some point but it’s really well repaired and seems solid enough.

Levin W 12-36 "Made in Sweden" 1978This Levin W 12-36 was made in 1978 and seems to be the latest knows to Vintage Guitars Sweden. This is also the “newest” Levin I have, they stopped making them in 1979. I haven’t seen the Martin Organisation label before, or the CF Martin trussrod cover.

Levin W 12-36
12-string, non-cutaway. Body width: 400 mm, body length: 505 mm, body depth: 95/120 mm, fingerboard width: 52 mm, scale length: 630 mm
Spruce top with X-bracing, mahogany back and sides, 5-ply bound top, single-bound back, mahogany neck with two adjustable truss rods
Black plastic truss rod cover, unbound headstock with decal logo, unbound rosewood fingerboard with mother-of-pearl dot inlay, rosewood bridge.
Black and chrome plated individual Levin Schaller tuners
Natural finish and five year warranty

Alhambra

Alhambra 1978
Alhambra, Made in Spain in 1978

This beautiful old Alhambra arrived to the office yesterday. It’s a present for my father-in-law, Marcos. He picked up a guitar for the first time a couple of years ago when he was in his late Sixties, which proves that it’s never too late. Now he felt that he had outgrown his beginners guitar and wanted something else so Araceli and I bought this one for him. He really wanted an Alhambra, not only for their reputation but also because they are built in Muro de Alcoy, a small village in the mountains north of Alicante, not far from where Marcos grew up in Cartagena. The only problem is that the second hand markets for guitars in Spain is pretty bad and even worse in the South so his only option would have been to spend 700€ on a new one, the prices are quite high down there since there isn’t much competition. So we decided to help him out and found this fairly cheap from Germany on eBay. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, nowadays Alhambra is one of the worlds best and biggest guitar builders known for their great quality, but how were things 30-40 years ago? I had only played one once, a beat up Alhambra from 1976 that I found in a Cash Converter. It had a terrible belly and the bridge was coming off too but they still wanted 120€ for it and refused to lower the price since it was an Alhambra. These Seventies models doesn’t seem to have any model indications so it’s hard to know if a certain guitar was made for the tourists in the 1960-70’s or if it was made to be played properly. The machine heads, fretboard and frets are on the cheaper side but the wood is amazing and they have really great tone. So even if this was made fairly cheap for a tourist to bring back home to Germany they still knew how to build great guitars because the volume and tone is far better than on any modern Spanish guitar that I have played lately. I levelled the frets a bit, crowned them and softened the edges and then polished everything. I also sanded down the saddle since the action was a bit high but now it feels nice and plays really well, maybe not as nice as my Francisca Montserrat but still. Now we just have to wait and see what Marcos feels about his new guitar, hopefully he will like it as much as Araceli and I do.

Alhambra 1978
The frets felt pretty uneven so I levelled, crowned and polished them and then sanded down the saddle a bit

Alhambra 1978

Alhambra 1978
Alhambra built in Muro de Alcoy in 1978