Claescaster

Tag: acoustic guitar

Martin HD-28LSV

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USA
Martin HD-28LSV, Made in USA in 1999

I finally got myself a Martin D-28. Well it’s actually a Martin HD-28LSV which is a HD-28 but with a large soundhole and a vintage vibe, LSV: large soundhole, vintage series. It has an Adirondack spruce top with forward shifted scalloped X braces and solid East Indian Rosewood back and sides, apparently they changed from Adirondack  to Sitka spruce in 2000 so this is one of the last ones with a red spruce top. The mahogany neck has a really nice modified V profile, not as fat as I would have hoped for but the chunkiest neck I’ve felt on a modern Martin. It has all the nice vintage trimmings of a HD-28V, fine herringbone binding and zig-zag back strip. It has a bound ebony fretboard without any position markers, just like Tony Rice old 1935 Martin D-28. The Martin Book says: HD-28LSV (1998-2000), based on D-28 #58957 owned by Clarence White and later Tony Rice, 4 15/16″ sound hole, bound finger board with no position markers. It doesn’t have the same pickguard as the legendary #58957 Martin D-28 and the machine heads are closed Kluson style, I believe the original ones would have been open back Waverly’s. Considering the $5,999.00 list price for the now discontinued Martin D-28CW, Clarence White Commemorative Edition, I think I got a decent Tony Rice copy pretty cheap. The sound is very deep, warm and woody but at the same time resonant and very punchy in the midrange. I’ve never played a guitar this fine so I’m still blown away every time I pick it up. It’s such a perfect bluegrass guitar so now I really need to learn some reels and become a bluegrass player. Last night I removed the LR Baggs Anthem SL that was installed, I love ebony bridges with long bone saddles so I really didn’t want to have a piezo strip stuck under it. Now it’s even more resonant and clear sounding. I’ve ordered a new LR Baggs Lyrics that I will install as soon as it arrives so I can take this baby out in public.

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAMartin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAThe unofficial Tony Rice model, the Martin HD-28LSV. Adirondack spruce top, scalloped X bracing, Rosewood back and sides with the large soundhole and a bound ebony fretboard without any position markers. I used to own a Martin SPD-16R that I could never get used to the neck on, too flat and modern profile but it sounded pretty nice. Having said that, there is a huge difference between a Martin and a MARTIN. This Martin HD-28LSV will blow the sock of any standard Martin D-28 and most Martin HD-28.

Martin SPD-16R

Martin SPD-16R Made in USA1999Martin SPD-16R, Made in USA 1999

I have this beautiful 1999 Martin SPD-16R for sale. I really like it but the likelihood of me playing on anything that isn’t a Swedish Levin is so slim that it’s not worth keeping such a great guitar. I haven’t opened the case to my beloved Sigma DR-41 for ages either, it’s so hard to put the Levin guitars down. These late 1990’s Martin SPD-16R has quite a following and is getting harder to find so if you are interested send me an email. Update: This guitar is sold now

Martin SWDGT

Martin SWDGT, Made in USA 2004Martin SWDGT, Made in USA 2004

Last weekend I adjusted Sr. Chinarro’s 2004 Martin SWDGT. It’s a really nice guitar and it reminds me a lot of the Martin SPD-16R I got for Christmas. These Martin SWDGT or Sustainable Wood Series are constructed in an ecologically responsible way with alternative woods. It has a really nice coloured sitka spruce top with non-scalloped X-bracing, back, sides and neck are cherry wood and the fretboard is made from katalox. It’s constructed with a simple dovetail neck joint, gold machine heads and a faux tortoise binding all around, just like the Martin SPD-16R, the only difference is that the SWDGT has faux tortoise headplate as well. The Martin SPD-16R has rosewood back and sides and it feels like the cherry wood in the SWDGT is adding more bass, depth and warmth, I really like the sound of it. I’ve always been a big fan of fancy exotic woods, especially Brazilian rosewood, but if you can build guitars this good from woods you can find in your backyard, then perhaps that’s the sustainable way for the future. I have to add that I hate the future and prefer to live in the past with my fancy old exotic woods but we can’t all do that, that wouldn’t be very sustainable.

Martin SWDGT, Made in USA 2004
Martin SWDGT, Made in USA 2004I love the colour of the top, so much nicer than the new made Martin D-18 and D-28.

Martin SPD-16R

Martin SPD-16R Made in USA1999
Martin SPD-16R, Made in USA 1999

Before Christmas I got myself my first Martin. Like most acoustic guitar players I’ve always dreamt of getting a really old Martin D-28 but since they are so ridiculously expensive I settled for a more modest Martin, a 1999 Martin SPD-16R. I have to say that it’s an amazing guitar for the price, I think these cost between $1500-2000 when they were new in the late 1990’s. One of the problems I have with modern Martin guitars is the Richlite and other weird wood substitutes they use on the Martin 16-series nowadays. I also think that most new Martins look pretty bland and boring, hence why I liked the SPD-16R so much with it’s fancy snowflake inlays and abalone rosette, it even has gold hardware. Unfortunately for me, I’ve realised that I’m not a Martin guy, I feel like I’m cheating on my Levin guitars every time I pick another guitar up so I’ve decided to put this Martin SPD-16R up for sale.

Martin SPD-16R Made in USA1999Martin SPD-16R Made in USA1999

Martin SPD-16R
14 fret Dreadnought with spruce top and Indian Rosewood back and sides. Forward shifted scalloped X bracing. Performance taper, low oval mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard and bridge. Snowflake inlays, abalone rosette and a D-45 style back strip with gold Martin stamped machine heads. Produced in USA between 1996-2001. SPD-16R stands for Special edition, Dreadnought, 16-series in Rosewood.

Player Reviews, taken from Dream Guitars:

“The SPD-16 series offers a lot of guitar for the money. Solid woods, abalone markers and rosette and gold hardward were all standard. Great tone is standard also. This is a true Martin guitar with the punch and wonderful midrange Martin fans will enjoy.” – Paul Heumiller

“This is a great dreadnought for the money. This Special Edition Martin has that vintage look and appears to be a cross between a D-18 and D-28. Pretty darn nice.” – Al Petteway

Martin SPD-16R Made in USA1999

Goya F-11

img_7029-2Goya F-11, made in Sweden by Levin in 1963

Back in May I bought a 1963 Goya F-11 from a pawn shop San Diego, California. It’s my 18th Levin so far but my first steel stringed classical guitar, or it’s actually more of a Flamenco shape than a normal Spanish guitar. It’s an awesome little finger picker with a wide nut and pretty small body, very comfortable to play in the sofa. The sound is very different, I guess because it’s a steel stringed but fan braced and built like a classical guitar. These type of guitars got really popular in the mid 1960’s during the folk boom in the US and Levin built quite a few under the Goya brand to compete with the Gibson F-25 and other concert sized steel stringed folk guitars of the time. I have never played anything like this before and really like it, even though it doesn’t sound as good as a Goya T-16 for chord playing, it has something almost ladder braced like in the sound that makes it pretty unique.

levin-goya-f-11-1Levin Goya F-11 Made in Sweden 1963Levin Goya F-11 Made in Sweden 1963A 1963 Goya F-11, worn, bruised and beaten but still very beautiful, I love the flamed back. It’s fun that half the logo has been removed to read Joy instead of Goya.

Goya F-11
Concert size: Body width: 360 mm, body length: 465 mm, body depth: 98 mm. Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm. Spruce top with fan bracing, birch back and sides, 4-ply bound top, unbound back. Mahogany neck with non-adjustable T-shaped duraluminum truss rod. Unbound rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlay. Rosewood bridge, double pickguards and nickel plated strip tuners.  Matte natural finish

Goya Catalog 1964Taken from a 1964 Goya catalogue

Goya T-16

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966

I found another Goya T-16 that I couldn’t resist. I’m not sure why I love these so much, if it’s the sound, shape or the fact that my dad’s old Levin LT-16 was my first guitar. This one seems to have had a crack in the lower bout on the bottom side and when that was fixed they gave the side a light burst to cover it and then lacquered the whole guitar. Back in the 1960’s when these guitars left the factory in Sweden, the Levin LT-16 came with a really nice satin finish and the Goya T-16 with a high gloss that cracked over time. The previous Goya T-16 was sanded down and this one had an extra coat of lacquer so I guess people weren’t entirely happy with the finish on these. They both sounds very different, the old one sounds more woody and dry and this one has a clearer snappier sound, I presume because of the lacquer. I really like the look of the top, more orange and pre-war Martin looking than the normal Goya T-16.

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966I bought this 1966 Goya T-16 from an eBay seller in Illinois but I guess it first landed at Lynn’s Guitars in Knoxville Tennessee when it came from Sweden in the 1960’s.

Levin LT-16 / Goya T-16
Grand Concert size: Body width: 380 mm, body length: 480 mm, body depth: 98 mm. Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm. Spruce top, mahogany 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, nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons. Matte natural finish and ten year warranty

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966I removed the bridge and pickguard, scraped of the lacquer and then re-glued them. I also adjusted the neck angle by removing the bolts inside and then sanded down the heel a bit with a sandpaper, just like I did on the old Goya T-16.

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966The headstock had some fine cracks that I filled with fish glue and then polished up. I cut a new bone saddle that I painted to match the old Levin Galalith saddle and then I cleaned up the fretboard and polished the frets.

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966My collection of 000-sized Levin guitars so far, from left to right: Levin LS-16 (1963), Goya T-16 (1965), Goya T-16 (1966), Levin LT-16 (1966), Goya GG-172 (1970)

 

ARTEC MHFC93

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946, Artec MHFC93-CRLevin Model 32 made in Sweden by Levin in 1946

I’ve finally received my Artec MHFC93-CR from EY Guitar, the order got lost and took 3 months to arrive. Last weekend I got around to install it on my 1946 Levin Model 32 and I’m pretty impressed with how good it sounds for being so inexpensive.

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946, Artec MHFC93-CRUnfortunately I had to remove the pickguard, well it was actually quite annoying and always in the way when I played so it was more of an aesthetic loss. I also installed an old vintage strap button while I fitted the pickup so now the guitar is ready to be gigged.

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946, Artec MHFC93-CRThe installation was pretty straight forward in the end but it took a bit of figuring things out so I completely forgot to take more pictures. First I made a small hole under the fretboard extension on the right side, where the cable from the pickup could enter the body without being visible. Then I drilled a hole for the endpin jack, just like a do when I install the endpin jacks for my LR Baggs, with a 1/2 inch or 13 mm flat spade drill bit straight through the end block. I measured two cables from the endpin to the f hole, fished them up before I cut them and then soldered them to the endpin while taped to the top for not disappearing inside. Once the cable from the pickup was fished up I checked which was which and then soldered them together and stuck them to the top on the inside with a little clip on the bottom side of the f hole so they can’t be seen. 

Artec MHFC93-CRArtec is perhaps not the worlds fanciest brand, especially not if you judge them by their website, but I like them and they sound very good for being so cheap.

I will get a video up as soon as possible

Goya T-16

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1965

I finally managed to get another Levin LT-16, just like my dad’s old guitar that I learned to play on as a kid. His is a 1966 Levin branded one and this one is from 1965 and has the Goya logo on the head stock. These guitars normally don’t come up for sale that often, I guess because they are really well sounding and perhaps the 000-size is very sought after too. It took two years but finally I managed to get my hands on one, in bad shape when it arrived but now fully playable again.

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965

Levin LT-16 / Goya T-16
Grand Concert size: Body width: 380 mm, body length: 480 mm, body depth: 98 mm. Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm. Spruce top, mahogany 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, nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons. Matte natural finish and ten year warranty

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965There was quite a lot of work on this one. First I re-hydrated the guitar for a week, just a wet sock in a bowl inside, which made the cracks close up quite a lot. I removed the bridge and the pickguard and glued all the cracks on the top and reattached the back that was coming loose. I also flattened the top, it had a bit of a belly that I managed to get down with a flat piece of wood covering the top that I clamped down for a couple of days.

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965I re-glued the bridge and replaced the 10 cm of missing binding. Someone had also sanded down the neck, which I hate, so lacquered it with a couple of coats of Nitro and sanded it smooth. 

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965Levin guitars normally lack side dots for the 9th and 12th fret, which always confuse me while playing, so I added 3 dots. I reattached the pickguard and cleaned up the original Van Gent machine heads. Levin uses a rather clever bolt-on neck system which makes neck-resets very easy. You just loosen the two bolts inside and then you can sand down the heel, it takes time but it was easier than removing the whole neck.

Rondo

Rondo by Levin Made in Sweden 1960Rondo, built by Levin in Gothenburg Sweden in 1960

Today is wife’s birthday so tried to be a good husband and got here an old guitar. I found her a little Rondo, a mail order guitar built by Levin in the late 1950’s. I have actually never seen one of these before so I was quite exited when it arrived. It surely feels, plays, smells and sounds like a Levin. Rondo was made by Levin for Musik AB Westin & Co, a music store and publishing company in Stockholm with a large mail order business. It looks pretty similar to a Levin 119 and was made for both steel and nylon strings, this was pretty common on smaller Levin guitars in the 1950-60’s. It’s a very nice little guitar to play and it has more volume and sounds sweeter than I expected, perhaps because it’s fan braced instead of ladder braced. My wife seemed very happy with it too when she got it this morning.

Rondo by Levin Made in Sweden 1960Rondo by Levin Made in Sweden 1960

Rondo
Non-cutaway. Body width: 320 mm, body length: 455 mm
Body depth: 95 mm, scale length: 595 mm
Spruce top, maple back and sides, fan braced
Single-bound top, unbound back, unbound headstock
Unbound rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlay
Mahogany neck with non-adjustable T-shaped duraluminum truss rod, rosewood bridge, stainless tuners
Natural finish, one year warranty

Rondo by Levin Made in Sweden 1960It was in pretty good shape when it arrived. I had to glue a couple of small cracks, polish the frets, oil fretboard and machine heads and give her a good clean but that was it. The only problem was that this had to be done when my wife wasn’t around so I’ve been a guitar repairing ninja for the last week.

Rondo guitar, Musik AB Westin & Co 1957 catalogueThe Levin built Rondo guitar in a 1957 catalogue from Musik AB Westin & Co

Goya T-23

Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966Goya T-23, Made in Sweden by Levin in 1966

Finally, it took two years but now I’m at last the proud owner of a lovely Goya T-23. When I bought my first Levin back in the summer of 2013 I started to search Vintage Guitars Sweden for different models to study and learn everything I could about Levin. There was 3-4 different guitars that I fell in love with straight away, Levin LM-50 with all it’s bling, Levin De Luxe the king of archtops, Levin 174 which I later found, and of course Levin LT-23, the cowboy version of Levin LT-18. I love my 1966 Goya T-18 so I was pretty sure that this Goya T-23 would sound pretty sweet too, but it sounds even better than I could have imagined. My friend Wolf and I had a little jam last Saturday and it seems like the T-18 and T-23 were made to be played together, I will try to sort a video. I love everything about this guitar, the ebony fretboard with it’s block inlays, the flamed maple back and sides, the amazing cowboy pickguard and plastic details, the bridge shape and most of all, the sound. It has a Gibson like bass response but with a Martin like mid and treble, kind of the best of both worlds. It was well worth the wait, the next holy grail to find would be a Levin LM-50.

Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966I haven’t done any work to this guitar yet, I bought it from a seller in Franklin, Indiana, USA and since it seemed really dry when it arrived I wanted to wait and see how it reacts to the subtropical heat of Barcelona first. Most likely I will have to sand down the heal a bit to get the action down and perhaps even remove the binding on the neck and file down the frets since the fretboard has been dry and shrunk so the frets are poking out a bit. Hopefully the humidity here will help a bit and if not I will sort this issues after the summer. It’s very playable as it is and almost in mint condition with minimal wear.

Levin LT-23 / Goya T-23
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 with X-bracing, 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

Levin 1976 catalougeLevin catalogue from 1967. Now I finally have all four of them, the two top as Goya and the bottom two as Levin, but mine are from 1965-66 so they have a proper saddle instead of the adjustable saddle screws. Goya T-23 (1966), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin LT-14 (1965). Taken from Vintage Guitars Sweden

Levin Goya T-23 Made in Sweden 1966It arrived with the original Goya hang tag, an unused 1960’s leather strap and this awesome looking black alligator hard case that I think is original too. Taken from my Instagram