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Tag: acoustic guitar

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

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950
Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950

I have decided to thin out my Levin collection a bit, I have 12 at the moment, so the first to go will be my beloved 1950 Levin Model 13 Ambassadör. It was restored a few years ago by GammelGura, a great luthier in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. With new bronze frets, a neck re-set, cracks glued and a new bridge was created to improve the intonation, the rest is all original. It even has the sticker on the back of the head from the guitar shop in Örnsköldsvik where the guitar was bought 65 years ago. If you are interested in the guitar send me an email or give me a call, all info can be found on the For sale page.

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör
Body width: 400 mm, body length: 480 mm, scale length: 640 mm
Spruce top, walnut back and sides, 4-ply bound top, single-bound back
Mahogany neck with non-adjustable T-shaped duraluminum truss rod
Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with 18 frets and pearloid dot inlay
Single-bound headstock, rosewood bridge, nickel plated individual tuners
Sunburst finish and 10 years warranty

Video of the day


I love this clip, I have feeling that David Lindley have never bought a guitar himself, just borrowed other peoples guitars until they have forgotten that he has them and they become his.

Levin Model 32

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946
Levin Model 32 made in Sweden by Levin in 1946

I recently got this old 1946 Levin Model 32Levin Model 32 from an eBay seller in Vienna. The guitar has clearly seen better days but I felt she deserved a second chance in life so I got her home, dolled her up and now she is playable again. I had no idea what model it was when I got it and I was actually hoping that it would be a Model 30 from the late 1930’s, they look very similar but it turned out to be a Model 32 from the mid 1940’s instead, which isn’t bad. I guess I just wanted to have a Levin that was older than my 1942 Levin Model 65. It’s pretty close to my 1951 Levin Royal in sound and feel but with a more casual appearance. I guess there was a shortage of tonewoods all over Europe during the war so they used what they got. This one has a hand carved 3-piece Romanian spruce top and you can even see a couple of knots around the f-holes. I don’t really mind, together with all the cracks it’s just adding to that old worn archtop look and feel. The back is really beautiful though and the neck feels great, really fat and chunky as I like. It also has a quite different sunburst compared to what Levin normally used in 1940-50’s. Levin used to copy Gibson’s tobacco sunburst but this one has more of a cherry sunburst.

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946

Levin Model 32
Non-cutaway. Body width: 420 mm, body length: 510 mm
Hand carved Romanian spruce top, mahogany back and sides
Single-bound top with unbound f-holes
Single-bound back, unbound pickguard and unbound headstock
Mahogany neck with non-adjustable T-shaped duraluminum truss rod
Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with mother-of-pearl dot inlay
Nickel plated hardware, sunburst finish and ten years warranty
Available between 1940 – 1947

Levin Catalog 1946
Levin Model 32, here between the model above, the beautiful Model 27 and the slightly cheaper Model 35. I love that the case option offered in the bottom of each ad is a plain textile bag with a zip, really, textile? The list price for the guitar in 1946 was 285 SEK, around 30 Euro. The Royal listed that year at 575 SEK an the top of the line, the Deluxe at 1000 SEK. Taken from a 1946 Levin archtops catalog, thanks to Vintage Guitars Sweden

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946
She looked a bit sad when she arrived, but there was nothing that couldn’t be fixed

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946
First I had to deal with the crack that was running along the whole bottom side, from the upper bout to the endpin. There was also another crack, or hole, that the previous owner had glued in perhaps not the most discrete fashion.

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946
I have never attempted to glue anything this big before but there is a first time for everything. I noticed that there was a piece of wood missing so I started with making the hole square and then I fitted a little piece of wood in the exact same size. The main problem I had was that the guitar had been cracked for so long, with the tension of the strings I think, so the whole side had kind of warped. In parts the crack was overlapping in one way then suddenly changed to go the other way. Which meant that when I was trying to close the crack it didn’t line up, at all. I did my best and with a bit of force and a lot a clamps I managed to get it to close at least, even if it didn’t line up perfectly. I know that the correct way of doing this would have been to glue cleats on the inside and perhaps a string coming trough that you can tighten from the outside or even better, magnets, but unfortunately the crack was just over the kerfing which would have made it hard to glue any cleats on top of the kerfing. I also couldn’t figure out a way of getting any magnets inside an archtop, there wasn’t really any way of getting my hands in there.

Levin Model 32 Made in Sweden 1946
It went ok for being my first time and it seems to be very solid after letting the fish glue cure for 48 hours, I added some extra glue over the old crack too just to be on the safe side. I sanded everything smooth and then lacquered with shellac, I was trying to match the original lacquer but it turned out to be impossible to copy the sunburst. Maybe I can figure out a way and redo this part but at least now the guitar is playable. I buffed up the old lacquer and made it blend with the new shellac by polishing it with metal polish, that always works great on old guitars. It’s the same technique I use for the back of the necks, filling the dents with nitro lacquer and then sand it smooth and buff it up with metal polish. The original machine heads are pretty wonky but they work fine and cleaned up nicely, just like the tail piece, so I decided to keep the guitar all original.

Tanglewood TRP-73VSE

Tanglewood Rosewood Grand Reserve TRP-73VSE 2011
Tanglewood Rosewood Grand Reserve TRP-73VSE 2011

Tanglewood Grand Reserve TRP-73VSE, Parlour guitar 2011, 400€ 350€
Araceli and I have decided to put one of our Tanglewood’s up for sale and just keep her favourite Tanglewood Premier TW133. The Tanglewood Grand Reserve TRP-73VSE is a very beautiful and well sounding little parlour, especially plugged in, designed in the UK and hand built in China.  Solid Sitka spruce top and rosewood back and sides this model produces a great rich tone with brilliant resonance for a small bodied guitar especially with the superb onboard B-band A3 pickup system. Other features include quality gold Kluson style machine heads, maple and herringbone binding and a lovely vintage sunburst high gloss finish. TRP-73VSE RRP £399.00

Levin Royal

Levin Model 3 Royal Made in Sweden 1951
Levin Model 3 Royal made in Sweden by Levin in 1951

I’m so excited about my new gal, last week I received a 1951 Levin Model 3 Royal. I got it fairly cheap from Jam, a guitar shop in Stockholm and managed to get it to Spain in one piece in less than a week, very impressive. This is my 9th Levin, number 8th was a Goya GG-172 that I received back in June but haven’t had time to fix up yet. I tried one of these Levin orchestra guitars when I was back in Sweden in May and felt both confused and intrigued by it, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to play it like an acoustic or electric guitar. Now I know that you can play pretty much anything on it, it sounds as full and rich as my other acoustic Levin’s but with the playability and feel of an hollow bodied electric guitar. I was actually really surprised how good the bass response was, perhaps because of the hand carved Rumanian spruce top and walnut back, it’s my first guitar with walnut and I really like it. Levin Royal is the 3rd fanciest orchestra guitar that Levin made during the 1930-50’s, with the De Luxe and Solist above it. The De Luxe is massive so I was worried that the Royal would be really big too, Levin Model 1 De Luxe (Body width: 475 mm), Levin Model 2 Solist (Body width: 445 mm) and Levin Model 3 Royal (Body width: 420 mm), but it’s just 2 cm wider than my Levin 174 and the other Goliath sized acoustic Levin’s I have. I’m really happy with it and will definitely look in to the possibilities of electrifying it, without ruining it, so I can use it live with Chest Fever.

Levin Model 3 Royal Made in Sweden 1951
Levin Model 3 Royal Made in Sweden 1951
It’s in pretty good state for it’s age and almost all original, the pickguard is missing and one of the pearloid block inlays on the fretboard has been replaced with a plastic one. The only thing I had to do when I got it was to raise the action, it was way too low for me, polish the frets and even out the ebony fretboard a bit, some of the inlays was sticking up. The neck is pretty straight, it does have a  T-shaped duraluminum truss rod inside but it’s non-adjustable so there isn’t much you can do without heating and reshaping the neck but that’s not needed yet.

Levin Model 3 Royal, Vintage guitars SwedenLevin Model 3 Royal, Vintage guitars Sweden
Taken from a 1948 Levin archtops catalog, thanks to Vintage Guitars Sweden

Levin Model 3 Royal
Body width: 420 mm, body length: 510 mm
Hand carved Romanian spruce top with mahogany or walnut back and sides
4-ply bound top with double-bound f-holes, 4-ply bound back, triple-bound pickguard
Mahogany neck with non-adjustable T-shaped duraluminum truss rod
Triple-bound headstock with perloid music sharp sign inlay
Single-bound ebony fingerboard with pearloid block inlay
Grover Sta-Tite style tuners, gold plated hardware
Sunburst or natural finish and ten year warranty

Django Reinhardt at the Aquarium, New York City, 1946
This is how awesome I think I look with my new guitar. Django Reinhardt is playing Fred Guy’s Levin De Luxe backstage at the Aquarium in New York City 1946. © William Gottlieb

How to… reglue a bridge

Francisca Montserrat, Barcelona
Francisca Montserrat Barcelona, Spanish guitar 1960’s

I recently reglued the bridge on my Francisca Montserrat and just wanted to show how easy it is if anyone out there feels a bit scared of doing it yourself. It’s very straight forward and only takes a couple of minutes.

Francisca Montserrat, Barcelona
Heat a spatula on a normal clothes iron, it’s good to keep a finger on it so it doesn’t get too hot and scorch the lacquer. Insert the spatula under the bridge, start with the edges and work your way to the middle to loosen the bridge. I prefer to reheat often instead of working with a really hot spatula from the start, less risk of damaging the top that way. Be careful when you do the last push so you don’t break it off, it’s supposed to come off without any direct force if the spatula is warm enough to loosen the glue. Once the bridge is off, clean the guitar top and the bottom of the bridge with some sandpaper to get a smooth surface. I earlier thought that it was good to scratch the bottom of the bridge with a knife to get something for the glue to grip to but have later been told that’s an old myth and it’s better to keep the surfaces smooth. Apply plenty of glue on both the guitar top and the bottom of the bridge, I always use fish glue for my guitars. Put the bridge in place, apply some pressure with your hands and remove all the extra glue that comes out on the side and then apply a couple of clamps to keep it in place over night. I recently got myself a couple of deep throated, 200 x 195 mm, Klemmsia clamps from German eBay that worked great.

Francisca Montserrat, Barcelona

How to… carve a bridge

Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942
Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942

Last weekend I decided to make a new bridge for my 1940’s Levin model 65. I actually did the same thing about a year ago but with less success, you can read about it here. This time I had more tools, better material and at least some knowledge of working with wood.

Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942I started with a rosewood blank that I carved roughly to the right height with my trusty old Mora kniv, a cheap Swedish knife that solves most of my guitar related problems. Then I carved the shape of the edges, I just marked where to start and then carved it in to a rounded slope. I got the top in to a nice triangle shape with a narrow chisel and then cut out the arch in the bottom with a round file. I compared it to the old bridge to get the string spacing right and then just made little groves with a small triangle file. After a bit of lemon oil I was ready to try it out and it worked perfectly.  

Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942The final result, a new bridge for not only the oldest Levin I own but the olderst guitar I’ve ever actually had in my hands.

Tanglewood Premier TW133

Tanglewood Premier TW133 2010
Tanglewood Premier TW133, designed in the UK and handcrafted in China in 2010

When I met my other half Araceli back in 2007 she already new the basic cowboy chords but never really played guitar, I had only heard her strum a handful of times. She told me that she didn’t really like to play on my guitars since I seemed to care so much about them so I thought the best way around that would be to get her a guitar of her own. I also felt that since I had experienced so much joy through music in my life that would be the least I could give to the woman I love. I talked to her family and we agreed to put in 50 Euro each and get her a guitar for her birthday in September 2010. It was down to me to find a suitable guitar within our budget so I started to do some research. I knew that a parlour guitar would be best option, she is pretty small so I thought that a small bodied guitar would be easier for her to handle. I already had an inexpensive parlour a Vintage V880N that I liked but didn’t love so I thought I would try another brand this time and started to read about Tanglewood. People seemed to really like them, especially in the UK, and they had quite a few parlour sized models so it felt like a good start. Since you can’t just walk in to a guitar shop here in Barcelona and try what you are looking for, the shops here are useless and have nothing in stock, I had to rely on reviews and then order the guitar online. In the end I went for the Tanglewood Premier TW133, since I thought she would really like the look of it, or at least I loved the dark wood and the simplicity of it. I also felt that a solid mahogany top and back would give a bit more warmth and body to it compared to most new made parlour guitars which I feel normally lack that. She was really happy with her birthday present and started to play almost daily and soon after we even started a band together called Chest Fever.

© Claes Gellerbrink, photographs can't be used without permission. Araceli and Claes Chest Fever session, Barcelona 29-04-2012
Araceli, Chest Fever session, Barcelona 29-04-2012

Tanglewood Premier Historic TW133 ASM
SHAPE: Parlour, TOP: Solid Mahogany, BACK: Solid Mahogany
SIDES; Mahogany, NECK: One Piece Mahogany
FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, BRIDGE: Rosewood
SADDLE: PPS, Compensated, 72mm, NUT: PPS (43mm)
SCALE LENGTH: 650mm, BRIDGE PINS: Black with White Dots
MACHINE HEADS: Chrome open geared (changed to gold Grovers)
FINISH Natural Satin, STRINGS: D’Addario EXP11, 12-53, RRP: £269.95

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950
Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950

I have recently befriended Roger Häggström, a great luthier in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. He is also the man behind my Levin Model 13 Ambassadör. It’s been great to hear from the man himself what he did to it to get it to play and feel so good. He created a new bridge and made new brass saddles to get it to intonate better, refretted it with brass frets, reset the neck, fixed up some cracks and touched up the lacquer. I think he did a great job, just look at it. I have so much things to learn but I’m really happy taking it one step at the time and who knows, maybe one day I will be as awesome as Roger. Here is his site GammelGura

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör
Body width: 400 mm, body length: 480 mm, scale length: 640 mm
Spruce top, walnut back and sides, 4-ply bound top, single-bound back
Mahogany neck with non-adjustable T-shaped duraluminum truss rod
Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with 18 frets and pearloid dot inlay
Single-bound headstock, rosewood bridge, nickel plated individual tuners
Sunburst finish and ten year warranty