Claescaster

Tag: C. F. Martin & Co

Levin W-30

Levin W-30 Made in Sweden 1979
Levin W-30, Made in Sweden in 1979

Sometimes I feel like a recovering Levin-oholic who keeps falling off the wagon time after time. I promised myself, and my wife to stop buying Levin guitars but just seems to be unable to. I recently found this beautiful and very unique Levin W-30 in Sweden that I couldn’t resist and had to buy. Now I’ve realised that I probably shouldn’t have. I’m running out of wall space for guitars and I could do with the money for other more pressing family related things, apparently guitars is not a high priority in the joint family account. Therefore I’ve decided to put it up for sale. I believe this guitar to be a rare one off, most likely built by one of the Levin builders for himself and outside of the normal production. They stopped making the Levin W-30 in 1975 so that’s the first sign that this is a unique one. The previous owner bought a lot of parts, material and finished guitars when the Levin factory closed down in 1979, actually a an old man called Friis did who had a music shop in the north of Sweden. When he died and closed his shop the previous owner bought parts of his left-over Levin stock and this guitar was one of them. He claims that it was built in 1979, otherwise it wouldn’t have been around when the factory closed, which makes perfect sense. The original Levin W-30 came with block inlays while this has beautiful snowflake inlays in the bound ebony fingerboard instead. The alpine spruce top and the rosewood back and sides are bound with a five layer wood binding which looks really classy. It’s also treated with a thin layer of lacquer instead of the heavy clear coat that the mid 1970’s Levin W-30 came with. That gives a really open and beautiful sound, very Martin like. The guitar is in very good state but has some small marks around the body. The neck is in perfect condition and so is the frets. The spruce top has had a dry crack professionally repaired, these type of cracks are very common on Levin guitars because of the dry winters in Sweden. The guitar is equipped with an under saddle pickup and ready to play with live. This is a unique 40 years old hand built Swedish guitar for a third of what a vintage Martin would cost.

Levin W-30 Made in Sweden 1979 Levin W-30 Made in Sweden 1979

Levin W-30
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 5-ply bound wood binding and 4-ply bound three-piece rosewood back. Mahogany neck with adjustable truss rod. Bound ebony fingerboard with snowflake inlays. Bone nut and saddle. Nickel plated individual Levin stamped tuners. Ebony bridge, natural finish and ten year warranty

Levin LDR-28H

Levin LDR-28H Made in Japan 1979
Levin LDR-28H, Made in Japan in 1979

I have a lot of Swedish made Levin guitars but I’ve never actually had a Japanese made on in my hands, until now. After C. F. Martin & Co. purchased Levin in June 1973 they started to import Japan made Sigma guitars for the European market under the Levin brand. There are actually quite a few of these mid 1970’s low end Sigma’s, especially in Sweden, but it’s a lot rarer to see a high end 1979-1982 Sigma made in Japan with Levin on the label. There is a very rare version called Sigma DR-14, which is a DR-41 but with a 3-piece back, that was imported through Levin. When the Levin factory closed down in Sweden in 1979 they had a short run with making Levin guitars in Japan, mainly Martin copies. I have to say that owning a 1982 Sigma DR-41 and now a Levin LDR-28H, they are very similar in build, sound and feel. Even though they are two different models, you can tell they are made in the same factory and both are excellent guitars. Now when I have a fancy pants real Martin to compare them to, my 1999 Martin HD-28LSV, there is something very special about these Japan built Martin guitars. There is a punch in the mid range and a cleanness to them, less woody and more sparkly perhaps. It’s very hard to explain but I really like the sound and I guess that’s why I got in to Japanese built acoustics in the first place.

Levin LDR-28H Made in Japan 1979 Levin LDR-28H Made in Japan 1979
The Levin LDR-28H is in pretty good shape for it’s age. There is an old crack on the lower bought of the top but it’s well glued and doesn’t look too bad. I really like the eye for details on this Martin HD-28 copy, diamond volute, herringbone binding and zig-zag backstrip, just like on my Martin HD-28LSV.

Levin LDR-28H & Sigma DR-41 Made in Japan
The Levin LDR-28H and my Sigma DR-41, most likely made in the same factory in Japan under the supervision of C.F. Martin & Co.

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.

Levin

I made a post about my Levin guitars back in 2011 when I started to collect them but it feels like it’s time for an update. Here they are:

Levin Model 2 Parlour Made in Sweden 1914Levin Model 3 Made in Sweden 1914

Levin Goya F-11 Made in Sweden by Levin 1963Goya F-11 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1963

Rondo Model 29 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1960Rondo Model 29 Made in Sweden by Levin in 1960

Levin LT-14 / Goya T-14 Made in Sweden 1965Levin LT-14 Made in Sweden 1965

Levin LT-16 Made in Sweden 1966Levin LT-16 Made in Sweden 1966

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

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

Levin LS-16 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LS-16 Made in Sweden in 1963

Levin LS-18 Made in Sweden 1960Levin LS-18 Made in Sweden 1960

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1963

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1966Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1966

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

Levin Goya T-18 Made in Sweden 1966Goya T-18 Made in Sweden by Levin 1966

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

Levin LM-26 1959Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963

Levin Goya 172 Made in Sweden 1970Goya GG-172 Made in Sweden by Levin 1970

Levin Goya 163 Made in Sweden 1968 #307008Goya Model 163 Made in Sweden by Levin 1968

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

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

These Levin guitars used to be a part of my collection but I had to sell them to make space for other Levin guitars:

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

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

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

 

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

Levin LM-26

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959Levin LM-26, Made in Sweden in 1959

In the end of March, about 2-3 weeks after I bought the 1963 Levin LM-26, I was offered a 1959 Levin LM-26 that I couldn’t resist, even though I already had one from that year. The seller Ian was quite persistent that I added his guitar, that he had owned since his 14th birthday in 1976, to my Levin collection so I of course complied. The guitar has been used playing anything from jazz, Mississippi blues to Celtic folk and now country, read Ian’s guitar history. Now I have one Levin LM-26 built in 1963 and two from 1959, well they actually both has a body stamped in 1958 but with a 1959 neck, not sure if they did a lot of bodies one year and necks the next. I have some Levin LT-18 that has a Goya serial number stamped inside and a completely different Levin serial number on the head, I guess these things happens at a guitar factory. This 1959 Levin LM-26 seems to be completely original, it even has the cheap looking machine heads that Levin used in the late 1950’s on the LM-series. On my other 1959 Levin LM-26 the machine heads were replaced by open back Grover’s by the second owner back in 1965 and I think I might have to do the same on this one. I like the ones they used on the Levin LS-18 at the time, they are rounder and look more Gibson like, these square ones look like something from an Egmond or a kids guitar. The guitar plays really nicely and sounds great, really full and warm as could be expected of an all solid Swedish built guitar from the late 1950’s.

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959
Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

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

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Goliath Model 1795

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

 

Levin LM-26

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LM-26, Made in Sweden in 1963

Two weeks ago I got myself another Levin LM-26. My previous one was built in 1958/59 and feels a bit fragile, it is also in a pretty good state for taking out gigging. So this 1963 Levin LM-26 felt perfect to fit a LR Bagg M1A in and take out and enjoy on stage. Guitars are meant to be used and played, even vintage ones, so in a way I would be happy to take any of my Levin’s out of the house. It’s just that some of them feels a bit too well kept for the dangers of having them in bars around drunk people, and myself slightly intoxicated hitting them harder than I should because I play with a loud band and can’t hear myself properly and such, you all know how it is. Anyway, now I have a great backup acoustic for playing live and I was missing something in sunburst to match the Claescaster I put together four years ago.

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963
Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963I had to do the normal work to it, reset the neck by sanding down the heel. Fill all the dents and marks on the back of the neck with Nitro lacquer and then sand it smooth. Take the machine heads apart and clean them properly before I greased them up and put them back on. Cut a new bone saddle and then paint both the saddle and nut to match Levin’s original squirrel coloured Galalith parts. Polish frets, clean and oil the fretboard and then a general good clean of the whole guitar. If you want see pictures of any of this than have a look at how I restored the old Levin LM-26.

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963

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

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Goliath Model 1795

Claes Anderson Band – Standing tall over the ones that have fallen, The Cavern Club, Terrassa 17th March 2017

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

Levin LT-18

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1963 Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden in 1963

2016 might have been the worst year ever when it comes to good musicians dying, last out was Leonard Cohen who meant so much for me in my late teens. Having said that, 2016 has also been the most amazing year ever when it comes to me getting my hands on some mighty fine Levin guitars. I’ve been trying to find another Goliath sized Levin for the past 3 years without much luck, except for the lovely 1968 Levin LT-18 that I found a couple of weeks ago. The full sized Levin guitars don’t come up for sale that often, especially not in Sweden or Germany where people seem to keep them until they die. The 1966 Goya T-18 that I bought back in 2013, which started my obsession with the Levin brand, was imported from USA and they seem to be quite rare there too. I have seen a couple on eBay in the UK but the sellers always want £1000 for them which for me as a Swedish collector is way too much. I was raised with this brand, my first guitar was a Levin and even though they might be worth what they deserve in the rest of Europe, the cheaper models can still be found on yard sales in Sweden for close to nothing. We have to remember that Levin had produced 500,000 guitars by 1970, something that C. F. Martin & Co completed in 1990, so there are still quite a few lying around in peoples attics in Sweden. I must have done something right lately because I’ve been very lucky when it comes to guitars, both these Levin LT-18 was actually offered to me, the sellers had seen my blog and contacted me to see if I was interested in buying them and of course I was. You feel a bit honoured too, when someone offers you a guitar because they know you will restore it, take care of it, play it and cherish it for years to come. This 1963 Levin LT-18 has spent it’s life in Ireland and came to me from a guy called Fintan. It has had some repair work done to it, apparently by a luthier in Dublin about 10 years ago. The pickguard was replaced and a new bridge was cut and for some reason screwed down to the top, madness if you ask me. I just adjusted the neck a bit, cleaned it up and it was ready to go. The guitar sounds pretty damn amazing, not as strong in the mid-range as the 1968 Levin LT-18, especially not after I changed the bridge to ebony, but the highs are great with really nice overtones.

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1963
Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1963

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