Claescaster

Tag: Django Reinhardt

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

Levin De Luxe 1938

Django Reinhardt
Django Reinhardt is playing Fred Guy’s Levin De Luxe backstage at the Aquarium in New York City 1946. © William Gottlieb

I really love my Swedish made Levin LT-16 from 1966, it’s without any doubt the most comfortable acoustic I have ever played. I tend to keep an eye out for another Levin guitars on eBay but they always go for stupid amounts of money, around £400-1000 depending on the model. Yesterday I came across one of the more famous Levin guitars, Fred Guy of the Duke Ellington band’s 1938 Levin De Luxe which is up for sale on eBay for $200,000. Here is the story how he originally got it. Taken from Vintage Guitars Stockholm, they have more photos as well.
While visiting Göteborg during a tour of Sweden in April, 1939, Fred Guy, guitarist in the Duke Ellington Orchestra purchased a Levin De Luxe at Waidele. This is the guitar that Django Reinhardt is playing in the famous William Gottlieb photos. They were taken backstage at the Aquarium in New York City when Django was on tour with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1946.

Fred Guy, Levin De Luxe
Fred Guy with his 1938 Levin De Luxe

Here is the background info from the eBay listing.
Recently returned from France – as it was being shown in a Django Reinhardt Exhibition for 3 months (see picture above). Also seen in the 2011 issue of the July / Aug / Sept edition of Guitar Aficionado magazine (Find section). This is the Levin Guitar previously owned by Fred Guy of the Duke Ellington band – during the 1940’s era. This is also the same guitar that Django Reinhardt is holding in the picture above when he was in New York City, backstage with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1946, and on the cover of Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Feb 1996 edition. The guitar was given to me by Fred Guy’s ex-wife Dorothy Guy Lynch about 30 years ago. The Levin guitar is in its original case, and the guitar itself has some small cracks in it. If you love Jazz, and want to own a piece of jazz history, this is a rare opportunity for the serious guitar collector. This is the real deal. Serious inquiries only… If you want to view the guitar, I will be glad to set up a time to do so (the guitar is being stored off premises in a secured site so arrangements will need to be made in advance).  I have relisted this guitar over and over because I received many responses that provided me with additional information about the guitar, and a trip to France to show it at the Cite de la Musique for their Django Reinhardt Exhibition this past year (see picture above). So I am thankful for the opportunities! You can check out the article in the 2011 edition of Guitar Aficionado magazine.

Fred Guy Levin De Luxe 1938

Fred Guy Levin De Luxe 1938

Fred Guy Levin De Luxe 1938