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Tag: Gothenburg Sweden

Levin

Goya Model 163 (1968), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Model 13 (1950), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin Model 65 (1942), , Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 174 (1972)
Update: February 15, 2014 with my 3 new Levin guitars. From left to right: Goya Model 163 (1968), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Model 13 (1950), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin Model 65 (1942), Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 174 (1972)

I was back in Sweden over the weekend and I was really hoping to extend my Levin collection. I had seen a couple of guitars that I wanted to go and try but in the end I didn’t have time to do anything more than just visit my family, which was the reason why I went back in the first place. I really don’t need any more guitars but since I’m so happy with my Goya T-18 I can’t stop looking for other Levin’s. I actually did manage to extend my collection but not while in Sweden, I won a Levin LM-26 from 1959 on eBay the night before I left Barcelona. It needs quite a bit of work so as soon as it arrives here and I’ll start to fix it up I will post some pictures and write more about it. What I have gathered so far by talking to Levin owners on Swedish forums is that the Sixties ones sound more like old Gibson’s and the Seventies Levin’s are closer to Martin, which makes sense since C.F. Martin & Co bought Levin in 1973. It might all be in my head but I think there is a bit of Gibson sound over my Goya T-18. The three Levin models that I’ve been dreaming of, after the Levin LM-26 but that’s already sorted now, is the stupidly beautiful Levin/Goya M-50, the awesome Levin/Goya 174 and the less impressive looking but supposedly amazing sounding Levin W 32 J. To find a Levin/Goya 174 shouldn’t be too hard, I might actually have already found one that I like. It would be a lot harder to come across a Levin/Goya M-50, I think it will be almost impossible so maybe that’s more of a lifelong Holy Grail project. They were too expensive to produce with all the extra bling, gold machine heads and mother of pearl cloud shaped inlays all over the fretboard so they stopped making them in the early Sixties. The Levin W 32 J is not that rare, they actually produced quite a few but people doesn’t seem to be too inclined to sell them and when they do, they are quite expensive. I have seen one, that I actually wanted to go and try, in Jam a guitar shop in Stockholm for 9500 SEK, around 1100€, which felt a bit much. It’s actually not that overvalued since The Fellowship of Acoustics in the Netherlands are selling their Levin’s on eBay for 1400-1600€. These are top end models we are talking about but since normal people that have inherited an old Levin or want to sell their old guitar see those guitar prices they of course think that their guitar is worth over 1000€ too, which isn’t always the case. I guess this over valuation makes my guitars worth more but at the same time it’s extremely annoying when you want to buy a new one and people wants an arm and a leg for them, or 1000€.

1963 Goya M-50
1963 Goya M-50
© Vintage Guitars

1970 Levin Model 174
1970 Levin Model 174 © Vintage Guitars

1979 Levin W 32 J
1979 Levin W 32 J © Vintage Guitars

Goya T-18

Goya Model 163, Goya T-18, Levin Model 13, Levin LM-26, Levin Model 65, Levin LT-16
The Levin family, Goya Model 163 (1968), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Model 13 (1950), Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 65 (1941), Levin LT-16 (1966)

Last week I received my latest project, a lovely Goya T-18 made in Sweden by Levin in 1966. It sounds really nice and works great for cowboy chords but there are a few things that needs to be sorted before I can play her properly. First of all there are two dents on the back of the neck, it almost seems like the lacquer has melted or reacted with the the leather flap for the accessory department in the case. It came with what seems to be the original hard case and who knows, maybe she has been stored in there for decades. So these dents or groves needs to be filed with lacquer and evened out, let’s see how that goes. I also need to re-glue the pickguard, but that shouldn’t be too hard as soon as I receive my fish glue that I’ve ordered from Germany. The Van Gent machine heads looks almost new and it could be the original nut and saddle but not bridge pins. There is a few marks on her but overall she is in really good state for her age. The lacquer on the top has cracked a bit but that seems to be standard on these late 1960’s Goya T-18, but not on the Levin LT-18 so they must have used different lacquer for them. The big thing that needs to be done is to try to reset the neck. I have never done anything like it but since these are quite cleverly bolted on maybe it wouldn’t be impossible, if I just find the right square key to loosen the bolts inside. The Goya T-18 sounds a lot bigger and fuller than my dad’s old Levin LT-16 which could be down to the size more than the materials, I’m not sure. She sounds bright but still with a lot of bottom which I like, I actually think this is my best sounding acoustic after my Morris W-40. I’m trying to get the biggest Levin collection in Spain, well I might already have it, who knows.

Update: December 6, 2013
I finally managed to get my beloved Goya T-18 sorted and now it plays beautifully

Levin Goya T-18 Made in Sweden 1966

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

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

Goya T-18

Goya catalogue 1965
Levin’s Goya catalogue from 1965

I’m very excited about my future Goya T-18 from 1966. I managed to find one in a fairly good state for a reasonable sum on eBay and couldn’t resist. I’ve decided that from now on I’m just buying Swedish made Levin acoustics, they were called Goya in the US. Since I haven’t received the guitar yet, it will probably spend a week or to in the customs office in Madrid, I have to stick to looking at old catalogues and dream. They have a review of a Goya T-18 from 1965 in the latest issue of Acoustic Guitar, under Great acoustics, 1965 Goya T-18 by Teja Gerken. I need to find a copy so I can get an idea of what I’ve got myself in to. It can’t be that different from my dad’s old Levin LT-16 also from 1966, which is among the best acoustic guitars I’ve ever played. The Levin LT-16 or Goya T-16, has alp spruce top and mahogany back and sides while the Levin LT-18 or Goya T-18, has alp spruce top and flame maple back and sides. The LT-18/T-18’s Goliath size is also a bit bigger than LT-16/T-16’s Grand Concert size so let’s see how the size in combination with maple instead of mahogany affects the sound. The LT-18/T-18The LT-18/T-18 was top of the line in the mid Sixties and cost $219.50 new in 1965.

Goya catalogue 1965
Levin’s Goya catalogue from 1965. Next I will have to find a Goya N-26 or Goya N-22 in sunburst from the mid 1960’s.

Levin LT-16 Made in Sweden 1966
My dad’s old Levin LT-16 from 1966

Levin model 65

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

Last weekend I decided to try to improve the playability a bit on my little parlour Levin model 65 from 1942. It doesn’t have an adjustable trussrod, few guitars did before the 1960’s, and would probably benefit from a neck reset but I thought I should start with the easy things first. Like making a new bridge that is a bit lower and that way get the action down and it worked really well. The easiest would have been to just file down the original bridge but I felt I rather make a new one than mess with the old one.

Update: July 31, 2014
I actually carved a new bridge from scratch, you can read about it here: How to… carve a bridge, that worked out ten times better.

Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942

Levin Model 65
Body width: 315 mm
Spruce top, birch back and sides.
Unbound top, back and headstock.
Unbound walnut fingerboard with mother-of-pearl dot inlay
Rosewood bridge, brass tuners, nickel plated tailpiece
Dark brown finished neck, back & sides.
Sunburst finished top and one year warranty

Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942
Since the strings were off I thought I mights as well even out the fretboard a bit and polish the frets. I cleaned the edges of the frets with a toothbrush and then oiled up the fretboard with lemon oil. I managed to cut through the old glue with a razor blade and that way get the old bridge off.

Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942
I think this bridge has been re-glued a couple of times since 1942 and that’s why some of the nitro lacquer came off. It’s hard to tell, it might have looked like that for 60 years under the bridge, who knows. Either way there isn’t much to do about it so I will just try to ignore it for now. If I can’t stand it I can always put the original bridge back. I got a cheap replacement rosewood bridge from eBay, straight from China for 3.50€. Now I just had to get the angle right, Levin always has their floating bridges in an angle, maybe it’s the same for all floating bridges. I copied the old bridge to get the angle right and started to make it as low as possible. Of course I cut my thumb after about 12 sec and had to rethink my methods of getting the bridge lower. In the end it was a combination of knife, a Swedish Morakniv of course, and sandpaper before I oiled it up with lemon oil to get it dark and nice. I read on Swedish forum that a great trick to get this parlour guitars to sound less jangly or rattly is to mute the tail piece. Apparently the main reason why these small bodied guitars sound like they do is because of the rattling tail piece. I muted mine with half a black sock that I tucked in so you can’t see it and it really made wonders to the sound. It’s a lot warmer and more woody now.

Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942
I copied the string spacing from the old bridge, made a notch with a knife and then filed it down with folded fine sandpaper and a round file. I also realised that since I had to take so much off in the bottom on the high E side, the bridge looked really unbalanced so I cut of a chunk on the other side and rounded off all the edges to try to create a nice looking bridge.

 

Levin LT-16

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

When I grew up back in Sweden we always had this old acoustic guitar standing in a corner. It was from my father and I never knew what make it was or how old it could be, my mum just told me that my dad bought it second hand in the early Seventies. Someone had sanded off the name on the headstock and taken off the sticker inside before my dad had bought it. I learned to play on this guitar and it’s still one of my favourites because of the thin neck and slightly smaller body. I recently had an epiphany and found out what guitar it is. About a month ago my girlfriend and I was watching a film and suddenly I got this weird feeling that I actually knew what make my dad’s acoustic guitar is, I recognised the head shape.  I was convinced, it’s an old Levin. I have always thought that it was a Japanese guitar since the pickup looks like one of those Japanese gold foil pickups from the Sixties. I stopped the film and started to search for Sixties Levin guitars and managed to find a very similar one in a vintage guitar shop in Stockholm. I found some more info on the model and now even the serial number on top of the head made sense. It is a Levin LT-16 made in Göteborg, Sweden in 1966. The nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons can be found on Hagström guitars from this time as well. I wish that we would have taken better care of it over the years and that I wouldn’t have been so hard with the pic when I first learned to play but at least now after more than four decades of family confusion we know what it is. It’s a Swedish Levin.

Levin LT-16 Made in Sweden 1966

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