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Tag: guitars

Harmony H-162

Harmony H-162, Made in USA
Harmony H-162, Made in Chicago, USA in the late 1960’s

I finally put the second Harmony H-162 back together. I got two late 1960’s Harmony H-162 acoustic guitars about 2-3 years ago and it has taken forever to actually find the time to re-set the necks on them. The first one I put together back in November and that one was sold straight away. This one is reserved for a friend of mine but if he decides to get one of my Levin guitars instead then I will put it up for sale. They are really nice these Harmony guitars, wide neck, strong tone and great wood. Harmony used the same wood supplier as Martin back in the day. These were called folk guitars which is a grand concert size, the exact same size as a Martin 000. The Harmony H-162 was produced in Chicago from 1940-1971, this one is most likely from the late 1960’s looking at the headstock. Even though it was an inexpensive guitar at the time they were built with all solid woods, back and sides of selected quality mahogany with a resonant spruce top. It’s a surprisingly well sounding guitar for being a mass produced ladder braced guitar, way better sounding than any Gibson B-15 or B-25 I’ve heard and it cost a third. The neck is pretty wide which makes it extremely comfortable for finger picking. Considering the price of a late 1960’s Martin 000-18, or even a Gibson B-25, the Harmony H-162 is a bargain for a USA made all solid wood vintage guitar.

Harmony H-162, Made in USAHarmony H-162, Made in USAThe Harmony H-162 was missing machine heads, nut and saddle so I cut new ones in bone and added machine heads and some ebony bridge pins.

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

1978 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1978-79

Earlier this year I decided to buy a late 1970’s Fender Telecaster but ended up with three identical 1978-79 Fender Telecasters. The first 1978 Fender Telecaster was bought from a music store in Italy and served me really well during the summer but then I found this 1978-79 Fender Telecaster from Andy’s Really Great Guitars in Worcestershire, UK that I just couldn’t resist. I should of course have stopped there but stumbled upon a third 1979 Fender Telecaster from a record store in Southport, UK which I bought but now have sold. I’m planning to keep this 1978-79 Fender Telecaster since it’s lighter, 3.8 kg instead of 4.3-4.5 kg, the grain is amazing and most importantly it sounds awesome. It has a really nice full neck profile and I guess this is the Nancy I’ve always dreamt of. Well done me.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978 Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978

It’s always a bit disappointing to take a late 1970’s Fender apart since you realise that the headstock shows one year and all the other parts another. In this case the headstock and body sticker says 1978, #S840573, the pots say mid-May 1979, #1377920 and the neck stamp shows 17th of August 1979, #3395. Well done Fender, well done.

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978Taken from Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978A Fullerton built Fender Telecaster from 1978-79. Body and headstock shows 1978, pots and neck stamp shows mid-1979.

3 original Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978-79The three late 1970’s Fender Telecasters together, 1978 Fender Telecaster, 1978-79 Fender Telecaster and the now sold 1979 Fender Telecaster 

Harmony H-162

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960'sHarmony H-162, Made in Chicago, USA in the late 1960’s

Two years ago I came across a couple of Harmony guitars, two late 1960’s Harmony H-162 acoustic guitars and a late 1950’s Harmony Monterey H1325 archtop guitar. I sold the archtop pretty much straight away since I got two Levin archtops at the same time. Both of the Harmony H-162 were in desperate need of a neck reset and were unplayable so they got packed away for the first year and a half and then in April I got around to remove the necks and now last week I finally managed to reset the first of the two. This Harmony H-162 feels a lot like my 1965 Goya T-16, but of course ladder braced instead of X-braced. These were called folk guitars which is a grand concert size, the exact same size as a Martin 000. The Harmony H-162 was produced in Chicago from 1940-1971, this one is most likely from the late 1960’s looking at the headstock. Even though it was an inexpensive guitar at the time they were built with all solid woods, back and sides of selected quality mahogany with a resonant spruce top. It’s a surprisingly well sounding guitar for being a mass produced ladder braced guitar, way better sounding than any Gibson B-15 or B-25 I’ve heard and it cost a third. The neck is pretty wide which makes it extremely comfortable for finger picking. Considering the price of a late 1960’s Martin 000-18, or even a Gibson B-25, the Harmony H-162 is a bargain for a USA made all solid wood vintage guitar. This guitar is now for sale.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960'sOnce the neck was reset all the hard work was done. The rest was just cleaning, polishing frets, oiling fretboard, repairing some binding, installing machine heads and creating a new truss-rod cover.

Harmony H162, 1959 Harmony catalogue
I got myself two late 1960’s H-162 so now I will start on the second one and get that neck reset as well. Taken from a 1959 Harmony catalogue

How to… reset a neck

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960'sHarmony H-162, Made in Chicago, USA in the late 1960’s

This is a project that could have been done in two days but has taken two years. I guess it’s partly my fault, I wasn’t really sure how to reset a neck so I kept putting it off. I also have a 1.5 years old daughter and she is like a black hole when it comes to making time disappear. Anyway, now it’s done and everything worked out pretty great. I steamed off the necks back in April and then I had a lot of gigs and moved house in the middle and then last week I finally managed to get the guitar back together.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
I drilled a small hole under the 14th fret and tried to steam it off that way but it worked really badly so in the end I got frustrated and just removed the fretboard and got the neck off that way instead. I glued the fretboard back straight away so I wouldn’t mix the parts between the two late 1960’s Harmony H-162 that I had lying around at home. Once the neck angle was corrected I glued the neck back with Tite­bond 506/​4 classic wood glue.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
The late 1960’s Harmony H-162 in parts, it was actually quite easy to reset a neck. It’s pretty worn but the solid woods are really nice, mahogany back and sides with a two piece spruce top.

Harmony H-162, Made in USA 1960's
I cleaned up the dovetail and heel with a chisel and then adjusted the neck angle with a file, it felt less risky than doing it with a chisel. I didn’t have to remove much for getting the action down and making it playable again.

 

1979 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant on the 4th of July 1979

As usual when it comes to me and guitars I never just buy one, well I do at first but then I always end up with two or three in the end. Since I really liked my 1978 Fender Telecaster I started to search for others and ended up with three different 1978 Fender Telecaster. Now after serious consideration, and  moving house and realising that I don’t have as much guitar storing space as before, I’ve decided to sell two of them. It was great in a way to get to explore three identical guitars from the same year, to compare the sound, build and feel of them and to learn more about late 1970’s Fender Telecasters. This one is great, it has a few battle scars and the frets are a bit low but that just builds character. All three of these Telecasters have a pretty chunky neck, something I love. They are around 23-24 mm on the first fret and about 24-25 mm on the 12th, not bad for a Telecaster. Unfortunately they weigh like a Les Paul, around 4-4.5 kg, perhaps that’s where the great twang and sustain comes from. As soon as I get the new flat in order I will make some videos of all three to compare them. This guitar is now for sale.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979
Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979I took this guitar apart and checked all the numbers and this one was made in 1979 even though the S8 headstock serial indicates 1978. The neck stamp says #2794 which means week 27, 1979, day 4, that was Thursday the 4th of July 1979. Here are the basic numbers to check:

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978

The colour codes I mentioned in my previous post might just have been for Stratocasters because these Telecasters are stamped with a large A, which I assume means nice good looking grain for a natural see through top.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1979I filled all the dents on the back of the neck with Nitro lacquer so now you can’t feel them when you play. The volume pot has been changed at some point and the knobs are not the same as on the other two S8 Telecasters. The frets are quite low and I need to replace the first five since they are pretty worn but she plays fine as it is. Except for that, it’s all original and sounds amazing. If I had space for them, I would have kept all three.

Vorg by Pearl

Vorg by Pearl Telecaster Made in JapanVorg by Pearl, built in Japan by Matsumoku in the mid 1970’s

I recently got myself a Vorg Telecaster. These where built by Pearl in the Matsumoku factory and named Vorg for the German market. The previous owner claimed that it was built in 1977 since the serial starts with 7 which could be true, it’s built in the mid 1970’s for sure. It’s all original except for the machine heads which has been upgraded to a set of Schaller. The guitar has been converted to a string through with bushings on the back instead of being top-loaded something that obviously improved the sustain and overall tone. The original pickups looks like they were made by Maxon, something that makes perfect sense for a Matsumoku built guitar of that time. The neck is fantastic, really chunky for being a Japanese guitar. It’s a great sounding and playing Japanese Telecaster that I unfortunately can’t keep. I bought it for my birthday last month but the same week I found another late 1970’s Fender Telecaster so this Vorg has to go. It’s for sale here.

Vorg by Pearl Telecaster Made in Japan

1978 Fender Telecaster

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978
Fender Telecaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1978

I sold my 1979 Fender Stratocaster a couple of weeks ago and managed to find myself a late 1970’s Fender Telecaster at the same time. This was my secret plan all along, sell the Stratocaster and get a Telecaster instead. I’ve dreamt of a 1970’s Fender Telecaster for over 20 years and now I finally got one. Ideally I would have loved an early 50’s one but I realised already at 15 years old that a late 70’s is probably all I could ever afford. I found this 1978 Fender Telecaster in Musicarte Strumenti Musicali, a guitar shop in , Italy. I got a pretty descent price but you never really know what you are getting, unless you have seen all the numbers stamped on the guitar you are just taking someone’s word for it to be all original. I’ve also never bought anything from Italy, a lot of eBay sellers refuse to ship to Italy because of problems with the post and perhaps even more, Italian buyers. I just had to trust these guys and luckily it worked out fine. I really love this guitar, the neck is chunkier than the 1979 Fender Stratocaster which I love, the fatter the better. The colour will hopefully darken over the years from the sun which will make it even more Bruce Springsteen and Roy Buchannan looking. Actually, I guess this is my Nancy now, even if she is a late 1970’s natural Telecaster and not an early 1950’s butterscotch one like Buchannan’s. It weighs a good 4.3 kg but is so worth it for the feel of the neck and the sustain of the body. The pickups are pretty damn good too, I really like how sweet it sounds. Overall, an amazing Telecaster and a dream come true for me, even though my Japan made 1981 Greco TL-800 is almost as good. This guitar is now for sale.

Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978
Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978
Fender Telecaster Made in USA, Fullerton 1978

I haven’t taken the guitar apart yet to check that all the numbers match the serial number. I managed to date my 1979 Fender Stratocaster via this site, Dating Late 1970’s Fender Stratocasters, I found it extremely helpful. Since the S7, S8, S9 etc stamped on the headstock are so inaccurate to show if the guitar was made in 1977, 1978 or 1979 you really need check all the other numbers to know what year the guitar was made. Here are the basic numbers to check:

Neck stamps: MMNN*WWYD, Example: 0900*3893 = Week 38, 1979, Day 3
Neck / Body Stamps: WWYD, Example: 0304 = Week 3, 1980, Day 4
Pot codes: MMMYYWW, Example: 1377731 = 137 (CTS), 1977, Week 31
Pickup Codes: OOWWYY, Example: 202378 = Operator #20, Week 23, 1978

Here are the colour that were available in the late 1970’s, I have to try to find #521 stamped on mine to make sure that it was originally natural colour and hasn’t been stripped. Antigua (523*), Black (506*), Blond (501), Natural (521*), Sunburst (500), Tobacco Sunburst (525*), Walnut (522), White (505*), Wine (524*)

I used the 1978 Fender Telecaster for the first time last weekend at our gig at the AMCCC – American Cars 2017 in Platja d’Aro, Girona.

1979 Fender Stratocaster

Fender Stratocaster Made in USA 1979, 3 tone Sunburst, hardtailFender Stratocaster, Made in USA at the Fullerton plant in 1979

Yesterday I sold my 1979 Fender Stratocaster, which felt a bit sad. I’ve had the guitar up for sale for two years so it was no surprise that sooner or later she would leave me. Then again, when it actually happened I missed her a bit. Well guitars comes and goes, that’s the circle of life and she needed to make room for her sister, my new 1978 Fender Telecaster. Last Sunday I got to use the Stratocaster one last time when we had a gig with the Claes Anderson Band. It sounded great, really twangy even through my solid state Levin amp from the 1990’s.

Claes Anderson Band – Tell my tale when I am gone, Legends Dance Hall in Terrassa 14th May 2017

How to… carve a bridge

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

I decided to carve a new bridge for my 1968 Levin LT-18. The old bridge needed to be re-glued anyway so I thought it was a good time to create a new one in ebony instead. I did this once, I carved a new bridge for my 1973 K. Yairi YW-1000. This was a pretty similar job, both ebony and roughly the same shape. I’m really happy with the sound of this guitar now, so much richer than with the original bridge.

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1968First step was to remove the old bridge with a heated spatula and then copy the bridge and drill the holes.

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1968Then shape it as close to the original as possible using my Japanese saw rasp and different files.

Levin LT-18 Made in Sweden 1968Last step, fit the bridge and glue it down. Once the bridge was in place I could check the intonation to get the saddle slot in the perfect spot. Unfortunately I cut the slot 1 mm too wide so the bone saddle got a bit fatter than I had planned. Perhaps that gives tonal qualities I would have missed with a thinner saddle, let’s hope so. I also installed a LR Baggs M1A so I can use the guitar for gigs.

Before: with the original rosewood bridge and the individual height adjustable plastic saddles

After: with the ebony bridge I carved and a bone saddle