Claescaster

Tag: hagstrom

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

 

How to… Replace frets

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6 Missouri, Made in Sweden 1978

Last weekend I tried a trick that I had seen some old luthier in the US doing on Instagram, replacing the first three worn frets with the last three, instead of re-fretting the whole guitar. This seemed like a really good solutions for my 1978 Hagström Western 6 which had terrible wear on the first three frets.

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978It seemed a bit pointless to do a complete re-fret when it was just the first three that was worn, I also like to keep things as original as possible. I just pulled out the first three and the last three and replaced the first three with the last three and then added three new frets where the last three used to be, easy peasy. I just had to nip off the edges with some pliers, file them down and round them a bit to get them smooth. Since you don’t play on the last three frets, or at least I don’t, you don’t have to level and crown them too much.

Hagström Western 6

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6 Missouri, Made in Sweden 1978

Last week a new Hagström acoustic arrived from Sweden. Just like my 1975 Hagström B-60 this was made by Bjärton in the south of Sweden.  Hagström / Bjärton guitars feels pretty different from Levin, a bit more boxy somehow, less refined. Having said that they are very well sounding guitars with a pretty unique tone, not quite the Gibson bass but that’s the best comparison I can think of. This Hagström Western 6 comes with more or less a Hagström Swede electric guitar neck. Same head shape, inlays and ebony fretboard, I love ebony. These actually came not only with ebony fretboard and bridge, they had ebony nut and saddle too. Mine has a rosewood bridge for some reason but it doesn’t seem to have been re-glued so I assume that someone at the factory took the wrong bridge or just preferred rosewood. Everything can happen in a guitar factory, hence all the mismatched mystery guitars that doesn’t exactly match the catalogue images. I really like this guitar, it looks awesome, sounds great and has something quite Swedish Country about it, a bit like me I guess.

hagstrom-western-6-made-in-sweden-1978-1
hagstrom-western-6-made-in-sweden-1978-2
Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978The guitar has quite a few battle scars, I presume it has lived through a Swedish midsummer or two. The head has been glued at some point, looks to have been done a very long time ago. There are quite a lot of scratches on the top and the back of the neck had some dents but I filled them so now you can hardly feel it. Notice the double sticker inside, one for Bjärton and then a Hagström on top.

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden catalogue 1978Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6 in a 1979 German Hagström catalogue

Hagström Western 6
Specifications:  Body width: 410 mm, body length: 510 mm, body depth: 120 mm, scale length: 630 mm. Spruce top with X-bracing, mahogany back and sides. 4-ply bound top and bound back. Unbound ebony fingerboard and ebony bridge, mahogany neck.  Matte natural finish and 10 year warranty.  Offered in two versions: Fully acoustic (Western 6) or with pickup and controls (Western 6 EL).  Marketed in Germany as Missouri.  Introduced around 1977.

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6 and 12 in a 1979 Hagström catalogue

I tried the guitar last night at Alfa en Viu and it sounded pretty good, even with just a cheap removable Belcat pickup

 

Happy New Year!

It’s been a great year for the Levin collection. Let’s hope that 2016 will be even better. Happy New Year everyone!

Levin CollectionLevin LT-14 (1965), Levin Goya T-16 (1965), Levin Goya T-18 (1966), Levin Goya T-23 (1966), Levin Rondo Model 29 (1960), Levin LT-16 (1966), Levin LS-16 (1963), Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 65 (1942), Levin Model 13 Ambassadör (1950), Levin Model 32 (1946), Levin Model 3 Royal (1951), Levin W 12-36 (1978), Levin Goya Model GG-172 (1970), Levin Goya Model 163 (1968), Levin Model 174 (1972)

Hagström B-60

Hagström B-60 Made in Sweden 1975Hagström B-60, made in Sweden by Bjärton in 1975

I guess people might have noticed that I’m quite obsessed with Levin guitars, but there are actually other Swedish guitar brands that I care about too, like Hagström Crafton, Bjärton and Lugnås. I recently found my first steel string Bjärton, I have had a nylon string since my mid teens but never actually played on a steel string Bjärton until now. This is an awesome looking Hagström B-60 or Bjärton B-60 as it was called in Sweden, it’s the same guitar but since Hagström was more famous abroad they used that name for the export models. They were built by Bjärton in Bjärnum in the south of Sweden. It’s a pretty great guitar, loosely modelled on a Gibson J-50, Bjärton made a legendary Gibson J-45 copy in the Sixties called Hagström H-45 or Bjärton J-45 which was used by David Bowie and a lot of others. That model came with or without factory installed pickup and they even made a 12-string version. This Hagström B-60 is slightly more modest and looks pretty basic. It’s a nice sounding guitar, even though it has a bolt-on neck which should kill the tone completely, I guess the solid woods and massive neck block is helping with the sound.

Hagström B-60 Made in Sweden 1975Hagström B-60 Made in Sweden 1975

Hagström B-60 / Bjärton B-60
Body width: 410 mm, body length: 510 mm, body depth: 120 mm
Spruce top with X-bracing, mahogany back and sides
Mahogany bolt-on neck, unbound rosewood fingerboard
Single-bound top and back, rosewood pin bridge
Van Gent machine heads, natural finish and 10 year warranty
Introduced: ca 1972, available for export under the Hagström brand

Hagström B-60 Made in Sweden 1975The guitar was in pretty good shape when it arrived. I did the normal cleaning, polished frets and oiled the fretboard and then installed a bone saddle and ebony bridge pins to improve the sound

Van Gent tuners, Hagström B-60 Made in Sweden 1975My main challenge was to try to get the Van Gent machine heads clean. The guitar smells like it has spent the past 40 years in the company of an old pipe smoker so I assume that’s actually tar and nicotine that has built up over the years. I’m an old ex-smoker myself so to me it smells like pure heaven.

Hagström HIII

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970The 1970 Hagström HIII is now sold and is going to be sent off to Jose in A Coruña.

Hagström HIII

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970Hagström HIII, Made in Sweden 1970

I found a Hagström HIII back in April that I felt really sorry for and had to rescue, or rather save it from being slaughtered and sold for parts by someone else. Unfortunately it wasn’t a bargain and I probably wouldn’t have bought it if I wasn’t drunk at time, I need to stop browsing eBay on Sunday evenings. It had all the parts but the fretboard and frets were in a terrible state and the electronics weren’t working properly, basically a nice guitar and worth the price if it was working. All the hardware cleaned up nicely, I love the Van Gent machine heads, a complete set tend to go for 100€ on their own, and it had the original tremolo, pickups and pickguard. I had to remove the old frets, even out the fretboard and then refret it to get it playable. After waiting for over a month I finally got the switch needed from Hong Kong here we are, a fully restored and working 1970 Hagström HIII. Even though I love the look and sound of this guitar I can’t seem to get used to the fast Hagström neck, the fastest neck in the world, and therefore it’s for sale.

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970Hagström HIII made in Älvdalen, Sweden between 1970-1972. It’s the 491st HIII made in a series of totally 708 guitars, this was the last run ever of this model since it was replaced by the more 1970’s looking Hagström HIIN

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970I started with taking the guitar apart and cleaning everything with a toothbrush and some soap and then polish up all the hardware.

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970The electronics was in fairly good state but needed to be grounded properly. Also the on/off wasn’t plugged in and the bridge pickup’s switch wasn’t working properly so I had to wait a month for a new one from Hong Kong. Now everything is soldered up properly and is working fine.

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970The back of the neck was a mess, dents and groves everywhere so I filled them with Nitro and sanded everything smooth before I buffed it up with metal polish so now you can’t feel it.

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970The main problem with the fretboard was the deep groves in it, it almost looked like the first 5-7 frets had been scalloped. The original frets were really uneven too so I decided to refret it completely. I pulled out the old frets, sanded the fretboard even and then gave it 10″ radius before I re-cut the fret slots and installed new Jescar jumbos.

Hagström III Made in Sweden 1970I levelled, crowned and polished the frets and in the end the fretboard looked pretty damn good if I may say so myself.

Hagström HIII and Hagström HII Made in Sweden 1970Hagström HIII and my friend Rafa’s Hagström HIIN, both Made in Sweden in 1970, same body but different pickups, electronics and head shape

This video was shot before I changed the bridge pickup’s switch so it’s cutting out occasionally, that has been sorted now with a new switch. I posted these two videos so you can here the difference between Hagström’s fat single coils and their humbuckers.

Here is a new video of the Hagström III with all the switches working, unfortunately my amp is acting up and is making hell of a noise

Hagstrom Viking

Hagstrom Viking, Tobacco Sunburst 2008Hagstrom Viking, Tobacco Sunburst 2008

It’s with a heavy heart that I have decided to part with my Hagstrom Viking. I bought the guitar back in 2010 and have unfortunately not had time to play it as much as I wanted, some Japanese Telecasters got in the way. I had three semi-hollow bodied guitars at one point and kept this the longest, I sold the other two last year. I guess the more guitars you have the more you realise what feels good for you to play. For me, fat necked Telecasters feels really nice to play, I’m a bit gay for old Greco Telecasters from the 1970’s. If you are interested in inherit this Hagstrom Viking from the Claes Collection then get in touch. You can read more about it here for sale, or in Spanish here.

Update: April 4, 2014 The Hagstrom Viking is now sold to Rafa from Cobarde.

Hagstrom, or Hagström as we call it back home, was founded in 1925 by Albin Hagström in Älvdalen, Sweden. They made amazing electric guitars from 1958 to 1983, played by guys like Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Joe Walsh, Dweezil and Frank Zappa to name a few. I have played on a lot of Hagstrom guitars and amps during my teenage years back in Sweden and learned to play bass on my stepdad Sten’s Hagstrom Jazz bass from 1976. I have an fairly mint Hagström HIIN OT from 1975 back in Sweden that I really like. I guess it was out of national pride that I got so excited and bought the Hagstrom Viking when they started to make them again in 2004. They have a few models that are made in the EU, but not in Sweden, and the rest is made in China. I have actually only played my Viking from 2008 so I can’t really comment on the quality of the Chinese Hagstroms today but mine is very well built for the price. I would say that they are better than Gretsch Electromatic, Epiphone and the Ibanez semi-hollow bodied, all in roughly the same price range.

Zappa plays Zappa, Hagstrom ad

Ad of the day

Hagstrom H8 Eight String Bass, 1968 Hagstrom advertisementHagström H8 Eight String Bass, Hagström advertisement from 1968

Levin

Goya GG-172 (1970), Levin Model 13 (1950), Goya Model 163 (1968), Levin Model 174 (1972), Levin Royal (1951), Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 65 (1942), Goya T-18 (1966), Levin LT-14 (1965), Levin LT-16 (1966) The Levin family back in the days, from left to right: Goya GG-172 (1970), Levin Model 13 (1950), Goya Model 163 (1968), Levin Model 174 (1972), Levin Royal (1951), Levin LM-26 (1959), Levin Model 65 (1942), Goya T-18 (1966),  Levin LT-14 (1965), Levin LT-16 (1966)

Last week I managed to become the proud owner of two new, or rather very old, Levin guitars. With some persistence, a huge dose of luck and some money changing hands I managed to get them both here safe and I already love them. I have always been a huge fan of Hagström, also built in Sweden, but didn’t know how much I loved Levin until I figured out that my dad’s old guitar was actually a Levin. It doesn’t have any markings on it but you can read about my Levin epiphany here. The problem with old guitars is that they quite often forgot to mention the model anywhere, so you have to do a lot of detective work. Luckily for me there is an awesome guitar shop, Vintage Guitars Stockholm, that has more or less everything Levin has ever made listed on their Levin information pages. They also have some info on Hagström and the brands built by Bjärton, and the rest of the brands built by Levin: C. F. Martin & Co, Clangiton, El-Goya, Goya, Kay-Tone, Klangola, Torres, Zandelin, Nivello, Rondo. I managed to track mine down to a Levin LT-16, Levin Model 65 and the amazing Levin Model 13 Ambassadör. These Levin guitars are a bit thin sounding compared to other guitars, well I don’t have any other guitars that are 70 years old, but still. Then again they aren’t full sized so no wonder that they lack a bit of bass compared to a dreadnought, but they are very light and extremely resonant in the higher register so they are perfect for finger picking. Either way I’m super happy to have found four so old and amazing guitars that have been built in the country where I grew up, Sweden.

Maybe I should add a little disclaimer here, this was originally posted back in August 2013, the Levin collection and my appreciation and understanding of the brand has grown a bit since then.

Levin Model 2 Parlour Made in Sweden 1914Levin Model 2 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

Goya Model 163 Made in Sweden 1968Goya 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

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

These two 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 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

Herman Carlson Levin was a young furniture maker that moved from Gothenburg to America and got a job at a guitar manufacturer in 1888. He soon started his own company in New York building instruments and while he was back visiting Sweden he realised that the demand was even higher there. He moved back home and in 1895 started Herman Carlssons Instrumentfabrik in Gothenburg. They were only five instruments makers in 1903 when they built their 1000th guitar but they soon grew bigger and bigger. The factory was one of the best in Europe and between 1904 and 1912 Levin received many awards including the gold medal in Madrid in 1907 for best guitar as well as the exhibition’s Grand Prix price. By 1936 the 100,000th instrument had left the plant and Levin was marketing a successful line of archtop guitars, like the world famous Levin De Luxe 1938. Shortly before 1940 Levin employed a crew of 45 in facility of a 1000 m². In the 1950s, Levin launched a line of inexpensive guitars intended for schools and novice guitar players. These guitars were of lower quality than the rest of the Levin line up. In 1952 Jerome Hershman a guitar distributor from America noticed Levin guitars at a trade show in Germany and convinced the Levin company to let him market their guitars in America under the name Goya, Levin apparently sounded too Jewish. He also got Hagström to make some fine electric guitars for the US market as well. These nylon stringed Levin / Goya guitars got quite popular in the late 1950’s and especially with the folk singers in the 1960’s when they started to produce steel stringed guitars on a typical nylon stringed body. When Goya was sold in 1968 the Goya export was approximately 70% of Levin’s total production. They had a huge contract with Goya that they lost in this sale, something that took really hard on Levin and they had to close down the second factory they opened in Lessebo and let half of its work force go. A lot of companies got bought and sold over the next few years, Kustom bought Goya, Dude bought Kustom and in the end C. F. Martin & Co bought them all. In 1973 when Martin bought Levin, it became the headquarters for Martin Guitars and their Japan import brand Sigma Guitars in Europe, as well as actually producing a run of some 200 Martin D-18 acoustic guitars, which were labelled “LD-18 – Made In Gothenburg, Sweden. These are quite rare and expensive today. The last “real” Levin built in Sweden left the factory in 1979, they are still building nylon stringed Levin guitar in Sweden to this day. In 1982 Svensk Musik AB bought the name Levin and the remaining stock from C. F. Martin & Co and in 2000 they changed their name to Svenska Levin AB. They are now producing steel stringed guitars in the far east and have a small batch of nylon stringed guitars being built in Sweden. Here is the whole story about Levin together with some amazing photos, Levin History.

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

Nick Drake playing a Levin guitar
Nick Drake playing a Levin guitar

Hootenanny Singers
Hootenanny Singers sure liked their Levin guitars. Björn Ulvaeus, the guy on the far right got a bit famous later on with his next band, ABBA.

Levin was pretty much the main brand for acoustic instruments in Sweden back in the days. We also had Bjärton but they mainly made nylon stringed guitars and of course Hagström but they were more famous for their electric instruments, even though they built some really nice acoustic guitars together with Bjärton like the legendary Hagström J-45.

Levin guitar factory
I’m not sure if it was the handsome chap to the left that built my Levin Model 13 Ambassadör. The Levin guitar factory on Kvillegatan 9 in Gothenburg in the late 1940’s.

Levin catalogue 1968
Taken from the Levin catalogue 1968

In 1972 negotiations between the C. F. Martin & Co. and Levin results in that C. F. Martin & Co. purchases Levin in June 1973.
In 1972 negotiations between the C. F. Martin & Co. and Levin results in that C. F. Martin & Co. purchases Levin in June 1973 and Levin got to make some 200 Martin D-18 acoustic guitars, which were labelled “LD-18 – Made In Gothenburg