I have said it before but it’s worth mentioning again, I really like Wilkinson hardware for my guitars. I have their vintage bridge with compensated brass saddles on numerous of my Telecasters and their machine heads on even more acoustics and electrics. So far I have tried the following models, WJ01GD, WJ44CRGD, WJ309GD and now WJ28NGD on my new Morris W-50. Wilkinson machine heads are cheap, good quality, accurate and the gold doesn’t seem to fade straight away. They are made in Korea and was first distributed through John Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd. but now you can find them pretty much everywhere. I bought mine from Axesrus which turned out to be really nice and helpful guys. The best part is that now you can get Wilkinson machine heads with either 8 mm or 10 mm bushings which is perfect since a lot of the Japan made acoustics comes with 10 mm holes. I don’t just randomly change the machine heads on all my guitars but I can’t stand the horrible bulky 1970’s closed machine heads in chrome that most Japanese guitars comes with. How much nicer doesn’t the Morris W-50 look now with these delicate open gear tuners in gold?
Some guitars that got the Wilkinson treatment. Morris W-40 with Wilkinson’s WJ44CRGD which comes with cream buttons, not that horrible green tinted ones. My Levin 174 and K. Yairi TG-40 got upgraded with the amazing looking Art Deco inspired WJ309GD
K.Yairi TG-40 a Guild D-40 copy from 1977. Every K.Yairi guitar is given birth in Kani, a small community in the beautiful mountainside area of Honshu, Japan.
My new K.Yairi TG-40 has finally arrived, after 40 days stuck in Spanish customs. I have mentioned earlier that it’s a lot easier to import things from Japan to Spain compared to buying things from the US, well that was a lie. I have bought three electric guitars, mainly Greco’s from an eBay seller called Tokyowax. They all arrived within 48 hours so I stupidly assumed that everything from Japan would arrive quickly and without any problems, but no. Tokyowax uses DHL Express and they tend to deliver things within 2-5 days and you pay the taxes straight to them when they deliver the guitar. It wasn’t that easy with EMS Japan, that package went straight to customs in Madrid and spent 40 days in their lazy company. How can anything take that long? K. Yairi could probably have built me a new guitar in that time, if he was still alive. It seems like the only option now when buying guitars on eBay is to use the Global Shipping Program, that worked for my Goya 163 at least. Anyway, the guitar is amazing so it was well worth waiting for.
It has a really nice tone with great bass response. It easily has the best bass of all my acoustics, even better than my Morris W-40 which has that Martin D-45 bass sound, this is nicer and a lot clearer. I guess it sounds like an old Guild D-40, at least if I can trust the Youtube clips I have seen since I haven’t had the chance to play one myself. It actually reminds me a bit of a Gibson Jumbo, like I mentioned in my Gibson J-45/J-50 post: “The Yairi TG-40 is a Guild D-40 copy, which was introduced in the Sixties as a competitor to Gibson’s J-45. The Guild D-40 became famous as the Bluegrass guitar for their even response over all the strings and I really like the sound of them, it’s actually not too far off from a Sixties Gibson J-45. With a bit of luck it’s going to be an awesome Yairi copy of an Guild which might sound a bit like a Gibson.”
I didn’t have to do much to it, it was ready to play when I got it. However, the pickguard was loose so I had to remove that, clean it up and then glue it back again with my trusty fish glue. When the strings was off I quickly polished the frets and oiled the ebony fretboard. I also installed a jack for my LR Baggs M1 and a strap button.
I bought this K.Yairi TG-40 from a really nice eBay seller called montebell86 who was a pleasure to deal with. The guitar was listed as “Taniguchi Gakki” Japanese guitar shop original model, very rare. Solid spruce top, sides and back in solid mahogany, neck in Honduras mahogany, bridge and Fretboard in black ebony. The label states it was made in 1977 but the serial number starts with 51 which was the 51st year of Emperor Shōwa and puts it to 1976.
I got this K.Yairi TG-40 fairly cheap since the pickguard needed to be reglued and one machine head wasn’t working properly. It also has two cracks, one on each side that has been professionally repaired and can’t be seen from the outside. Since the machine heads needed to be replaced I decided to change them for Wilkinson WJ-309 in gold, just like I did on my Levin 174
Here is a quick little comparison between the K.Yairi TG-40 and my Morris W-40, they sound pretty similar and I don’t think I would be able to tell them apart in a blind test. Well the Morris has a bit more bass and is a slightly weaker on the treble side, I feel that the Yairi is more even over all the strings.
K.Yairi TG-40in the Japanese catalogue from the late 1970′s. List price ¥60.000, around 420€, which must have been a fortune back in 1977. Then again, this was a fairly cheap guitar for being K Yairi, the top model cost ¥200.000, about 1400€.
It seems like I will soon be the proud owner of an early 1970’s Levin 174. A nice Danish chap by the name of Orla wrote a comment on my previous post about Levin, saying that he had one for sale. I will write more about it as soon as I get it but for now, enjoy this Goya ad for the same guitar from 1970.
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€.