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Tag: Levin Model 13 Ambassadör

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

 

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)

Guitars for sale

Martin SPD-16R Made in USA1999Martin SPD-16R, Made in USA 1999, 1500€ 1300€
Martin SPD-16R is a Special Edition Dreadnought from Martin guitars. Spruce top and Indian Rosewood back and sides with forward shifted scalloped X bracing. Performance taper, low oval mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard and bridge. Snowflake inlays, abalone rosette and a D-45 style back strip with gold Martin stamped machine heads. Produced in USA between 1996-2001. The guitar is in fantastic shape for being 18 years old with hardly any scratches and no fretware. The top has a hairline crack from the bridge down which has cracked the lacquer but not the wood. SPD-16R stands for Special edition, Dreadnought, 16-series in Rosewood. This guitar looks great and sounds amazing, you can read more about it here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Gibson J-45 ADJ 1965 Made in USAGibson J-45 adj, Made in USA 1965, 2300€ SOLD
An awesome looking Gibson J-45 ADJ, built in the Kalamazoo factory in 1965. It’s the classic round shouldered Gibson dreadnought, natural finish spruce top, mahogany back and sides, rosewood fretboard and bridge. All original except for the refinish which turned this J-45 in to a J-50. Apparently this was done in the early 1970’s when the slight separation in the tops mid seam was glued. The guitar looks really great, worn but still well preserved for being 50  years old. The sound is just amazing, it has that typical Gibson bass response that you can hear on the early records of James Taylor and Jackson Browne. I cut a new bone saddle for it but it comes with it’s original adjustable rosewood bridge. It has an endpin jack already installed so it’s ready to play live, just ad a pickup. A brand new flight case is included to protect the guitar. The action is low and there are no structural issues with this guitar, just the normal marks and scratches. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Gibson B-15 Made in USA 1969Gibson B-15, Made in USA 1969, 1200€ SOLD
This 1969 Gibson B-15 sounds and plays great and is pretty good shape for it’s age. There is a lot of scratches and wear to the top and sides but the are no cracks or structural issues. It’s all original and even comes with the Gibson made alligator chipboard case. The action is good and the frets has very little wear. The B-15 was an all solid model with a natural finished mahogany body, a mahogany stained spruce top and rosewood fretboard and bridge. Gibson referred to the B-series as student models at the time which is a bit misguiding considering what a student guitar sounds like today. These have great even tone and pretty amazing sustain for the size, a perfect little blues machine. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Harmony Monterey, Made in USA 1950's 784H1325Harmony Monterey H1325, Made in USA 1950’s, 550€ SOLD
Very cool looking US made archtop from the late 1950’s. Solid spruce top with birch back and sides, 16 1/2 in wide grand auditorium size, steel reinforced neck. This guitar is all original and even comes with the original case. There is a glued crack on the side but no other issues. It sounds great, loud and clear acoustically. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

K. Yairi YW-1000 Made in Japan 1973K. Yairi YW-1000, Made in Japan 1973, 1700€ SOLD
This is the top of the line, the fanciest guitar that K. Yairi built. Their Martin D-45 copies are legendary for their sound and build quality. This guitar has real Brazilian Rosewood back and sides and a beautifully aged solid spruce top. Real abalone inlays all around and the typical Martin volute where the head and neck meet. At the moment this guitar has Wilkinson WJ28NGD open gear machine heads in gold fitted but I still have the original K. Yairi machine heads. It’s all original except for the bridge which is a brand new hand cut and shaped replacement in ebony with a bone saddle and ebony bridge pins. The guitar is in great shape for being 43 years old but there are a couple of scratches to the top, one big one close to the bottom. The neck is straight, trussrod works and the action is low. The guitar sounds amazing, so deep and clear at the same time. These K. Yairi YW-1000 are extremely rare in Europe and without any doubt the closest you can get to a real 1970’s Martin D-45. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Morris W-50 1970's Made in JapanMorris W-50, Made in Japan 1970’s, 700€ SOLD
Nice Martin D-42 copy with real abalone hexagon inlays and the typical Martin volute where the head and neck meet. Solid spruce top with nice inlays all around and a beautiful 3-piece back with flamed maple and dark rosewood. The guitar is all original and in really good shape for being over 35 years old but with some scratches, one slightly larger on the top. The neck is straight, trussrod works and the action is low. The guitar sounds great, very clear and Martin like. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Morris W-50 1970's Made in JapanMorris W-50, Made in Japan 1970’s,650€ SOLD
Great looking Martin D-42 copy with snowflake inlays and the typical Martin volute where the head and neck meet. Solid spruce top with nice inlays all around and a beautiful 3-piece back with flamed maple and dark rosewood. The guitar is all original and in really good shape for being over 35 years old but with scratches and marks around the body. It has Wilkinson WJ28NGD open gear machine heads in gold installed now but the original will be included. The neck is straight, trussrod works and the action is low. The guitar sounds great, very clear and Martin like. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Morris W-40 1973Morris W-40, Made in Japan by Terada 1973, 500€ SOLD
A pretty early Morris and a very nice looking Martin D-45 copy, made by Terada in Japan, the factory that makes Gretsch and Orville. Solid spruce top with a really nice 3-piece back of Brazilian rosewood and maple. The inlays are real abalone hexagon inlays and I still have the original machine heads if chrome is preferred to gold. It has it’s fair share of scratches and has been played a lot over the past 42 years but it has no cracks or issues. The neck is straight, trussrod works and the action is low. The sound is just amazing, really deep bass but with good clarity and great projection. It has a endpin jack fitted and a strap button so it’s ready to be gigged with straight away, just fit a pickup. It’s still one of my favourites but now I have too many Morris guitars and have to get rid of some. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Morris WL-35 Made in Japan 1970'sMorris WL-35, Made in Japan 1970’s, 400€ SOLD
A really cool looking Johnny Cash Guild copy. It’s in great condition except for one flaw, the end pin has been pushed in at one point and cracked the lacquer. It’s not as bad as it sounds and it doesn’t really affect anything but I thought it would be worth mentioning. I’m pretty sure it’s mahogany back and sides, it has a really warm and nice sound and is a great playing guitar. It has a endpin jack fitted and a strap button so it’s ready to be gigged with straight away, just fit a pickup. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

K.Yairi TG-40 Made in Japan 1977K. Yairi TG-40, Made in Japan 1977, 700€ SOLD
A very rare and unique K. Yairi copy of the famous Guild D-40, which itself 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 have to say that this K. Yairi TG-40 sounds amazing. Solid spruce top, sides and back in solid mahogany, neck in Honduras mahogany, bridge and Fretboard in black ebony. The guitar is all original except for the pickguard, which was replaced with an official Guild pickguard, the old one was cracked. It has an end pin jack and strap button fitted and at the moment Wilkinson WJ-309 Art Deco machine heads in gold but I still have the original machine heads if chrome is preferred to gold. The top and back has a few scratches but no structural issues. It plays really well and has an amazing tone, very loud and clear with a great punch in the mid-range. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

K. Yairi YW-130 Made in Japan 1977K. Yairi YW-130, Made in Japan 1977, 550€ SOLD
This is a quite accurate Martin D-28 copy made in Japan by K. Yairi in 1977. It’s really light and beautiful sounding, very responsive and a joy to play. Solid spruce top, rosewood back and sides with a smooth ebony fretboard. It has it’s fair share of scratches and a couple of dents to the top but no cracks or issues. The neck is straight, trussrod works and the action is low. The sound is great, very clear with great harmonics. It has a strap button fitted and at the moment Wilkinson open back machine heads in gold but I still have the original machine heads if chrome is preferred to gold. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

IMG_9283Levin Model 13 Ambassadör, Made in Sweden 1950, 600€ SOLD
This is a beautiful Levin Model 13 Ambassadör, hand built in Gothenburg Sweden in 1950. If you are not familiar with this classic Swedish brand Levin, click on the link to read more about it. It was restored a few years ago by GammelGura, a great luthier in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. With new bronze frets, a neck re-set, cracks glued and a new bridge was created to improve the intonation, the rest is all original. It even has the sticker on the back of the head from the guitar shop in Örnsköldsvik where the guitar was bought 65 years ago. It’s a fairly small ladder braced 12-fret guitar with a big sound because of the body width, 400 mm. All solid woods, as always with Levin. 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, very similar to the Gibson sunburst of the 1940-50’s, and 10 years warranty. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Levin Model 65 parlour guitar Made in Sweden 1942Levin Model 65, Made in Sweden in 1942, 550€ SOLD
A nice little parlour guitar from Levin, made during World War II in Gothenburg Sweden. It’s just 315 mm wide so it’s a perfect little ladder braced blues machine. All solid woods, spruce top, birch back and sides with walnut fretboard, brass machine heads and nickel plated tailpiece. The guitar is all original, I carved a new bridge for lowering the action but the original will be included in the sale. The neck is really fat and nice and feels great to play. A perfect parlour for blues picking. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Hagström Western 6 Made in Sweden 1978Hagström Western 6, Made in Sweden in 1978, 650€ SOLD
A very rare Hagström Western 6 Missouri made in 1978 by Bjärton in Bjärnum in the south of Sweden. Bjärton were the second largest guitar manufacturers in Sweden after Levin, and they produced all the acoustic instruments for Hagström. It’s both stunning to look at, a joy to play and it sounds great. It has the same head, fretboard and inlays as the legendary Hagström Suede electric guitars had in the 1970’s. Spruce top with X-bracing, mahogany back and sides. 4-ply bound top and bound back. Unbound ebony fingerboard, rosewood bridge, mahogany neck. Matte natural finish and 10 year warranty, which was only give to the top end models. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Hagström B-60 Made in Sweden 1975Hagström B-60, Made in Sweden by Bjärton in 1975, 500€ SOLD
This great looking Gibson J-50 copy was made in 1975 by Bjärton in Bjärnum in the south of Sweden. Bjärton were the second largest guitar manufacturers in Sweden after Levin, and they produced all the acoustic instruments for Hagström. It’s made out of all solid woods and it’s a very nice sounding guitar, even though it has a bolt-on neck, I guess the solid woods and massive neck block is helping with the sound. Spruce top with X-bracing, mahogany back and sides with a nice mahogany bolt-on neck, unbound rosewood fingerboard, Single-bound top and back, rosewood pin bridge. Van Gent machine heads, just like Levin, natural finish and 10 year warranty, which was only give to the top end models. You can read more about the guitar here and listen to it in this Youtube clip.

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950
Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950

I have decided to thin out my Levin collection a bit, I have 12 at the moment, so the first to go will be my beloved 1950 Levin Model 13 Ambassadör. It was restored a few years ago by GammelGura, a great luthier in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. With new bronze frets, a neck re-set, cracks glued and a new bridge was created to improve the intonation, the rest is all original. It even has the sticker on the back of the head from the guitar shop in Örnsköldsvik where the guitar was bought 65 years ago. If you are interested in the guitar send me an email or give me a call, all info can be found on the For sale page.

Levin Model 13 Ambassadör Made in Sweden 1950

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 10 years warranty

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 information pages

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)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), might be the greatest Levin collection in Spain.

If there is anything you would like to know about Levin guitars, then Vintage Guitars Stockholm is your best bet. They have the Levin information pages where you can find pretty much every model Levin ever made, serial numbers, history, photos and information. Rikard who runs the place just put up photos of my three latest Levin guitars on their site so now you can find all seven online. Here are the links: Levin Model 65, Levin Model 13 Ambassadör, Levin LT-16, Goya T-18, Levin LM-26, Goya Model 163, Levin Model 174.

Vintage Guitars Stockholm 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

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