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Tag: luthier

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

Mossman Guitars

1979 Mossman Catalog - Great Plains Mossman 1979
1979 Mossman Catalogue, taken from David Hylander Guitar Works

I have recently come across another American guitar maker that was previously unknown to me. I mentioned Grammer guitars earlier, this time it’s Mossman guitars that I’ve fallen in love with. One of the guitar builders that I follow on Instagram, kawvalleyguitars in Kansas, kept posting images of Mossman guitars he had done neck resets on, which awoke my curiosity. After a bit of Googleing I realised that quite a few artists liked Mossman guitars, including John Denver, Eric Clapton, Albert Lee, Doc Watson, Hank Snow, Cat Stevens and Merle Travis. Stuart Mossman got fed up with all the plywood guitars that was pumped out of the big factories in the 1960-70’s and decided to start building his own guitars with real tone woods and proper craftsmanship, and so S.L Mossman Guitars were born in Winfield, Kansas.

Stuart Mossman at work, S.L Mossman Guitars
S.L Mossman Guitars 2
Stuart Mossman in Winfield, Kansas. Here you can read more about the Mossman story

1979 Mossman Catalog - Flint Hills Mossman 1979 1979 Mossman Catalog - Great Plains Mossman 19791979 Mossman Catalog - Timber Creek Mossman 19791979 Mossman Catalog - Golden Era Mossman 1979
This could be the most awesome guitar brochure ever printed, the 1979 Mossman Catalogue, taken from David Hylander Guitar Works

Casa Parramon, Barcelona

Casa Parramon Barcelona, Laúd
Before and after, a Spanish Laúd, made by Casa Parramon, Barcelona

When Araceli and I first moved to Barcelona we found this Laúd in the streets, we took it home, put it in the back of a wardrobe and completely forgot about it for four years. It was so ugly so we couldn’t have it out, on top of that we didn’t even know if it was a laúd, a bandurria or some other weird Spanish instrument. It was therefore tucked away and quickly forgotten. Until recently when Araceli’s dad Marcos mentioned that he wanted to learn to play a new string instrument, or as he put it, I need something new to make noise on. We suddenly remembered that ugly thing with strings on in the wardrobe and I thought that maybe I could restore it for him. I mentioned earlier that we managed to find a really nice Spanish made Alhambra from the late 1970’s that we gave him for Christmas.

Casa Parramon Barcelona, LaúdCasa Parramon Barcelona, Laúd
Someone called Rosa Sola had gone crazy bananas, full blown hippie on this poor laúd when we found it

I have no idea how old this laúd is but it was built by Casa Parramon here in Barcelona. The workshop was started in 1897 by Ramon Parramon and I think he mainly built violins. Casa Parramon is actually still in the same place today as they were 117 years ago, C/ Carme 8. Now I think they are mainly building violins again but I guess they would have had time to build both laúds, bandurrias and guitars over the last hundred years.

Casa Parramon Barcelona, Laúd
Casa Parramon Barcelona, Laúd
I stripped the laúd completely, took off machine heads, tail piece and bridge. I got the bridge off with a spatula heated on a normal clothes iron, it works like a charm every time. I cleaned and oiled the fretboard and polished the frets. Then I sanded down all the wood with an electric sander, this felt a bit harsh on an instrument but most of the text was actually scratched in to the wood and not painted on so I had to take out the heavy artillery. On top of that, the solid spruce top felt really thick so I thought that the sound might actually benefit from a thinner top. I glued some cracks in the top with my trusty old fish glue and then I waited and waited for the shellac I had ordered from Germany that unfortunately never arrived. I really wanted to use shellac on this instrument, both for practice for myself for future builds and projects, but also for the laúds sake, it felt like the healthiest option. In the end I went and bought normal clear lacquer, or varnish, I’m not really sure what the guy sold me but he said it would work and it did. It applied two coats and sanded lightly in between and it looks ok but I guess if I would have looked even better if I had spent more time on sanding and getting it super smooth in between the coats. I had to paint this at night in poor light and got some drips that should have been taken out properly, I just scraped them off with a razor and then applied new lacquer. I guess I have learnt a few things for the next time. One trick I can share though, that everyone might already know about but anyway. Before I started with the lacquer I marked out where the bridge was going to be and then masked that off with tape so I wouldn’t have to remove the lacquer before I glued the bridge back on and that worked really well.

Casa Parramon Barcelona, LaúdCasa Parramon Barcelona, Laúd
The final result, Marcos new laúd, now I just have to string it up and try to figure out how it’s tuned

Casa Parramon Barcelona, Laúd
Update: August 16, 2014 Marcos seemed very pleased with his new laúd

Jack White – Lazaretto

I just saw this video from Jack White‘s new album Lazaretto. I like the video, but I’m not that impressed by his music any more. I used to love The Raconteurs but maybe that’s what’s missing, the influence of Brendan Benson and the others. At least he is still playing his Randy Parson guitar.

Randy Parsons

randy-parson-triple-jet
The Triple Jet with a copper top, built for Jack White in 2006 by Randy Parson

Randy Parsons is an awesome luthier, he is the man behind Jack White’s guitars. I’ve been reading a bit about him and he seems to have a really nice approach to guitar building. Here is a nice article from Premier Guitar.

Jack White’s Parsons Red Vampire
Jack White’s Parsons Red Vampire with cow skull bracing, TV Jones pickups, built-in MXR Micro Amp pedal, and African bloodwood/holly neck are hallmarks of luthier Randy Parsons’ macabre creation for the equally macabre Jack White.

Jack White with Parsons Green Machine from It might get loud
Jack White with Parsons The Green Machine from the 2008 documentary It Might Get Loud.

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