Claescaster

Tag: Martin HD-28

Levin LDR-28H

Levin LDR-28H Made in Japan 1979
Levin LDR-28H, Made in Japan in 1979

I have a lot of Swedish made Levin guitars but I’ve never actually had a Japanese made on in my hands, until now. After C. F. Martin & Co. purchased Levin in June 1973 they started to import Japan made Sigma guitars for the European market under the Levin brand. There are actually quite a few of these mid 1970’s low end Sigma’s, especially in Sweden, but it’s a lot rarer to see a high end 1979-1982 Sigma made in Japan with Levin on the label. There is a very rare version called Sigma DR-14, which is a DR-41 but with a 3-piece back, that was imported through Levin. When the Levin factory closed down in Sweden in 1979 they had a short run with making Levin guitars in Japan, mainly Martin copies. I have to say that owning a 1982 Sigma DR-41 and now a Levin LDR-28H, they are very similar in build, sound and feel. Even though they are two different models, you can tell they are made in the same factory and both are excellent guitars. Now when I have a fancy pants real Martin to compare them to, my 1999 Martin HD-28LSV, there is something very special about these Japan built Martin guitars. There is a punch in the mid range and a cleanness to them, less woody and more sparkly perhaps. It’s very hard to explain but I really like the sound and I guess that’s why I got in to Japanese built acoustics in the first place.

Levin LDR-28H Made in Japan 1979 Levin LDR-28H Made in Japan 1979
The Levin LDR-28H is in pretty good shape for it’s age. There is an old crack on the lower bought of the top but it’s well glued and doesn’t look too bad. I really like the eye for details on this Martin HD-28 copy, diamond volute, herringbone binding and zig-zag backstrip, just like on my Martin HD-28LSV.

Levin LDR-28H & Sigma DR-41 Made in Japan
The Levin LDR-28H and my Sigma DR-41, most likely made in the same factory in Japan under the supervision of C.F. Martin & Co.

LR Baggs Lyrics

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAMartin HD-28LSV, Made in USA in 1999

Last week I changed the pickup in my new Martin HD-28LSV. It came with a LR Baggs Anthem SL installed which sounded good but I had a feeling that a LR Baggs Lyrics might sound even better. I’m also not a big fan of having things stuck under the saddle, when I installed the LR Baggs Anthem SL in my 1966 Goya T-16 I felt that the tone died a bit. I’m sure there might be some other pickup system out there that is even better, but for me, nothing beats the Lyrics for the dry and woody sound that I am after. Now I have the LR Baggs Lyrics system installed in my 1981 Sigma DR-41 and my 1968 Levin LT-18, my main guitar for the Claes Anderson Band. I really enjoy this new Martin HD-28LSV and will use it for our gig tonight at La Sonora de Gràcia but I think I will stick to the 1968 Levin LT-18 as my main guitar for playing live, it’s Swedish and just looks nicer on stage. Here is a quick comparison of the LR Baggs Lyrics and the LR Baggs Anthem SL.

Martin HD-28LSV

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USA
Martin HD-28LSV, Made in USA in 1999

I finally got myself a Martin D-28. Well it’s actually a Martin HD-28LSV which is a HD-28 but with a large soundhole and a vintage vibe, LSV: large soundhole, vintage series. It has an Adirondack spruce top with forward shifted scalloped X braces and solid East Indian Rosewood back and sides, apparently they changed from Adirondack  to Sitka spruce in 2000 so this is one of the last ones with a red spruce top. The mahogany neck has a really nice modified V profile, not as fat as I would have hoped for but the chunkiest neck I’ve felt on a modern Martin. It has all the nice vintage trimmings of a HD-28V, fine herringbone binding and zig-zag back strip. It has a bound ebony fretboard without any position markers, just like Tony Rice old 1935 Martin D-28. The Martin Book says: HD-28LSV (1998-2000), based on D-28 #58957 owned by Clarence White and later Tony Rice, 4 15/16″ sound hole, bound finger board with no position markers. It doesn’t have the same pickguard as the legendary #58957 Martin D-28 and the machine heads are closed Kluson style, I believe the original ones would have been open back Waverly’s. Considering the $5,999.00 list price for the now discontinued Martin D-28CW, Clarence White Commemorative Edition, I think I got a decent Tony Rice copy pretty cheap. The sound is very deep, warm and woody but at the same time resonant and very punchy in the midrange. I’ve never played a guitar this fine so I’m still blown away every time I pick it up. It’s such a perfect bluegrass guitar so now I really need to learn some reels and become a bluegrass player. Last night I removed the LR Baggs Anthem SL that was installed, I love ebony bridges with long bone saddles so I really didn’t want to have a piezo strip stuck under it. Now it’s even more resonant and clear sounding. I’ve ordered a new LR Baggs Lyrics that I will install as soon as it arrives so I can take this baby out in public.

Martin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAMartin HD-28LSV 1999 Made in USAThe unofficial Tony Rice model, the Martin HD-28LSV. Adirondack spruce top, scalloped X bracing, Rosewood back and sides with the large soundhole and a bound ebony fretboard without any position markers. I used to own a Martin SPD-16R that I could never get used to the neck on, too flat and modern profile but it sounded pretty nice. Having said that, there is a huge difference between a Martin and a MARTIN. This Martin HD-28LSV will blow the sock of any standard Martin D-28 and most Martin HD-28.