Claescaster

Tag: Pete Townshend

Levin LM-26

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959Levin LM-26, Made in Sweden in 1959

In the end of March, about 2-3 weeks after I bought the 1963 Levin LM-26, I was offered a 1959 Levin LM-26 that I couldn’t resist, even though I already had one from that year. The seller Ian was quite persistent that I added his guitar, that he had owned since his 14th birthday in 1976, to my Levin collection so I of course complied. The guitar has been used playing anything from jazz, Mississippi blues to Celtic folk and now country, read Ian’s guitar history. Now I have one Levin LM-26 built in 1963 and two from 1959, well they actually both has a body stamped in 1958 but with a 1959 neck, not sure if they did a lot of bodies one year and necks the next. I have some Levin LT-18 that has a Goya serial number stamped inside and a completely different Levin serial number on the head, I guess these things happens at a guitar factory. This 1959 Levin LM-26 seems to be completely original, it even has the cheap looking machine heads that Levin used in the late 1950’s on the LM-series. On my other 1959 Levin LM-26 the machine heads were replaced by open back Grover’s by the second owner back in 1965 and I think I might have to do the same on this one. I like the ones they used on the Levin LS-18 at the time, they are rounder and look more Gibson like, these square ones look like something from an Egmond or a kids guitar. The guitar plays really nicely and sounds great, really full and warm as could be expected of an all solid Swedish built guitar from the late 1950’s.

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959
Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

Levin LM-26 / Goya M-26
Goliath size: Body width: 400 mm, body length: 505 mm, body depth: 95/120 mm
Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm
Spruce top, flame maple back and sides, 4-ply bound top, single-bound back
Mahogany bolt-on neck with adjustable truss rod
Metal truss rod cover with a star and “1900”, nickel plated tuners
Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with centred pearl dot inlay, rosewood bridge
Sunburst finish and ten year warranty

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Goliath Model 1795

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1959

 

Levin LM-26

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LM-26, Made in Sweden in 1963

Two weeks ago I got myself another Levin LM-26. My previous one was built in 1958/59 and feels a bit fragile, it is also in a pretty good state for taking out gigging. So this 1963 Levin LM-26 felt perfect to fit a LR Bagg M1A in and take out and enjoy on stage. Guitars are meant to be used and played, even vintage ones, so in a way I would be happy to take any of my Levin’s out of the house. It’s just that some of them feels a bit too well kept for the dangers of having them in bars around drunk people, and myself slightly intoxicated hitting them harder than I should because I play with a loud band and can’t hear myself properly and such, you all know how it is. Anyway, now I have a great backup acoustic for playing live and I was missing something in sunburst to match the Claescaster I put together four years ago.

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963
Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963I had to do the normal work to it, reset the neck by sanding down the heel. Fill all the dents and marks on the back of the neck with Nitro lacquer and then sand it smooth. Take the machine heads apart and clean them properly before I greased them up and put them back on. Cut a new bone saddle and then paint both the saddle and nut to match Levin’s original squirrel coloured Galalith parts. Polish frets, clean and oil the fretboard and then a general good clean of the whole guitar. If you want see pictures of any of this than have a look at how I restored the old Levin LM-26.

Levin LM-26 Made in Sweden 1963

Levin LM-26 / Goya M-26
Goliath size: Body width: 400 mm, body length: 505 mm, body depth: 95/120 mm
Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm
Spruce top, flame maple back and sides, 4-ply bound top, single-bound back
Mahogany bolt-on neck with adjustable truss rod
Metal truss rod cover with a star and “1900”, nickel plated tuners
Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with centred pearl dot inlay, rosewood bridge
Sunburst finish and ten year warranty

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Goliath Model 1795

Claes Anderson Band – Standing tall over the ones that have fallen, The Cavern Club, Terrassa 17th March 2017

Levin LM-26

Levin LM-26 1959Levin LM-26 1959Update: January 26, 2014 My Levin LM-26 from 1959 is now finished

Levin Goliath ad 1962
Bell ad from 1962 for the wonderful extra large sized Levin Goliath Model 1795

As I mentioned in my previous post about Levin I managed to win a Levin LM-26 on eBay back in December. It turned out to be in a worse state than I expected which I guess is both good and bad. Bad because it’s unplayable so I still don’t know how it sounds, good because I’m forced to learn a lot of new things, like how to remove the neck on an acoustic guitar. The Levin LM-26 was sold as The Levin Goliath Model 1795 in the UK and I think they sold pretty well, even Pete Townshend had one. They have spruce top with flame maple back and sides, all solid as always with Levin. If you want to know how old your Levin or Goya is then check Vintage Guitars Sweden. Levin serial numbers / Goya serial numbers

The Who in 1963 as the Detours, Pete Townshend playing a Levin Goliath LM-26
Pete Townshend is playing a Levin Goliath LM-26 in 1963 with Detours, later The Who

Levin LM-26 / Goya M-26
Goliath size: Body width: 400 mm, body length: 505 mm, body depth: 95/120 mm
Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm
Spruce top, flame maple back and sides, 4-ply bound top, single-bound back
Mahogany bolt-on neck with adjustable truss rod
Metal truss rod cover with a star and “1900”, nickel plated tuners
Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with centered pearl dot inlay, rosewood bridge
Sunburst finish and ten year warranty

Marketed by U.K. distributors as Goliath Model 1795.

Levin LM-26 1959Levin LM-26 from 1959, well the body is actually stamped with a number from 1958, the year this model was introduced. I’m not sure if they used an old body when they put they guitar together at the Levin factory in Gothenburg in 1959 or if someone changed the neck when the guitar came to the UK. The previous owner for the past 51 years, Roger, bought the guitar second hand in 1963 for £40 from Bill Greenhalgh Ltd, 125-127 Fore Street in Exeter. Roger changed the original machine heads to Grovers in 1965, it’s otherwise all original. The action was so high that I could almost fit my hand under the strings so I had to remove the neck and reset it. There are a few things that needs to be glued as well, the back is lose and there are 2-3 cracks in the top.

Levin LM-26 1959I have never removed a neck before so I was pretty nervous about this part. It’s supposed to be one of the trickier things to sort on an acoustic guitar but luckily this neck was fixed with the Levin bolt-on neck system which made it a lot easier. I removed the two bolts inside and the heel came lose straight away, now I only had to loosen the fretboard overhang. I removed the pickguard with a razor blade, cutting under the edge, just to make sure I wouldn’t melt or damage it while removing the neck. Then I used a normal clothes iron to heat up the fretboard, I don’t have any fancy pants Stew Mac tools or special gadgets. I heated up the fretboard for 1-2 min and felt with my hand every 30 sec to make sure it didn’t get too hot, I thought if I could still touch it maybe I wouldn’t burn or damage the lacquer on the top. It took ages to get it off, I think I probably spent 1-2 hours per night for 3 nights in a row on this. The glue loosened more and more and in the end I could get a flat screwdriver in and bend it loose. Unfortunately a chunk of spruce decided to stick to the neck instead of the body but to be honest I expected worse damage than that on my first attempt to remove a neck. I used my clothes steamer and steamed the spruce loose from the mahogany neck, it peeled right off, and just glued it back in the neck pocket again.

Levin LM-26 1959
I masked off the top and sanded the pocket even so now the neck will fit fine once I’m ready to put it back on. I had to get the gap on the back closed. I’m not a master gluer and since you pretty much just get one shot, or rather it’s really annoying to remove and re-glue things if they aren’t perfect, I was a bit concerned about this too. I used plenty of fish glue and then 4 strong straps that could not only press in the back but also press down the the sides to close the gap as much as possible. I’m pretty pleased with the result, the gap is gone and it seems pretty solid.

Levin LM-26 1959Next thing was to try to close the cracks on the top. One was all the way through and two was smaller hairline cracks. I filled everything with fish glue and used a suction cup to try to push in the glue in the cracks, I saw this on Youtube and it made sense to me so I tried it. Then I just strapped everything up and put a piece of wood the keep the main crack flat while it dries.

Levin LM-26 1959Once I had glued the cracks in the top, the first image shows before I started, I painted and lacquered the crack. I used normal matt black acrylic paint for the dark parts and just darkened the rest with furniture oil before I applied the nitrocellulose lacquer. Once the lacquer was dry I sanded the surface smooth with 400, 800, 1500, 2000 and 2500 grit. It worked really well, it’s actually hard to even see the big crack that went all the way from the edge to the bridge. I removed the old glue from the pickguard and then glued it back again. 

Levin LM-26 1959The neck was in really poor state, deep groves and marks all over it. I filled it with nitrocellulose lacquer, as mentioned in my previous post about how to repair lacquer damage. I had to take out the heavy artillery in order to get the neck smooth and used 180 grit. Then it was just a matter of sanding it back to it’s former shine using 400, 800, 1500, 2000 and 2500 grit. You can still see the marks but the neck is perfectly smooth and shiny again.

Levin LM-26 1959
According to Roger the guitar has been stored in a back room in it’s case for the last three decades and I guess the humidity wasn’t ideal, hence the cracks. As soon as I got the guitar I started to humidify it with a wet sock in a plastic container inside the body and then sealed of the hole with a lid from a Mercadona lunch box. The Grover machine heads from 1965 got a good clean and is now oiled up and works fine.
In the last picture you can see what lied hidden in the accessory compartment in the old hardcase. Old guitar and banjo strings, an old sellotape box full of fingerpicks and best of all, an original Levin trussrod key. I’ve been looking all over for one of these. Thank you Roger.

Songwriting credits

Chest Fever, Claes Gellerbrink and Araceli Perez
Chest Fever, my first band without any issues regarding who wrote what, maybe because it’s just the two of us

A big discussion in all bands I have ever been a part of has been, who is going to get credits for the songwriting? Since I have never been a part of a successful band that has actually made any money this hasn’t really felt too important in the past, especially since I didn’t use to write music. However, over the years my opinion has changed quite a lot. I started to write music seriously when I moved to Spain in the spring of 2010, before that I just expected others to supply the band with songs. I think I wrote one or two songs for The Caper Story, the last band I played in when I lived in London, well I came up with the riff and then the singer sorted the lyrics. In those cases I felt it was more of a collaborate effort to create music and didn’t mind if the others had an equal share in the credits of writing the song. After all we were a band and we all added something to the finished sound of the song. When I arrived to Barcelona I was unemployed for the first two month and decided to write a song a day however bad it was, just to get used to writing songs and especially to get used to write lyrics. It went pretty well even if I didn’t managed to write a song a day I probably came up with 10 songs at least during this period, some of them I still play today and think are pretty good songs. These songs I consider being 100% mine, not only because I wrote them on my own without the influence of others, but because I have tried to be in 3 different groups during my 3 years here and played those songs in all three bands. If I would have given credits to the others in the first band I played in but recorded it with the last, how would that have been? The drummer kept the beat, the bassist came up with their own bass lines and the guitarists added a fiddly bit or two in every band but to be completely honest, they didn’t sound that different. The songs sounds like they do because of me, what I had in my mind when I wrote the songs still guides anyone who I play it with and therefore the credit should, according to me, be solely mine. It might seems like a egoistic way of seeing music and I can understand that, but if you change this from songwriting to any other form of artistic creation it would seem fairly obvious. I’m a photographer by trade, well nowadays I’m mainly a retoucher but still, I would never give away the copyright of my images or share the credits with anyone else and I don’t think others should either. If you have a few beers and jam up a song, that’s a different story, anyone adding anything to that song should of course have a part of the credit. I’m referring to when you bring a finished song to a band and they expect to get songwriting credits just because they changed the drum beat or added a bass line. This is not even a matter of money, well I haven’t made any money out of my music yet, it’s just a matter of freedom. I don’t want to end up having to share my credits with someone that I might not even be friends with any more just because we used to be in a band together at one point. Or having the possibility that someone decides to play a song that I wrote in his new band without my consent just because they got a share of the credits and therefore can partly call it their own. I need and want the freedom to be able to do do whatever I want with with my own music, now and in the future. It’s perhaps a silly matter until money comes in to the picture but I still think it’s important to make up your mind before greed starts to influence and cloud peoples judgement. A song you have written will be with you for the rest of your life while band members tend to come and go.

I thought of all this because I was listening to Boris the Spider, a song written by John Entwistle for The Who’s 1966 album A Quick One. I read somewhere that they all contributed with songs to the album because they realised that a lot of the money lied in getting royalties for the songwriting. If this is true or not, maybe Pete Townshend was just tired of supplying all the material, it’s a good point. If you want some royalties you better start writing songs.

Gibson SG

Gibson SG Gibson advertisement Solid Hit 1961

Gibson SG Custom and Gibson SG Standard 1961 catalogue
Solid hit. Gibson SG Custom and Gibson SG Standard from the 1961 catalogue, They looked a lot less evil back then

I have always had a weird love – hate relationship with the Gibson SG. Even though I really like both AC/DC and Black Sabbath the SG has kind of been ruined, or rather over exposed, through Angus and Toni. A bit like the Fender 52′ Telecaster which feels a lot like Bruce Springsteen and Keith Richards, even though neither actually plays a 52′. I have just seen too many young boys playing rock riffs on a Cherry SG Standard or SG Special for considering owning one myself. On top of that my woman thinks they look evil, EVIL I tell you. Then again, imagine an early Seventies walnut SG Deluxe or Custom in it’s worn wood colour. That’s pretty sexy, or even sexier a fancy pants white SG custom with gold hardware. The only problem is that they tend to come with 3 pickups and I can’t play guitars with 3 pickups, I end up hitting the middle one all the time. That’s why I prefer Telecasters instead of Stratocasters, even though I love the sound of the Strats middle pickup, I just keep hitting it and I it’s in the way when I’m trying to chicken / hybrid / whatever you want to call it, pick with my fingers.

1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom
An original 1961 Gibson SG/Les Paul Custom

GIBSON SG 1970 catalogue
GIBSON SG 1970 catalogue

GIBSON SG 1972 catalogue
GIBSON SG 1972 catalogue

I’ve been quite tempted for a while to get myself an old Greco, Ibanez or Tokai SG, ideally white and gold but with just 2 pickups, as explained above. The problem is that most of the Japanese SG’s that shows up on eBay are early 1970’s ones and I don’t think they will live up to my expectations. I doubt that a bolt on neck cherry Avon or Columbus SG copy will stand a chance next to for an example my Greco EG-600 Les Paul Custom from 1980, which makes it a bit silly even if you could get one for 150€.

1972' Greco SG-400
Greco catalogue from 1972, just look at the white and gold Greco SG-400

Keith Richards playing Midnight Rambler on a white Gibson SG Custom at the Nicaragua Benefit, Jan 18th 1973 © Lynn Goldsmith
Keith Richards playing Midnight Rambler on a white Gibson SG Custom at the Nicaragua Benefit, Jan 18th 1973 © Lynn Goldsmith

Jimi Hendrix on a white Gibson SG Custom
Jimi Hendrix on a white Gibson SG Custom

Now we are talking, Keith and Jimi on a white Gibson SG Custom. The guys below looks pretty cool too, even if they went for the more classic Cherry instead of Walnut or white. Well I guess Eric Clapton doesn’t count since he went bananas and had someone on acid paint his.

Duane Allman Gibson SG 1961
Duane Allman with his 1961 Gibson SG

Pete Townsend Gibson SG
Pete Townshend playing a Gibson SG in 1966

George Harrison from The Beatles’ 1964 Gibson SG
George Harrison 1964 Gibson SG

Eric Clapton's
Eric Clapton’s “The Fool” a 1964 Gibson SG