Claescaster

Tag: vintage Levin

Levin W-30

Levin W-30 Made in Sweden 1979
Levin W-30, Made in Sweden in 1979

Sometimes I feel like a recovering Levin-oholic who keeps falling off the wagon time after time. I promised myself, and my wife to stop buying Levin guitars but just seems to be unable to. I recently found this beautiful and very unique Levin W-30 in Sweden that I couldn’t resist and had to buy. Now I’ve realised that I probably shouldn’t have. I’m running out of wall space for guitars and I could do with the money for other more pressing family related things, apparently guitars is not a high priority in the joint family account. Therefore I’ve decided to put it up for sale. I believe this guitar to be a rare one off, most likely built by one of the Levin builders for himself and outside of the normal production. They stopped making the Levin W-30 in 1975 so that’s the first sign that this is a unique one. The previous owner bought a lot of parts, material and finished guitars when the Levin factory closed down in 1979, actually a an old man called Friis did who had a music shop in the north of Sweden. When he died and closed his shop the previous owner bought parts of his left-over Levin stock and this guitar was one of them. He claims that it was built in 1979, otherwise it wouldn’t have been around when the factory closed, which makes perfect sense. The original Levin W-30 came with block inlays while this has beautiful snowflake inlays in the bound ebony fingerboard instead. The alpine spruce top and the rosewood back and sides are bound with a five layer wood binding which looks really classy. It’s also treated with a thin layer of lacquer instead of the heavy clear coat that the mid 1970’s Levin W-30 came with. That gives a really open and beautiful sound, very Martin like. The guitar is in very good state but has some small marks around the body. The neck is in perfect condition and so is the frets. The spruce top has had a dry crack professionally repaired, these type of cracks are very common on Levin guitars because of the dry winters in Sweden. The guitar is equipped with an under saddle pickup and ready to play with live. This is a unique 40 years old hand built Swedish guitar for a third of what a vintage Martin would cost.

Levin W-30 Made in Sweden 1979 Levin W-30 Made in Sweden 1979

Levin W-30
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 with 5-ply bound wood binding and 4-ply bound three-piece rosewood back. Mahogany neck with adjustable truss rod. Bound ebony fingerboard with snowflake inlays. Bone nut and saddle. Nickel plated individual Levin stamped tuners. Ebony bridge, natural finish and ten year warranty

Goya T-16

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966

I found another Goya T-16 that I couldn’t resist. I’m not sure why I love these so much, if it’s the sound, shape or the fact that my dad’s old Levin LT-16 was my first guitar. This one seems to have had a crack in the lower bout on the bottom side and when that was fixed they gave the side a light burst to cover it and then lacquered the whole guitar. Back in the 1960’s when these guitars left the factory in Sweden, the Levin LT-16 came with a really nice satin finish and the Goya T-16 with a high gloss that cracked over time. The previous Goya T-16 was sanded down and this one had an extra coat of lacquer so I guess people weren’t entirely happy with the finish on these. They both sounds very different, the old one sounds more woody and dry and this one has a clearer snappier sound, I presume because of the lacquer. I really like the look of the top, more orange and pre-war Martin looking than the normal Goya T-16.

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966I bought this 1966 Goya T-16 from an eBay seller in Illinois but I guess it first landed at Lynn’s Guitars in Knoxville Tennessee when it came from Sweden in the 1960’s.

Levin LT-16 / Goya T-16
Grand Concert size: Body width: 380 mm, body length: 480 mm, body depth: 98 mm. Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm. Spruce top, mahogany back and sides, 4-ply bound top, single-bound back. Mahogany bolt-on neck with adjustable truss rod. Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with bass side pearloid dot inlay. Rosewood bridge, nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons. Matte natural finish and ten year warranty

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966I removed the bridge and pickguard, scraped of the lacquer and then re-glued them. I also adjusted the neck angle by removing the bolts inside and then sanded down the heel a bit with a sandpaper, just like I did on the old Goya T-16.

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966The headstock had some fine cracks that I filled with fish glue and then polished up. I cut a new bone saddle that I painted to match the old Levin Galalith saddle and then I cleaned up the fretboard and polished the frets.

Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1966My collection of 000-sized Levin guitars so far, from left to right: Levin LS-16 (1963), Goya T-16 (1965), Goya T-16 (1966), Levin LT-16 (1966), Goya GG-172 (1970)

 

Levin LS-16

Levin LS-16 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LS-16 Made in Sweden in 1963

I was offered to buy a 1963 Levin LS-16 from a Swedish collector just before Christmas last year. Of course I jumped on the chance, not only is it a really rare bird, most of them were branded Goya S-16 and sent off to the US, but I had also been looking for another guitar like my dad’s old 1966 Levin LT-16 for quite a while. Unfortunately this Levin LS-16 got stuck in Sweden for a year, my mum didn’t want to send it so I couldn’t bring it back to Spain until I went back home for a funeral now in November. In the time of it’s absence I managed to find and restore a really nice sounding 1965 Goya T-16  so now I suddenly have 3 Grand Concert sized Levin guitars from the mid-60’s. Not that I complain, I really like both the sound and the playability of these guitars and this last one is probably the best sounding of all of them. According to Vintage Guitars Sweden, the most resourceful site about Levin guitars, the main difference between the Levin LS-16 and Levin LT-16 is the bracing pattern. The LS is supposed to be ladder braced but mine is X-braced just like the LT-series, I think that became standard in the early 1960’s. They also have different machine heads, dot inlays in the fretboard and I think that the LS-series have a bit more V-shaped neck profile.

Levin LS-16 Made in Sweden 1963Levin LS-16 Made in Sweden 1963

Levin LS-16 / Goya S-16
Grand Concert size: Body width: 380 mm, body length: 480 mm, body depth: 98 mm. Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm. Spruce top, mahogany back and sides, 4-ply bound top, single-bound back. Mahogany bolt-on neck with adjustable truss rod. Metal Levin truss rod cover with a star and “1900”. Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with centered pearl dot inlay. Rosewood bridge, nickel plated strip tuners. Natural finish and ten year warranty

 

Goya T-16

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965Goya T-16, made in Sweden by Levin in 1965

I finally managed to get another Levin LT-16, just like my dad’s old guitar that I learned to play on as a kid. His is a 1966 Levin branded one and this one is from 1965 and has the Goya logo on the head stock. These guitars normally don’t come up for sale that often, I guess because they are really well sounding and perhaps the 000-size is very sought after too. It took two years but finally I managed to get my hands on one, in bad shape when it arrived but now fully playable again.

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965

Levin LT-16 / Goya T-16
Grand Concert size: Body width: 380 mm, body length: 480 mm, body depth: 98 mm. Fingerboard width: 43 mm, scale length: 630 mm. Spruce top, mahogany back and sides, 4-ply bound top, single-bound back. Mahogany bolt-on neck with adjustable truss rod. Single-bound rosewood fingerboard with bass side pearloid dot inlay. Rosewood bridge, nickel plated individual Van Gent tuners with metal buttons. Matte natural finish and ten year warranty

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965There was quite a lot of work on this one. First I re-hydrated the guitar for a week, just a wet sock in a bowl inside, which made the cracks close up quite a lot. I removed the bridge and the pickguard and glued all the cracks on the top and reattached the back that was coming loose. I also flattened the top, it had a bit of a belly that I managed to get down with a flat piece of wood covering the top that I clamped down for a couple of days.

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965I re-glued the bridge and replaced the 10 cm of missing binding. Someone had also sanded down the neck, which I hate, so lacquered it with a couple of coats of Nitro and sanded it smooth. 

Levin Goya T-16 Made in Sweden 1965Levin guitars normally lack side dots for the 9th and 12th fret, which always confuse me while playing, so I added 3 dots. I reattached the pickguard and cleaned up the original Van Gent machine heads. Levin uses a rather clever bolt-on neck system which makes neck-resets very easy. You just loosen the two bolts inside and then you can sand down the heel, it takes time but it was easier than removing the whole neck.

Levin Model 46

Levin Model 46, 8-string mandolin, Made in Sweden 1949Levin Model 46 Classic, 8-string mandolin, made in Sweden by Levin in 1949

A couple of weeks ago I found a little Levin Model 46 Classic, 8-string mandolin. This is one of the less fancy ones that Levin made in the 1940’s but it’s still a great little mandolin. Someone has unfortunately changed the machine heads on one side during it’s life but the rest is original. I had a cheap Thomann mandolin before and this is a world of difference, I wonder how good Levin’s top of the line mandolins sound if a simple one like this could be so strong and powerful.

Levin Model 46 Classic
8-string Mandolin, flat back
Body width: 225 mm
Spruce top with birch back & sides
Single-bound top and back, unbound headstock
Unbound walnut fingerboard with pearloid dot inlay
Nickel plated tuners, sunburst finish, one year warranty

Levin Model 46, 8-string mandolin, Made in Sweden 19491949 Levin Model 46, 8-string mandolin, Made in SwedenNow I just have to learn how to play mandolin properly