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Goya and Levin Guitar Owners

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Goya and Levin Guitar Owners

A group for those of us who own and appreciate or don't own and just appreciate Goya and Levin Guitars made in Goteborg Sweden for over 70 years!

Members: 67
Latest Activity: yesterday

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Started by norman druker. Last reply by Ben Hershman Jun 27.

Anyone interested? 1966 LM-26 7 Replies

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Started by Leslie Rich. Last reply by Dave G Jun 27.

1966 Levin LM-26 5 Replies

I posted quite some time ago about my Levin and had mentioned I was going to do a little work on him, without ruining his story (IE - trying to make him all original and instead leave the alterations…Continue

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Started by marcus. Last reply by Alexander Hill Jun 14.

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Comment by Mike Raeburn on February 20, 2012 at 4:31pm

Hi Magnus,

Thanks for the information, very interesting. The history of Levin would make a great business management study. What would you have done when Goya cancelled the order?

I got my LT-18 back from Jimmy this week. Somebody had fitted it with a replacement nut that was about 4mm too narrow. The strings were far too close together and it was virtually unplayable. Jimmy fitted a new nut and spaced the strings out as far as possible, what a difference! I did some comparisons with my LN-26 as I have now fitted them both with Elixir strings. (.011 - .052) The tone is markedly different between the two guitars, hard to describe but different. First time I have tried Elixir on my 6 strings, I use them all the time on my Taylor W55 12string, so the jury is out as they say. Years ago I used to use LaBella silk and steel 10s which were excellent and held tone for ages so we'll see how the Elixir compare. I usually use 10s as I don't like over stressing old guitars with loads of tension so hopefully the 11s will not pull the necks up and remove the bridges! Will let you know how I get on.

Comment by norman druker on February 20, 2012 at 1:33pm

Thanks Magnus.  Great post!

Comment by Magnus Hultin on February 20, 2012 at 12:12pm

Mike,

I think Your story is partly true. Goya Guitar Inc.(formerly Hershman Music of NY) had placed a huge order (120.000 guitars over a 10 year period). The contract was signed late 1967 and by then the LEssebo factory was already in operation since approximately 2 years.

Less than a year later Goya changed owner and the new owner wanted out of the contract. The new owner was Avnet who already owned Guild at the time.

Here is an article from a Swedish export paper in April 1968

By christmas the same year the contract was broken. Levin had to let 50 % of the workforce, 30 (out of 60) persons in Gothenburg and 10 (out og 20) in Lessebo. Levin management processed ofcourse but what could they do against a huge corporation like Avnet. They would have lasted for years in such a process. Levins attorneys adviced for a settlement.

 

As for the Martin purchase, this was in 1973 and by then the Goya rights had been overtaken by Kustom (in 1969) and by Dude Inc (aprox 1972). I know for a fact that the Levin main owner, who was also the president of the company, wese searching for a new invester, and in those years Mr Frank Martin had his "spending trousers" on. In 1973 it was declared that Martin had purchased 100% of the company, and that Levin was to becom Head Office for Martins European operations.

 

The original Thomas Frazer Goliath (template for the commemorative Moon-Guitar) was a 1960 LM-26 and I do believe they were a bit rough on the inside, but not very much differrent from Your LT-18.

And most I hear is that they still sounded great. I know I like mine, and I don´t spend to much time looking inside. I can tell You this, compared with the inside of a typical Ovation, these Levins look like furniture.

 

 

Comment by Mike Raeburn on February 18, 2012 at 7:27pm

Hi Magnus,

As I understand Levin got a huge order for Goya branded guitars and set up another factory to cope. Then the order was cancelled. Levin went bust after that and was bought out by Martin. Is this correct?

By the way when I was chatting to Jimmy he told me the commemorative that he makes looks like a Levin on the outside but the interior arrangements are as he put it, "More up to date." I got the distinct impression he was not too taken with the interiors of Levins.

Ted, I keep temperature and humidity gauges in the two rooms that have my guitars stored in. It is amazing the differences in humidity that appear from day to day. All my guitars are in hard cases so that helps to even out the changes without shocking the wood too much. Wood gets more brittle the older it gets and makes splitting more likely. Be careful of making the guitar too wet as taking it out of its box will immediately start it drying out again and add stress to the wood. Remember wood shrinks/expands mainly across the grain and along the line of the annual rings. The latter is usually not a problem with guitar fronts as they are quarter sawn at right angles to the annual rings. However they will expand and contract across the grain. If the rest of the body does not move with it then the wood split or buckle. It can also move enough to detach the braces. A couple of mine need new tops as they are too far gone to fix. I'm not too fussed about replacing parts of guitars, they are made to be played and they wear out, so unless it's a museum piece where originality is everything then it deserves to be fixed. My 12 string LTS5 (s/n 461343) is so badly split I will have to replace the top. Looks like someone over tensioned it and collapsed the neck and neck block into the body. It's a real mess, it appears on the Vintage site but has obviously had a hard time since then. I have a nice bit of AAA grade spruce to repair it with so hopefully it will end up as good or better than it was originally.

Comment by Ted Hechtman on February 18, 2012 at 9:40am

Hi all. I just got an old Goya classical, The top is cracked along the grain in a few places. I'm humidifying the thing at the present in hopes of getting the top to close up a bit. I have info on how I'm supposed to fix it but anyone out there have any helpful insight??? One crack seems to sink one side of the fissure. What the best way to raise it up and seal it?

Comment by Magnus Hultin on February 2, 2012 at 4:06pm

Mike,

It is interresting to read that Your LT-18 is cared for by Jimmy Moon. He makes a nice replica of the original "Levin Goliath", the LM-26, as a "Thomas Frazer commemorative" guitar.

I own a Goya model 163 which is the last version of the sunburst Goliath. I also have a Levin LT-18, a very fine instrument.

 

As much as I like Levin instruments, and as much as I would have loved for them to have survived, I don´t think we can blame Martin very much. They struggled with Levin for 9 years and I doubt that they ever got their money back. The asian competition simply became to tough in the end and that hurt also on the American mainland. In the end I think it became a matter of saving Martin and they closed down parts making insufficient profit outside US. I have read in books about Martin that Chris Martin had comitted to not have to start layoffs in the Nazareth operation.

No one, including Martin people, denies Levin highspec instruments were of good quality, they simply were to expensive to manufacture.

Comment by Mike Raeburn on February 1, 2012 at 10:47am

Hi Ted, Interesting, I recently purchased a Goya G-312 which was probably made around the same time in Korea. It's all laminated as well but has a surprisingly loud and quite acceptable tone. My verdict is it's a good pub guitar and hopefully won't split. My main interest in buying it was to see what the final outcome of the Martin takeover had produced. Martin really did the business on Levin and eliminated the effective threat to their profits that Levin had become. Most folks are aware that the quality of 1970s Martins could be decidedly iffy while Levins, though the budget models were a bit rough in places, usually produced a good workmanlike instrument with good tone. I bought a Levin LN-26 (sn 487468) in 1968 from Bruce Millars in Aberdeen, UK, and have been a fan of Levin instruments ever since. I have gradually added to my collection since then. Vintage Guitars asked me to post some photos on their site which I plan to do once I get my LT-18 back from Jimmy Moon in Glasgow where it is getting a new nut fitted. I'll post a link here once I get the photos uploaded to Vintage Guitars.

Comment by Ted Hechtman on January 31, 2012 at 5:03pm

 Just got a 1970's Martin/Goya. That was after Martin ate Goya and began making the guitars, sort of Sigma-like, all over. I know its not a Goya but the price was right and the sound ain't bad. I don't think I'll hold on to it but at least it's another headstock with the name. I also bought a beat up acoustic with a cracked top. I'm letting it soak up some moisture now. Anyone out there with tips on repairing cracks in the grain??? The Martin/Goya one I rounded up is a GG (you funny little good for nothing GG...am I the guy) 330 made in Japan which means, I think, that it was made in the mid 1970's. Laminated top but the sound it quite something else. I have four Swedish Goyas including a nylon with a cracked top that is sealed up in a bag with moisture as I hope that the cracks come together.

Comment by Dave G on December 12, 2011 at 2:34pm

Ted...wishing you a strong resurgence...I can't recall if it was you or one of our other acoustic brethren who recommended, but I did finally try the T-Infeld Spectrum 11's at a whopping $17+ per set, and have concluded that they produce a nearly identical tone to my faves.  I always use and suggest, and I'll never waver again from DR (Sunbeams or Rares), 11's (their med/lites),  $7.39 a set, always free ship through Ebayer, Music 123.  But seems you have a stash of strings.  Maybe put your lightest guage on while you summon back your strength.  You may get to play longer and not tire as quickly. 

Comment by Ted Hechtman on December 12, 2011 at 8:46am

And, even though I probably mentioned this already, I have another guitar from that end of the world. A damn nice Landola (imported by Peavey years ago) from Finland.

 

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