2/03/2011

c.1970 Levin "Goya" Model 161 Concert Guitar


This guitar, essentially a Martin 14-fret O size, or Gibson B-25 size, was made by Levin in Sweden and then imported to the US and branded "Goya." This model, 161 or GG161, was a revamped version of an earlier model, and in this style was built from 1969 into the 70s.

It features solid back and sides of curly Scandinavian birch, a top of solid spruce, a mahogany neck with a very fast Gibson-style profile, and a big almost deco-style headstock with enclosed Swedish tuners of the sort invariably used on Levins, Bjartons and Hagstroms from the time.

Fretboard is rosewood with cool off-center pearloid dots. Bound top and soundhole, no pickguard (though this model typically had a whopping pickguard), sunburst finish (with dark-stained back/sides). I've installed a new rosewood bridge (similar in shape/size to the original) and rosewood bridge pins, also a new bone nut and new synthetic saddle.


This guitar has a snappy, almost gypsy-jazz tone, with a lot of mids and balance across the strings and focus. It's great for rock-style strumming or raucous backing, and is clear-toned for fingerpicking but doesn't have a big warm bass -- it's a tight bass. This is more than likely due to the birch back and sides (which emphasize punch and volume), the ladder braced top, and the longish (for this size guitar) 24 3/4" scale length.




I really love that truss rod cover. Why did no one else make such cool covers during this period? Most are very blah.


Trim is very spare... almost like a '30s mid-grade Harmony.






Peculiarly for a Goya-branded instrument, this bears the Swedish Levin label inside. The model number is incorrect for the catalogs of the time... Levin model 123 was a harp guitar from the 1900s-1930s and Goya model 123 doesn't exist.



Real pretty curly birch -- looks a lot like the stuff used on Loar-era Gibson instruments (Loar was a fan of the stuff on L5s).


Note the one-piece mahogany neck. Nice!







This guitar is in really quite great shape and plays nice and easy with all of its original fittings save a bridge... which looks the part, anyhow.

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