c.1965 Levin-made Goya G-10 Classical Guitar

I think I'm going to try to plan on keeping at least one Levin-made "Goya" classical guitar in stock at all times. Once you start working and playing on them they become very addictive: the tone is extremely good even from an "entry" Goya like this G-10 and the playability after a good setup is fantastic. There's something about the way their necks are cut -- the wide classical board but with a shallower front to back -- that makes them extremely playable vs. many other "contemporary" classicals. Plus, the price for them hasn't yet caught up to their intrinsic value, so they're still very good "bang for the buck."

Other folks know about this, too, because as soon as I have them around they disappear very quickly from my inventory (and for good reason). The last few I've tried to keep have been wheedled out of my hands.

But, back to the main point: the Swedish firm Levin (started in the 1890s I believe) made this guitar around 1965 or so and they were imported (for the most part) under the "Goya" brand name, though information pertaining to the Levin connection is always found on the label in the soundhole. Ones without this label are generally later "Goya" brand products and are very definitely not of the same quality.

Aside from the usual finish crackle, this guitar is very clean. It has all its original fittings as well. My repairs were to a longish treble-side hairline crack (on the side) and also a cleat/drop-fill to a couple tiny, tight, hairline cracks on the lower bout top below the bridge.

The strings are D'Addario Pro-Arte nylons in a light-medium gauge and they sound and intonate very nicely. Tone on this guy is full, rich, and warm with very lingering sustain especially on the high strings. It's also nicely loud and takes fingers, nails, and picks just fine. With a heavier pick this sounds very jazzy. Action is set as a fast-playing 3/32" at the 12th fret.

I love the understated rosettes on Levin-made products. Compared to similar classicals which would have had the full "Spanish treatment," the simple red-toned ring rosettes on these are so welcoming.

Woods on this guitar are: solid spruce top with extremely light fan bracing, solid mahogany one-piece neck, rosewood fretboard and bridge, and solid birch back and sides. The back, as typical for the G-10s, is a pretty two-piece type with curly/flame figure throughout.

Though serials are hard to pin down as far as dating Goya/Levins go, the rounded ends of this bridge point to a mid-60s-on-up period. Previously they were squared-off. The saddle and nut are both synthetic but have good, even tone qualities. I swapped out one of these for a bone saddle on a nice G-30 a while back and I preferred the tone of the plastic over it, to be honest.

Frets are in great shape as is the rosewood board. Simple side-dots make placement a heck of a lot easier!

Here's some of that dark-stained birch. Like on "parlor" guitars of the 20s and 30s which used the stuff extensively, birch tends to give a sustained maple-ish tone, but less crisp and more of a woody, sweet tonality.

After a tiny bit of WD-40 and a couple replaced screws, the original Levin tuners work great.

Pretty curly/flamed birch!

Here's that longish hairline crack that I repaired on the treble side. All good to go, now.

Unfortunately, this guitar doesn't include a case.


Anonymous said...

Hello, I've got a G10, great shape; all the same stuff as yours. Action is just as low and very sweet sound. The serial number is 405012. Is there any way to tell exactly how old it is? same rounded bridge as yours. I found it languishing in a Virginia antique shop and got it out of there as quickly as I could. Thanks, GuyRCharlton@aol.com

Anonymous said...

I have a G 10 serial number 167568 that I purchased new in either 1963 or 1964. I am not sure how long the guitar store had it in stock. I think it was a demo. I had a nick in the face which is still there and it was marked down a few bucks which made my dad happy. I was in high school and folk music was all the rage among my friends and at the local State University. Unfortunately, I tried to teach myself from song/music books and never became much of a musician. And my voice only sounded good in the shower! I do remember trying another one with fancier inlay around the tone hole and a steel reinforced neck. I am not sure what brand it was. I am not sure if this dealer handled Gibson or Martin. A couple of my buddies who were more accomplished sprung for these.

I just moved the G10 case while vacuuming and strummed a few cords and decided to Google it and ended upon this informative site. It has the square bridge.

Buffalo , N.Y . suburb.

Anonymous said...

Correction: on reviewing the photos in the original post the bridge pin is rounded. Buffalo, NY

joelivoti.com said...

I have a 1958 G-10 that I absolutely love. A friend of mine who repped for Ovation and later, Gretsch, told me that the spruce on the early ones were grown in Sweden, and because of the short growing season the wood had smaller, denser rings which contributed to the great tone. He said they were also distributed by Martin for a time.

All I know is I would never sell mine. I like the smaller size, as I gig on electric and have small hands, so for my daily classical practice it's perfect. The tone is awesome, ringing bass, singing treble sustain, overtones all over the place - a pretty complex little guitar. Easy to record due to it's balanced sound, and great for folky strummy stuff too.

If you have the patience to dig around, I posted vids of Love Me Tender and Ashokan Farewell using this on youtube.

Here's a site that has serial number info;

Happy playing


JayJay M said...

Your site is really informative. I have a Goya G-10 that I bought used a few years ago. I was wondering if they all were basically made out the same type of (spruce) wood and what were those woods? You can see mine at this page that I am putting up for sale.


Thank you for your help! Have a blessed day!

Jake Wildwood said...

JJ -- all G-10s I've seen are solid spruce top over solid birch back/sides. Necks are mahogany and bridge/board are rosewood.