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1954 Levin Model 1 Deluxe
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Serial #: 318248, stamped on top edge of headstock
Body size at lower bout: 18 5/8" (475 mm) Scale length: 24 3/4" (630 mm) Nut width: 1 10/16" (42mm) Body depth: 3 3/8" (85 mm)
Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid Romanian spruce top; solid bookmatched curly black walnut back and sides; solid mahogany neck; ebony fingerboard with scribed pearloid block fingerboard and peghead inlay; 5-ply body, neck, head and pickguard binding, triple bound f-holes; solid bone nut.
Hardware: Original gold hardware includes engraved trapeze tailpiece, open back Grover Sta-Tite style tuners, adjustable compensated ebony bridge. Vintage correct aged bound tortoise pickguard, Kjell floating single-coil pickup with volume control and pickguard mounted 1/4" jack.
Notes: We have often wondered why, out of the plethora of steel string guitar factories in postwar Europe, the instruments produced by the Levin company of Sweden stand out head and shoulders in terms of quality, construction and design. Now we know. Seems that late in the 19th century, company founder Herman Levin spent a number of years perfecting his craft in the US, eventually opening his own factory in New York. But unlike his fellow countrymen, the Strombergs and the Larsons, Levin returned home in 1900, bringing his New World instrument designs and production methods with him.
By the end of WWII, the Levin company offered a full line of fretted instruments, including at least ten different models of archtop guitars, which they had been building as early as 1929. By the time the company officially closed a half century later, Levin had produced over 30 different archtop models, establishing themselves as the premier European builder of orchestra guitars.
This rare example is the Levin Model 1 Deluxe, the firm's top-of-the-line offering, a cutaway model which made its debut circa 1947, replacing the previous non-cutaway version. A super jumbo orchestra guitar comparable to the Gibson Super 400 or Epiphone Emperor, the Deluxe was carved of all solid European tonewoods, ornately inlaid with scribed pearloid position markers, and fitted with engraved gold hardware. With its massive 18 5/8" lower bout, the Deluxe is exceeded in size only by the fabled and costly Stromberg Master 400.
Built in 1952, this stunning guitar is carved with back and sides of solid black walnut. A hard, dense tonewood particularly noted for its brilliance and clarity, black walnut is similar in tonal response to Brazilian rosewood. Costly and challenging to work, black walnut was used on prewar Epiphone Broadway and Spartan models, both famed for their exceptional projection and headroom. This gleaming guitar is also features a neck of solid mahogany, whose strength and light weight have long been preferred by builders such as Bob Benedetto.
Of particular interest is the soundboard, which is braced with a single tonebar, in the style of the legendary Stromberg guitars of Boston. The top is carved to exceptionally fine tolerances, and is beautifully bookmatched of solid Romanian spruce. The neck has a fine full C profile, solid in the hand, with fine pro frets, smooth low action over a solid ebony fingerboard, and pearl block inlays hand inscribed in an ornate floral motif.
Most remarkably, this singular instrument shows a unique soundboard design, with the hand-carved top supported by a single brace, running the length of the top centerseam. Maintained in wonderful condition, the instrument is without apparent cracks, and shows all original sunburst finish, with only fine normal checking, and bit of scattered pick wear near the strings. The hardware is original as well, including the elegantly designed engraved trapeze tailpiece, with the addition of a vintage correct bound tortoise pickguard, fabricated from an original template. Binding and centerseams are all tight, and the guitar is fitted with an original floating Kjell single-coil pickup. An item of extreme rarity, the unit is built with adjustable polepieces, similar in design to the DeArmond Model 1100 Rhythm Chief.
At a mere 5 lb. 15oz. (2.72 kg) the guitar is astoundingly light in weight for a super jumbo body, and wonderfully balanced on the lap or the strap. The acoustic voice is phenomenally brilliant and powerful, with vibrant, open bass, sparkling highs, and unusually powerful projection, faithfully captured by the clear and detailed pickup.
Built only until 1958, the Levin Model 1 Deluxe is a truly remarkable instrument, and an exceptional find for the player and collector alike. One only: call now.
Setup: This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel strings (.013-.056). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.
Case: Deluxe black arched plush lined hardshell case.
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