Pre-War Gibson L-5 Owners' Club




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European Guitars Continued


Born in Sweden in 1864, Herman Carlson Levin travelled to the United States in 1887 and by the mid 1890s had formed the Metropolis Musical Instrument Company to manufacture and distribute banjos, guitars and mandolins.


In 1900, he returned to Sweden where he established the Herman Carlson Levin Musikinstrumentfabrik in Göteborg.

Starting out with just two workmen, Levin’s business grew rapidly so that by the outbreak of World War II, the workforce consisted of 45 men and a factory floor space of more than 1,000 square meters.

Levin’s first archtop guitar, Model 175, was introduced around 1930. Though it incorporated a carved spruce top, maple back and sides and a similar body size to the L-5, it’s mahogany neck, oversized f-holes and dark brown finish lent it an appearance that was quite different. Added to the line a few years later, Model 170 was much closer to the L-5 with a maple neck, smaller f-holes and a sunburst finish


Levin pulled out all the stops for the luxurious Deluxe. Introduced c. 1937, this model boasted a larger body, multiple binding around the top, back, headstock, fingerboard and pickguard and gold-plated hardware.

Levin Archtops

MOL_2 levin factory levin factory levin factory levin factory levin factory levin factory 1933 Model 175 86306 front

Model 175

Introduced: c. 1930


Body width: 405mm (15.94 inches)


Non-cutaway body with spruce top and maple back and sides


Mahogany neck and bound ebony fingerboard inlaid with pearl dots


Grover banjo tuners


Dark Brown finish


Pictured example: 1933 serial number 86306

1933 Model 175 86306_head

Model 170

1935_Levin_Model_170_96447 1935_Levin_Model_170_96447_back

Introduced: c. 1933


Body width: 405mm (15.94 inches)


Non-cutaway body with spruce top and figured maple back and sides


Maple neck and bound ebony fingerboard inlaid with pearl crosses, nickel-plated tuners with ivory buttons


Sunburst finish


Model 170 was available with a 4 string neck as Model 310 and an eight string mandocello neck as Model 490


Pictured example above and left: 1935 serial number 96447 and below, 1933 serial number 85629.

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1933 Model 170 85629 case levin factory levin factory levin factory levin factory 1933 Model 170 85629 back 1933 Model 170 85629 label 1933 Model 170 85629 pickguard 1933 Model 170 85629 tuners


Introduced: c. 1937


Body width: 440mm (17.32 inches)


Non cutaway body with Romanian spruce top, figured maple back and sides. Multiple bound top, back, headstock, fingerboard and pickguard, single bound f-holes


Flame maple neck and ebony fingerboard inlaid with pearl blocks, gold-plated hardware including Grover Sta-Tite tuners.


Sunburst finish


Pictured examples: 1938 serial number 113565


1938_Levin_De_Luxe_113565 full front 1938_Levin_De_Luxe_113565_back 1938_Levin_De_Luxe_113565_head levin factory levin factory levin factory 1938_Levin_De_Luxe_113565_label

Fred Guy, guitarist with Duke Ellington

1939_Waidele_ad Fred_Guy_1 Django_Reinhardt_1 1939_Levin_ad_1 1939_Levin_ad_2

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While vistiting Göteborg during a tour of Sweden in April, 1939, Fred Guy, guitarist in the Duke Ellington Orchestra (above) purchased a Levin Deluxe at Waidele. This is the guitar that Django Reinhardt is playing in the

famous William Gottlieb photos (left), which were taken backstage at the Aquarium music venue in New York City when Django was on tour with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1946.

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Levin Catalogue of 1931

Images and information courtesy of

levin factory levin factory AKRES TRIO

The picture above shows Mr. Oscar Skau holding a  1930 Levin Model 175. In addiiton to playing with the Akres Trio of Oslo, Norway, Mr Skau appeared with Frolich’s Banjo Quintet