Levin Guitars

Levin Guitars on Ebay
Levin guitars Levin is a Swedish manufacturer of musical instruments founded by Herman Carlson Levin, that was active between 1900 and 1978. The company produced over half a million instruments in the 80 years that it was active, mostly guitars but also mandolines, banjos, and lutes, which made Levin into the biggest instrument manufacturer in Scandinavia for many years.

In 1952 Jerome Hershman a guitar distributor from America noticed a Levin guitar at a trade show in Germany and convinced the Levin company to let him market their guitars in America. However Hershman knew that the brandname Levin would be hard to market in America and suggested the name Goya. The Goya line up proved to be successful due to its high quality finish. The use of nylon strings also gave the guitar a different tone than most other guitars that used steel strings, making it popular among folk musicians. In the late 1950s, a line of steel-stringed flat-tops were launched, with adjustable trussrods and bolted necks.

In the early 1960s, a line of folk guitars were launched with wide flat fretboards similar to those on nylon strung guitars, but fitted with steel strings. These were developed partly in cooperation with American folk-singer Oscar Brandt. Two 12-stringed flattops were launched during the same period. In 1967 a contract was signed between the Levin company and Goya Music (former Hershman Music) for no less than 120,000 instruments over a period of 10 years. At this time the Goya export was approximately 70% of the company's total production which was over 30,000 instruments, mostly guitars.

The contract was broken by Goya Music in 1968, following the acquisition of Goya Music by Avnet Inc, who already at that time owned Guild Guitars. The Goya distribution rights were sold in 1970 to amplifier manufacturer Kustom Electric of Chanute Kansas. In 1972 Kustom went bankrupt and The distribution was taken over by another Chanute company, Dude Inc. It is unclear if Levin ever delivered any instruments to Dude, the sales made by Dude may have been the remaining stock from the Kustom bankruptcy, which were relabelled.

In 1976 Dude sold the Goya brand to CF Martin who already purchased the majority of the Levin Company a few years earlier. CF Martin started import of Japanese and Korean instruments under the Goya name and both the Goya and Levin brands reputation diminished. CF Martin stopped offering Goya instruments during the 1990s and sold the brand name in 1999 to Goya Foods.

In 1973 when Martin bought Levin, and the Levin became the headquarters for Martin Guitars and their Japan import brand Sigma Guitars in Europe, as well as actually producing a run of some 200 Martin D-18 acoustic guitars, which were labelled "LD-18 - Made In Gothenburg, Sweden". In 1981 the last guitar was built in the Gothenburg facility and parts of the inventory and the brand were bought by Svensk Musik AB, who started producing Levin classical guitars in a factory owned by former guitarneck supplier Hans Persson. Hans's son Lennart is still producing guitars for Svenska Levin AB in his fathers workshop outside Mariestad Sweden.