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This page is part of our Levin information.


Levin history

The photos used in this section are from
various Levin publicity material.
Photographer: unknown

Before Levin
Herman Carlson was born in Åsaka, Sweden on
September 25, 1864. After a completed woodwork
education he was apprenticed to a cabinet maker
in Göteborg. During that time he also attended
evening classes at the local woodwork association
where he after 2 ½ years of hard work excelled
in his examination to become a journeyman.
At that time it was customary to take on a new
surname after a completed journeyman education,
and Herman choose Levin to be added to his name.

In America
In 1887, Herman Carlson Levin travelled to the
U.S.A. where he soon found work as a polisher at
a guitar factory in New York City. This is where
he gradually learned about guitar making and in
1891 he was ready to open his own business.
In ca 1895 he joined Robert H. Benary to form the
Metropolis Musical Instrument Co. to manufacture
and distribute mid-priced banjos, guitars and
mandolins. In 1897 he filed for a patent for his
combined guitar and mandolin.

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Factory in America


Back in Sweden
In 1900 he returned to Sweden, and on July 27
that year, he opened the Herman Carlson Levin
Musikinstrumentfabrik (Herman Carlson Levin
Musical Instrument Factory) on Norra Larmgatan 4,
in Göteborg. In the humble beginning the factory
consisted of two men in a 70 square meters space.
In the first year, 90 instruments were completed,
but business grew and at the end of 1903, the
work force had grown to five men completing
1,648 instruments.

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The awards
The first official recognition came early. By 1903
the company had been rewarded no less than five
silver medals (highest award) at various exhibitions
held in Sweden. The success grew with a gold medal
at the exhibition in London in 1905, and the climax
came in Madrid in 1907, where the company was
rewarded not only the gold medal, but also the
Grand Prix.

The growth
By 1908 more than 10,000 instruments had left
the factory, and ten years later, more than 40,000
instruments was completed, and the work force
had grown to 30 men working out of a factory of
600 square meters. However, on October 11, 1918
a fire broke loose in the factory and during the
following years the work force had to be cut down
to 5-10 men.

In 1925 Levin added banjos to its line and the
production started to grow rapidly. In 1929 they
also added orchestra guitars and by 1936 more
than 100,000 instruments had left the factory.
Just before the outbreak of World War II the work
force consisted of 45 men and the factory floor
space had grown to more than 1,000 square
meters. The war years brought a shortage of
foreign woods such as ebony, rosewood and
walnut, and furthermore, periodically half the
work force was drafted to military service.

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The new factory
At the same time, there was a large demand for
instruments, and since the old factory building
already had been expanded to its limits, a new
factory of 1,800 square meters floor space was
set up in the former space of Rörstrands
Porslinsfabrik (Rörstrands Porcelain Factory) on
Kvillegatan 9, in Göteborg. The move took place
in the summer of 1943 and the work force was
expanded to 70 men. Drums were added in that
year, and in 1948 instrument number 200,000
was completed.

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Herman dies
Herman Carlson Levin dies on March 26, 1948.

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50 years
The Levin company continued to grow and in 1950,
after 50 years in business, it had 130 employees,
a floor space of ca 2,600 square meters, and had
since its beginning in 1900 produced close to
250,000 instruments.

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Goya
In 1952 initial contacts were being made between
the Hershman Musical Instrument Co. of New York
and Levin regarding what in 1954 became Goya
branded instruments made by Levin for distribution
in the U.S.A.

Electrics
As 1956 came to an end the total number of pro-
duced instruments exceeded 300,000. In the new
redesigned line of 1957, the archtop guitars were
now available with one or two DeArmond pickups
in addition to the fully acoustic versions.

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Goya orders
In 1965, with more than 450,000 instruments
made, and 70% of its production being exported,
Levin received an order for 13,000 Goya guitars
and rented space in Lessebo to open a second
factory. In 1967 another order, this time for
120,000 Goya guitars (1,000 each month for
ten years) was received. However, disaster
struck in 1968 when the order was cancelled
and Levin was forced to close the Lessebo
factory and let half of its work force go.

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70 years
In 1970 Levin celebrated 70 years with more than
500,000 instruments produced since its beginning
in 1900.

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C. F. Martin & Co.
In 1972 negotiations between the C. F. Martin &
Co. and Levin resulted in that C. F. Martin & Co.
purchased Levin in June 1973.

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Made in Finland
In ca 1977 some nylon-string models were being
built by Landola in Finland.

Made in Japan
In ca 1979 some steel-string and nylon-string
models were being built in Japan.

Factory closes
The factory closed in 1979. Some models built
in Finland and Japan were still available.

Svensk Musik AB
Svensk Musik AB purchased the Levin brand
name and part of the remaining stock from
C. F. Martin & Co. in 1982. The production
was restarted in early 1983 with the first
two models being the LG 8 and LG 17, both
assembled with bodies made by the Hans
Persson guitar factory in Lugnås, Sweden
and necks supplied by Landola in Finland.

In addition to those, the model L 44 was
imported from Czechoslovakia. In 1988
three more models were added to the line
of Swedish made guitars, the Classic 8,
Classic 10 and Classic 12, and the whole
production was moved to the Hans Persson
guitar factory in Lugnås.

Svenska Levin AB

Svensk Musik AB changed name to Svenska
Levin AB in ca 2000 and model L 40 was being
imported from Asia. After 2004 the line was
expanded with more nylon-string models in
addition to steel-string western models and
archtops, all being imported from Asia.