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Thread: guidance about Levin mandolins models

  1. #1

    Default guidance about Levin mandolins models


    I'm a new player, I've heard a lot about Liven Mandolins, but I do not have any experience or information about them.

    I am interested in buying mandolin of this kind,
    I found some models on eBay but I do not know what the good models are compared to the price, I need some guidance and advice.

  2. #2

    Default Re: guidance about Levin mandolins models

    Where are you based?

    Levin instruments have a good reputation but when buying any vintage instrument off ebay, you need to know what you are getting. All these instruments are in Sweden and appear to have birch bodies and spruce tops. The first one appears to have a separation in its back and the top may have sunk a little- I would ask a question or two on that one and hope for a candid reply. Obviously, it is an auction starting very low and may represent a good buy- subject to you getting repairs done which could be costly. The tops on instruments may warp or sink and you see this a lot- the top may be fine but it needs to be corroborated. The other two appear to be in good condition and the seller is open to offers. Ideally, you would be buying from a player who would highlight any defects so that the instrument does not lead to a dispute- and there are good sellers out there. Many sellers though, have recently acquired their instrument from house clearances etc and know very little about its playing qualities as they do not play and do not want to incur costs fixing problems- so be wary and ask questions.

    I have seen some nice Levin mandolins going at sensible prices. Some appear to be priced very highly- and as this is a dealer then you get some back up- and I would want plenty at this price. In fact, I would not buy it:

    I have bought many old mandolins on ebay but I do have the services of a top craftsman who rescues me from of any holes I chuck myself into. On that basis, I am very fortunate but I have some great instruments that did not cost much. The question is, as someone new to mandolin, should you be spending your money on a good new instrument before embarking down the vintage pathway?

    I think owning a Levin would be nice- and these are relatively basic models but could you do better with a new instrument? It's a personal choice. When I started playing there were so few instruments available- even as new in music shops, whereas today you now have a vast array of new choices and ebay allows one to buy renovation projects from all around the world. I have in fact just bought a 1939 S S Stewart Harmony made archtop mandolin in an original hard case that needed nothing more than a restring- it didn't even need cleaning although I did that when the strings were off. The mandolin was not set up- the bridge was askew, so I had to make a judgment but I was prepared to be disappointed which was far from the case, as it is perfect and virtually unmarked with a little play wear. I think that is unusual for a low-priced instrument- but it was a new auction listing with a great Buy It Now price, so I dived in.

    My repair man has plenty of laughs when I buy something like that which needs no attention, as he is convinced I only buy instruments that need plenty of help. On that basis, he compares me with another customer- a world class player, and says he thinks that me and this superstar player have a bet going as to who can dump the most junk on to him to repair! I did recommend them to each other so it's all my fault he now has two junkyard angels on his case.

  3. #3
    Registered User tonydxn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Mansfield UK

    Default Re: guidance about Levin mandolins models

    Levin mandolins are pretty well built, but often the sellers want silly money for them. If you really want one, you may have to pay silly money, or else search for a long time to find one at a sensible price. They made a huge range of models and changed the specifications every time someone sneezed. Lots of information here plus some photos elsewhere on the site.

    If you want to know what they sound like, there are some sound samples available on YouTube.

    Good luck . . .
    Mandolins: Bandolim by Antonio Pereira Cabral
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  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    New York

    Default Re: guidance about Levin mandolins models

    I'm in the same position - curious about them but have never seen one in person. First step might be to play one to see what it sounds like.

    I'm probably going to visit Sweden this summer and will take a look around to see if any are available.

  5. #5

    Default Re: guidance about Levin mandolins models

    I recently got a made in Sweden Goya classical guitar. They are definitely great instruments for the price if you can find one still in good condition. I had been patiently waiting for several years for one of the higher end models to show up at a bargain price and it finally happened. If you look on ebay/reverb etc, you'll see a pretty wide range of prices offered for the same model of Levin/Goya instruments, the ones at the high end seem to never sell.

  6. #6
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Rochester NY 14610

    Default Re: guidance about Levin mandolins models

    Quote Originally Posted by Annica View Post
    ...I've heard a lot about Liven Mandolins, but I do not have any experience or information about them....I do not know what the good models are compared to the price...
    This Vintage Guitars web page will give you catalog info on a wide array of Levin mandolin models.

    As to fair market price, you'll need to do some web research on current dealer and private sale asking prices.
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  7. #7
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Southeast Tennessee

    Default Re: guidance about Levin mandolins models

    Look at it this way-- you can get a Martin style A with a nicely canted top in pretty nice shape for +/- $800.

    The Levin models on your link can be considered to be a grade or two lower than a Martin, so anything more than a few hundred would be pushing it.

  8. #8
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Westchester, NY

    Default Re: guidance about Levin mandolins models

    I would assume that the OP is in Sweden or at least somewhere in Europe. Levin instruments will be much more common over there. I have a 1950 model 46 which I bought on eBay from a seller over here. It is a flattop mandolin. Frankly, it is not all that exciting, but I was always curious about Levin instruments.

    Annica, if you are in Sweden, then I would think the prices might be pretty good for these and you might find something you can try out in a shop. Otherwise, you can let us know where you are, what kind of music you want to play and what kind of mandoin you are playing now. That might help.

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