Django & Levin Guitar

Django’s Photo Prop – Aquarium Club

Fred Guy’s Levin De Luxe Guitar

Django_ReinhardtAquariumNYC1946Gottlieb

Recognise this Levin Guitar which belonged to Fred Guy in Django’s hands – Looks like the jacket & tie he wore in Oct 46 at the Aquarium NYC when posing for William P Gottlieb and the scratchplate is identical.  Duke did use a Rhythm Guitarist his long standing associate and former Banjo Player Fred Guy who later switched to the Gibson L5 & L7 and an Acoustic Stromberg.  The distinctive Headstock Name obscured beyond the Nut is Levin and is artistically Inlaid.

Django played Selmer Guitars throughout most of his recording career. Although he used very light silk-and-steel strings (probably .010 to .046), the thin, slightly arched Tops on these guitars made them surprisingly loud & responsive.  In the earliest days of the Quintet, Reinhardt played a 12-fret Modèle Jazz with a large D-shaped Sound Hole, sometimes called a Grande Bouche or big mouth.  In 1934 Selmer redesigned the Guitar, lengthening the neck to 14 frets, changing the Soundhole to a smaller oval, and making some Interior modifications. This is the style of Guitar that Reinhardt made famous, and in 1939 Selmer renamed the Modèle Jazz the Modèle Django Reinhardt. In 1940 he took delivery of a Guitar with the serial number 503. This is the guitar he was to play until his death in 1953. This Guitar was post Django’s death in the Musée Instrumental de Paris. Selmer stopped making these Guitars in 1952.

Many of the other Guitarists, past and present, who play in this style have followed Reinhardt’s example in their choice of Instruments. Matelo, Sarane, & Baro Ferret played Selmers in the ‘30s & ’40s. After Selmer stopped making Guitars, a number of Luthiers stepped in to fill the demand.  Of these builders the most famous is Jacques Favino.  In later years Matelo played one of his Guitars, and today Favinos are almost as sought after as the original Selmers. Jacques Favino retired a number of years ago. Stochelo Rosenberg, Boulou & Elios Ferré all play Favinos, although Boulou also sometimes records with a Selmer.

Babik Reinhardt almost always plays an Electric Archtop, favouring a Gibson ES-175 cutaway but when he plays Acoustically, he plays an Ovation Adamas.

Bireli Lagrene plays an Electric Archtop or sometimes a Fender Stratocaster. When he plays acoustically, he currently uses a Guitar by a young Luthier from Cognac named Maurice Dupont. Dupont’s Guitars (available in the US through Paul Hostetter, 2550 Smith Grade, Santa Cruz, CA 95060) are regarded by many players of Jazz Manouche to be the most accurate replicas of the old Selmers.
John Jorgenson recorded his album After You’ve Gone using a 1941 Selmer. He currently plays a custom-made Dupont with a large D Soundhole and a 14-fret neck. Paul Mehling of the Hot Club of San Francisco also plays a Dupont and has the distinction of being the 1st American to order one. —Michael Simmons

The Levin De Luxe – Orkestergitarrer – Goteborg, Sweden
LevinDeLuxeGuitar

FredGuyRhythmGuitar

Fred Guy on earlier dates used another Guitar (Stromberg G1-3 or Deluxe?) The Stromberg name, a family that was famous for making Acoustic Archtops in the 30s & 40s. These Guitars were sought-after in their pre-amplification day for their ability to be heard over an entire Dance Orchestra without Amplification. Count Basie’s Guitarist, Freddie Green, was a well-known player of Stromberg’s. Between 1932 & 1964, Charles and son Elmer Stromberg sold high end, handmade instruments bearing their name.  Perhaps a Stromberg Deluxe – 17-3/8″ wide, Tailpiece with 3 cut-outs and Y-shaped centre section, bound Pickguard with Stair-step on treble side, bound F-holes, bound ebony Fingerboard with pointed end, “Deluxe” on peghead, natural or sunburst finish, gold plated parts.

1939LevinWaideleAdHerman Carlson Levin Musikinstrumentfabrik
Herman Carlson Levin Musical Instrument Factory) on Norra Larmgatan 4, in Göteborg

While visiting Göteborg during a Tour of Sweden in April 1939, Fred Guy, Guitarist in the Duke Ellington Orchestra purchased a Levin De Luxe at Waidele.  This is the Guitar that Django Reinhardt is playing in the famous William B Gottlieb photos. They were taken Backstage at the Aquarium in New York City when Django was on about to go Tour with the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1946.  Django arrived without his Instrument expecting US Manufacturers to fall at his feet with offers of top range Guitars –  later dubbed by Django as ‘Casserole’ Guitars.  Guy’s Swedish Levin De Luxe Acoustic Archtop Guitar was hurriedly used as an available prop for the Photo Shoot by Gottlieb in 1946. 1937LevinDeLuxeCatalog

Specifications: 1937-39
Non-cutaway.
Body width: 440 mm.
Body length: 530 mm.
Body depth: 85 mm.
Hand carved top & back.
Romanian Spruce Top.
4-ply bound f-holes.
Flame maple back & sides.
6-ply bound top with single-bound f-holes.
4-ply bound back.
5-ply bound pickguard.
Flame maple neck – non-adjustable T-shaped Duralumin Truss Rod.
Triple-bound Headstock with mother-of-pearl inlay.
Triple-bound ebony Fingerboard with mother-of-pearl block inlay.
Fingerboard ends with a tip.
Grover Sta-Tite or Imperial Tuners.
Gold plated hardware.
Sunburst finish.
Ten-year warranty.

Vintage Guitars Sweden

Levin History

Stromberg Master 400
The father & son team of Charles & Elmer Stromberg built approximately 640 Guitars from the 30s until 1955, when they died within a few months of each other.  They used their business cards as Labels in the Guitars, the Telephone number on the card helps to determine the approximate year the Instrument was made…1932-1945…CA 3174.  Late-model Strombergs, particularly the top-of-the-line Master 400, are considered some of the finest Archtops ever made, renowned for their sustain volume and exceptional bass & treble response.   The Guitar was particularly desirable because it is the only known small-bodied Master 400.  Most Master 400’s measure 19 inches across the bottom bout, but this one measures only 17-½ inches across at its widest point, which suggests that it was built on a special order basis. Adding to the Guitar’s value is its Cutaway; only 7 Strombergs with Cutaways are known to exist.

1947 Stromberg G1 – the much underrated Oscar Moore from Nat ‘King’ Cole’s Trio also played a Stromberg G1 without the Pick-guard and an added Pick-up, Oscar laid down the rules for the Classic Guitar, Piano & Bass trio.
Oscar Frederic Moore (December 25, 1915 – October 8, 1981) was an American jazz guitarist who spent 10 years with the Nat King Cole Trio.  Moore was born in Austin, Texas, but grew up in Los Angeles. During the 1930s he often worked with his brother, Johnny, who was also a Guitarist. Beginning in 1937, he spent 10 years with Nat King Cole in the Guitar-bass-piano Trio format that influenced Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, & Ahmad Jamal. After he left Cole, he joined his brother in Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers through the 1950s. He recorded 2 solo albums in 1954, then left the field of Music. During the last decades of his life, he laid bricks and ran a gas station.  He died in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1981

 

(left)

 

& Oscar Mooree (right) with identical guitars

1947 Stromberg G1 – the much underrated Oscar Moore from Nat ‘King’ Cole’s Trio also played a Stromberg G1 without the Pick-guard and an added Pick-up, Oscar laid down the rules for the Classic Guitar, Piano & Bass trio.
Oscar Frederic Moore (December 25, 1915 – October 8, 1981) was an American jazz guitarist who spent 10 years with the Nat King Cole Trio.  Moore was born in Austin, Texas, but grew up in Los Angeles. During the 1930s he often worked with his brother, Johnny, who was also a Guitarist. Beginning in 1937, he spent 10 years with Nat King Cole in the Guitar-bass-piano Trio format that influenced Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, & Ahmad Jamal. After he left Cole, he joined his brother in Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers through the 1950s. He recorded 2 solo albums in 1954, then left the field of Music. During the last decades of his life, he laid bricks and ran a gas station.  He died in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1981

 

 

 

Johnny (left) & Oscar Moore with Identical Guitars

1947 Stromberg G1 – the much underrated Oscar Moore from Nat ‘King’ Cole’s Trio also played a Stromberg G1 without the Pick-guard and an added Pick-up, Oscar laid down the rules for the Classic Guitar, Piano & Bass trio.
Oscar Frederic Moore (December 25, 1915 – October 8, 1981) was an American jazz guitarist who spent 10 years with the Nat King Cole Trio.  Moore was born in Austin, Texas, but grew up in Los Angeles. During the 1930s he often worked with his brother, Johnny, who was also a Guitarist. Beginning in 1937, he spent 10 years with Nat King Cole in the Guitar-bass-piano Trio format that influenced Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, & Ahmad Jamal. After he left Cole, he joined his brother in Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers through the 1950s. He recorded 2 solo albums in 1954, then left the field of Music. During the last decades of his life, he laid bricks and ran a gas station.  He died in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1981

 

 

OscarMoore&JohnyMoore's3Blazers.jpeg

 

Johnny (left) & Oscar Moore (right) with Identical Guitars

 

 

1947 Stromberg G1 – the much underrated Oscar Moore from Nat ‘King’ Cole’s Trio also played a Stromberg G1 without the Pick-guard and an added Pick-up, Oscar laid down the rules for the Classic Guitar, Piano & Bass trio.
Oscar Frederic Moore (December 25, 1915 – October 8, 1981) was an American jazz guitarist who spent 10 years with the Nat King Cole Trio.  Moore was born in Austin, Texas, but grew up in Los Angeles. During the 1930s he often worked with his brother, Johnny, who was also a Guitarist. Beginning in 1937, he spent 10 years with Nat King Cole in the Guitar-bass-piano Trio format that influenced Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, & Ahmad Jamal. After he left Cole, he joined his brother in Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers through the 1950s. He recorded 2 solo albums in 1954, then left the field of Music. During the last decades of his life, he laid bricks and ran a gas station.  He died in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1981

 

 

 

 

Levin Guitar claimed previously owned by Freddie Guy of the Duke Ellington band – the 1940’s era.  This is almost the same Guitar that Django Reinhardt held when he posed for photos when with Duke Ellington in 1946).  The Guitar was gifted by Freddie Guy’s ex-wife Dorothy Guy Lynch over 25 years ago.  The Levin Guitar is in its original Case, and has some small cracks in it.