The Levin company was established by Herman Carlson Levin in 1900 in Goethenburg Sweden. At its peak during the 1960s the Levin factory had 130 workers making around 16000 guitars each year for the US market alone. A feature of Levin guitars was their well seasoned wood - some of the spruce used for their sound boards was 300 years old!

Le Domino

The Le Domino line of instruments was made in Chicago by J.R. Stewart from 1926 to 1930 and included ukuleles, banjos and guitars. JR Stewart had worked for Harmony in the 1920s before starting his own business in 1925. In 1928 Stewart bought the rights to manufacture Washburn instruments from Lyon and Healy. The best known Le Domino instruments are the banjo-ukuleles which had inlaid dominos in a circle on the back of the resonator, the sides of the rim, and the fingerboard. Regal took over the Le Domino brand in 1930 following the bankruptcy of JR Stewart, and made Le Domino instruments for a while.


Sano was formed as an accordion company in 1951 in New Jersey by Nick Sano, an accordion player; Joe Zonfrilli, an electronics technician; and Lou Iorio (Zonfrilli's brother-in-law) a music teacher.  Stanley Michael provided electronics consultancy services to Sano but was not officially part of the company. Michael developed an accordion pickup for Sano around 1951 and in 1953 Jack Gentul joined the company as an electronics designer. From 1953 until 1964 Gentul designed the circuits for all Sano's tube amplifiers. Being primarily an accordion company Sano's tube amps were initially voiced to fit accordions and vocal microphones but soon they developed amps for guitars as well. Sano mainly made amps under their own brand name, but they also made  Hohner and Excelsior branded amps. Sano amps are developing a reputation as an affordable option for great vintage tone. Sano also sold guitars - these were imported from Italy (and possibly Japan).


Orbra Wallace "App" Appleton (1902 - 1994) was a musician and inventor, who reputedly made the first solid bodied electric guitar in 1941. Appleton showed his design to Gibson in 1943 but they did not take up his idea at the time. The 1941 App guitar had a single cutaway solid pine body (remarkably similar to the later Les Paul design) combined with an unfinished Gibson neck and single pickup. This first model even had fine-tuners on the tailpiece. This APP guitar was displayed in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Appleton ran a music store in Burlington, Iowa and claimed that salesmen for the major guitar makers had come by his store and seen his invention before coming out with their own solid-bodied electric guitars.


French luthier Paul Lairat started making instruments in 1991 and opened his own workshop in 2000. Lairat is best known for his bass guitars. By 2012 he had made 108 instruments, including electric and acoustic guitars and basses.

Source: Paul Lairat website (7 December 2017)

Larson (Brothers)

Carl (1867-1946) and August Larson (1873-1944) emigrated to Chicago in the late 1880s from Sweden. They worked for various Chicago guitar makers before buying Maurer & Company in 1900 when Robert Maurer retired. They established a workshop on Elm Street, and sold their guitars directly to the public. Their guitars were sold under the Maurer brand name but also as Euphonon, Prairie State, Stetson and Stahl. Larson Brothers flat-top acoustic guitars were popular with recording artists as their clear tone was well suited to the radio.

In 2013 the Larson brand name was revived for a range of acoustic guitars by Maurice Dupont in Boutier Saint-Trojan, France.

Source: Larson Brothers Registry (4 December 2017)


William C Stahl was a Milwaukee sheet music and instrument retailer. Some Stahl labelled guitars and mandolins/mandolas/mandocellos were made by the Larson Brothers of Chicago.

Source: William C Stahl mandolin label - Reverb.com

Source: Larson Brothers - Stahl registry


Delwyn Langejans started making guitars in 1971 in Holland, Michigan. From that time until his retirement in 2012 Langejans made over 1200 instruments, including acoustic guitars, banjos, harp guitars, and a few electric guitars. He is best known for his dreadnought and grand concert acoustic guitars.

Source: Langejans Guitars website (1 December 2017)


Brad Lowe started Lowe Custom Guitars in 2009 in Oldsmar, Florida with the aim of combining his interests in the music, visual art and industrial design. Lowe Customs solid-body electric guitars and basses with unique elements of body style, finish or textures while combining a wide variety of materials and finishes.

Source: Lowe Custom Guitars website (1 December 2017)


The Argus brand was introduced in 1980 by the Japanese distributor Kyowa. This was Kyowa's attempt to launch a high end guitar brand (they had "Super Excellent" on the peghead) and they involved Mr. Shiino of Vestax / H.S. Anderson as a consultant. Their Les Paul "Live Road" copy sold for over ¥100,000 (around $420 at the time) and their strat copy was around ¥80,000. An acoustic was also available.

Source: Argus information at musictrade.jp


Tom Waghorn began making and repairing musical instruments in 1996, with luthier Phil Davidson at Hobgoblin Music in Bristol. In 2000 Waghorn started his own workshop at Clevedon Craft Centre, making mandolins and acoustic guitars. In 2002 the worskhop was moved to Treblerock Music on St. Michaels Hill in Bristol and Waghorn concentrated exclusively on making guitars. Around 2007 Waghorn moved to his current workshop on Mill Avenue in the centre of Bristol.

Source: Waghorn Guitars website (29 November 2017)


Fresher guitars were first introduced in 1973 by the Kyowa Company of Nagoya, Japan. Early Fresher guitars were budget instruments based on the popular American designs but by the late 1970s quality had improved and Fresher designs were becoming more original. The first and second generations of Fresher guitars were made for Kyowa by the Matsumotu Musical Instrument Manufacturer's Association, but Chushin Gakki made the third and fourth generations. In 1977 Fresher launched a series of electric guitars with built in effects. Kyowa stopped producing Fresher guitars in 1985.

Source: Vintage Guitar Magazine: Fresher Guitars by Michael Wright (31 May 2017)

Source: Music Trade.co.jp - Fresher (31 May 2017)


The Japanese Pearl Drum company bought the Hayashi acoustic guitar company in the early 1970s, and began selling Pearl branded acoustic guitars made by Hayashi. There were also Pearl Export Series solid body electric guitars and basses made by Matsumoku from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s. The Pearl Musical Instrument company also sold a range of effects pedals and solid state amplifiers in the 1980s.

Source:  Jack Westheimer Pioneer of Global Guitarmaking. By Michael Wright. Vintage Guitar Magazine

Source: Pearl Guitars...brought to you by Matsumoku and Hayashi

Source: 1983 Pearl Effects catalog

Knight guitars

Knight acoustic guitars are handmade by Jeremy Knight in Grants Pass, Oregon. Jeremy Knight started working on guitars in 1993, repairing a classical guitar that had been run over by a car! Since then he has specialized in steel string guitars. Knight offers four standard steel string body models: the SJ-Concert, Dreadnaught, Solo, and Jumbo, but custom guitars are also an option.

Source: Knight guitars website (17 November 2017)


Yakima was a house brand of Willis Music in the 1980s. Yakima acoustic, electric and bass guitars were most likely made in Korea - some Yakima models are identical to Hondo ones suggesting both were made in the same Korean factories.

Source: Yakima guitar neck plate

Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk was a German Amplifier company. Kitty Hawk Amps were available in the 1980s and 1990s and were distributed in the USA by LPMG (Latin Percussion). While these were good sounding amps, by the late 1990s problems with potentiometers and output transformers meant lots were returned for repairs. LPMG eventually discontinued the distribution agreement.

Source: Kitty Hawk catalog 1997

Source: Kitty Hawk - the Gear Page


Victory Amplifiers is an English company which produces tube amplifiers designed by Martin Kidd (the ex-designer of Cornford Amps).  Victory launched in 2013 with three all-valve models the V10 10-watt 1×12 combo; V50 50-watt two-channel head and V100 100-watt two-channel head plus associated 2×12 and 4×12 speaker cabinets. All handbuilt in the UK.

Source: Victory Amplifiers website (13 November 2017)

Kingsley (amplifiers)

Kingsley Amplifiers was founded in 2000 by Simon Jarrett as a hand made tube guitar amplifier designer and maker. Although their first amplifiers were inspired by classic Vox and Fender-type circuits, all their products feature a combination of classic and original circuit design, with an emphasis on circuit simplicity, high quality and simple but useful features. The Kingsley Deluxe 30 was awarded the Guitar Player Magazine Editors Pick Award in 2001. Since then they have been busy refining their products and offering new designs - they now offer a full range of guitar amplifier models, from the low power Deluxe 1 up to the full featured ToneBaron.

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