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My Vintage Goya Guitar Collection

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Goya instruments were originally produced in Sweden circa 1900's to mid 1960's. Distributed by Hershman Musical Instruments Company of New York. Later Goya instruments were built in Korea from the early 1970's to 1996, and were distributed by the Martin Guitar Company, located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. The Goya trademark was originally used by the Hershman Musical Instrument Company of New York City, New York in the 1950's on models built by Sweden's Levin Company (similiar models were sold in Europe under the company's Levin trademark). Levin built high quality acoustic flattop, classical, and archtop guitars as well as mandolins. A large number of rebranded Goya instruments were imported to the U.S. market.

In the late 1950's, solidbody electric guitars and basses built by Hagstrom (also a Swedish company) were rebranded Goya and distributed in the U.S. as well. In 1963 the company changed its name to the Goya Musical Instrument Corporation.

Goya was purchased by Avnet in 1966, and continued to import instruments such as the Rangemaster in 1967. By the late 1960's, electric solidbody guitars and basses were then being built in Italy by the EKO company. Avnet then sold the Goya trademark to Kustom Electronics. It has been estimated that the later Goya instruments of the 1970's were built in Japan.

The C.F. Martin company later acquired the Levin company, and bought the rights to the Goya trademark from a company named Dude, Inc. in 1976. Martin imported a number guitar, mandolin, and banjo string instruments from the 1970's through to 1996. While this trademark is currently discontinued, the rights to the name are still held by the Martin Guitar company.

The Goya company featured a number of innovations that most people are not aware of. Goya was the first classic guitar line to put the trademark name on the headstock, and also created the ball end classic guitar string.

Levin-Era Goya models feature interior paper label with the Goya trademark in a cursive style, and designated "Made by A.B. Herman Carlson Levin - Gothenburg Sweden." Model and serial number appear on the label, as well as on the neck block.

Albin Hagstrom's company produced guitars in Sweden from 1957 through the early 1980's. Early distributors included the Hershman Musical Instrument Company of New York (under Goya logo) and Selmer, U.K. (under Futurama logo). Hagstrom really came into it's stride during the beat boom of the early 1960's, making functional, affordable models such as the Kent. Hagstrom also began to export widely, often badging guitars to suit the marketing brands of the customer. Thus some US Goya-brand guitars orginated at the Hagstrom plant.

Goya was a brandname used at various times by a New York importing firm, and as was so often the case with distribution companies one brandname turns up on guitars from a number of different sources. The Rangemaster model 116 (producted 1965-1969), for example, is of Italian origin, reflecting a 1960's predilection for multiple control layouts, and most likely comes from the EKO factory. The vibrato on the Rangemaster, however, was provided by another Goya supplier, the Hagstrom company of Sweden.

The Japanese manufacturers who started to mass produce electric guitars in the early 1960's included Fujigen Gakki which made guitars with Goya, Kent and other importer brands. Greco instruments were imported to the U.S. through Goya Guitars/Avnet. Avnet was the same major company that also acquired Guild in 1966.

Jimi Hendrix played a psychedelic (paisley design) Goya Rangemaster, which can be seen in the "Jimi Hendrix Electric Gypsy" book by Shapiro & Glebeek. The picture in the book has this description "Goya - probably made in early 1968. This photograph (taken around March 1968 in the USA) shows Jimi playing this Italian-manufactured guitar - the first psychedelic guitar available on the market."

SOURCES:
"Blue Book of Electric Guitars" by Steven Cherne
"Classic Guitars of the 60's" edited by Tony Bacon
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