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  #1  
Old 11-24-2017, 10:58 PM
Kray Van Kirk Kray Van Kirk is offline
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Default Review: Leviora 12-string

A few days ago the 12-string from Thomas in Germany arrived. I've been playing and experimenting with it; pictures are below the report.

When Thomas and I were discussing it, we were restricted to using the same body size, neck width, and headstock size as the standard Leviora 6-string; I couldn't afford to have him make a new mold for the headstock. So I measured various 12-strings I could find, and the closest to the neck width and such was a Collings small-bodied 12-string at Dusty Strings in Seattle. So I set the spacing to 2 mm between the strings of each pair, and divided the rest of the neck width evenly for the spacing between pairs themselves, leaving 1.5 mm between the outer E strings and the edge of the fretboard. The body is the same as the Leviora six-string, with a sound port and fanned frets. It has a truss rod and an adjustable heel-block, though that is above my pay-grade. Thomas was unable to implement his usual bayonet bridge design, so he made the bridge a slide-through format like a Breedlove. The pick-up is a K&K Double Helix with the Ultra-Pure mini and external pre-amp.

This is without a doubt the finest guitar I have ever owned. The action is PERFECT for me - low and smooth and feels like a high-end Taylor or Breedlove. No buzz in the strings, and it is still sufficiently responsive that hammer-ons are very clear and not muted. This thing is LOUD, and so easy to play that I might very well switch some tunes I usually play on the 6-string to this one for the added shimmer and sound. Capoing high up the neck (7th fret) does not diminish the tone or the sustain. It feels compact, super responsive, and like a well-made, precision tool.

The tuners are very close together, given the 6-string headstock, and I knew that would be the case. Tuning requires a wee bit of dexterity with fingertips as opposed to being able to fit the entire hand between tuners. I think some players might find the narrower neck frustrating, along with the smaller spacing between string pairs than is usually found, but I am enjoying it.

This is currently strung with Elixir 12-string lights, and I might experiment with changing the two primary bass strings to regular lights to increase the bass relative to all the treble.

Thomas did a fantastic job and implemented everything we discussed. I couldn't be happier with this instrument. Woot!!










Last edited by Kray Van Kirk; 11-24-2017 at 11:22 PM.
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Old 11-25-2017, 07:25 AM
Frettingflyer Frettingflyer is offline
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Wow Kray, sounds and looks fantastic, canít beat that. I love what can be done with CF construction and some outside the box thinking. Thank you for the review.
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Old 11-25-2017, 07:36 PM
douglasfan1 douglasfan1 is offline
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Nice choice for the K&K Double Helix with the Ultra-Pure mini . Dual source really make the world different! Does double helix meet your expectations? I remember it for a gloss & stream selection. Could you tell me the difference?

You've mentioned your 12 string adapting a breedlove bridge system. May I ask how's that? Also, notice that you've added a soundport this time, have you notice the volume increase?

Must be tons of email for the communication. But the outcome seems very well!
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Old 11-25-2017, 09:08 PM
Kray Van Kirk Kray Van Kirk is offline
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The limits were definitely stretched here, because I don't think a wooden headstock would be able to take the pressure with such small margins around it (but I might be totally wrong).

I've not yet tried the pick-up system. I'm in the middle of building a work studio and my little amp and such are all buried. I'll have to dig them out. I used to play Sunrise pickups in my wooden guitars and have never stopped kicking myself for selling the pick-ups with the guitars. I just thought that the regular Ultra-Mini might need some additional help in separating out the signal from each string pair for clarity.

The bridge is a pinless bridge in which the strings are slid through from the bottom. I love ANYTHING that doesn't involve bridge pins!! I think the only other guitars I've seen that on were Breedlove (I thought Taylor too, but maybe I'm wrong...)



The soundport was unintentional. Thomas includes that as a standard, and I had him omit that from the 6-string. I think it just slipped past when we were discussing this one and it got included just by habit. It's definitely louder in terms of the sound coming directly at me, although the entire instrument is really broad in terms of sound. I've been playing Rainsongs for over a decade now, and my 12-string was a WS3000. This thing has a different tone, but is twice as loud. It took me about three months to adapt to the six-string, and I think this one will be similar.
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Old 11-25-2017, 10:16 PM
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Congratulations on your new guitar! I bet it sounds great..
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Old 11-25-2017, 10:37 PM
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These Levioraís seem to be incredible composite guitars, and you Kray, seem to have a couple of fine, unique specimens. Congrats! I wonder why they donít have a bigger following, at least here? It canít be because theyíre foreign (German?) made...heck Emerald seems to be doing pretty well. And although Iíve heard they are very pricey, itís not like members here havenít forked-out mucho dinero on quality guitars before. I hope Leviora finds a way to increase their exposure and following.

Have fun, Kray!
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Old 11-26-2017, 01:43 PM
kramster kramster is offline
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Wow..Saaaaweet!! One lil thing about these not being as popular might just be they a wee more pricy... just guessin'.
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Old 11-26-2017, 03:10 PM
Kray Van Kirk Kray Van Kirk is offline
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Well, I do need to make sure I can play them like they deserve!

Leviora guitars are a bit more expensive than Emerald (which is why I am selling my Rainsongs to help cover the cost!). Not enormously so, but I am betting enough that someone looking to explore CF for the first time wouldn't choose the Leviora. Partly, Emerald has a much larger production scale, which improves the cost ratio both in terms of workflow/materials as well as allowing for a narrower profit margin. Thomas doesn't use molds for the body (the neck and headstock are molded, I think?) - he constructs back, sides, and top all separately and then attaches them, which probably increases the time investment on each one. This one has a 2017 serial number of 37, meaning (I am guessing) that Thomas has built 37 instruments this year.

I think more and more folks are becoming aware of Leviora, and it becomes an issue of taste and playing style and such. Don Ross, Calum Graham and Don Alder all have toured with Leviora guitars, which really expands their visibility.
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:54 PM
GuitarDoc GuitarDoc is offline
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WOW wow wow!
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Old 11-29-2017, 07:03 AM
douglasfan1 douglasfan1 is offline
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Is it heavier than the 6 string Leviora guitar when you pick it up?
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:27 PM
Kray Van Kirk Kray Van Kirk is offline
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I'm going to say that they are essentially the same. The body and construction are pretty much identical - the only thing the 12-string might have is the extra string weight (even though the overall gauges are smaller) and the soundhole pickup. The only place where they could potentially really differ is in the size or mass of the heel block, which is how they fit into the body. But I am guessing that Thomas has this standardized as well.

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Old 11-29-2017, 10:44 PM
GuitarDoc GuitarDoc is offline
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would it support the pull of medium weight strings. sent note alistar and he implied that a chimera could stand the pull.
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Old 11-29-2017, 11:04 PM
Kray Van Kirk Kray Van Kirk is offline
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I'm not sure. I would think that the 12-string could, but when Thomas asked what gauge strings I usually use, I said the Elixir 12-string lights, so he may have tailored the inside thicknesses and such precisely for that. On the other hand, I use mediums on the 6-string version of the guitar without a problem. I should ask! :-)
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Old 11-30-2017, 11:11 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarDoc View Post
....would it support the pull of medium weight strings. sent note alistar and he implied that a chimera could stand the pull.
It should. The Chimaera comes with light gauge on the twelve string side, IIRC. Although I cannot speak to the Leviora, I just got an Emerald X20-12 twelve string, and it came wearing a HEAVY EJ-37 string set, with 336 pounds (!!) of total tension according to the D'Addario package. Those strings are labeled as "heavy bottom, medium top". Normal EJ-38 "lights" are 250 pounds total for comparison.

If my X20-12 can handle the extra 86 pounds of tension while shipping (and arriving from Ireland in tune) it makes sense that moving to medium gauge twelve strings would work. Verify the total tension of the strings that you intend to use for yourself first though.

One of the things I did when changing strings to compare it directly to my existing Taylor twelve was to first remove the octave string pairs and play it as a six string for an hour. The remaining wound strings were essentially a normal 54-12 light gauge set. I did not notice any neck relief change, but the guitar in that configuration was quieter than my CF six strings. X20-12 is a little quieter overall than my Taylor. Sounds better though.......
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Old 11-30-2017, 12:20 PM
Kray Van Kirk Kray Van Kirk is offline
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Hmm... that's a good idea, playing with only the remaining 6 strings. I'll check the total tension on the string package as well. As this bridge is like a Breedlove , it might behave differently than the regular bayonet bridge that Thomas usually uses.

On a different note, Earl, we're pouring the foundation (finally!) tomorrow. With wall thicknesses and property regs and such, we have the main room down to 13 feet wide by 17 long with 14.5 foot vaulted ceiling. The length is altered at the 17 foot mark by a wall with an open loft that extends another 6 feet at the same ceiling height. It has two Queen's posts for the ceiling braces on which I can place acoustic absorption panels if needed. One wall will be acoustic absorption (1 inch acoustic insulation inside a wooden frame wrapped in fabric), while the opposite wall will be a redwood diffuser wall. We'll see what kind of sound I can get out of it!
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