H.C. Levin from Sweden had worked in the United States as a trainee at the Martin Guitar Company, as did his son just before World War I. H.C. went back to Sweden and formed the Levin Guitar company.
The “Goya” name comes from Francisco Jose de Goya, the famous 18th century Spanish painter known as the father of modern art (Francisco drew a lot of Spanish guitar players too).
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.
The distribution for Goya guitars went from Hershman to Kustom Electronics Inc. in 1970 and then over to Dude Inc. (both of Chanute, Kansas) in late 1972. The Goya brand then went to the C. F. Martin Guitar Company, located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, in 1974 when they acquired Levin, and Goya guitars were distributed by Martin until 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.
Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame composed her first song “I’ve Loved and I’ve Lost” with a Goya guitar, her very first guitar, given to her by her parents on her sixteenth birthday. Asked during a MTV interview, “How long, actually, have you been composing songs?” she answered, “Since my 16th birthday, the day I got my Goya guitar. I wrote a song that day.”
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