Home / Instruments /Accessories / Ordering / Tips / Friends


1929 Gibson L-5

Price and Status: For pricing and hold status of this instrument, please check here. If this instrument does not appear on the Instruments page it has been sold. To be notified of examples of this or any other model in the future, please email your specific requests to [email protected].

Serial #: 88890, white oval label.

Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24.9" Nut Width: 1 3/4"

Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid bookmatched tiger flame maple back and sides; solid three piece maple neck with walnut centerstripe; solid ebony fingerboard; mother of pearl script peghead logo and fingerboard inlay, abalone flowerpot peghead inlay; triple bound fingerboard, body, peghead and pickguard.

Hardware: Gold Gibson trapeze tailpiece, hand antiqued period correct gold Grover Sta-Tite butterbean tuners, compensated adjustable ebony bridge, vintage correct triple bound dark tortoise pickguard.

Notes: Who in the world was Drowsy Waters? A small town radio or vaudeville performer? Muddy Waters lazy little brother? There's a haunting Hawaiian waltz of the same name, but of Drowsy the performer, you will Google in vain. Whatever became of Waters, we may never know, but his (or her) guitar has survived to sing some songs of its own.

Making it's debut in 1922, the Gibson L-5 was created by the legendary Lloyd Loar, father of the renowned F-5 mandolin. One of the most influential instrument designers of the 20th century, Loar pioneered a number of key innovations, including very early work on the electric guitar. The Gibson L-5 is perhaps his most influential creation, and is widely regarded as the first successful commercially produced archtop guitar. Now in its eighth decade, it remains the most famous jazz guitar of all time.

Built in mid-1929, this handsome instrument retains the straight "The Gibson" peghead logo of earlier in the decade, and is one of the first to bear the distinctive block inlays and straight fingerboard extension of the 30's. Most important for the modern player, the neck profile is a graceful light D contour, distinctly slimmer in depth than Loar era versions, and avoiding the harder V shape found in many later examples. Found chiefly on guitars from the late 20's, this inviting neck profile is remarkably contemporary in feel, and is by far the most favored by players today.

The guitar is exceptionally lightweight and well balanced, weighing in at an astonishing 4lb. 10oz. (2.14 kg), and the voice is accordingly vibrant, with exceptional resonance, clarity and volume. A remarkably attractive example as well, the instrument shows tiger flame maple of unusual depth and intensity, under a warm sunburst finish applied some decades ago. Very well maintained, the instrument is without pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear. Several hairline cracks near the bass soundhole have been tightly cleated and linen backed, and a small crack across the heel soundly resealed.

The Patent stamped gold trapeze tailpiece retains excellent plating, and we've restored to the peghead a set of vintage correct hand-antiqued Grover stamped Sta-Tite machines with butterbean keys. The triple bound dark tortoise pickguard is made from an original template, with thick true nitro stock and grained ivoroid binding. Action is smooth and low over recent vintage style fretwork, and the fingerboard has the generous 1 3/4" width nut. A wonderful bonus is the nicely preserved striped tweed "aircraft cloth" plush hardshell case, surely the most eye-catching of all Gibson cases. With its combination of true vintage tone, effortless playability, and extravagant looks, this remarkable instrument represents a rare combination of features and value for the contemporary player.

Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished as necessary; trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge bronze strings (.013-.057). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.

Case: Striped tweed "aircraft cloth" plush hardshell case.













































































































Home / Instruments /Accessories / Ordering / Tips / Friends