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1937 Gibson L-50 "Sweet and Lowdown"

Status: SOLD For instruments now available, please visit our Instruments page here. To be notified of examples of this model or similar instruments as they arrive, please contact joev@archtop.com. Please be specific on which instrument(s) you're looking for, and we'll be happy to contact you as soon as they become available.

Factory order #: 460C44

Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut width: 1 3/4"

Materials: Solid carved spruce top; solid figured maple back and sides, solid one-piece mahogany neck, solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, pearl script logo and fingerboard inlays; bound body.

Hardware: Original adjustable ebony bridge, original Grover nickel-plated Sta-Tite tuners with celluloid keys; original nickel trapeze tailpiece with raised diamond on crossbar, Gibson tortoise pickguard; Pick Up The World under bridge piezo pickup w/endpin jack.

Notes: From time to time we've had the opportunity to offer an instrument that's been featured on a well known recording. But this lovely little box is our very first movie star. You film buffs may recall the recent Woody Allen picture "Sweet and Lowdown", starring Sean Penn as Emmett Ray, a talented but frustrated guitarist living under the shadow of the great Django Reinhardt. Woody Allen fans will know that he's a passable clarinet player, and his music director is the legendary Dick Hyman, so it's no surprise the guitar soundtrack was ghosted by Howard Alden and Bucky Pizzarelli, no slouches on the frets themselves.

Allen's prop department got it just right, too. Django-obsessed Emmett played a Selmer style guitar, and his trusty rhythm guitarist Harry (played by James Urbaniek) played a classic mid-30's Gibson L-50, the perfect sideman's axe. Last year, financial difficulties at Allen's studio occasioned a massive auction of props and costumes from a number of Woody's films. You can read more details about the auction here:


Remarkably, Harry's guitar was among them, a jewel amidst the tinsel.

After setting it up, we were delighted to discover that this guitar is no mere piece of scenery. It's easily one of the very best sounding examples of this model we've found, and was hand-selected for the production by Howard Alden himself. The soundboard is light and perfectly carved, and the instrument has the brilliant, wide-open voice of dry old spruce. Best of all, this particular guitar is one of the favored examples made with solid back and sides, making it the functional equivalent to the costly L-4.

The guitar is equipped with its original trapeze tailpiece, original Grover tuners and original ebony bridge, and its original hardshell case. The neck has the classic prewar Gibson "V" profile, the Brazilian rosewood fingerboard is impeccably straight, and the original frets are in great condition, with the action of a new guitar. Though the lower bout sports some typical finish dings, the top is remarkably free of pick wear, and the deep sunburst finish has ambered handsomely. A single crack on the back has been solidly cleated and retouched, and the fine checking in the original walnut lacquer of the back remains visible under a light clear overspray. A piece of film history, and a musical delight, this guitar will always be ready for its closeup.

Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished; 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: Black hardshell case.





















































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