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1917 Gibson L-4

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Serial #: 38743, white oval label. FON#: 11064

Body size at lower bout: 16" Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Rim depth: 3 1/4"

Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid bookmatched maple back and sides; solid one piece mahogany neck; solid ebony fingerboard; mother of pearl script peghead logo and fingerboard inlay.

Hardware: Nickel hardware includes 20's vintage engraved tuners with celluloid buttons, prewar Gibson trapeze tailpiece with raised crossbar, compensated adjustable rosewood bridge, vintage correct contoured swirl tortoise pickguard.

Notes: Introduced in 1912, the L-4 is the oldest model still produced by the Gibson company, remaining in the catalog over a century later, now gussied up with pickups and a cutaway. Gibson's unique carved body guitars were a revolutionary innovation: with their arched soundboards and backs, and tailpiece-and-bridge construction, the instruments were specifically designed for steel strings, and produced greatly increased volume and projection over the diminutive parlor guitars of the day. The 16" 'Grand Concert' size was Gibson's largest, and the extended upper bout of the 11 1/2 fret body greatly enhanced volume, bass response and overall resonance. With its signature diamond pattern soundhole ring, the L-4 had a whopping $230 price tag in 1920, over $100 more than Martin's top-line 000-45.

At barely 4 lb. in weight this instrument is exceptionally light in construction, with its finely carved parallel-braced soundboard offering remarkable clarity, definition, and power. At the same time, the oval port produces a uniquely mellow and resonant tone, with decidedly greater sustain and lower midrange response than the later f-hole models. With it's generous 1 3/4" nut, the guitar is particularly well suited to fingerstyle play, and has pronounced natural reverb under the pick.

This veteran player is finished in the original red mahogany varnish, an ultra-light finish particularly responsive on the soundboard. Well restored, the guitar has a cleated grainline crack near the tailpiece and another on the treble side, with a resealed centerseam at the endblock. A pair of small holes have been filled in the peghead, along with another pair just south of the bridge. The engraved tuners are of 20's vintage, along with a prewar Gibson tailpiece, an adjustable compensated rosewood bridge, and a swirl tortoise pickguard crafted from an original template. Some tiny filled holes in the neck binding on the bass side suggest that a left handed pickguard was once installed as well. While smooth thumbwear attests to the instrument's long career, the body shows remarkably little pick or buckle wear, suggesting a careful owner.

The neck is contoured to a traditional full V profile, and the solid ebony fingerboard is admirably straight, with smooth low action over fine original frets. The tone is utterly unique: deeper and more resonant than a typical acoustic archtop, but with greater projection and headroom than a flat top of similar size. Ideal for ragtime, blues, early jazz or old-time country, the L-4 is a versatile wonder, and a delight to play, complete with its original deluxe brown plush lined hardshell case. One only: call now.

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 nickel 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: Original deluxe brown arched plush lined hardshell case.




































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