Home / Instruments /Accessories / Ordering / Tips / Friends
Gibson 1928 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 #: 85578, 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: 20's vintage hardware includes engraved gold Waverly 3-on-a-plate tuners with grained ivoroid buttons, compensated Gibson adjustable ebony bridge, gold Gibson trapeze tailpiece. Vintage correct triple bound dark tortoise pickguard.
Notes: 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.
Of all model years for the L-5 to date, the year 1928 has been the one most requested here over many years. Instruments built in this year possess a neck profile that is uniquely sought after by players for its graceful light D contour. Distinctly slimmer in depth than Loar era versions, the '28 neck also avoids the harder V shape found in the later 16" L-5. 1928 is also the last full year for the classic dot fingerboard, with its understated elegance. Finally, the tone of these guitars is simply legendary, with a matchless blend of warmth, clarity and astounding projection.
Built early in the year, this instrument, #85578, would have been one of the last to bear the oval Master Model, a portion of which remains visible inside the bass soundhole. (An additional oval Gibson label is affixed as well, and is stamped with the serial number, presumably from a trip back to the factory in the '30s.) Weighing in at just 5 lb. 1 oz. (2.3kg) the guitar is notably lightweight and well balanced, showing fine tiger maple figure in the back, sides and neck, with a graceful Cremona sunburst finish. Well played and well maintained, the instrument is in fine shape, without pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear. Both soundboard and neck are without cracks of any kind, and a single grainline crack on the back lower treble bout has been soundly resealed. Near the treble foot of the bridge a slight groove in the top is visible from an old DeArmond control box, and the outline of an old jack hole has been immaculately resealed in the side. The finish shows some light older overspray, now showing fine scattered checking of its own.
The tuners are 20's vintage Waverlys with grained ivoroid buttons and hand engraved backplates, very similar to the originals, and the gold trapeze tailpiece is of similar vintage. 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 fresh vintage style fretwork, a full 1 3/4" nut, and a fine recent ebony fingerboard. With its finely carved soundboard played-in for some 80 years, the instrument possesses a depth and resonance uncommon in a 16" body, with exceptional bass response and a pronounced natural reverb in the treble register. This unique combination of power and refinement demonstrates why these guitars have been so widely imitated, but never improved upon.
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: Original black Gibson hardshell case.