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1930 Gibson L-5
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Serial #: 86195, white oval label. FON#: 9598
Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 25" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Neck depth: .80/.98, 1st/10th frets
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, split diamond peghead inlay; triple bound fingerboard, body, peghead and pickguard, solid pearl nut.
Hardware: Gold Kluson Sealfast tuners, engraved L-5 Varitone tailpiece, adjustable compensated ebony bridge, adjustable truss rod. Vintage correct prewar style bound tortoise pickguard, Vintage Vibe Charlie Christian floating pickup with volume control, 1/4" endpin jack.
Notes: Imagine a world where every time your car needs a brake job, you have to take it back to Detroit. Or worse yet, Munich. Or Toyota, Japan. And yet, for decades in the 20th Century, many guitars needing even routine adjustment were often sent right back to the factories in which they were built. While many professionally owned instruments made multiple such trips over the years, this peripatetic guitar may have earned the record for frequent flyer miles.
According to Gibson archivist Joe Spann, this handsome guitar originally left the factory in 1930, but then returned for repair or setup no less than five times between 1936 and 1949. While the nature of the work performed in those years is unknown, it is it's final journey to Kalamazoo that surely is of the most consequence.
It is reported that guitarist Jess Rainwater played this instrument at a standing gig at the Henry Grady hotel in Atlanta in the 1960's. By that time, the guitar had been fitted with an ES-150 'Charlie Christian' blade pickup, presumably installed during one of the guitar's earlier factory visits. Knocked awry by an overenthusiastic diner, the guitar was sent back for a final trip to Kalamazoo around '63-4 for a new neck, and an all-acoustic, fine-grained, carved spruce soundboard, parallel braced in the original style. Gibson included a subtly shaded dark crimson sunburst finish, bound f-holes, an engraved postwar style L-5 tailpiece, and gold Kluson Sealfast tuners.
The original label was left in the body, with a matching serial number impressed in the new headstock. But why a neck from a Johnny Smith model, rather than another L-5? Our guess is that the owner may have preferred the wider 1 3/4" nut of the original neck, but with a slimmer, more modern depth, and the Smith was the only Gibson model with those dimensions. (It also would explain why the guitar now has the slightly longer 25" scale length unique to the JS.)
The back and sides show intensely vivid bookmatched tiger maple, exceptional even for instruments of its vintage, and perfectly mated with a three piece neck of barber pole flame. Lovingly maintained, the instrument is remarkably free of pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear, with fine medium fretwork in the solid ebony fingerboard. The binding is all tight to the body, and the soundboard, sides and neck show no cracks. Apart from a single incidental hairline crack on the back centerseam near the heel, now soundly resealed, the guitar shows no signs of repair otherwise.
At just 5 lb. 14 oz, the guitar far lighter than any of the L-5 reissues, and deftly balanced on the lap or the strap. The voice is clear and powerful, with excellent projection, and the open resonance of a soundboard now aged for over half a century. The neck is particularly comfortable, with a contemporary gentle D profile, neither clubby nor veed, and effortless action over a fresh high precision setup. The bound pickguard is crafted from an original template, with decay-resistant dark swirl acrylic tortoise. And in an homage to its former electric configuration, the guitar is fitted with a Vintage Vibe floating Charlie Christian pickup, for faithful traditional single-coil tone.
This one-of-a-kind Gibson creation is the ideal combination for the player desiring true prewar tone, with sleek modern playability. One only: call now.
Case: Black plush lined hardshell case.
Setup: 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-.056). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" 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.