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1931 Gibson L-5
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Serial #: 87568, white oval label.
Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24 1/2" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Neck depth: .93/1.07, 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 torch peghead inlay; pearloid fingerboard inlays; triple bound fingerboard, body, peghead and pickguard, solid bone nut.
Hardware: Original gold hardware includes Grover Pat. Applied For G-98 Sta-Tite tuners, wraparound trapeze tailpiece Pat. stamped July 19, 1910. Bound tortoise pickguard, Pat. stamped March 30, 09. Compensated adjustable ebony bridge with matching serial number included in case, additional compensated ebony bridge installed.
Notes: Making it's debut in 1923, 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 approaching its centennial, the L-5 remains the most celebrated and influential jazz guitar of all time.
This remarkable guitar, with serial # 87568, would previously have been dated to 1929, but is now more accurately placed to 1931, according to the authoritative Spann's Guide. A very rare transitional model, this handsome guitar is one of the very earliest block inlay L-5s, and is fitted with inlays of figured pearloid. (An example of these early L-5 block inlays may be seen here.) When the instrument was professionally refretted, the original inlays for this guitar were stored in the instrument case, and replaced with a matching set, in vintage correct aged amber pearloid.
Among the other distinctive features of this instrument are the long bound tortoise pickguard, stamped with its patent date, and the thin script Gibson logo, which is positioned unusually close to the top of the peghead. And on the back of the peghead, a sticker is affixed from the Oahu Publishing Company, one of the largest prewar distributors of guitar instruction materials and related instruments.
The instrument shows vivid bookmatched fiddleback maple in the back, sides and neck. Well maintained, the instrument shows some fine smooth thumbwear along the neck, a clue to a long professional career, and some scattered pick marks in its original deep Cremona lacquer finish. The wrap-around trapeze tailpiece retains its patent stamp, and the serial # for the instrument is inscribed on the foot of the original ebony bridge, which is included in its original hardshell case. A single short hairline crack near the bass f-hole is soundly resealed, the original binding is all tight to the body, and the bridge saddle has ample clearance to be lowered or raised.
Weighing in at just over 5 lb. even, the guitar is notably light in weight and well balanced. The action is smooth and low over a fresh, high precision setup, with the generous 1 3/4" nut, and traditional full V profile neck. The voice is clear as spring water: brilliant and shimmery in the top end, and open and resonant in the mids and lows. With its solid carved braces and high recent fretwork, the instrument has exceptional power and projection throughout the range: a true horn killer.
With a unique combination of power and refinement, these guitars have been widely imitated, but never improved. A rare find from Gibson's greatest era: one only, call now.
Setup: Trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; frets leveled, crowned and dressed; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut 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.