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1931 Gibson L-5
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Serial #: 87155, white oval label. FON#: 9952
Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24 1/2" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Neck depth: .88/.99, 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, abalone flowerpot peghead inlay; triple bound fingerboard, body, peghead and pickguard, solid pearl nut.
Hardware: Original gold hardware includes Waverly open-back tuners with mother-of-pearl keys, compensated adjustable ebony bridge Pat. stamped Jan.18, 21, wraparound trapeze tailpiece Pat. stamped July 19, 1910, adjustable truss rod. Vintage short bound tortoise pickguard, Pat. stamped March 30, 09.
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 approaching its centennial, the L-5 remains the most celebrated and influential jazz guitar of all time.
The L-5 models of the early 30's 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 neck also avoids the harder V shape found in many later 16" models. This model year is also the last 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.
This guitar, with serial # 87155, would have previously been dated to 1928, but has been more recently placed to 1931, according to the latest Spann's Guide, in which this guitar's factory order number is listed. All the hallmarks for the classic late '20s models are here: the dot fingerboard with pointed finial, solid soundboard braces, short pickguard, 'The Gibson' peghead logo, and the ornate solid pearl tuner buttons. The body shows lustrous bookmatched fiddleback maple in the back, sides and neck, with a finely carved quartersawn spruce soundboard.
Well maintained, the instrument is remarkably free of pick wear, with a bit of buckle worming on the back, and some fine smooth thumbwear along the neck, a clue to a long professional career. A hairline crack at the neck heel has been soundly resealed, along with a few well-cleated grainline cracks at the soundholes. The body is finished in the gleaming original varnish, with a bit of light overspray added some years ago, and an older strap pin removed and filled in the back of the peghead.
The vintage bound tortoise pickguard retains its patent stamp, as does the wrap-around trapeze tailpiece, which includes a newly machined crossbar, in addition to the original, which is included in an original red-stripe case. Weighing in at a featherlight 4 lb. 13 oz. the guitar is exceptionally well balanced, and powerfully resonant. The voice is clear and deep with brilliant projection, and volume exceeding many 18" guitars. Open and rich, the bass register has remarkable carrying power, with pronounced natural reverb in the upper register: simply thrilling to play. The action is smooth and low over fresh, highly polished fretwork, a lovely 1 3/4" pearl nut, and the clear dark ebony fingerboard.
With a unique combination of power and refinement, these guitars have been widely imitated, but never improved. From the most desirable era of this classic model: on consignment, one only. Call now.
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.