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1931 Gibson L-5
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Serial #: 87089, white oval label. FON#: 9952
Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24 1/2" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Neck depth: .85/1.02, 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: Prewar hardware includes chrome Grover Sta-Tite tuners, nickel trapeze tailpiece, compensated adjustable ebony bridge. Vintage correct bound tortoise pickguard, adjustable truss rod.
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. His Gibson L-5 is widely regarded as the first successful commercially produced archtop guitar. Now approaching its centennial, the L-5 remains for many players the single finest acoustic archtop built to this day.
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 first full year for the block inlay fingerboard, a trademark of the model to this day. Finally, the tone of these guitars is simply legendary, with a matchless blend of warmth, clarity and astonishing projection.
This guitar, with serial # 87089, 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. The hallmark features of the 20's remain: the 16" parallel braced body, deep Cremona sunburst finish, and classic 'The Gibson' headstock logo. 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 belly wear on the back, and some fine smooth thumbwear along the neck, a clue to a long professional career. A hairline side crack near the neck heel has been resealed long ago, and the back centerseam remains tightly joined, with a short lacquer line visible near the endblock. The binding is all original and tight to the body, and the body finish remains lustrous, with a dusting of older clear lacquer over the original sunburst finish.
The tuners, tailpiece and bridge are all of prewar vintage, and the bound tortoise pickguard is crafted from an original template, with decay resistant dark swirl acrylic tortoise. At a bantamweight 4 lb. 15 oz, the guitar is a delight to hold and exceptionally well balanced, on the lap or the strap. The voice is exceptionally powerful, clear and vibrant with excellent projection and shimmering reverb in the upper register. The action is smooth and low with a fresh high precision setup over fresh high fretwork, the generous 1 3/4" nut, and clear dark ebony fingerboard. Examples from this era have the most highly prized neck profiles: neither clubby nor veed, just a comfy, remarkably contemporary feel for the modern player.
These guitars are widely prized for a reason, and many feel they've never been surpassed for their peerless combination of power and refinement. One only: call now.
Case: Prewar vintage 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.