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1932 Gibson L-12

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Serial #: 89377, white oval label. FON#: 431

Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Neck depth: .91/1.09, 1st/10th frets

Materials: Solid carved bookmatched spruce top, solid carved flame maple back and sides, solid rosewood fingerboard, bound fingerboard, peghead and body.

Hardware: Original nickel hardware includes Grover Sta-Tite tuners, compensated adjustable ebony bridge. Bound firestripe tortoise pickguard, prewar Gibson concentric diamond trapeze tailpiece.

Notes: In the years before WWII, qualified guitar repair luthiers were few and far between in the 48 states. And so, unless you lived in one of America's largest cities, you might well have sent your precious Gibson guitar right back to the factory anytime it needed a little work. Indeed, prewar Gibson ledgers are full of entries for just such instruments, and this uniquely appointed guitar would appear to be one that made the trek to Kalamazoo and back in grand style.

The original 16" body L-12 is quite a rare model, made for less than five years between 1930 and mid-1935. Built with the same dimensions as the 20's L-5, the L-12 possesses the same comfy body feel, scale length, nut width and bracing as its costly cousin. It even shows off a sunburst back of curly maple, unlike its plainer companions, the L-7 and L-10. And best of all that 16" Gibson tone, which many feel has never been surpassed for its clarity, depth and balance.

This example from 1932 shows some of the earliest features of the model, including the nickel butterbean tuners and the unadorned small script logo peghead. But intriguingly, the guitar is fitted with several features of the 17" Advanced Model archtops of the later 30's, including the double parallelogram fingerboard inlay and the rare concentric diamond trapeze tailpiece, seen only in the late prewar years. It seems apparent that this guitar went back to the factory sometime later in that decade for refitting with these stylish art-deco appointments. It does, however retain its generous 1 3/4" nut width, now a favorite of many players, with smooth low action over a traditional prewar light V neck profile, with fresh vintage style fretwork and a thorough high precision setup.

At a scant 4lb. 6oz. the instrument is extraordinarily light in weight, well balanced and deeply resonant, wide open, with volume to burn. The voice is clear and sparkling, with abundant natural reverb and brilliant projection, the result of decades of age and play. The instrument shows no cracks, and all binding is original and tight to the body. The deep Cremona sunburst finish is all original, showing only the scattered nicks of normal age and play, and the eye-catching firestripe pickguard remains in splendid condition. Best of all, a careful inspection reveals that the soundboard braces are both solid and carved to fit, not kerfed or slotted, as on many Gibsons of the era. And finally, a special plus: the original arched black Gibson hardshell case is included, in solid shape as well.

If you've longed for the legendary L-5 tone, but balked at the astronomical prices, here's the model the collectors haven't bid up to the stratosphere. Yet. As distinctive in tone as it is in appearance, and one of the rarest prewar Gibson archtops: 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. Action is set to 4/64 to 5/64 at the 12th fret, with medium gauge .013 phosphor bronze strings.





































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