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1934 Gibson L-4
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Serial #: 91613, white oval label.
Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24.9" Nut Width: 1 3/4"
Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid bookmatched tiger flame maple back and sides; solid one piece mahogany neck; solid rosewood fingerboard; mother of pearl script peghead logo and fingerboard inlay; bound fingerboard, body, peghead and pickguard.
Hardware: Original hardware includes nickel trapeze tailpiece, Grover Stat-Tite open back tuners, and adjustable ebony bridge. Vintage correct thick dark celluloid tortoise pickguard.
Notes: Many of our correspondents own fine acoustic guitars, and we are often asked to recommend an archtop that has some of the bass response characteristic of the better vintage flat tops. Enter the venerable Gibson L-4. Introduced in 1912, the L-4 model is still in the catalog over 90 years later, now gussied up with pickups and a cutaway.
With it's generous 1 3/4" nut, the L-4 is particularly well suited to fingerstyle play, and positively barks under a good stiff pick. The 16" body and 24 3/4" scale are identical to the 20's L-5, as is the slightly veed neck profile. Light as a feather, the finely carved top is supported with knife-edge braces, to achieve projection most flat tops could only dream of. At the same time, the round port produces a uniquely mellow and resonant tone, with bass and lower midrange response virtually unknown in conventional f-hole guitars. Small wonder builders from Epiphone to D'Angelico all produced round hole models, a tradition that continues among finer makers to this day.
This example is from the last year of regular production for the round hole L-4, and shows late features including the diamond logo peghead and raised-diamond tailpiece. This example is in exceptionally fine condition, with all original nickel hardware, and a vintage correct dark tortoise pickguard. The gleaming all original Cremona sunburst finish is without thumb or fingerboard wear, a tiny heel repair has been invisibly executed, and the instrument shows onlyvery incidental normal finish wear. Even the original arched Gibson hardshell case is in under-the-bed condition.
The neck is contoured to a gentle V profile, with none of the clubbiness of the early 20's guitars, and the fingerboard has excellent pro frets for an effortless action. Weighing in at an featherweight 4lb. 11 oz (2.14kg) the guitar simply floats in the lap, and boasts a phenomenally live open voice, with exceptional sustain, projection and bass response. A delight to the ear and hand alike, she's the perfect instrument to resurrect those sweet Lonnie Johnson/Eddie Lang duets.
Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished as necessary; 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-.057). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" 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.
Case: Original arched Gibson hardshell case with arched lid.
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