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1938 Gibson L-5

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Serial #: 95350, white oval label.

Body Size at lower bout: 17". Scale Length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 21/32" Neck Depth .87/.95, 1st/10th frets

Materials: Highly figured solid bookmatched maple back and sides; handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; 2 piece flame maple neck with walnut centerstripe; quintuple bound solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with block mother of pearl inlay and pointed finial; quintuple bound peghead and body with bound f-holes; solid bone nut.

Hardware: Original compensated adjustable Brazilian rosewood bridge. Gold hardware includes engraved L-5 Varitone trapeze tailpiece and Kluson Sealfast tuners. Vintage correct five-ply bound tortoise pickguard.

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. The L-5 is perhaps his most influential creation, and is widely regarded as the first successful commercially produced archtop guitar. Almost a century later, it remains the most famous jazz guitar of all time.

One of 146 examples from its model year, this handsome guitar was shipped on April 12, 1938 to New York Band, Gibson's largest dealer in the NY area. A transitional instrument, it's an early example built with the elongated 25 1/2" scale neck, which Gibson began to offer as an option the previous year. The soundboard is also built with parallel bracing, which Gibson would adopt formally the following year, to increase the power and projection of the instrument in big band settings.

This striking instrument is constructed with a carved soundboard of exceptionally fine grain, so tight it virtually disappears at the centerseam: wood from a very big, and very old, Pacific Northwest spruce. The back and sides are carved of nicely flamed Northern Michigan big leaf maple, with a solid maple neck with walnut centerstripe. The guitar has been well maintained, with its lustrous tobacco sunburst finish subtly shaded from rim to rim, without apparent cracks or pick wear. Traces of a long professional career include some smooth thumbwear on the neck, a patch of arm wear on the lower bass bout, and some scattered light buckle impressions on the back, none through the finish itself.

At just 5lb 15oz, the guitar is nicely lightweight and well balanced, on the lap or the strap. The neck has smooth low action over a classic gentle C profile, with smooth low action over a fresh high-precision setup. The gold Kluson Sealfast tuners and art-deco tailpiece appear to have been factory installed in the early '50s. The bound tortoise pickguard and truss rod cover are both vintage-correct replacements, and the guitar is soundly protected in a premium TKL arched hardshell case, with deep plush lining.

The voice is truly fine, with remarkable clarity, balance and cutting power, and the deep, open resonance of an instrument vigorously played-in over many decades. An outstanding player, and a true best buy in a fine prewar L-5. 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. Strung with .013 phosphor bronze strings, with action set to 4-5/64" at the 12th fret, with light neck relief.




















































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