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1938 Gibson L-5

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Serial #: DA-5180, white oval label.

Body Size at lower bout: 17". Scale Length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 21/32" Neck Depth .88/.99, 1st/10th frets

Materials: Solid bookmatched curly maple back and sides; handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; 2 piece flame maple neck with walnut centerstripe; quintuple bound solid ebony fingerboard with block mother of pearl inlay; quintuple bound peghead and body with bound f-holes; solid bone nut.

Hardware: Original compensated adjustable Brazilian rosewood bridge. Period gold engraved L-5 Varitone trapeze tailpiece and Grover Imperial tuners. Vintage correct five-ply bound tortoise pickguard with Kent Armstrong floating humbucking pickup, volume and tone controls, endpin jack.

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 transitional instrument is 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 bandstand veteran is constructed with with back and sides and neck of handsomely flamed Northern Michigan Big Leaf maple, and a solid carved soundboard of quartersawn, bookmatched Sitka spruce. Well played and well loved, the instrument shows no cracks, with all original binding tight to the body. The subtle Cremona sunburst finish is all original as well, showing scattered finish nicks and dings near the rims and upper bout. The smooth thumbwear up the length of the neck is typical of a pro-played instrument, and the guitar has the clear open tone and volume of vigorous play over many decades.

At just 5lb 15oz, the guitar is nicely lightweight and well balanced, on the lap or the strap. The neck has a distinctly modern gentle C profile, with smooth low action over a fresh high-precision setup. The gold Grover Imperial tuners and engraved Varitone tailpiece were added in subsequent decades, and the bound tortoise pickguard is vintage-correct. Finally, the guitar is faithfully amplified with a Kent Armstrong floating humbucking pickup, with volume and tone controls and an endpin jack.

The voice is truly fine, with remarkable clarity, balance and cutting power, and the deep, open resonance of a true big band warrior. An outstanding player, and a true best buy in a fine prewar L-5. One only: call now.

Case: Deluxe black arched plush lined fitted 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. 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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