Home / Instruments /Accessories / Ordering / Tips / Friends


1939 Gibson L-4

Status: Pricing and hold status for all instruments currently available is shown on our Instruments page here. If this instrument does not appear on the Instruments page it has been sold, and is no longer available. Photos and descriptions of Previously Sold instruments may by found here. To be notified of examples of this model or similar instruments in the future, please contact [email protected],. Please be specific on which instrument(s) you're looking for, and we'll be happy to contact you as soon as they become available.

Serial #: EA-5438, stamped on white oval label and peghead.

Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut Width: 1 3/4"

Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid spruce top; solid mahogany neck, solid figured maple back, solid maple sides, Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, variegated mother of pearl inlay fingerboard inlay, 'vase and curlicues' peghead inlay; bound fingerboard, peghead and body.

Hardware: Original hardware includes compensated Brazilian rosewood bridge, original nickel trapeze tailpiece, bound firestripe tortoise pickguard. Hand-antiqued vintage correct nickel Grover Sta-Tite tuners with "butterbean" keys.

Notes: Introduced in 1912, the L-4 was Gibson's top-of-the line guitar, and remains its longest lasting model, still in production to this day as a cutaway electric. The L-4 was produced with a round hole exclusively until 1935, when it was offered with optional f-holes. Built on the same forms as the 20's L-5, the f-hole L-4 differed only in cosmetics from its costly cousin. Same scale, f-holes, fingerboard dimensions, bracing, the works. Oddly, the variegated floral fingerboard inlay, borrowed from the early L-7 and Nick Lucas models, is even more ornate than the L-5, which offered only simple blocks. (Gibson was still using up these fancy 20's banjo inlays all the way through WWII.) This version, with the slim, elegant bound peghead, and narrow script logo was offered only until around this model year.

This example is by far the latest prewar style L-4 we have found, and exhibits some distinctive features we've never seen elsewhere. The original firestripe pickguard is shaped in the contour of those seen on the prewar ES-150 electrics, minus the pickup notch. And the position dots in the neck binding are unique: the 12th fret is marked with three dots, instead of the usual pair. Go figure.

The instrument is finished with a particularly attractive sunburst distinctly lighter in tone and wider in pattern than those seen on earlier models. And unlike the postwar L-4s, these older guitars were built with solid carved backs and sides, and the fingerboard suspended over the body, just like the old L-5. With the solid mahogany neck however, the L-4 is notably lighter in weight, and actually better balanced in the lap. This example grazes the scales at an astounding 4lb. 7oz. (just 2.06kg.) and has the full, vibrant voice to prove it. We've optimized tone and playability with a fresh set of frets, and the action is smooth and low over a light vee profile neck. And the full 1 3/4" fingerboard is most welcome indeed, and quite uncommon for a guitar this late. The top is carved very delicately, and the lightweight body sings like a bird: wide open, clear and transparent, with exceptional brilliance and balance.

Finally, the condition. How often does one see a prewar guitar with finish so undisturbed it has virtually no checking? No cracks, no pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear. If she tickles your fancy, call now. You could wait awhile for another one.

Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished; 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.

Case: Deluxe Gibson black plush hardshell case.




































Home / Instruments /Accessories / Ordering / Tips / Friends