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1939 Gibson L-4

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Serial #: 95867, stamped on white oval label.

Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .90/1.09

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

Hardware: Original hardware includes original nickel trapeze tailpiece, compensated Brazilian rosewood bridge. Vintage correct bound tortoise pickguard, nickel Waverly Sta-Tite tuners with "butterbean" keys. 1/4" endpin jack.

Notes: The Gibson L-5 of the late 20's and early 30's remains one of the world's most sought-after guitars. With it's comfortable 16" body, generous 1 3/4" nut, and lightly braced top, the original L-5 combines tone and playability in a manner many feel is unsurpassed to this day. The bad news is that Gibson discontinued the 16" L-5 by 1936. And if you've looked for one in recent years, you also realize they fetch a king's ransom. But what many otherwise savvy players don't realize is that the guitar was just too good to kill. So Gibson didn't. They just fiddled with the inlay and gave it another name: the L-4.

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 'Nick Lucas' floral fingerboard inlay, borrowed from the Mastertone banjos of the 20's, is even more ornate than the L-5, which offered only simple blocks.

This example is in gleaming original condition, with a subtly applied dark sunburst lacquer finish over a nicely bookmatched handcarved solid spruce top, and figured maple back and sides with a deep walnut finish. At a mere 4lb. 13oz., the instrument is phenomenally light and wonderfully resonant. Of special note, these prewar L-4s have solid carved back and sides, unlike their postwar counterparts with laminate backs. And best of all, these prewar L-4 models were crafted with their fingerboard suspended over the body, just like an L-5. Unlike postwar versions with a fingerboard attached to the body, these guitars are easy to fit with a floating pickup anytime.

Tone and playability have been optimized with a recent set of vintage style frets with smooth low action over a fresh high precision setup, on the classic prewar V profile neck. 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 guitar is pickup ready, with a 1/4" endpin jack pre-installed, and remains fitted in its original arched black Gibson plush lined hardshell case.

Wish we could find more of these: the regal L-5 in commoner's clothes. One only: call now.

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.


























































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