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1939 Gibson L-4, Fan Inlay

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Serial #: EA-5536, stamped on white oval label and peghead. FON#: 472E-13

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, solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with fan style pearl fingerboard inlay; 'vase and curlicues' peghead inlay; bound fingerboard, peghead and body.

Hardware: Original nickel hardware includes compensated Brazilian rosewood bridge, raised diamond trapeze tailpiece, Grover Sta-Tite tuners with "butterbean" keys. Vintage correct dark swirl tortoise pickguard with original nickel support bracket.

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. This version, with the slim, elegant bound peghead, and narrow script logo was offered only through this model year.

This remarkable guitar is the latest prewar style L-4 we have found, and certainly one of the most distinctive. The instrument exhibits a rare and unusual fingerboard pattern seen only on a few examples from the latter half of this model year. Inlaid into the solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard are a series of fan shaped pearl markers, spanning from the 3rd to the 15th fret. (Gibson seems to have retained a great deal of fancy precut banjo inlays from the 20's in back stock, and they may have used this pattern after depleting the older 'Nick Lucas' style pattern, as usually seen on this model.)

This gleaming instrument is finished with a traditional dark Cremona sunburst finish on the soundboard, and the customary dark mahogany stain on the body. Significantly, the prewar L-4 is built with solid carved back and sides, in contrast to postwar versions with laminate bodies. And unlike postwar examples with fingerboards glued flush to the soundboard, the fretboard of the prewar L-4 is suspended over the body, allowing installation of a floating pickup at the end of the neck. And finally, the solid mahogany neck makes the prewar L-4 distinctly lighter in weight and better balanced than maple neck guitars. As proof, this featherweight guitar nudges the scales at a mere 4lb. 13oz. (2.22kg.) and has the full, vibrant voice to prove it.

The top is carved very delicately, and the lightweight body sings like a bird: wide open, clear and transparent, with exceptional brilliance and balance. The frets are all original, and freshly leveled for smooth low action over the traditional prewar vee profile neck. And the generous 1 3/4" fingerboard is welcome indeed, ideal for both pick and fingerstyle play. Finally, the guitar has been wonderfully cared for, showing remarkably little in the way of pick, buckle, or thumbwear in general. A short hairline crack soundly resealed years ago by the bass f-hole, and a bit of the centerseam has been reglued under the tailpiece, otherwise the instrument shows no other signs of repair.

If you're a fan of rare Gibsons, here's one with the fans right on it. 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.

Case: Original Gibson arched black hardshell case with purple felt lining.




































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