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1952 Gibson L-Series Custom
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Factory Order #: Z 3462 32
Body size at lower bout: 17". Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 11/16"
Materials: Fine grained bookmatched solid spruce top, solid flame maple neck, solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, arched flame maple back and sides, block mother of pearl fingerboard inlay and thistle peghead inlay, quintuple-bound fingerboard with pointed finial, triple bound body, bound f-holes and peghead, bone nut.
Hardware: Original gold triple parallelogram trapeze tailpiece, original compensated Brazilian rosewood bridge. Gold Grover Rotomatic tuners, bound tortoise pickguard with gold Armstrong pickup and volume control.
Notes: Just when you think you've got a pretty good handle on Gibson archtops, they throw you a curve, just to see if you're still paying attention. And so it is with this instrument, surely one of the rarest jazz guitars that ever came out of Kalamazoo. With it's gold hardware and sunburst back, sides and neck, this example would fit the specs for the L-12P. But remarkably, this guitar is fitted with a quintuple-bound fingerboard with block inlays and a pointed finial: exactly as seen on the upscale L-5 model. And like the L-5 and Super 400, this guitar has factory-bound f-holes as well. To compound the mystery, this guitar bears a factory order number that places its construction in 1952, two years after the L-12P was discontinued.
It would be easy to explain away this remarkable confluence of deluxe features as simply a custom one-off. Gibson did a lot of work to order, especially on it's most expensive offerings. But we are aware of at least one other example with exactly the same specs, a guitar built in the early '60's. Whether these distinctive guitars were built to a dealer's instructions, the desires of a single customer, or represent a hitherto undocumented Gibson custom model is unknown. What we do know is that this guitar is a wonderfully playable jazz box, with a very contemporary gentle C neck profile, the fine, open tone of a sweetly played-in guitar, and the thumbwear to prove it. The original dark sunburst finish shows the proper sort of fine checking, and displays the tiger flame maple neck to great advantage.
At just 5lb. 9oz, the guitar is unusually light in weight for a 17" guitar, with a deeply resonant voice mellowed from decades of play. A smooth, warm sounding Armstrong floating mini-PAF has been added, along with a volume control and side-mounted jack. The instrument shows no apparent cracks, and a small patch near the jack is expertly concealed in the dark sunburst. An older set of Grover Rotomatics have been installed along with a handsome triple bound tortoise guard, and a bit of spot touchup applied to the neck and soundboard. With smooth low action over fine medium-jumbo frets, and a fresh high-precision setup, this rare jazz bird is ready for another half-century of flight.
Interestingly, the factory order number of this guitar shows it was built in the same batch as this spectacular ES-5N, shipped the following year, which we sold to a happy new owner some time ago. Be the first lucky caller. 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; bridgewheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.
This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel strings (.013-.054). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.
Case: Deluxe tweed plush lined arched hardshell case.