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1968 Gibson Byrdland Florentine

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Serial #: 899707

Body size at lower bout: 17". Scale length: 23 1/2" Nut Width: 1 10/16" Body depth: 2 1/4"

Materials: Solid carved bookmatched spruce top; arched maple back and sides; solid 3 piece maple neck; solid ebony fingerboard; L-5 style block mother of pearl fingerboard inlay and flowerpot peghead inlay; 7 ply top binding, triple bound back and neck, bound f-holes.

Hardware: Original gold hardware includes twin Gibson Pat. sticker humbucking pickups; Kluson Sealfast tuners with tulip keys; bound tortoise pickguard; loop style trapeze tailpiece with engraved crossbar; compensated Tune-o-matic bridge with inlaid ebony foot; 3 way control switch. Vintage correct hand antiqued gold reflector cap knobs.

Notes: It was a disc jockey convention in Nashville, and the year was 1955. Gibson, Inc. had a booth demonstrating their new offerings, and ace session guitarists Hank Garland and Billy Byrd were sampling the merchandise. Then, according to Garland, Gibson rep Clarence Havenga asked the fateful question: "What would you like in a guitar that we don't already have?" By the time the three had finished brainstorming, a new guitar was born.

Christened the Byrdland after its co-creators, this innovative guitar started life as an L-5CES, with its solid carved spruce and maple body, block and flowerpot inlay, and multi-ply binding right down to the pointed end of the ebony fingerboard. But Hank and Billy wanted more. First, both the scale length and nut width were shortened, to create Gibson's fastest neck ever, specifically tailored to facilitate stretch chord voicings and lightning fast lead runs. Special pickups had to be fabricated to accommodate the narrower pole spacing as well. And finally, Hank had been playing a custom Stromberg with a slimmer body depth, and he asked Havenga to match it. The traditional body depth of Gibson archtops had been unchanged since the Loar era, but by April 4th 1955, Gibson ledgers recorded the creation of four L-5CES guitars with the handwritten designation 'special thin model'. Thus did the Byrdland become Gibson's first ever thinline guitar, pioneering one of the most popular and influential body designs of the modern era, and Hank and Billy's brainchild has remained in the catalog to this day.

The rarest version of the model, the Florentine cutaway version was built only between 1960 and early 1969. Prized by collectors, this 'sharp' cutaway model is a favorite of players as well, with its superior accesss to the uppermost frets. This fine orange-label Kalamazoo guitar has twin original gold Patent Sticker pickups, and a solid carved quartersawn spruce soundboard. Original gold hardware includes the engraved Byrdland tailpiece, Tune-o-matic bridge, and genuine Kluson Sealfast tuners, long unavailable on the market, and a set of aged gold reflector cap knobs are fitted to the controls. The classic Cremona sunburst finish is all original, and remarkably free of pick, thumb or fingerboard wear. A few pick marks on the upper treble bout and near the selector switch are the principal signs of play in this otherwise very well kept instrument.

The original medium jumbo frets are in great shape, with smooth low action over a fast, comfy light D neck with solid ebony fingerboard. The tone is warm, rich and woody, with the resonance only decades of age can impart. A rare and striking example of a landmark in the evolution of the modern electric guitar. One only: call now.

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 wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished; electronics balanced and tested.

This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel flatwound strings (.012-.054). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" 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: Original deluxe black arched Gibson hardshell with plush lining.







































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