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1974-5 Gibson Byrdland

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Serial #: 65400(9), Kalamazoo label

Body size at lower bout: 17". Scale length: 23 1/2" Nut Width: 1 11/16" Body depth: 2 1/4"

Materials: Solid carved bookmatched spruce top; solid carved 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 Kluson Sealfast tuners with tulip keys; loop style Byrdland trapeze tailpiece with engraved crossbar; compensated ebony with inlaid foot; twin Gibson Pat. stamped humbucking pickups; 3 way control switch, black reflector cap knobs. Vintage correct hand bound 5-ply tortoise pickguard.

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.

This example dates to the mid 1970's, as indicated by its twin original gold Patent stamped pickups, no-volute neck, and generous 1 11/16" nut. A particularly handsome example, this guitar is finished in a deep Cremona sunburst. Maintained in superb condition, the instrument is without pick, thumb or fingerboard wear, and shows only a few superficial laqcuer dings.

All original gold hardware is attached, including the engraved Byrdland tailpiece, and the coveted ultra-premium Kluson Sealfast tuners, now long unavailable. The frets have been freshly leveled for a smooth low action over a comfy light D neck profile. 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.

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

This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel roundwound 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 Gibson deluxe plush lined hardshell case.







































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