Gibson L-5 Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1933)A great sounding example!
Gibson L-5 Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1933), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Cremona Brown Sunburst finish, spruce top, maple back, sides and neck, ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case. Item # 6106
This 1933 L-5 is a fine player's example of the pre-eminent orchestra guitar of its era as well as an extremely fine sounding instrument. Debuting in 1923-4 the L-5 was the first modern F-hole archtop guitar; at the time this one was built nearly ten years later is was still the top of Gibson's line and generally considered the finest carved top guitar made. Orchestra and jazz band banjoists had by this time almost universally converted to guitar; the $275.00 L-5 along with Epiphone's competing Deluxe were the choice of all top guitar players of the time. Eddie Lang, the era's most influential guitarist, went from a Gibson L-4 to a dot-neck (probably 1927) L-5 then an early block neck L-5 in 1929 setting the trend for all to follow. In 1933 L-5 still ruled the roost for professional orchestra guitars, and gave Gibson a dominance in this style of instrument that the company never lost.
That said, these early L-5's are still fairly rare guitars today. Retailing at $275.00 (plus case!) the L-5 was extremely expensive (a top-of-the-line Martin pearl-trimmed Style 45's retailed around $100.00 less) Only top professional users could afford the indulgence of such an instrument. Most 16" 1930's L-5's were used extensively for many years, some owners preferring them to any later guitars…these earlier L-5's are still often seen in the hands of recording specialists well into the 1960's. As working guitars they have often been modified, refitted or refinished…this one has had some alterations but remains a superb instrument with much of its original character.
This guitar shows some of the typical features for the early 1930's L-5's; the fingerboard has been re-done in the earlier 1920's style. The 3-piece laminated curly maple neck has a prominent "V" spine with a medium shallow profile. The pearl inlayed flowerpot in the headstock and straight across "Gibson" logo are the hallmarks of the 1930's L-5, as is the longer triple-bound celluloid pickguard screwed to the top instead of mounted to the fingerboard. This particular guitar has a lovely sound typical of the best early L-5's; it is simultaneously warm and incisive with plenty of depth. It is extremely responsive for anarchtop guitar, and sounds quite good fingerstyle!
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 16 1/8 in. (41 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 5/16 in. (8.4 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.). This guitar has had careful work over the years, but remains an excellent playing instrument and overall very well preserved. The most notable alteration is the original fingerboard (which would have had pearloid block markers) has been replaced with a dot-neck board in the 1920's style. Some hardware is replaced as well; The tuners are nickle-plated individual Waverly units, from the same period as the guitar but not a style generally used on L-5's. The tailpiece is also the correct style for the era but appears to be a slightly later piece-the guitar apears to have possible mounted a later style solid L-5 tailpiece at some point. The bridge is a modern ebony piece. The celluloid pickguard is original. The guitar's beautiful dark sunburst finish is mostly original and well, with only some small touch-ups. There is a small seam repair on the back near the heelblock, fully sealed but visible. There is finish wear to most of the instrument but the only large area of loss is most of the lacquer is missing on the back of the neck. The neck has been reset cleanly, and the front and back of the headstock have been oversprayed. Overall the guitar presents very well, and sounds beautiful particularly as a solo or fingerstyle jazz guitar. Overall Excellent - Condition.
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