Saturday, March 8, 2008

Guitar of the Week: Gibson 1930s L50 Archtop

My week became a lot more interesting when a work buddy brought in his 1930s Gibson L50 Archtop from his seemingly inexhaustible archive. He was good enough to put it on temporary loan so it can be Guitar Boomer’s Guitar of the Week.

Gibson manufactured the L50 (poor man’s version of the L5) from 1932 to 1971. From talking to my guitar buddy and researching on the Internet this example seems to be between 1934 and 1943 (the wartime models featured a wood crosspiece on the tailpiece to save metal). I’ve included a photo of a tailpiece and tuners that came with the guitar and are thought to be the originals. Note the raised diamond on the tailpiece, which started showing up in the mid thirties.

I’ve included photos of the front and back of the guitar as well as the original case, its current home. Note that the wood is not book matched on the back; further evidence of its role as an economy model. Also, this guitar was manufactured before truss rods became a standard feature.

This example is a few years old now and needs some restoration work. It still plays nicely though with great tone. The luthier arts have been around for centuries so it should be no surprise they had things figured out long before the 30s.


Gary Ryan said...

Great catch. It's really interesting to see the pre-war stuff. I wonder what it sold for when it was new. The steps that were taken to make it more less expensive, without losing good sound, are really interesting. My first Sears Special back in the 1950s looked similar except for the Roy Rogers or somebody autograph. Thanks for the chance to see this beauty.

Anonymous said...

He's got many more unique guitars from what I understand so I plan to feature some more.

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