c.2009 James Einolf L-1 Style Guitar

Update Nov 18: I should've mentioned that this has a 1 11/16" nut width rather than Einolf's more standard 1 3/4"+ width.

I first came across Mr. Einolf's interpretations of the venerable L-0/L-1 Gibsons (of Robert Johnson fame, of course) reading an article in Fretboard Journal a bit back. You can read all about his take on them over at his website. It was pretty exciting to have one come in the shop, therefore, albeit one that'd suffered some heat at an outdoor festival and had a sprung neck due to it.

My work on this guy was to reset the neck and fretboard extension, level and dress the frets, do a bit of a light shave at the bridge, and set it all up. I've strung it with 11s but I don't think there'd be any reason you couldn't put 12s on it. The thing is: he builds these just as light as the originals and from my point of view that means it doesn't need 12s to get plenty of oomph and volume out of it. It feels very happy with the 50w-11 GHS set I've got on there.

Update October 26: I swapped out the tuners on this for some nickel-plated (or chromed?) units of the same type. Here are some pics:

I think these are a bit more appealing aesthetically with the old-style build and they work just the same as the original gold ones.

Now back to the original posting...

Right out of the gate after setup this guitar has a tight, creamy bottom end for its size (it's roughly 0 size but with a more curvy, sexy body shape) that's added to by a good rich airy midrange tone that's super balanced. I'm guessing this has much to do with the fact that this guitar has Einolf's interpretation of the later Gibson x-bracing rather than the ladder (or what I'd call grid, really) bracing of the earlier model L-1/L-0. Those tend to have a spankier, honkier bass with a fiery high end.

To me this sounds very much like something of a hybrid between a ladder-braced Kalamazoo KG-14 (L-00 size) or similar and a nice small-body Martin like an aged-in 0-18. It works and the clarity is perfect for a fingerpicker or old-time flatpicker.


This has Einolf's inset fret styling on it as opposed to traditional frets. I like it... and I feel a bit of a common thread here because when I refret instruments I dress my frets in a very similar manner (curved, rounded ends rather than 45 degree slopes) as you definitely get a bit more fret to bend on.

The neck profile on this is fairly modern with a touch of vintage cut to its rear. It has a truss rod installed, too. The board is compound-radiused and ebony.

This has tortoise binding on the top and back edges and a flamed maple two-ring rosette.

The original wooden pins were missing and strangely enough I didn't have any new ebony ones on hand... so I popped a set of black plastic ones I did have on hand in their place. Both the nut and saddle are bone and I compensated the B string slot during setup for better tuning up the neck. The bridge is ebony and has the fun pyramid-style wings.

There are a couple dryness hairline cracks on the top. One is here (and it's been glued up in the past)...

...while there's another to the side of the board (tiny) and also seemingly repaired beforehand.

While resetting the angle of the fretboard extension I also noticed some rubbing in the ebony itself (looks like rough sanding or filing) going across the grain near the last few frets on the treble side (which have also been leveled lower than the rest). I'm guessing this was due to an attempt at getting rid of buzzing when the neck angle was compromised before and the setup was poor.

The mahogany used for the back is gorgeous stuff!

A light nitro spray is used on this guitar and just as promised feels roughly the same as the old Gibson stuff. If you're rough on your guitars it'll knick, ding, and scratch fairly easily... but that's what guitars are for, really... use!

While I'm not a fan of gold hardware... if you are... these 18:1 Grover Sta-Tites are a good deal. I love the 18:1 Sta-Tites as a nice upgrade for guitars. If you can't spring for a set of Waverly tuners they're often the next best bet. If they were offered in an antique finish I would find myself using them a lot for repairs.

Nice endstrip, huh?

...and there's the mark.

Update: I just wanted to share some pics of the 4mm truss adjusting wrench that comes with the guitar (an odd size) as well as a shot of how to access the rod:

The access for the rod is buried in the neck block so to adjust it one needs to detune the strings, slap a capo on the neck, and then pull the bridge pins and pull the strings away from the soundhole. You then reach in with the small end of the wrench and after much cursing manage to locate it in the rod... and then use leverage with the long end to turn it. It helps to have an inspection mirror (above) so you can get an idea of the angle (slightly "down" towards the back of the guitar) you need to push the wrench in at.

Fortunately this is a StewMac double-adjusting rod which is a good stable unit and won't need adjusting too often!

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