6/20/2015

1937 Gibson L-4 Round-hole Carved-top Guitar




I love Gibson round-hole archtops. They certainly have a "thing" going on. This one is a customer's that was in for repair and it was made late in the game: 1937. Most Gibson archtops were being made as f-holes by then. It's a gorgeous guitar, despite the wear and tear, and has the typical 16" Gibson cut and depth which gives it an excellent "handling" feel.

These guitars are braced in what I call a "box" pattern, but it's more of a "grid" pattern to be honest. There are two "tonebars" which are supplemented by a standard 3-rung "ladder bracing" around them. Combined with the round hole, that gives these instruments an interesting, more open, archtop sound. They feel less compressed and have a bit more warmth than their f-hole cousins, though at the expense of only a tiny bit of punch.

Work included one crack cleat, a 12" back/side seam reglue, fret level/dress, cleaning, and setup. She plays spot-on and happily.



Everything but the bridge topper and pickguard appear to be original equipment. The owner had the pickguard made and whoever did it made a beautiful repro. It looks perfect.

There are some filled holes on the top and side which were from someone's old electrification (soundhole pickup) of the guitar.


You can't argue too much with the fleur-de-lis and "Nick Lucas" pearl inlay down the fretboard.


The frets were fairly uneven and had some wear. After work it plays like a new guitar and there's plenty of fret height left.



Gotta love all the pickwear!








Did you see that?

Yup, the neck has been quite shaved into a mild V (from its original bigger V). It plays sort of like a 40s Martin profile... fast and quick. The benefit is that it has a truss rod so the shaving didn't hurt the guitar's structural stability.

I could've cleaned this up but the owner didn't care about the aesthetics, so it's left as-is. It feels good -- and that's the bottom line.


The strap button placement is a little silly, though.



The guitar has a carved spruce top and carved maple back and sides. I can't say much for the maple as it's so darkly-finished, but it does have a bit of figure here and there.



I love Gibson tails from this time. The button-on-hanger is always elegant.

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