12/10/2015

1925 Gibson L-Jr Carved-top Guitar




Well, now I know why Mr. Jack White is seen all over the place playing one of these old "Gibson Junior Guitars" (per the label). After work it's a gutsy, warm, thumpy sort of box that can play a number of different roles from country-blues to strumming to fingerpicked sweetness to raspy gypsy-jazz lead work. It's a lot, lot, lot of fun.

This one's factory order number places it at 1925 and it's mostly original save that I installed an adjustable ebony bridge in place of the period (1924, correct style but not original) maple one that came with the guitar. Mostly this is because the ebony bridge actually gives it a bit fuller tone (and easy of setup with changing seasons). It plays spot-on with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action height at the 12th fret (adjustable, of course) and sounds a lot "bigger" than it is. Let's not forget that this one is only 13 5/8" across the lower bout!



L-Jrs are solid carved spruce on the top with birch sides and a carved birch (figured) back. The whole thing is finished in a medium brown and the only binding is around the soundhole (black). The bracing is similar to Gibson mandolins from the time with one ladder brace near the soundhole as the main support but a second one also near the bridge.

My work on this guitar included cleating/small fill of three top hairline cracks (one long one near the center seam and two shorter ones to the right and left of it near the tailpiece), a cleats/fill to a hairline next to the treble side of the fretboard extension, some seam reglues on the back, a fret level/dress, and fitting and compensation of both the "original/period" maple bridge and the new ebony one (so either one is an option). I also added a small "popsicle brace" patch/cleat under the fretboard extension to make sure that the hairline next to the board doesn't move in the future. It of course got a good cleaning and setup after that and everything is ship-shape and ready to go.


This has the cool "snakehead" headstock shape with black-painted front. The nut is ebony and measures 1 3/4" in width. The board is Brazilian rosewood with a flat profile and the neck itself is dead-straight with a medium-V profile to the rear. It's comfortable, though.


Pearl dots in the board... plus those smallish old original Gibson frets. The level/dress turned out swell and they feel just fine and have some life yet left to them.

This guitar has a 24 1/4" scale length which feels springy and fast. Some players may need to jack the action up due to the reduced tension, of course, but I like it that way -- feels like playing 10s when you're actually playing a set of 12s (12s are on it).



I'm pretty certain that the finish is all-original, though the back of the neck may have a tiny bit of overspray/extra finish and perhaps the back, too. The sides and top look right as well as the headstock. This has the usual weather runs that these carved Gibsons get, by the way.


Here's that new bridge. It's been matched to the flat profile of the board.


I also modified the 1924-issue maple bridge to give it better compensation and seated the feet nicely to the top as well. It's a good 2nd option but I think the new adjustable one actually sounds a bit better. You get a bit more warmth, ironically, with the ebony.





Pretty birch, no?

The only cracks on the guitar are on the top.









The tailpiece has a new ebony endpin.


Some of the seams were repaired a while back a bit "off" -- this is really typical for old Gibs like this. I re-repaired a few areas and left them this way otherwise. It's perfectly stable and good to go and the overhang is at most a little over 1mm in places.


This comes with an Access hard case that, despite having some room at the edges here and there, actually fits it alright and holds it more snug than, say, a 00-style case would (something about the way the waist is held in there).

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jake.....If that thing had 4 strings there is no way I could restrain myself. Tony H.

Anonymous said...

That was my thought too--4 strings and it would be irresistable. Ted

Uncle JimmyPie said...

I owned one of these once. Fun to play (if you don't mind the flat fretboard profile), nice tone, and mojo for miles.