4/02/2016

1926 Gibson L-1 Flattop Guitar





Last year I fixed-up a '27 L-1, so this year I suppose it's appropriate that there's a '26 in the shop. This is, like that one, the iconic "Robert Johnson" style guitar. It's got tic-tac-toe bracing and has that lovely, sustain-rich, bluesy fingerpicked tone to a T. These are a bit more subtle than a standard-issue ladder-braced flattop from the time in that they're a lot more lush, tonally, and much more conducive to mixing-up both fingerpicking and flatpicking.

This guitar has had a lot of work done to it before it came to me including many repaired hairline cracks (violin-style with fill/finish) on the front and back, a replacement (but right-looking) ebony pyramid bridge, a refret, and total refinish (save the fretboard which was left with its original dyed-maple look). My work was to clamp-up a couple braces, level/dress the frets, replace the saddle with a better compensated bone one, add new ebony pins, set it up, and yank out all the junker early-90s piezo+mic electronics that had been shoved inside and sounded... awful.


With work done the guitar is a fine player with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret and easy playability. Like other L-0/L-1s, this has a short 24 1/4" scale length and wide 1 13/16" nut width. This really, really suits the fingerpicked sound of the guitar. The neck itself is a very shallow (front to back) flattened C/D shape and, unsurprisingly, dead straight.

I string these with 50w-11 "comparable" strings in that mine are balanced-tension at 50w, 38w, 28w, 20w, 16, 12. What can I say? It sounds great!


The headstock has replacement tuners and, while I'm not sure of it, the bone nut may be original.


Pearl dots in a dyed-maple fretboard. It has a flat profile.


Don't you love those '20s Gibson looks? Classic styling.

The top shows a tiny amount of distortion in the soundhole area -- as you'd expect for this bracing pattern. Everything is stable and good to go, however, and the neck angle is excellent (you can see it has a nice tall saddle).



The replacement ebony bridge was made very well. Its saddle slot was made oversized to suit a piezo element which has been removed. I made this new bone saddle to get the height right and compensate the B string. The bridge plate is original and all is healthy underneath the top.


The lower bout is 13 3/4" across.



The darker lines are all, apparently, hairline cracks that were filled and sealed with finish during the refinish process. They're good to go but none were cleated (they didn't really need to be -- this guitar has been here for half a year in varying humidity and nothing's budged). Still, I can go around and cleat them all up if desired.



The mahogany on the back and sides is nice-looking stuff.





Here's a closeup of some of the repaired hairline cracks on the back.







A vestigial endpin jack would make this an easy guitar to electrify/amplify for gigs.


It comes with a Superior gigbag.

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