6/30/2016

1933 Gibson L-00 Flattop Guitar





Going camping? Bring your L-00! These guitars are iconic, coveted, and supremely cool. They make exceedingly-nice fingerpickers but also really belt it out under a flatpick, which makes them an enjoyable "all-around" instrument. Besides -- aesthetically? -- that tight-waisted, curvy look is the business. Tone is punctuated, balanced, and snappy with just enough bottom/lower-mids warmth to float a voice over. It's also quite loud.

This guitar was brought in by the son (a local in town) of the original owner and it was in a bit of a state. While the only crack on the guitar is a tiny little hairline at the bass edge of the rosette, this came in with a sharp belly around the bridge, a definite need for a neck reset, and a replacement, oversize bridge. My work rectified all that -- I gave it a neck reset, new bridge, some belly-correction efforts, a fret level/dress, new bridge pins, a new saddle, and a good setup. It's now playing perfectly (3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret) and good to go.


Please excuse the reflections on the lower bout. Those are clouds and trees.

The "small sunburst" finish on these early-30s Gibsons is always a classy look and sets the firestripe pickguard off "just-so." The finish itself shows plenty of weather-check, a good amount of pickwear on the upper bout, and very minor dings/scuffs here and there, but is for the most part in excellent shape considering the way most 30s Gibs look.

This L-00 is of the most usual type, with solid mahogany back, sides, and neck and a spruce top with x-bracing. It's a lightweight guitar but not as featherweight as a Kel Kroydon.


The nut is ebony and 1 3/4" in width. The board has a 12" radius, the original smallish frets, and a medium V-shaped profile (though softer/smaller than the Kalamazoo-branded Gibson products). It's pure 30s Gibson in feel and easily playable.

One tuner ferrule is a replacement (though period).


The board (with pearl dots) is Brazilian rosewood.

I've strung this with a set of straight-up 12s at 54w, 42w, 32w, 24w, 16, 12.



The only crack on the guitar is a tiny hairline (glued-up) that you can see to the upper-bass side of the soundhole rosette.


My replacement bridge seems to be a NOS late-50s Gibson bridge (probably Brazilian -- looks just like other ones I've had through from 57/58) and differs from the original types mostly in the two pearl dots and a drop-in saddle slot. The latter is nice for a player as action can be adjusted easily on-the-fly.


As you can see, it's a good, tall bone saddle. The pins are new, too, and ebony.

When I removed the old (oversize, really crappy) replacement bridge, the top surface around this bridge was obviously a little mucked-up. To make matters worse, it seems like epoxy was used as the adhesive. I was fortunate enough to get rid of the stuff during repairs and also fortunate enough to have some of the original finish remaining under the wings of the sloppy old replacement unit.

So, to clean up around the top on this new bridge I just color-corrected and then sealed the area to give it the look of an old repair. It's turned-out a lot better than I'd hoped-for. I didn't want to over-do it and refinish the area and this was a good solution.

In addition to the replacement bridge, I also added a (cedar, soundboard-material) bridge plate cap as part of my efforts to reduce a pretty unsightly bulge/belly around the middle of the bridge area. I like using soundboard material (spruce or cedar) to do this job as it's lightweight but strong/flexible and so doesn't rob tone the same way additional rosewood or maple would. Now that the bridge and top work is done, the top has a "regular Gibson belly" that's more domed than deformed -- and it's nice and stable.





Yes, we can admit it -- it's a sexy guitar.



The mahogany on the back is that usual "Gibson wine" color. No, that's not blush in the finish, here -- it's a cloud in the sky.


The original tuners function but they're far from ideal. I have StewMac repro tuners on order that will belong to the instrument if the next owner wants to swap them out.


There's a ding/bump right on the back near the heel and the stress lining in the finish at the heel would seem to suggest cracks but there are none. When I took the neck off I didn't see anything, either. It's peculiar.

I did find, however, that the neck had previously been "reset" -- though not particularly well.









The FON stamped inside seems to indicate 1933.


The original chip case comes with the guitar as well as an instruction book and a box for...


...Gibson Mona-Steel strings! Nice. They're labeled for mandolin, however.

2 comments:

kjm05 said...

great job! looks and sounds beautiful. will this be for sale?

Jake Wildwood said...

Yup, I'll be listing it later today.

Thanks!