1930 Gibson TG-1 Flattop Tenor Guitar

Not to be confused with the same-year, much larger, 12-fret, L-00-style TG-1s, this TG-1 is an x-braced tenor based on Gibson's late-20s tenor body shape. These are my favorite Gibson flattop tenors as they have enough warmth and fullness to their tone on the low-end but their smaller body size (roughy "parlor" size) means that the high-end chime, zing, and zest isn't subdued. It bounces around in the smaller body in a pleasing, almost mandolin-like way.

A friend of mine (who'd been remarking on this guitar's sound for about a year) bought this just the other day and brought it with him to the jam this morning. After the jam I gave him an early Xmas present via a fret level/dress, saddle shave/reprofile, and setup to get it playing on-the-dot, which it does with 1/16" action overall at the 12th fret.

I'll tell you what -- this thing sounds alive. I wish I'd had time to record a soundclip but time was short, especially since much snow fell today, and the owner had to get on home to the wifey.

The other truly amazing thing about this tenor is that there are, essentially, no cracks! It also had not been touched repair-wise at all since it was built but yet remained in great health. The repair work necessary was the same sort of stuff I'd expect to do on, say, a 5-year-old newer Martin.

Can we also say -- check out that sunburst? You've gotta love the look of these old Gibs. The top is solid spruce and the back, sides, and neck are all solid mahogany. Everything is original on it, too.

The board is Brazilian rosewood, flat in profile, and bound. It uses the familiar Gibson frets of the time -- tiny! They're, fortunately, in good shape and only needed a minor level/dress job.

It's hard not to enjoy the funky Gibson headstock inlays from the time. The truss also works perfectly and the original nut is bone.

I only had to lower the saddle by a hair over 1/32" overall to get the action dialed-in. At the same time I changed the worn string-slots into proper string-ramps to get even better back-angle against the saddle. Like Martin, Gibson glued their saddles in pretty firm at this time, so I often mask the bridge off and do the work on the saddle with it on the guitar if I can.

The pickwear tells the tale of a much-loved instrument.

The old Grover geared banjo pegs are going strong.

I strung this up with a set of 36w, 24w, 14, 9 strings for standard CGDA tuning. I like a lighter top and heavier bottom than the usual tenor sets -- especially for the 22 3/4" long scale that this tenor uses.

Factory order number 9660 places this at 1930 per Spann's Guide to Gibson (the source at the moment).


Nicholas Ratnieks said...

Now play something hot!


Barry Maz said...

Oooooh nice!