3/30/2017

1949 Gibson LG-2 Flattop Guitar





Late-40s Gibson products can be confusing -- especially when they lack serial numbers or factory order numbers, like this one. One then has to date them by features, and if you're at all interested in old Gibsons you will know by now that the subtle features on their instruments seemed to have changed day-to-day and batch-to-batch. Still, comparing this guitar to others I've worked-on and the vast sea of them on the internet makes me think that this one was built in '49.

It has features of later-'47 and '48 production, but has the multi-ply binding on the outside like most of the '49s I've seen on the net and on none or at least barely any of the '48s I've seen out there. The headstock is still tapered and while, as a '49, it "should" have sealed Kluson tuners, it clearly doesn't (and these are the originals). That last bit, however, is not so "off" as it seems, because a number of '49s have various versions of the openback Kluson tuners on them (like these) from the factory as well. Oh, folklore! So, wasted breath aside, I believe it's a '49 model.

Now to the guts of the story! A consignor brought this in and, as was clearly evident, this guitar had a few old repairs and the entire thing was shot-over with a clearcoat ("overspray" as they call it). You can't tell from the other side of a jam, but you can certainly tell when you get close and play it. Thankfully, it's over the original finish and so the "old funk" is extant. The bridge had been replaced at some point with a homemade one (and the top is bellied around it), there were a couple of crack repairs on the back (and one on the side), and some bracing was loose, too. The frets had also been replaced and the job was shoddy, unfortunately.

Said owner didn't see the point of going too crazy with it, so I did all that was required to get it up and running -- which turned-out to be quite a bit! I reglued the braces that needed it, cleated any cracks needing them and sealed them, shaved and modified the bridge to make it practical and decent-looking, made a new saddle, and then did the big part -- pulled the ailing frets, dressed the board, and refretted it with modern jumbo stock. All that done and this thing sounds killer and plays itself -- action is spot-on 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret, the neck is straight, the truss functions, and it's holding stable.


The guitar is mostly-original but has a replaced (bone) nut, replacement bridge, new bone saddle, and new ebony pins and endpin. The tuners are original but have new, black buttons (the old cream celluloid ones were crumbling). I think this one is still a "charmer" despite the overspray and life-wear. The sunburst is super-cool.

Per the usual for an LG-2, the top is spruce and x-braced while the back, sides, and neck are mahogany. The board is Brazilian rosewood.


Oh, right! The truss cover is replaced, too. It's not ideal, but works.

The nut is 1 11/16" and the neck is a medium C-shape. It's a little bigger than your average 50s Gibson neck, but feels like "home base" to me. This one has a 24 7/8" scale, too.


My refret went smoothly and, surprisingly, the guitar had a 10" radius (vs. 12" standard Gibson) to begin with so that's what I kept it at. The board dressed-up pretty well but there are divots in the board in first position from playwear and the last refret job was really shoddy and there are a few marks here and there (not obvious) from previous "work."

Said previous "work" had ended-up in the frets adding a weird "implied backbow" due to the way someone had gone gung-ho filing them willy-nilly. After removal, I found a perfectly-straight neck, thankee gods.



The wear around the soundhole is too cool -- and so is the original pickguard.


The bridge looks like rosewood, but isn't. It's some very-dense, very-oily, tropical wood which goes "green" when sanding it. I modified this thing to both get the action down but also make it functional. A rash "through-saddle" slot was recut into a drop-in saddle slot, the old pinholes were filled and I drilled new ones farther to the rear like on a 50s/60s Gibson bridge, and I reprofiled it, restained it, and tried to get the finish closer to an old-fashioned bridge look. It's not perfect but it's functionally "just dandy."



Here's the belly -- a little exaggerated in the photo -- behind the bridge. These LG-2s from the 40s are ever-so-slightly lighter-built than comparable 50s models and so they tend to get more of this than the later models.


Above is the bridge as it came in. The colors aren't right in this photo but you get the idea.


Here it is with the greenish color in the middle of prepping it.


There's the 3-ply binding...


...and the wonderful pickwear around the pickguard!




These are the original Kluson open-back tuners. I re-buttoned them with black ones.









New ebony endpin, here...


...and here are those frets! They'll give plenty of life. The action is spot-on but the height of the frets gives a visual illusion, here.


There's also this old, bashed-in, side-crack repair.


A hard, older, 00-size Alvarez case comes with it.

2 comments:

Thesoundword said...

How's the bass on this fella?

Jake Wildwood said...

Pretty good compared to an average LG, but it's not like you'd have on a J-45, of course.