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1934 Custom L5 Super 400? L5 or Super 400

#1 User is offline   Mysterious G 

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Posted 16 August 2014 - 03:01 PM

This is my Grandfathers guitar and I have been trying to research it, without much success. A photo inquiry to Gibson provided me with the reply that it "is consistent with an L5 and would have been custom ordered at the dealer" and that it would have been "produced and shipped to the dealer" in 1934. That is curious to me because the guitar is 18" across and the tailpiece is engraved SUPER 400.

Anyone have thoughts, can it be both an L5 AND a Super 400?

Here is a link to the photo's:
http://www5.snapfish..._NAME=snapfish/
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#2 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 12:13 AM

It appears that I have to register at Snapfish in order to view your photos. I'd prefer not to do that, although I'm interested in seeing them and trying to help. Could you perhaps post them here using the individual links at Snapfish?

Anyway, your description sounds familiar. I think I may have seen (not in person) or heard about something similar in the past.
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#3 User is offline   Sleeko 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 10:05 AM

View PostJimR56, on 17 August 2014 - 12:13 AM, said:

It appears that I have to register at Snapfish in order to view your photos. I'd prefer not to do that, although I'm interested in seeing them and trying to help. Could you perhaps post them here using the individual links at Snapfish?

Anyway, your description sounds familiar. I think I may have seen (not in person) or heard about something similar in the past.


+1 [thumbup]
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#4 User is offline   BigKahune 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 10:39 AM

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By coincidence I was recently at Elderly and they have what they're calling a 1935 L5 Super 400 - listed at $35K - http://elderly.com/items/45U-1072.htm . A pic shows the heal is engraved with 'Super "400"'

From the description - "... the label says "Deluxe" at the top and "L-5" for the model, truss rod cover is engraved "Super L-5", very fine example of the Super 400 ... engraved tailpiece with 3 cutouts (original - later production models were engraved "Super 400") ..."

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#5 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 12:38 PM

Elderly... that's where I'd seen it. Thanks BK.
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#6 User is offline   Mysterious G 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 12:46 PM

Here are photo's of the front, back and close-up of the tailpiece.Attached File  Tailpiece Close-Up 2 (640x360).jpg (163.05K)
Number of downloads: 431

Attached File(s)


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#7 User is offline   Mysterious G 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 12:50 PM

I am really struggling adding photo's in here. I keep getting messages that the files are too big to upload. I was finally able to get three attached to my previous reply but only one appeared in the message and now I can't attach any to this reply. How did you get those pictures in your message?
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#8 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 12:58 PM

Thanks Mysterious G. First of all, you should know that your instrument was either a custom order (which would make it very unusual), or it has been modified (which is not good in terms of collectibility and value).

I think we can get to the bottom of this, but it would help (a lot) if you could post all of your photos here.

For starters, your tailpiece is of a later type than would have been available in 1934 or 1935. As you can see in the photos that Big Kahune posted of the guitar at Elderly Instruments, the early Super 400 tailpieces were different in design than yours. So, we know right off the bat that if your instrument dates to those early years, then it has already been modified to some extent. The fact that you have a natural finish on the front and a sunburst finish on the back makes it highly likely that the top was refinished (not a good thing).

I hope you can post all of your photos here, so that we can really examine things in detail. Thanks.

No matter how this turns out, that is one COOL thing to have received from your grandfather. :)
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#9 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 01:01 PM

View PostMysterious G, on 17 August 2014 - 12:50 PM, said:

I am really struggling adding photo's in here. I keep getting messages that the files are too big to upload. I was finally able to get three attached to my previous reply but only one appeared in the message and now I can't attach any to this reply. How did you get those pictures in your message?

You want to post them using direct individual url links from their locations at snapfish. Use the "insert image" button (the square one, two to the right of the yellow smiley face), and enter each url.
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#10 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 01:10 PM

I can add (and you may already know this) that your headstock inlay ("flowerpot"), fretboard inlay (blocks), and pickguard are all consistent with an L5, and not a Super 400. If the lower bout measurement is really 18", then we have a more confusing puzzle.
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#11 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 01:27 PM

Just continuing to comment as I notice more things...

The size/shape of your f-holes (and since they appear to be unbound) are consistent with a 1930's L5, and not a Super 400.

In the full frontal photo, I see what appears to be a seam in the top, toward the outer edge. I suspect that this would have been hidden under the dark stain of an original sunburst finish.

Is there no label inside the guitar?
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#12 User is offline   BigKahune 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 01:37 PM

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What a fantastic legacy gift.

I'm on the same path as Jim. Looks like an L-5 that was possibly modified at some point in it's history. Does the TRC (truss rod cover) have any writing on it?

BTW, here's the 1934 specs for the Super 400 courtesy of Provide Net: http://home.provide....gibson2.html#l5 . (scroll down a ways)
1934 Super 400 introduction specs:
18" wide, X-braced top, figured maple back and sides, adjustable bridge with triangular inlay at each end, tailpiece with "Y" shaped center and model name on crosspiece, 7 ply top binding, triple bound back and F-holes, brown pearloid pickguard with 5 ply binding, pointed end ebony fingerboard, single and double split-block fingerboard inlays, 5 ply peghead binding, 5 piece split diamond peghead inlay, 3 piece split-diamond inlay on back of peghead, model name on heel cap, engraved open-back Grover tuners, gold plated parts, Cremona brown sunburst finish.


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#13 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 01:44 PM

When I look at something like this, it usually becomes evident that there are virtually no limits to modifications. Once you notice one or two, red flags begin to go up. We really don't even know whether this neck and this body began life together (I'm curious about that, because everything about the neck (aside from the truss rod cover, which is easily changed) points to L5, while an 18" body points to a Super 4.

This Super 400 tailpiece is post-WWII (1947 or later).
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#14 User is offline   BigKahune 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 01:48 PM

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An interesting puzzle. . B)


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#15 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 02:05 PM

View PostBigKahune, on 17 August 2014 - 01:48 PM, said:

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An interesting puzzle. . B)


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My favorite kind of thread. :)

I keep examining the shape of the f-holes on this guitar, and comparing them to photos of vintage Gibsons, and I can't quite convince myself that this top was made by Gibson. Perhaps a 1930's Super 4 was seriously damaged, and the top was replaced, as well as the neck...?

The "Gibson" inlay on the headstock would suggest that the L5 neck is at least pre-war. Would like to see closer photos if possible (if you need more help regarding photos, let us know).
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#16 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 02:39 PM

Mysterious G, if you open each of your snapfish photos in their own window, they will each have a url, like "http://snapfish.com/photos/GibsonGuitar/1.jpg". If you take each of those url's, and insert them here between the tags "[ img ]" and "[ /img ]" (with no spaces inside the brackets, or anywhere in the url), they should appear here.

Like this, but with no spaces inside the brackets: [ img ]http://snapfish.com/...sonGuitar/1.jpg[ /img ]
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#17 User is offline   Mysterious G 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 07:01 PM

Here are some more photos. If there is anything specific that you would like to see, let me know and I will take a shot of it. Thanks to everyone who is looking at this ! \:D/

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#18 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 08:22 PM

Looks like you posted links to the thumbnail versions of your photos. I think you should be able to post them full size (let me know if you need help). :) Meanwhile, I'll try to examine these small images...
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#19 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 10:06 PM

It's encouraging to see "special" on the paper label, although there's still some vagueness about that.

Big Kahune asked about the truss rod cover. That's the plastic thing on the headstock with the white diagonal line across it. Does it say anything inside that white line?
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#20 User is offline   Mysterious G 

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 05:20 PM

Testing photo size

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