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Gibson archtop black 1930's guitar, F holes

#1 User is offline   S Martin 

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 12:53 PM

I recently acquired a older Gibson black archtop with F holes from my aunts family. All I know about it is that was given to her in 1941 for her 9th birthday and was used (not new) at that time. She played the guitar for over 60 years and then it got put away until I acquired it. It is "well used" condition, missing 2 strings, wear on the frets and fret board but otherwise appears sound. I plan on keeping the guitar in my family, not trying to sell it. My son plays and would love to play it occasionally. What I am looking for is any and all information about the guitar (model, year, etc). I will give you all the info I can but if you have more questions, let me know. As I am not a guitar expert, type slow so I can comprehend. [smile]

It does have a number visible through the lower F hole. It appears to be "F810 11" with the "F810" stamped in black and the "11" handwritten in red. (See photo) I believe that is the FON number.

Dimensions:

Widths of body
widest: 16"
waist 9 1/4"
upper 11 1/4"

length of body: 20 1/4"
overall length: 40 1/4

In my short search for knowledge, I believe that it is a L-50, but since I could not find an exact match I cannot be sure. For example, some would have only the white binding on the front, this one has white binding on both front and back.

I have attached some photos.

I certainly appreciate any assistance in finding all I can about this guitars history.

Thanks a bunch!

Scott

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#2 User is offline   ksdaddy 

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 01:16 PM

It's a 1940 but it's not an L-50. The L-50 was the same basic guitar (dimensions) but the overwhelming majority were sunburst and also had an inlaid logo as opposed to silkscreened like yours. I've seem models similar to yours referred to as "Specials" and I would assume that referred to a short run of guitars with no true model status. That's not to be taken as a bad thing.
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#3 User is offline   S Martin 

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 02:18 PM

Any information is good news. I certainly never thought it was worth much (The sentimental value is high though) but it is very nice to know all the info I can for the future.

Thanks for your response.

Scott
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#4 User is offline   jdgm 

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 04:23 PM

Wow.....all the stories it could tell.
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#5 User is offline   S Martin 

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 04:53 PM

I've threatened it all I could........and I still cannot get it to talk. It's going to keep all its stories I guess. Thanks for the comment.

How many hours of playing does it take to make the fretboard feel like a washboard road. There is some deep troughs between the strings.
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#6 User is offline   ksdaddy 

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 05:51 PM

Depends on the player's nails. I've never worn into a board in my life because the nails are clipped very short.

Just gives me the willies just thinking about trying to play guitar with nails....brrr..
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#7 User is offline   S Martin 

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Posted 05 January 2016 - 06:03 PM

If it is a 1940, then maybe it was purchased new. It may have been purchased out of a catalog. I am sure that $20-30-40 dollars was a huge amount of money for them at that time. All those who might have known are gone now so it will probably stay a secret.

Thanks again for the info.
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#8 User is offline   JimR56 

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 01:11 AM

This is very interesting, as these black "Specials" don't come up very often, even in discussions.

I found some new (to me) info by doing a web search. I have an older edition of "Gruhn's Guide To Vintage Guitars", which only mentions Gibson's "Wartime Specials" (1943-1946), but the newer version has more details. You can view this info here: https://books.google...ials%22&f=false

The info is on page 143 of the book. Carefully scroll down to the section indicated by "Non-Catalog Specials", and you'll find a list of some specific special models. Specials #4 and 5 were the 16" sizes.

Up to now, it had been my understanding that the red pencil was only used for the "sequence number" (11, in the case of Scott's guitar) during the war. If the 1940 date is correct (and that seems to the case here), then the red pencil was apparently being used prior to the start of U.S. involvement in the war.

* Here is another source for info on Gibson serial numbers and FON's: http://www.guitarhq....son.html#serial
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#9 User is offline   aliasphobias 

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 04:24 AM

Nice heirloom there Mr. Martin. Definitely on the rare side, in my opinion. I have only played one of the "wartime" models. I am not much of an expert on archtops (or anything else) but it looks like you are in good hands with dating it and build info.
The only other thing I might add is to take it to a qualified luthier to check for loose bits, etc. Proceed with caution as to any repairs or modifications suggested by the same. By all means have your son string and set it up and play it. Nothing like a continuum even if briefly interrupted.
Good info JimR56!
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#10 User is offline   S Martin 

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Posted 06 January 2016 - 07:57 AM

All your information is wonderful! I do plan on having it looked at for structural issues but I would rather not have it restored as the wear shows character for what I am wanting. It still has an amazing sound......even with 4 strings. Thanks!

I know it once had a pickguard, Is that something that is worth replacing for occasional playing? I see pickguard reproductions are available.
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