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Is your's left handed? Somewhere along the line, mine got switched to Ebony with MOP dots. Here is a little history from Carl Darnell. These guitars are pretty rare:




Compiled by


Carl Darnell


In 1992 Eldon Whitford visited Gibson at Bozeman Mt. to tour the factory and in conversation suggested they build a guitar based on the Nick Lucas Special with 12 frets to the body. Read Gibson’s Fabulous Flat-Top Guitars for Eldon’s story about the L20. The factory had already started the L20 project a little fancier and somewhat different than Eldon’s idea.


The prototype L20 was built in the Custom Shop by Ren Ferguson and his crew and sent to the 1993 January NAMM guitar show. Ren said that the 12 fret to body did not sell well and only 20 or 30 of them were made. The rest of the L20’s are 14 fret to the body.


I have not been able to find out why the catalog lists them as L20 Special but the labels inside the 4 L20’s I have found say L20.


The L20’s were built in 1993 and discontinued in early 1994. As far as can be determined the production totals are as follows:


 1993 1994


72 Antique Natural 3 Antique Natural


5 Vintage Sunburst 3 Vintage Sunburst


24 Koa International Special 6 Koa International Special


 Bill Gonder said that 2 or 3 L20’s were built of Brazilian Rosewood back and sides. The remainder were Indian Rosewood and Koa. The Koa L20’s were built by special order for the Asian market.


 I know of :


4 - L20 Antique Natural 12 fret Indian Rosewood


1 - L20 Vintage Sunburst 12 fret Koa


1 - L20 Antique Natural 12 fret Koa


 My L20 is an Antique Natural Indian Rosewood and was signed on the inside of the top by James Wright on 3/9/93. At that time he worked in production and later worked in the Custom Shop.


 The dimensions of the L20 are;


Body length--19-1/8” Depth at neck--4-1/4” Upper bout width--10-1/8” Waist--8-3/8”


Lower bout width--14-3/4” Depth at end pin--4-3/4” Sound hole--4” Scale--24-3/4 Weight--5 pounds


 The above information was collected from Walter Carter, Bill Gonder, Ren Ferguson, Stan Werbin and Eldon Whitford. I want to thank them for all the help they gave in finding out more about my L20 which I have named Marcie. It is a beautiful name for a beautiful guitar with a beautiful voice as well.


Follow up email:

Acutally Walter Carter gave me the production data and both Ren and Bill told me that not more than 20 to 30 L20 were 12 fret. The Koa's were sent overseas and some came back or were never sent. Gibson dosen't always know what they have made or when. They are always making one off guitars in the Custom shop and selling them through their Gibson Gold dealer program. Both Ren and Bill said they discontinued the L20 for the centennial model in 1994. I suspect it would have been discontinued anyway because of slow sales. As much as I like the tone of the L20 is is overweight and low on volume. If Gibson would have built them light, which is not what they do, it would have been a killer guitar and sold well. It does have very good sustain and vibrates freely. I suspect they quit making the 12 fret and sent most of the rest of the produdction overseas. Stan Werbin said some of them had wolf tones so they may have gotten bad PR from that. There may only be 50 or so L20's in the States.

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The one that I have comes from a second batch of L-20s that was built in 2009 (mine, serial #01819031, was completed on 7/16/09). Also came standard with electronics. One built for each of the 20 years they have been building in Bozeman, Montana. Ferguson signed the accompanying certificate.

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