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L5Larry

1947 L-5, Standard Nut Width?

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I've got a 1947 L-5 on my workbench at the moment for a cleaning and setup. The first thing that struck me (after I finished drooling all over it) was the narrow nut width. It measures out to 1 9/16".

 

I was wondering if this was standard for this era L-5, or something odd. My '47 L-7 nut is 1 11/16", as is my 1990 L-5CES.

 

 

 

PS: Yes, I know.... photos, photos. As soon as I get it cleaned up I'll shoot and post a series of detailed pics.

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Despite all of the scholarship related to vintage guitars, I've never understood why nut width is so often overlooked or ignored.

 

These kinds of questions keep coming up, and it's always a struggle to get any kind of information. I was just looking at the Van Hoose Super 400 book, and so far I can't find anything about the topic as it relates to that model. I have the Ingram L5 book, which I'm about to take a look at, but I have my doubts that there's anything in there either (oh, and I checked Gruhn's Guide, and there's nothing in the opening "general information" section on Gibsons).

 

I had always thought that 1 11/16 was sort of a standard size on Gibson archtops, particularly due to all the fuss about what Gibson did in the 60's with neck sizes and dimensions.

 

You'd almost think that older guitars should have more examples of thinner nut widths, due to people's hands being smaller back then, but I've never found that to be true in my own experience (but then I never paid a lot of attention to this back in the 80's when I was doing more buying/selling/trading).

 

I wonder if a reliable explanation will ever surface (which I realize could be "there was no standard width").

 

Looking forward to the photos. Photos are always good, regardless, and few guitars are more majestic than a 40's L5. :)

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Sorry to have been tardy with photos, but I just pulled it off the workbench. What started out to be a clean, polish and setup, pretty much turned into a RESTORATION.

 

Here's a photo from before I reinstalled the DeArmond Rhythm Chief 1100.

 

15066752681_cf2a4eb09c_c.jpg

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Sad day, I've got to give her back to the owner tonight. It sure has been a nice five days with her.

 

Bye, bye ole '47.

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Interesting, and I remain curious about the history of such nut width variations.

 

The guitar sure looks well loved (which almost always means it sounds great). To my eye, that looks like an old refin (more 50's coloring in the sunburst, but still not quite "right" in terms of shading).

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I'll throw my two bits in here. I have a fairly early 1947 L-7 (white label, A 235 serial number, script logo) that has a nut width of 1 23/32", just over 1 11/16" and just under 1 3/4". I actually thought it was a little wider than that until I re-measured this morning.

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L5Larry - That does sound to be quite an unusual nut width for the era. Was the neck still quite a handful? The 1947-1948 L5 necks were probably the chunkiest they've ever been, certainly for 1" 11/16th's.

That said, I think high-end models like the L5 and Super 400 were produced or rather 'ordered' in such small quantities, that many could be considered 'Custom' factory orders. Perhaps Gibson had a player already in mind when they produced the thinner neck on this particular guitar.

 

I agree with Jim regarding the sunburst. The typical sunburst colour for the era was much more ruddy brown (or 'ice tea' as we call it in todays terminology) and it had a wider, gradual blending. Here's my 1947 L5-P to show what I mean.

 

post-420-090668300 1410784177_thumb.jpg

 

There is also a 1948 L5-P pictured in The Ultimate Guitar Book which shows the same colour and sunburst banding.

 

As a side note, my 1956 Les Paul Custom has a narrower nut width of 1" 5/8ths whereas most were a standard width of 1" 11/16ths. Again, a higher-end model, so maybe some were ordered that way, or maybe a small percentage had stock narrower nut widths?? Difficult to really know for sure. Could be by complete chance that the guy sanding the necks got distracted, took too much off one side, then had to compensate for this on the other side - therefore a thinner neck. Dunno, pure conjecture.

 

Either way, it looks like a great guitar and I bet it sounds amazing. Did you get a photo of the DeArmond RC 1100 installed?

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a lot of late 50s early 60s Gibsons have nut widths of 1 5/8" or slightly [1/32"] wider.

after the 1 9/16" nuts of the mid to late 60s most went back to a full 1 11/16" once the 70s rolled on.

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a lot of late 50s early 60s Gibsons have nut widths of 1 5/8" or slightly [1/32"] wider.

wm, I'd be curious to have you elaborate on why you say that. I don't mean to challenge you, as I never (as I said) took a lot of measurements back when I had more guitars passing through my hands, but that would surprise me if true, unless you're talking more about lower-end or "student" models. I wouldn't have thought that L5's (for example) from the period would have had nuts less than 1 11/16. At any rate, I'm still curious for as much info and opinion as I can get on this topic.

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Jim,

I'm talking about high end models. I have some here from the early 60s and some measure 1 11/16" some 1/32" under [using a good pair of calipers]. I've seen/measured some that were right around 1 5/8" [maybe 1/64" more]

 

I also have a '69 that's 1/32" over 1 11/16"

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Jim,

I'm talking about high end models. I have some here from the early 60s and some measure 1 11/16" some 1/32" under [using a good pair of calipers]. I've seen/measured some that were right around 1 5/8" [maybe 1/64" more]

 

I also have a '69 that's 1/32" over 1 11/16"

Interesting. Thanks. By the way, have you posted photos of these high end models from the early 60's? (I had to ask... it's the law around here ;))

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