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What is this: "The Gibson" Acoustic?


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I inherited this from my grandfather. I remember him playing this when I visited him in the mid '70's and I know he'd had it for a long time even then.

I don't know if he was the original owner. He was a pastor and always receiving things (other instruments, guns, clocks) as presents and was constantly

making trades and bartering.


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No labels or serial #'s that I could see. (Didn't look that thoroughly inside) Only "The Gibson" on the head.

Obviously the pins were replaced with a tailpiece at some point. One of the brackets for the tuning gear has broken off.


Is this an actual Gibson? Knock-off? Any idea what year or model?


Any help you can give would be appreciated.



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The neck and associated headstock appears to be from a Gibson L1 guitar, circa 1910 thru 1917.


The body and all the other bits seem to be cobble together.


It's hard to say;

Some of it is original Gibson goodness.

The rest is questionable.

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While it's a bit hard to judge the body shape with a photo taken from this angle, rather than straight on, this appears to be a 1930-1931, mahogany-topped L-O. The trapeze tailpiece is obviously a later addition, and the tuners have one broken tab on the bass side, and would therefore need to be replaced. The top finish may or may not be original, since there is no apparent pickguard shadow.


This is a really nice guitar, and you shouldn't mess with it. It may be that the top bracing needs some work, which could be the reason for the trap tail addition. You can get high-quality, virtually-identical replacements for the damaged tuners.


Is that a number "17" stamped on the neck block inside the guitar, where the neck joins the body?


Please don't let anyone work on this guitar who doesn't know what they are doing.


It would be good if you could post two more pictures, one straight-on from the front, and another straight-on from the back.


This guitar should be inspected by a qualified luthier who specializes in work on vintage Gibsons. It may or may not need significant work, but it's worth finding out what it needs to be put in good playing order.

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sThanks for the info. Now that I know what to search for, it definitely looks like the L-0's I can find.


Here are some more pictures:

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Definitely a "17" on the neck block. Good eye! Didn't see that. Thought it was just a smudge.

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I'll be taking it to a luthier to figure out what to do with it. I live in L.A., so there are at least a half dozen really good ones.

Figure out whether I should have it restored and then sell it, or just sell it as is. It doesn't really have any sentimental value (I have other things of my grandfather's for that).

I could keep it for my daughter (she's 14 and already becoming a really good guitarist) but it's not really her style. (rock/punk/grunge). I'd want it to go to someone who'd

really appreciate and enjoy it and play it.



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sThanks for the info. Now that I know what to search for, it definitely looks like the L-0's I can find.


Definitely a "17" on the neck block. Good eye! Didn't see that. Thought it was just a smudge.

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That almost looks like a second, smaller three-digit number above and to the right of the 17. Maybe 518 or 818. The three-digit FON would have been common around 1930.


Whatever you do, don't "restore" this guitar. Make necessary repairs only. Because of the damaged tuner strip, you might want to replace those with Golden Age repro's, which are visually almost identical and should be drop-ins, but do not discard the originals. They should go with the guitar when it is sold.


Don't touch the finish, other than a simple clean. Remove the later trapeze tailpiece, and do whatever repairs might be necessary to make the original pin bridge re-usable, assuming it is in usable condition. This might mean re-gluing braces, or maybe replacing or rep[airing a bridgeplate, etc.


The luthier will tell you whether or not it needs a neck re-set.


Replace the pickguard only with an original style, for which patterns are readily available. But first, inspect closely to confirm that the guitar ever had a pickguard.


And, once again, only use someone who knows what he or she is doing. You might locate some by calling Norman's Rare Guitars, or one of the other reputable LA-area vintage dealers.

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These would be the tuners you would use on the guitar, obviously the white-button version. Not sure on the long post vs. short post, but it sounds like the short post would be right, since you have a tapered headstock. As I said before, keep the originals.


Golden Age tuners



If you do not have a good case, you should get a modern one designed to fit the current L-OO models. You may want to contact Jeremy Morton at Gibson customer service (he posts here from time to time) to source a case.


It is entirely possible this guitar was delivered with no pickguard. If it is determined that the top finish is original, it did not have one, as the guitar would not have had finish on the top under the pickguard.


You want to proceed slowly with whatever you do here.


On page 30 of "Gibson's Fabulous Flat-tops", there is a photo of Norman Blake holding a guitar very similar to yours, although it is spruce-topped, with a slightly different bridge. That guitar has no pickguard, either.

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The finish is definitely old. No signs of having been refinished.


What do they mean by "Can be changed quickly for Hawaiian style playing"?




Agree that the finish may well be original, and delivered with no pickguard.


In the early 1930's, Hawaiian-style playing (guitar lying horizontal on lap, open tuning, and fretted with a slide rather the fingers-- much like modern lap-steel playing) was extremely popular. To convert this guitar for Hawaiian playing, you would de-tune it, probably change out the saddle to a higher one, and use it on your lap. Purpose-built Hawaiian guitars (including Gibsons) were generally built with very heavy, wide necks, and could only be played Hawaiian style. Many of these, particularly the large-bodied Gibson Roy Smecks, were converted for conventional playing, which required lowering the action by replacing the nut and saddle, and sometime modifying the neck shape and width.


Gibson was simply trying to sell guitars like yours to a larger market. I don't know what percentage were actually played Hawaiian-style.

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Looking as closely as possible at your pictures, it almost appears that there are string slots cut into the top of the saddle. If that's the case, this may well have been an attempt to lower the action, which would mean that the guitar may be due for a neck re-set. This is not a big deal, but it is not cheap, either.


There is no way to know why the trapeze tailpiece was put on without a first-hand inspection.


You may find yourself in the position of deciding how far to go with any repairs, versus selling the guitar as-is. It's easy to get upside down in value with significant repairs, particularly in a high-priced labor market like LA.

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