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Pappysquat

Pre 1930 L-1 Finish -- Refinished??

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Hi, have a look at the pics. Haven't seen that large a sunburst on a pre '30 L-1. And weren't they hand rubbed? Also the pickguard may not be original either? what do you think? refinish maybe? The guitar went back to Gibson some time in the 50's to get the bridge replaced and who knows what else. Only know they replaced the bridge

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That's not a 20s or early 30s sunburst, no.

 

It's hard to get a fix on this guitar from the photos provided. Can you take more without that rubber thing in the sound hole? The guitar has fingerboard dots at and beyond the 12th fret and no binding, which would likely date it to 1929 or 30, but in the photo the back looks from the reflections like it might be arched, which would date it to 1926 but isn't consistant with the fingerboard. The sound holes on these are tiny so I'm surprised there's a feedback buster that fits it - unless the sound hole has been enlarged, or even the top replaced. What is the bracing pattern?

 

Small body L-1s, L-0s and NLs did not have pickguards as standard, and the few that were custom ordered with them were supplied with an archtop style floating pickguard. The only exceptions to this that I know of were 'floor sweep' guitars put together in the 30s that have the early small body and 12 fret neck join but other features consistant with 30s guitars, including an L-00 style pickguard - somebody on the UMGF forum has a couple of these, one with a large 30s style sound hole. That said, the celluloid on yours doesn't look like a 30s guard - more like 50s which would match the bridge era. What tuners are on it - do they look original or are they 50s style Klusons? My guess would be that this guitar received a full Gibson makeover in the 50s.

 

Here's my 1926 L-1 alongside my 1929 TG-1: the TG has the hand rubbed burst.

 

GibsonL1andTG1.jpg

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Thanks. It's X braced, so it would be after '28 I believe. i think i'm leaning towards the 50's complete refurbish/refinish as well. Attached more pics. The headstock logo was replaced with a post '47 logo which adds to the evidence. Its pretty beat up even after the refin so it must've had a long, tough life. Sounds so great though.

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The new photos definitely look like 50s nitro, both in colour and the way it's crazed.

 

The photos also confirm my suspicion that the soundhole is bigger than that of a typical L-1 of this era. I've only seen one small body L-1 with this feature which was a mid 30s guitar build from leftover 20s parts. It would be interesting to compare the rosette with period examples: a small body L-1 should have two bands of thick, light coloured wood (not celluloid) framed with bands of thin dark coloured wood. I'd put money on your guitar having the style of rosette found on a 50s flat top, which would suggest the top was replaced when the guitar was given its makeover in the 50s. The bracing also suggests this might be the case, although I only have my TG to compare to and it's a while since I've handled an X braced L-1. My memory is that the X braced L-1 should be much like the TG with thin braces tapered top to bottom and without the fabric reinforcement.

 

A retop wouldn't be entirely unlikely from a historical perspective - the originals were very delicate with a wide spaced X and thin braces that weren't tucked into the lining so they're not the toughest of guitars. Posting the photos on the UMGF Vintage Corner would get you a definitive answer - there have been a couple of very in depth threads on L-1 bracing on there and a few of the regulars own more than one L-1 to compare to.

 

Regarding the logo, the original was a silk screen in silver. You could certainly restore it but to do if properly you'd need someone to make up a silk screen from which to print the replica as it's a chemical process making the screen image that a guitar repairer is unlikely to have access to. An easier if less authentic solution would be to have a decal made. I've also seen the early logo replicated with a silver sharpie!

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Trying to get access to post on UMGF right now, but I think you're spot on. Thanks again for all your info. Great help. What do you think this thing might be worth in its current refurb state? Plays beautifully, intonation is great, neck is straight, excellent action, no bellying/sinking, no cracks. Has a hole, missing one back brace.

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It's a really tough one to call in terms of value, there are so many variables to consider.

 

On the one hand, you could buy an L-1 like mine with the early bracing pattern and natural finish from a vintage dealer for around $3500 and an X braced L-1 from 1929 or '30 with the hand rubbed burst might set you back $4-5k from a premium dealer. A refinished version could easily come in for less than $2k - I think Elderly had one last year for that sort of amount - and in a private sale significantly less than that, and this guitar goes considerably further than just a refin when you consider the retop and non period correct features. There are plenty who would say this is a guitar that should be in the hundreds rather than thousands.

 

On the other hand, if we work on the basis that this is a Gibson factory retop and refinish, how much would you have to pay for an equivalent model Gibson made entirely in the late 50s? If a 50s LG2 might sell for upwards of $3k and this guitar was effectively made to similar specs in the same factory using the neck, back and sides from an older guitar, is it really worth so much less than the LG would be? A few years ago I sold a very early L-1 archtop which had been reworked (although not retopped) by Gibson in the 50s and I was surprised to get the same price for it as I did selling a similar L-1 with a rather worn original finish.

 

It comes down to how the buyer values it. One guy might happily pay upward of $2k for it; the next might offer $750 and be surprised if you turned it down.

 

Which is a very convoluted way of saying I don't know!

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Yeah I hear you. I paid 1k for it so I guess I'm right there. So do you think gibson used an old L jig for the new top with the rounded bottom or how would they have recreated it? And then you think the back and sides are most likely original? Does the neck match an early L neck? Wondering if that's original as well.

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I wouldn't want to call this from the photos but I don't see any red flags on the back, sides and neck. The top of the headstock looks a bit odd but that could be camera angle or it could be the shape was altered slightly when sanding out dings before refinishing. The heel looks right, and nothing like a 50s guitar - if you follow the logic that Gibson replaced parts with the nearest equivalent, you would expect a 50s reneck to have a wide heel, not the elegant heel of this guitar. And if the back and sides were gone I can't see why it would exist at all.

 

Braces for a guitar top can be fitted freehand - there's no need for a jig for this - and, although a mould would be used to to hold the back and sides rigid whilst you glue the new top it doesn't need to be particularly accurate. I doubt there was any need to hunt out original tooling for the original. Gibson had a dedicated repair shop staffed with some great woodworkers at that time so there would have been staff there doing projects like this day in, day out.

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DSC02559.jpg

 

 

These two are X braced oddballs, probably the "floor sweep" models. I have seen one more similar.

 

Your guitar looks like a 50s Gibson factory re-do. I have seen another very much like your guitar including the logo.

 

Terry

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Thanks Terry, those were the 30s guitars I was thinking of!

 

I thought those were the guitars.

 

Well there it is on the left! Besides the logo. Interesting. So a 50's redo... what do you think it started life out as then?

 

 

Does you guitar have a FON, numbers on the neck block inside? Both of mine have period, late 20s FONs.

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Both of my guitars have 30s bridges and bridge bolts which places them no earlier than around 34. Like your guitar both of mine are X braced. These guitars went through several variations of bracing, the last was X. This was at the end of that body size. You see small body L1 with X bracing but not common, they were being phased out for the more "modern" body shape/size as seen in today's L00. The transition was around 1929. The larger bodied L1 went through a series of changes too.

 

I've discussed these guitars on UMGF. "Floor sweep" guitars was probably coined there. Joe Spann does as well as anyone as explaining Gibson during the pre/war years. He has mentioned many unfinished guitars about the factory. Gibson was a business and acted like one, they sold what they had and when they could.

 

I bought the guitar pictured on left on ebay in a town about 50 miles, so I was able to pick up the guitar. I did not quite know what it was because it didn't look like it was suppose to. It was being sold by the daughter of the original owner. She said he bought it just before WWII and she thought it was bought as new, she did know know that it had ever been back to the factory. To me, it looks like a guitar finished in the late 30s, the top being added at that time, hence the larger soundhole.

 

I have not played it in some time, but it is a monster of a little guitar.

 

The one pictured on the right is similar to another on the UMGF. Perhaps the most interesting sunburst finish I have seen on a Gibson guitar. I have not seen quite the shading/colors, but then I'm more into that than most. I think a bit earlier more mid 30s, a left over from the late 20s..It has no bridgeplate, never had one. Also amazing sounding guitar.

 

I have pictures of the one very similar to yours with the new Gibson logo and finish, don't remember if it had a pickguard. I first saw it on a Japanese website, then ebay and maybe other classifieds.

 

What do you think?

 

Terry

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Great info Terry. Thanks a bunch. So mine could have actually been put together in the 50's and not really a refurbished earlier guitar. Possibly? Or more likely a new top and total refinish of an older l? Do you think I got ripped off or would 1k be a fair price for its condition?

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In their effort to make a business work they produced a wide variety of instruments. Guitars were one part of the business. Guitars evolved through the 20s early 30s pretty quickly. Gibson was always experimenting, all the small bodies went through many changes and each sounds different. H, A, X bracing, spruce tops/mahogany tops, different bridges. Interestingly I have vintage tenor ukes from this period with the same progress in bracing.

 

To me your guitar is certainly worth 1K if it plays well. I think guitars as yours/mines are so typical Gibson. Get them on the road, keep on the road. Evidently they had quite a repair business, with custom work. I have a very unique Gibson L5 that was renecked at the factory late 50s while the owner worked for Gibson. I have a black small bodied Nick Lucas with A bracing that has a c.1950 neck. I think the factory work is easy to see, they had a way of redoing guitars close to what was available at the time, with a hint of vintage restoration. Your bridge is very much Gibson of early 50s. I would have to hands on your guitar to say more. I thought your posted a picture of the interior bridge plate and X brace? I thought there was something unique in that shot.

 

Lack of an FON; not sure what that means if anything. it does meant something if is there not so if is not. they fade. both of mine have period FONs.

 

I have at least one other oddball Gibson flat top, no one can quite explain. I like special guitars like your L.

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Wow learn something new every day. Wasn't aware they did that but it makes sense. To be in business that long through all sorts of economic moments in history is impressive. I'm digging this guitar more and more every day. Seems it has it's own kind of sound. Little extra bass but still boxy and throaty. Can coax a lot out of it.

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That Guitar was on Ebay... a 3/4 size x brace model L00 .. this guitar was also from the estate of a Luthier down Florida way.. its been monkeed with.. I hit the buy it now.. then refused the purchase after finding out not all was disclosed about the Guitars past owner.. then it reappeared on ebay where it was resold.. then after its delivery relisted for double..

 

that should have hd a stenciled Script logo and a staight bridge.

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a 3/4 size x brace model L00

 

This a a full scale small body L1 as I see it, as are both the guitars I pictured. What makes you think it is 3/4 scale?

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This a a full scale small body L1 as I see it, as are both the guitars I pictured. What makes you think it is 3/4 scale?

 

it just looks smaller in size to a L1. bridge seams closer to the end of the body than the standard L1. a measurement accross the lower bout would be great.. If Im wrong.. he got a good deal on it..

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Tape measure is a little wrinkly but it measures out to 13.5". I think the 3/4's were 12" and some change?

 

 

Nice score..Thanks for the picture.. . the photos wre kind of out of wack at the auction.. Congrats...

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