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L3 or L4


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Hi from France, and first at all sorry for my poor school English,


I just buy that guitar to an old man, just only because she seam old and was very pretty. I want to play it after refind originals accessories lost during the time.


For that i search to know what kind of model is it exactly and age of the guitar. I search on different website without succes, so at end i had idea to ask some questions directly on Gibson forum.


the person to whom I bought it does not know the model of this guitar and its exact age. She told me to have it since the end of the 40s, from his uncle.


I have dismounted the machine head and the old ropes to clean the varnish and look inside the guitar.


There is a simple oblong label with subscriber " Made in the USA, by Gibson INC, Kalamazoo, Mich ".


On neck block there is a “stamp” in red ink with a serial number " 1998 " and in the continuation hand-written with some bored ink the number " 45 ".


19 frets, rosewood fingerboard. There is no “sides” in white celluloid around the fingerboard.


Archtop Spruce soundboard with round hole. Sides, back and neck build in Mahogani.


Back seam be flat, not archtop, it’s build in 2 parts.


After searching everywhere, it seems to me that it’s a Gibson » L3 » from 1914?

I did not find on anywebsite a photo of the model of “Fleur de lis” in mother-of-pearl inlaid on the head just under Gibson’ logo?


Here I am, I hope that one passionate or expert guitarist of the forum will help the ignorant "Frenchy" i am to identify his guitar.


Thank you in advance for help,











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How wide is it at the lower bout (the widest point)? If 13.5", it's probably an L-3. If 16", it would be an L-4. The year is harder to identify, since Gibson serial numbers are not consistent. The numbering scheme you describe makes me think it's a late 30's or 40's model, but the logo style on the peghead and the label indicate much earlier, I'm guessing between 1929 and 1934, judging by the unbound fingerboard and the logo style, and assuming it's an LG-4 and not an LG-3.


Here's a good source of information, if you haven't seen this site.




I'm not an expert on these things, but maybe the site I linked above will help you a bit more. Good luck, and nice guitar.



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Thank you very much for your interest to resolve my enigma!! And sorry to answer so late but we have certain decay between twice country!


I effectively already visited this website.


For the dimensions of the guitar I think that are dimensions you wish to know:


Top part of the soundboard over the hole 11.5 ’lenght, bottom part below the hole 16 ’ lenght.


I read somewhere that: During the late 20s L3 had an oval shaped soundhole ( Mine is withe a round hole) and in the early 30s they raised the fingerboard Mine is like that) .They came in 3 body sizes 12.5 ,13.5, & 16


So for is it a L3 or L4?


Also, what do you mean about which is written in " Blue boock sixth edition " of whom here is the extract:


1935/1941 L4 Ears,fleur de lis on head, sunburnst


And then


The numbers are usually stamped or written ………………., or maybe impressed on the back of the headstock.

From 1908 to 1923 Approximate #s



1908 259

1909 309

1910 545, 927

1911 1260, 1295

1912 1408, 1593

1913 1811, 1902

1914 1936, 2152


The numbering in 4 numbers on the headstock could let believe in the date of 1914?

But that would mean in this case two other figures " 45 "


For the fun: Yesterday evening, I was xith my friend's who is a chirurgical dentist, we have intalled the guitar in its armchair for an exploration with its high resolution camera. It was great but difficult to read because it’s “ macro resolution ” camera.


Today I am going to search for the smaller webcam i can find,and look possibly for another exploration, maybe to find a date under the soundboard!!


Thank again for your help,

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The best I can determine is that you have a 1933 L-3 Grand Concert.


Here's my logic: First to date the guitar. This process is usually started by researching the serial number. Your guitar does NOT have a serial number, it has a "factory order number" (FON). The FON's from this era are useless for dating purposes. The next thing to look at is the peghead logo. The important thing here is that it says "Gibson" in script horizontally, not "The Gibson" (horizontally or slanted, which would be older), or "Gibson" in slanted script (which would be newer). It is generally accepted that this peghead logo was introduced around 1933 or 1934.


I believe this guitar to be a L-3 not an L-4 for the following reasons: An L-4 with this logo would have a diamond inlay on the headstock, the L-3 retained the Fleur di lis.


The L-3 was discontinued sometime in 1933, so as an L-3 it could be no later. So between the peghead logo and the date the model was discontinued should date it to 1933.

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Hi and thank' for your help,


I have something new.


With my webcam I investigated the bottom of the soundboard but no date or other registration in this place.


On the other hand by looking the serial number on the headstock at end it’s not » 1998 then 45”, but “199 B then 45” (45 written in manuscript red ink).


So my opinion is the following one:


" B "" Would mean the year “1936”

"199" the number of constructed instruments in the year 1936

"45" the 45th of the series of 199 building in the year 1936


As L3 was discountinued in 1933, the guitar should be an L4?


What do you mean about my logic?

What do you mean about no presence of white celluloide around the fingerboard ? (« binding » is it the right word ?)









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Effectively it’s an excellent deduction because for the moment I did not see L3 or L4 with a flat back.

I you never seen one L3 or L4 with a flat back?


Old place and position of the tuners and screws indicate that they were individuals ones.

3 of them seem be original with label “Grover” with the metal and not plastic key.


I think now for a Gibson L75 made in 1936, and the 45th on a production of 199 instruments of this type made in that year!!


What do you think about the fact that there is not a white celluloid parts all around the fingerboard?


Is it a good analysis?



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