Museum: Gibson Guitars

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1937 Gibson Recording King 1123 (M-4)

FON 150C-14. The Gibson-built Recording King M-4 was produced for Montgomery Ward between 1937 and 1939. The model, originally catalogued as the 1123, was one of Ward's fancier archtops, and featured a triple-bound carved spruce top, a carved bird's eye maple back with matching sides, sunburst-on-all-sides finish, a bound rosewood fingerboard and headstock, ornate clam-shell fingerboard inlays, and a bound firestripe pickguard. The guitar is both striking and unique, the M-4 being a much more rare instrument than its plainer sibling, the M-3.

The earliest variant of the RK-1123, or M-4, this guitar is the 14th instrument of the very first batch of the model, and was numbered early in 1937. Gibson went on to produce a total of 13 batches of the RK-1123 through late 1939. We suspect that the fancy clam-shell pearl inlays were replaced by simpler diamonds in all subsequent batches.

The guitar is in remarkable condition. It's survived the years beautifully, and is without cracks or damage, shows very little finish wear, and is very nearly completely original. One tuner's post has been changed, and the tail-piece is possibly a comparably-aged replacement (the jury is out on that one). We've compression fretted the guitar to get the playability perfect, and spent the time needed to get the bridge-fit perfect as well. Original tuning machines, bone nut, pickguard, bridge, finish. Focused, punchy and articulated voice; strong mids, balanced bass and treble.

16" carved body, 24.75" scale, 1-3/4" nut, hard-V neck carve. We've furnished a good looking late 1940's Lifton 16" archtop case with the guitar; it's a very appealing package.



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