Vintage Instruments: Gibson Guitars

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1931 Gibson L-1

The early large-body L-shaped 12 fret guitars built by Gibson between late 1929 and early 1933 are among the finest sounding acoustics one can play. Similar to Martin’s guitars built during that same period, these 12 fret Ls are incredibly lightly made and are hugely responsive. Unfortunately, the trade-off of a very light build is a guitar’s inability to survive years of steel string tension – and so many of the Gibsons from that era show serious structural issues and (more often then not) low quality repairs.

This guitar is everything we would look for in a 12 fret Gibson L-1. It’s in remarkably fine condition; it plays easily with a good neck angle, a super-nice neck feel, and a great set-up; it’s just gorgeous to look at; and it sounds just amazing.

A beautifully dark, intimate, lush and resonant guitar, this L-1 responds really well to a soft but intentional touch. String balance is excellent, and the trebles have strength, fullness, and clarity. The low end of the guitar is very present as well and comes through without choke or tightness. We have it strung with Martin Monel 12’s, which seem to bring everything out of the guitar. Lighter gauges work fine, but the treble response that the .012” and .016” strings impart is well worth a little extra string tension, and the body has no issues with the string gauging.

A crack-free guitar with very few repairs, this L-1 has survived the years very well. There are a few cleanly reglued brace-ends, but the X brace north of the soundhole is nice and tight (that’s very uncommon), and the bridge and plate are original and in excellent condition. The neck has been reset and the original frets dressed. There is finish repair to the top on either side of the fingerboard’s extension, but no other flaws, repairs, or finish touch-ups to note. Original tuners, bridge pins, and case.

X braced spruce top with hand-rubbed Cremona sunburst and thin lacquer finish. Mahogany back and sides with dark stain, and white bindings. Unbound rosewood fretboard, ‘The Gibson’ headstock logo, round carved neck and 1-3/4” nut width. Short 24-3/4” or so scale length, and string spread of 2-3/8” at the bridge. Action of 5 64ths with full height saddle.

With original chipboard case

Shipping into the USA?

Sending this guitar to a US address is easy to do, and there are no import fees, taxes, or duties to pay when it arrives. We take care of everything involved in shipping – all you have to do unpackage the instrument when it arrives and play!

Questions? Email us anytime, or call us toll-free at 1-855-772-0424.


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