1923 Gibson L-3

The L-3 was Gibson's fanciest small-body guitar at the time this instrument was built, and featured a beautiful rubbed Cremona sunburst, herringbone and celluloid rosette and intricate headstock inlay. With a body width of 13.5” this L-3 is significantly smaller than Gibson's 16” L4 and L5 models, and has a string balance that favours mids and upper mids over the lower frequencies that the larger guitars push out. As a result, this L-3 is well suited to playing a lead role in old-time music thanks to its excellent cut and placement within a mix. Keeping the back off your belly and allowing it to vibrate freely adds a cool hollowness in the guitar's low-end that gives a bit of a Django-esque hop to the tone of the bass strings.

This example has survived its nearly-100 years mostly well, and sports its original finish and frets, tuners, tailpiece, and nut. The top arch is perfect and the bridge is a well-made and perfectly-fit reproduction. There are two repaired top cracks and a few rather insignificant repaired side cracks. The original frets are quite small and feel as such, but the guitar plays well with an action set at 5-6 64ths at the 12th fret.

The enjoyment of large necks is a mandatory prerequisite to purchasing this guitar. With a neck depth of more than an inch at the 1st fret tapering to nearly 1.5” at the 9th fret, and a nut width of 1-7/8” this neck is really nothing short of huge. It's dimensionally similar to those first Loar-signed L-5s though, so go figure. Maybe best to avoid barre chords up the neck...

An attractive Gibson that's quite truly vintage. With modern hardshell case