1930 Gibson TG-1 Flattop Tenor Guitar

Update 2018: The friend of mine who owns this is downsizing and so it became available again. I've updated the blog post with a little extra information, new pictures, and a video clip.

Not to be confused with the same-year, much larger, 12-fret, L-00-style TG-1s, this TG-1 is an x-braced tenor based on Gibson's late-20s tenor body shape. These are my favorite Gibson flattop tenors as they have enough warmth and fullness to their tone on the low-end but their smaller body size (roughy "parlor" size) means that the high-end chime, zing, and zest isn't subdued. It bounces around in the smaller body in a pleasing, almost mandolin-like way.

A friend of mine (who'd been remarking on this guitar's sound for about a year) bought this just the other day from a private seller and brought it with him to the jam this morning. After the jam I gave him an early Xmas present via a fret level/dress, saddle shave/reprofile, and setup to get it playing on-the-dot, which it does with 1/16" action overall at the 12th fret.

I'll tell you what -- this thing sounds alive. It's not as loud as bigger tenors but it has a gelled, sweetheart voice for chordal playing and a woody, percussive velvet for lead or fill work.

Work included: a fret level/dress, restring, and setup. It plays spot-on with 1/16" action overall at the 12th fret. The neck is straight and the truss rod works. String gauges are 36w, 24w, 14, 9 for CGDA tuning.

Scale length: 22 3/4"
Nut width: 1 3/16"
String spacing at nut: 29/32"
String spacing at saddle: 1 1/4"
Body length: 17"
Lower bout width: 12 5/8"
Upper bout width: 9"
Side depth at endblock: 3 7/8"
Neck profile: flat board, medium C-shaped rear
Weight: 2 lb, 0 oz
Top wood: solid spruce, x-braced
Back and sides wood: solid mahogany
Neck wood: mahogany
Fretboard and bridge: rosewood

Condition notes: all-original throughout with average use-wear and light scratching as well as a healthy amount of pickwear around the soundhole. One tight, tiny hairline crack is on the lower bout top but it's repaired/sealed-up.

It comes with: its original hard case.

The other truly amazing thing about this tenor is that there are, essentially, no cracks! It also had not been touched repair-wise at all since it was built but yet remained in great health. The repair work necessary was the same sort of stuff I'd expect to do on, say, a 5-year-old newer Gibson that'd been played a bit.

Can we also say -- check out that sunburst? You've gotta love the look of these old Gibs. The top is solid spruce and the back, sides, and neck are all solid mahogany. Everything is original on it, too.

It's hard not to smile at Gibson's peculiar headstock inlay. The bone nut and truss rod cover are original.

The board is Brazilian rosewood, flat in profile, and bound. It uses the familiar Gibson frets of the time -- tiny! They're in good shape and only needed a minor level/dress job.

The bound fretboard extension with its neat little "volute" is a nice feature.

I only had to lower the saddle by a hair over 1/32" overall to get the action dialed-in. At the same time I changed the worn string-slots into proper string-ramps to get even better back-angle against the saddle. Like Martin, Gibson glued their saddles in pretty firm at this time, so I often mask the bridge off and do the work on the saddle with it on the guitar if I can.

The pickwear around the soundhole tells the tale of a much-loved instrument.

There's one tiny, almost-invisible, glued-up hairline crack on the top-lower-bout. It's good to go and just looks like a finish scratch.

As you can see, there's a mild-to-medium amount of scratching throughout the finish on the guitar, though overall it's in great visual health for its age.

The old Grover geared banjo pegs are going strong.

I strung this up with a set of 36w, 24w, 14, 9 strings for standard CGDA tuning. I like a lighter top and heavier bottom than the usual tenor sets -- especially for the 22 3/4" long scale that this tenor uses.

It's easy to see the finish-checking/weather-cracking to the finish at the back of the heel. This crazing is all over the guitar and that's very typical for a Gibson of this age.

The endpin is a replacement.

Factory order number 9660 places this at 1930 per Spann's Guide to Gibson (the source at the moment).

It comes with its original(!) hard case. The case is a bit beat-up and duct-taped here and there, but still works just fine.


Nick R said…
Now play something hot!

Joe Dan Boyd said…
JAKE--What is the price on this Gibson tenor? Thanx from JOE DAN BOYD
daverepair said…
I had a same-year TG0: all mahogany, same x-braced, light as a feather construction. Marvelous tone! Charming little guitars.