3/29/2018

1924 Gibson L-2 Carved-Top Archtop Guitar




A friend of mine has been persistently feeding me links to Gibson roundhole L-archtops for weeks on end, trying to find just the right one. After many back-and-forths, he scrounged this one up and I said, "hey, a snakehead! Do it!" He grabbed it and here she be! Whether it suits him or not is up in the air until hands meet strings, but at least the quest is over -- for now.

Like their later flattop brethren, these '20s Ls have an 0-sized body with a curvy outline and a quite short 24 1/4" scale. The tops are carved spruce with round soundholes and vaguely look like Gibson mandolin-style instruments in vibe, though they have V-shaped tonebar bracing on the inside rather than "just" a below-soundhole ladder brace. The mix of a carved-top, short scale, and small body with a steep break-angle on the bridge/saddle yields a forward, punchy, all-mids voice that has a snappy high-end and a woody sweetness to its character. It works fine for flatpicking in a choppy vintage style but it really shines for fingerpicking both bare and metal-tipped.

This guitar came with some obvious old work done to it -- the back and sides are very-lightly oversprayed and the top looks like it's had a little finish touch-up, but the work is good. There's a small repaired hairline crack on the lower bout but aside from that it's crack-free and it doesn't suffer from the lousy, blown-out seams many carved-top/carved-back Gibsons have. My own work included fitting the bridge a lot better, reshaping its saddle (which had been hack-jobbed out of context), a fret level/dress, some cleaning, and a good setup. The guitar appears to be original save what's noted above and also a replacement endpin and tailpiece. The bridge topper/saddle may be a replacement, too, but I'm thinking it's possibly just a mucked-up original.

Specs are: 24 1/4" scale, 1 3/4" nut width, 1 17/32" string spacing at the nut, 2 1/8" spacing at the bridge, 13 1/2" lower bout width, 10" upper bout, and 3 1/4" depth to the sides. Action is on-the-dot at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret and it's strung with 54w, 42w, 32w, 24w, 16, 12 strings. I'd be tempted to even gauge this thing a little heavier to be honest. The truss-rodded neck is straight and the rod itself works as it should. The back of the neck has a medium-large V-profile and the fretboard is mostly flat.


The top is solid, carved spruce and the back and sides are solid birch. The neck is mahogany and the fretboard and bridge are ebony. It's bound at the top, back, and fretboard edges with celluloid.


Snakehead!



















Serial number 76745 suggests 1924 manufacture/sale.


So far, a cheesy old chip case is what it's stowed in.

1 comment:

D. Martin said...

For Gibson round hole archtops, that guitar is certainly "just the right one"! Try a set of EJ17's on it and you will be very very pleased.