3/29/2018

1938 Gibson-made Cromwell G-4 Archtop Guitar




A few years ago I was avidly hunting old Gibson-made, off-brand archtops like these. The market caught-up with me, though, and the prices started getting nuts for ones in ragged condition. Aside from some old repairs done on the back near the heel, this Cromwell G-4 is in great shape and it sounds superb. It has a ton of warmth and fullness in the lower-mids and a woody, sweet, but punchy treble. It's also loud and probably the best-sounding pressed-top Gibson archtop I've heard so far, though it's been a while since the last comparison. It easily chows-down for punch and bottom-warmth on a number of the Gibson 16" carved-tops I've had through in the last couple years, though.

This has come in via a consignor and I think it will be up for grabs. While there are the aforementioned old repairs to some splits on the back-upper-bout, my own repairs included a fret level/dress, extra compensation to the saddle, a cleat-job to a tiny hairline crack on the top below the pickguard, and a good setup. The neck is dead straight and I'm pretty sure this one has a non-adjustable rod in the neck as it's a little heavier and stiffer than the average Kalamazoo-style neck.

Materials-wise, these Cromwell G-4 models fit somewhere between a Kalamazoo KG-31 with its plainer decorations and mahogany back and sides and a KG-32 with its fancier decorations and maple back and sides. This has the mahogany but the extra bling and the presumed rod in the neck are more like KG-32 features. The neck is solid mahogany, too, and the fretboard and bridge are rosewood. Everything on the guitar is original save the endpin (though the endpin is period and celluloid from my parts-bins). There's a little finish touch-up on the back-upper-bout and one splotch of touch-up (quarter-sized) near the bass f-hole on the top, but neither of these touch-ups are obvious. I'd have to point them out.

Specs are: 24 3/4" scale, 1 3/4" nut, 1 9/16" string spacing at the nut, 2 3/16" spacing at the bridge, 16" lower bout, 11 1/2" upper bout, and 3 1/4" side depth. Action is spot-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret and I've strung it with 54w, 42w, 32w, 24w, 16, 12 gauges. The neck angle is excellent and the bridge is nice and tall and has adjustment room both up and down. The neck has a ~12" radius on the board and medium, V-shaped rear that's slightly-soft in cut and comfier than usual for a KG-style guitar.



The bone nut is original.


The bound board, giant pearl dots, and center stripe really dress-up these old Cromwell boxes. It's slick as heck.



A big firestripe pickguard is hard to argue with!


The high E and B slots are comp'd as they should be, now.








I tried to take a photo of this upper-bout detail in as harsh a light as I could so you could see all the repaired old damage to this area. It's all been repaired in the past and good to go.








A nice, vintage, Guild hard case comes with it.

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