1936 Gibson-made Cromwell G-4 Archtop Guitar

I just recently worked on a '38 Cromwell G-4, and while this one lacks the fretboard binding and original pickguard, it's every bit the workhorse archtop that instrument is. These guitars are basically a Kalamazoo KG-31/32 with a rebadge. Gibson's off-brand, "Arco-arched" archtops (that means that they're press-arched rather than carved) of the '30s are definitely very successful instruments. They have much of the lower-mids warmth, growl, and cut of the company's carved-top models, though the upper-mids, highs, and very lows aren't as saturated. Compared to the competition, however -- Harmony, Kay, and Regal pressed-top guitars -- these things tend to be way ahead. They also benefit from Gibson's tighter construction, comfortable scale length, and sturdy necks.

Work included a fret level/dress, much cleaning, compensation and recut to the replacement ebonized bridge, and setup. It's playing on-the-dot, has a straight neck, and is wearing 54w-12 strings. It's all-original save for the replacement bridge and a replacement endpin, too -- though, as stated before, its pickguard is missing. I did fill-in the mounting holes for the pickguard brackets, though.

Specs are: 24 3/4" scale, 1 3/4" nut width, 1 9/16" string spacing at the nut, 2 1/4" spacing at the bridge, 16" lower bout width, 11 5/16" upper bout, and 3 1/4" side depth at the endblock. The neck is a medium-to-big mild-V shape and the fretboard has a ~12" radius to it. The frets are the original, Gibson, smallish stuff but they have some life left in them, for sure. Action is spot-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret with room to go a bit down and plenty up. String gauges are 54w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12.

These guitars have solid spruce tops, solid mahogany back, sides, and necks, and Brazilian rosewood fretboards and bridges. Said original bridge is missing, however, and came to me with what's on it -- an ebonized maple bridge that someone fitted decently to the top in ages-past.

There's one tiny hairline crack on the guitar at the bass-side f-hole and it's been repaired -- it's not even 1" long. The finish is entirely original except for the headstock and shows average weather-check and scuffs/scratches for its age. The face of the headstock has been resprayed black except for the logo. It looks like someone might've taken-out some rhinestones (4 small ones and 1 big one seem to have been patched-up) at some point in time and he/she wanted to clean-up the look. It's really typical to see "aftermarket" bling-tastic stuff glued or set-into headstocks in archtops from this period. There was never a headstock break, though.

I love the inlaid center-stripe and big pearl dots in Cromwell-branded Gibsons. It's extra-classy.

Behind the bridge on the top is the old footprint of the original bridge and a couple of filled, 1/16" holes.

The original tailpiece is nice to have.

Inside the treble f-hole on the back of the guitar is the Gibson factory order number which is very faded but seems to be an 800s number with a B suffix. That'd point to 1936. It makes sense, as this model gained binding on the fretboard around late '37 and into '38.


Jerry Arseneau said…
This winter while in Naples Florida,I saw an ad in Craigslist concerning an older archtop acoustic guitar for sale. I contacted the seller and struck a deal and I bought the guitar.Once I had the guitar at the RV ,I googled for some info on the builder and found out that it was Gibson;a(cheaper) copy during the 1930 to 1939 era.The guitar is missing the pickguard which I bought on eBay,it is an exact replica.Sometime in the past,someone sanded the guitar and painted a dark brown but kept the tailpiece ,tuners and bridge.The guitar is a great player,with great sound,solid build and a very pleasant player ease of play.
This is the one of the most pleasant guitar I own.
Unknown said…
I have what I think is a 1936 Cromwell G-4 archtop and i'm trying to learn as much as I can about them. Love that guitar!
Unknown said…
Stunning playing and sound by the way!