1946 Gibson LG-2 Flattop Guitar

A longtime friend of the family owns this guitar and it's been neglected for quite a while. He sent it up to me in winter and I finally had time to get it in the queue -- which was fortunate, because he was passing-through on Saturday and could pick it up from me while I was doing sound at our local Harvest Fair. He'd described it as "an old Gibson student guitar." I don't know many folks who'd describe a '40s LG-2 that way these days!

This one had a rat's nest of issues to be solved and some depressing old repairs to circumvent, but the end-result is a glorious-sounding instrument. It's true that these '40s Gibsons just have that extra something about them. They're both airy and open, loud, clear, and woody all at the same time. They adore a flatpick like nothing else. I have to emphasize the volume, too -- this thing has got it in that department.

Work included: a neck reset, fret level/dress (it'd been refretted -- but the job was poor and so they were uneven), regluing many braces on the back and top and shoring-up some that'd been damaged over time, some new lining for the back and repair of the totally-open back seam, new tuner buttons for the original tuners, cutting a new bridge (the original was split) and making a new saddle, new bridge pins and endpin (ebony), general cleaning, and a setup. Action is bang-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret, the neck is straight and the truss-rod works, and strings are gauged 54w, 42w, 32w, 24w, 16, 12 -- normal "lights."

Scale length: 24 7/8"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/16"
Body length: 19"
Lower bout width: 14 1/4"
Waist width: 9 1/4"
Upper bout width: 11"
Side depth at endpin: 4 3/8"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid mahogany
Neck wood: mahogany
Bracing type: x-braced
Fretboard: Brazilian rosewood, synthetic nut
Bridge: Indian rosewood, bone saddle
Neck feel: medium C-shape, ~12" radius board

Condition notes: replaced bridge (not a replica, but more on that down the post), new saddle, new pins, replacement tuner buttons. The finish looks awesome for its age and has that nice, reddy-brown to medium-amber-yellow sunburst of the era. The headstock still has the script logo in good order and overall the guitar is pretty clean. There's normal weather-checking and mild-medium usewear throughout, though, with scratches mostly confined to the back and sides and some heavier pickwear around the soundhole. There's a filled/patched side jack hole on the lower-bout-side.

The original bridge was totaled but I did copy its size and wing-shape from the remains of the original. I wanted to make this a drop-in saddle (rather than a through-saddle) to make it easy to adjust action height for the owner. If someone wanted to go through-slot, it'd be easy-enough to just cut the current slot for that later-on.

What's funny is that I aligned the neck on the old pinholes during the neck reset, but when I went to start cutting the saddle and pinholes on the new bridge (I do that after it's glued), I found out that Gibson's holes weren't aligned on the center-line of the original bridge. Hah!

So -- if you look closely, you can see that the (centered) saddle has uncentered pins behind it. Oh well! That's the charm of funky old instruments. It probably would have been completely non-obvious with the original through-cut design.


BrianB said…
Sweet guitar. Thanks for sharing.
Warren said…
A lucky “student” would have played this!
Reese said…
And this is about as pretty as a thing can be — full stop.
Garrison said…
Jake, I can’t even begin to tell you how meaningful it is for you to fix my dads guitar. As you know I never knew my dad as he passed before I was even a year old. This guitar was put into my possession by my moms brother who had stashed the guitar in my grandmas attic in CT when my dad passed away. Fifteen years later my grandpa (on my dads side) passed away at the end of my first year of high school. I traveled from the Big Island of Hawaii to Oregen for services and then went on to the east coast to be with family for the summer. My uncle met me at my grandad house and said, “wait here, I have something I’ve been saving for you for a very long time”. He brought the guitar down from the attic and said “ I’ll pay for the repairs to get it up and running, your dad would be so happy to see you with this guitar”. I immediately began to learn how to play on my own. I learned by ear, every open tuned zeppelin song, everything I heard I tried to play. Hawaiian slack key by a never ending collection of bonfires in my teenage youth and into college and then it sat for a while, too long, and lost itself to dryness. I knew I couldn’t trust just anybody to fix it. That was 20 years ago. It sat in the case broken and longing to sing out once again.

When we connected at my little cousin Bens wedding and I learned of your passion and skills for building and repairing instruments, I knew that soon, I would have the love of my youth back to sing songs to my now 3 year old daughter. It’s the only voice of my father I’ve ever known and you brought that back to me. I am forever thankful and nobody will ever work on any of our stringed instruments besides you. You didn’t just repair a beautiful instrument, you’ve brought back the voice of a father to a child.