1933 Gibson L-50 Carved-Top Archtop Guitar

Oh, man, these earlier round-soundhole L-50s stir my heart. I owned a '34 for a while with the L-00 body shape and loved the sound of that on record. Recently I had another one of these '33s with their KG-11 body shape through the shop and loved the open-sounding chunk of it. This one, however, is the best I've played so far.

It has the velvety/silky lower-mids chunk sound that Gibson carved-tops tend to have, but with a much more "open" and sing-songy set of highs and a more-blooming mix of lows. It really is a good hybrid of flattop/archtop vibes, though leaning a lot more on the archtop side of that divide. It's also quite loud and punchy, so anyone who's a fan of vintage chord-chopping and closed-position thumping in the '30s and '40s fashion will find it tasty as heck.

After work, it's playing perfectly and good to go.

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, side dots install, new rosewood bridge top/saddle with compensation, one crack repair/cleating/fill on the bass side of the top, a replacement retainer bar for the original tailpiece, replacement endpin (strap-button-style), some seam repairs around the endpin, cleaning, and setup.

Setup notes: it plays bang-on-the-dot with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. It has plenty of adjustment room at the bridge to set action up/down, the neck is straight, and the truss rod works as it should. Strings are 54w, 42w, 32w, 24w, 16, 12 low to high.

Scale length: 24 3/4"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/16"
Body length: 17 3/8"
Lower bout width: 14 3/4"
Waist width: 9"
Upper bout width: 9 3/4"
Side depth at endpin: 3 3/8"
Top wood: solid spruce, carved
Back/sides wood: solid maple
Neck wood: mahogany
Bracing type: tonebar w/ladder braces near soundhole
Fretboard: Brazilian rosewood, bone nut
Bridge: ebony base, new rosewood top
Neck feel: medium soft V shape, ~10" board radius

Condition notes: replacement endpin, replacement tailpiece hanger bar, missing pickguard. There are two cracks on the guitar, both fixed -- one long hairline on the top that's cleated/filled the whole length and one super-tight old repair of a small hairline on the bass side at the waist. Per the usual for these old Gibs, there's fine finish checking throughout and plenty of minor scratches as well. Overall it looks grand, though, and the minor stuff does not detract from it at all.

Case: it doesn't have a case with it, but I can probably ship it in a gigbag or old chip case.

The original bridge-topper/saddle had been cut-down too much and was useless. This new one is cut it much the same way as an unaltered original, though I added extra compensation for the B string.

When I reset the neck, I set it to centerline over the body and soundhole. Ironically, the tailpiece wasn't installed on-center when it was made, so I had to move it over just a hair during setup.


Nick R said…
I thought that the arrow-ended Waverly tuenrs were an early 1920s item. Obviously not- unless Gibson had unearthed a stash of them from somewhere. They appear to be original to the guitar.
Jake Wildwood said…
Yes, they were on the nicer early '30s ones and got swapped to square just after this.