1946 Gibson LG-2 Flattop Guitar

A customer of mine has been waiting for this buried treasure to get fixed for a long time. When I first took it out of the case upon arrival, I almost spit on it laughing so hard. I couldn't believe he'd actually bought this instrument. I mean -- I like a pretty wrecked guitar, myself, but this guitar was beyond wrecked.

Every brace was loose, some were simply missing or damaged beyond reuse, there were cracks everywhere, the top was quite distorted, it lacked a bridge, the frets were chewed right down to the fretboard, it lacked tuners (though the owner found a set of vintage-correct ones), and as you can see -- there were, ya know, holes here and there. Oh, and the soundhole was chewed-up right to the edge of its rosette/binding for the most part -- during repair I removed the final little "teeth" of the remaining top bits inside of the ring and expanded its diameter to the rosette.

That said, the pure thrill of seeing something that's been played so much it was played right into the ground multiple times is something I don't experience much. The last guitar to evoke this feeling was a KayKraft my buddy Steve owns. Still, that thing has nothing on this warhorse. This thing has pickwear on top of pickwear on top of pickwear and the remnants of the finish will, inevitably, all flake-off over time and give it an even more glorious look.

Suffice to say, after fixing everything, the guitar plays like a dream and sounds full-throttle. Aside from a bit more of an "open/punchy" vibe that goes along with the widened soundhole, this thing is basically the textbook definition of a really good old LG-2 -- it's woody, midsy and clean, barks when you want it to, and has a sweet/sculpted treble response that's proud but not brash.

Repairs included: regluing every single top brace, replacing missing small top "finger" braces, adding reinforcement braces along the sides of the soundhole, regluing all extant back braces (they were rattling about free inside), installing flat/Harmony-style "strapping" back braces to replace missing ones, installing replacement lining, cleating and filling too many cracks as needed all over, a neck reset, a refret with jumbo/pyramid-shaped StewMac fretwire, new rosewood bridge and a couple new compensated bone saddles, a K&K pickup install, reglue of the pickguard and rosette, replacement tuner install plus vintage-style ferrules, cleaning, setup, and whatever else.

Setup notes: it plays beautifully with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. The neck's straight, the truss rod works, and it's strung with 53w-12 D'Daddario Nickel Bronze (basically "monel") strings.

Scale length: 24 3/4"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 9/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/8"
Body length: 19"
Lower bout width: 14 3/8"
Waist width: 9 1/2"
Upper bout width: 11 1/8"
Side depth at endpin: 4 1/8"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid mahogany
Neck wood: mahogany
Bracing type: x-braced, lightly-cut
Fretboard: Brazilian rosewood, bone nut
Bridge: rosewood, bone saddle
Neck feel: medium-big C-shape, 10" board radius

Condition notes: oh, forget it -- this thing has so many things to address that I'll let the pictures tell the story. The worst bits of "issues" are the fact that the finish has deteriorated so much on the back and sides that it's flaking all over. I tried one stabilizer in a small patch and it didn't do much, so it probably needs to be oversprayed (not a winter job)... though frankly I'd rather just see it "let go" and become even more worn-in with care. It's only flaking-off if you're trying to rub it, anyhow.

Also: aside from the zillion cracks and poorly-matched old repairs that I've patched-up to old back cracks, the bridge is misaligned. That's my fault and not my fault. I reset the neck along the line of the bridge pin holes and while it was setting, made a new bridge blank and installed it to fit the "blank space" where the bridge used to be. It turns-out that either the footprint was wrong or expanded beyond original size or the original bridge was installed a little "off" once or twice before, because I had to set the pinholes on the new bridge offset to the bass side to line-up with the neck. It's not obvious but it's there when you look at it closely. I had this same issue with another LG-2 of similar era this year, too. Maybe something was up in this particular batch of them? It's curious!

It's going home to its owner with: a nice, newer, hard case.

The saddle looks monstrously-high, but it's because I expect this top to come up a bit as it settles-in. I made a second, lower saddle for the owner as it does so. It already deflected up about 1/32" since I first set it up and I had to adjust the saddle down some since this pic. When all the bracing gets reglued again the top goes back to "flat" and then starts doming in the normal Gibson manner after tension is applied... so you sort-of have to engineer your repairs around that expectation.

The wider, "Clarence White" soundhole size gives this a bit more direct punch and an openness that's very enticing. Note the random holes in the pickguard that go into the top -- BB gun?

The gloppy old repairs to the big back cracks got some minor cleaning and fill-work to stabilize them along with the cleats on the inside.

Under the hood is a K&K Twin Spot pickup. I was going to put a Pure Mini in there, but the bridge plate was too narrow to fit 3 sensors on. The two-sensor Twin Spot works well (and sounds good and even) placed in the triangle in front of the bridge plate and framed by the main X brace.


Andrew M said…
Well firstly hats of to you for getting it back together. Secondly what a great guitar and great to see it play another day
Reese said…
I'm hoping that this isn't just a guitar for its long-waiting owner but The Guitar. It sure looks and sounds like THE Ur-guitar, to me.
Rick W said…
Wonderful sound and no buzzing anywhere on that neck. I'm a mojo fan and that guitar has enough for 6 players. Impressive work.
Ivan said…
Congratulations on rescuing the soul of another instrument. It is a sacred thing that you do and all of us who pay attention to such things deeply appreciate every aspect of what and how you do it.
Unknown said…
Is it still for sale?
Myles Davis said…
It was never for sale.
Brandon McCoy said…
@Myles Davis, and it never will be as long as I'm still alive! ;)