1933 Gibson L-00 Flattop Guitar

It's pretty hard to argue with an old L-00. They're killer guitars. The good ones -- like this one -- have that classic Gibson "simplicity" to the sound. They're woody, plainspoken, open-sounding, and are "hifi" in that you can hear every note you're playing distinctly. They're not cluttered with scooped mids, complicated overtones, or sweetened highs. These are my kind of guitar -- they shoot back what you put into them, albeit through a "woody-old-Gibson" filter. There are good reasons for these instruments to be as popular and desired as they are.

This one hit the shop's consignment rack in a pretty funky state, though. It had a trapeze tailpiece installed, the remaining bits of the original bridge still glued to the top (but more than half of it gone), there was a ton of tape "securing" two old hairline cracks on the back (one quite long), and the frets were played down almost flush with the fretboard with all their wear and tear. Still, on the upside, every brace was intact and still nicely-glued and the guitar arrived otherwise "all-original." It also needed a neck reset.

Now that repairs are complete, this guitar plays like a champ and has a boutiquey feel about it. As mentioned above (and heard in the soundclip), it sounds great. It's more full-sounding than the the later L-00s I've played (which tend to have bit more bite to their sound) and it's very lightweight both in bracing and overall feel.

It doesn't hurt that it was so played-in, though, does it? That always livens a guitar up nicely. The pickwear is so extreme that the treble side of the soundhole's entire inner edge of spruce has been worn-away to the rosette. How about that for persistence?

It has a 917 factory order number at the neck block and that suggests 1933 or 1934. The tiny sunburst suggests '33 to me, though. This has a 3-piece top.

Repairs included: a neck reset, refret to the 16th fret with medium fretwire, new rosewood bridge with drop-in saddle (I know that's not authentic but it's far more practical as a player's guitar), cleats and minor fill for the old back cracks, lots of cleaning, side dots install, replacement ebony bridge pins, a new bone saddle, and setup.

Setup notes: the neck is straight, the truss rod works, and it's got perfect 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. The saddle is tall and has plenty of room for adjustment. I cut the saddle slot fairly deep so it can be shimmed up/down to taste in a pinch. String gauges are 54w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12 -- lights with slightly-lighter ADG gauges.

Scale length: 24 13/16"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 91/6"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/16"
Body length: 19 1/4"
Lower bout width: 14 3/4"
Waist width: 8 1/4"
Upper bout width: 10 1/8"
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, ebony nut
Bridge: rosewood, bone saddle comp'd
Neck feel: med-big soft V-shape, 10" board radius

Condition notes: oof, it has a lot of playwear on the top and the finish is distressed everywhere. It's all original, though, and looks great. There are 6 rubbed-in spots and a little "ghosting" on the lower-bout-top from where an old trapeze tailpiece had been fitted, however. Aside from two hairline back cracks, it is otherwise crack-free. The tuners are original but they're a bit loosey-goosey -- the old rule of "tune UP but not DOWN to pitch" holds true for these, especially. I have StewMac repro-style ones on hand to replace with if desired, but I know that's a "to-taste" choice. The top has a small amount of belly of the sort you expect with an old guitar -- it's a non-issue. Everything has been stable on this since stringing it up.


Dave said…
Nice relic job,Jake. Looks authentic. 10,000 comedians outta work and you get me.
TN said…
Haha, yeah one of the better relics I've seen! Actually though I always wonder how some guitars get so beat... even when I do my wildest, hardest strumming I never seem to make more than mild pick marks in the same couple places. Normal playing rarely even touches the top. Are some people's playing styles really that much different?? (Besides percussive tapping and stuff, of course.) Is it just because back in the day people hit their acoustics harder for volume purposes? I guess thin vintage finishes play a part too...

Whatever it is, I love the look. Back when I was first getting into guitars I used to wish the Blueridge I had would age like that despite its thick poly finish. Should have focused more on just playing it, of course!!
Andy said…
same question as TN - seems like a relatively small percentage of old Gibsons have that wear neckward of the soundhole ...
Lamphole said…
I'm wondering, is this guitar for sale? It is what I might need to get through this pandemic.
Cindy Lemaire said…
actually, it is! Just showed up on Mandolin Cafe https://www.mandolincafe.com/ads/153324#153324
Unknown said…
Yup! It's mine. Jake was kind enough to "flip" it lefty for me. Sadly, thanks to the state of the world, my finances changed rather quickly and I need to move it. Feel free to contact me directly if you'd like. George 8161920 AT gmail.com