1937 Gibson L-00 Flattop Guitar

Hoo, boy, I do love black guitars. They're classy and understated and look good with any outfit. An L-00 would, anyway, but I do like the black ones. This guy's in for consignment and arrived recently but only needed a glorified setup to get it rolling, so I put it in line with my weekly run of setup work and... here she be.

The better '30s L-00s I've played have a a woody, midsy, ka-chunky sound to them that's plainspoken and really suits old-timey flatpicking and fingerpicking styles in support of voices (they won't overrun a voice in the same way the velvety-scooped-ness of a Martin can). The best ones have some extra mwah-ness to their lower-mids and lows and this one certainly has that. It's loud as heck, too, and punchy.

Post-glorified-setup, it plays on-the-dot and sounds like a champ. It's really satisfying to play. A customer of mine was giving it a go this evening while I installed pickups and adjusted some of his toys and I could tell he was a bit reluctant to put it down for good. That's how I feel about it. I immediately wanted to retune it open and murder some time after I finished with the video clip.

The top on this is lightly x-braced and solid spruce while the back, sides, and neck are solid mahogany. It has a C-suffix factory order number which puts it at 1937 and the black finish was common for that year.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, compensation and adjustment of the saddle, and setup. It looks like good repairs had been done in the past -- hairline cleating+repair, more than likely a neck reset at some point, refret some time in the past (they'd been played-in hard), and whatnot.

Setup notes: it plays spot-on with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. The neck is straight and the truss rod works. Strings are 52w-12 gauges.

Scale length: 24 7/8"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/8"
Body length: 19 3/8"
Lower bout width: 14 3/4"
Waist width: 8 1/2"
Upper bout width: 10 1/4"
Side depth at endpin: 4 3/8"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back wood: solid mahogany
Sides wood: solid mahogany
Bracing type: x-braced
Fretboard: Brazilian rosewood, ebony nut
Bridge: Brazilian rosewood, bone saddle
Neck feel: medium V-shape, ~10" board radius

Condition notes: this guitar is almost all-original, though the saddle and (ebony) bridge pins are replacements. The finish is original and not oversprayed but the color has been worn-off the back of the neck for the most part and there's a lot of pickwear around the fretboard extension and soundhole. There are light scratches throughout and general wear and small nicks and dings all over. While the top is mostly free of it, the back and sides have a bunch of small-dot white paint droplet splatter. It's like this hung-out in a workshop and got some splatter while other projects were going on. The top has two (repaired+cleated) hairline cracks below the bridge that're very hard to see -- I shot a glared-out photo to show their location. The side has a longer (~7") hairline crack that's also repaired at the treble-waist. All are good to go. Oh, and one tuner ferrule is a replacement.

More notes: The bridge had worn-in string-ramps behind the saddle and I tidied them up and elongated them a bit to give better back-angle on it. Because Gibson wedged their bridge shape at this time to a great degree, the saddle is low on the bass side yet 1/16"+ proud on the treble side. I don't think this is an issue setup-wise because the action is bang-on and we're in the most-humid part of the year right now (when the top swells most and action rises due to it), but when I've owned these guitars and their Kalamazoo siblings in the past, I've often flattened the bridge's top deck to be even-height on the treble and bass sides and then dressed it up to look right. I know that's sacrilege, but I'm practical-minded. 

It comes with: a funky old '40s/'50s-era chip case.


Rob Gardner said…
Beautiful guitar. Sounds great too.
Nick R said…
Phillips screws holding on the truss rod cover and the tuner units suggest this guitar was shipped later than its build date as Phillips screws were a 1939 innovation at Gibson.