1940 Recording King (Gibson) M5 Carved-Top Guitar

My friend Michael seems to always be on the hunt for the next grand archtop. He's had a lot of choice gear but, as any of you know, the hunt sometimes calls like a battalion of sirens leading to guit-shipwreck. This is his latest catch and hoo-boy is it a beaut. I mean -- the curves! The burst! The diamonds! He's a lucky guy.

The headstock reads Recording King (then sold by Montgomery Wards) but this is a Gibson-made product and was the fanciest guitar-box available under the RK moniker at the time. It features a wide, 16 3/4" carved spruce top and deeper back and sides than a normal Gibson archtop. Those deeper sides remind me of FDH Special instruments also made by Gibson. It gives a little more juice to the low-end woof.

It's date-stamped to 1940 inside and has many features from that time -- a ply, figured-maple back, solid sides, and a cool, lighter-looking sunburst. The trim is to die for -- multi-ply binding all over, fancy pearl inlays in the neck, a fancy tailpiece, and pearl-inlaid adjustable bridge. I'm used to M5 models being fancy (see here), but I think this one takes the cake best for me so far.

Compared to a Gibson-branded product, this RK lacks the "fine-looking" tighter Gibson-style f-holes and also lacks a truss-rod in the neck. The neck itself is 5-piece, though, so I have no doubts it'll hold up just fine -- because it has been holding-up just fine.

My only work was glorified setup stuff and I was thrilled to be out of the woods and playing this thing as quickly as I was. These choppy chord-bangers are like "home base" to me.

Repairs included: fret level/dress, setup adjustments.

Top wood: solid carved spruce

Back & sides wood: solid flamed maple sides, figured maple ply back

Bracing type: tonebar

Bridge: rosewood

Fretboard: rosewood

Neck wood: mahogany/maple

Action height at 12th fret:
3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
String gauges: 54w-12 lights

Neck shape: medium C

Board radius: 10"

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium-low

Scale length: 24 3/4"

Nut width: 1 11/16"

Body width: 16 3/4"

Body depth: 4 1/8"

Weight: 4 lbs 14 oz

Condition notes: it's really quite clean but it does have pickwear under the pickguard and general usewear throughout. It doesn't detract. The pickguard itself is not original but it is well-done and looks great. Everything else save two tuners are original, too.

It comes with: a slightly-later Epiphone hard case.