1920 Gibson L-1 Carved-Top Archtop Guitar

This L-1 was clearly someone's beloved "player" guitar. It looks mighty loved-in from here! It's got a lot of miles under its belt and because of that it's opened-up nicely, with a woody, open, airy, midsy sort-of voice that both "strums well" in a pocket of sound and definitely "picks well" for lead work. I think these old guys kind-of sound closer to the Gibson mandolin line from the time than they do the later carved-top, Gibson archtop guitars geared towards the big band/jazz sound. These suit old-time backing and strumming a lot better, I think.

It arrived here on consignment in fairly good order, even with its mix of various replacement bits (tailpiece and bridge), though someone had attempted a refret job on it and had totally botched it. The seating was uneven, the frets were not leveled and dressed, and as a result it played like a mess. I made sure they were seated decently and then gave them all a heavy-handed level/dress job before adjusting the bridge seating and spacing and giving it a good setup. As a result, it now plays spot-on but you definitely need to get used to the ginormous, V-shaped neck and its whopping 1 7/8" nut width. This is in the "cowboy deluxe" realm, folks.

The fret material, by the way, is something exceedingly hard. I'm guessing it's stainless but it doesn't quite look like it. It took ages to work, though, so I know it's a lot harder than your average nickel-silver frets. They should wear nicely as the guitar ages and give its new owner plenty of time until the next fret work is needed.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, minor cleaning, and setup.

Top wood: solid spruce (carved)

Back & sides wood: solid birch

Bracing type: tonebar

Bridge: rosewood

Fretboard: ebony

Neck wood: mahogany

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

Neck shape: huge V

Board radius: 10"

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: modern medium (stainless or similar)

Scale length: 24 1/4"

Nut width: 1 7/8"

Body width: 13 1/2"

Body depth: 3 1/4" + arching

Weight: 3 lbs 10 oz

Condition notes: the bridge is non-original but the original bridge is in the case. The tailpiece is a replacement and the endstrip where the tailpiece mounts is a replacement as well. The tuners and nut  are original. It's otherwise all original, too. There's a significant amount of pickwear on the top and usewear throughout the finish in the whole instrument. I especially like the "behind the bridge" pickwear! While the structure of the instrument is in good order overall, there are some minor back/side seam mismatches even though everything is glued-up nice and pat. This is really common on old Gibson carved instruments and nothing to worry about. The original pickguard is missing, too. The back of the neck shows a ton of playwear and has some marks that look like damage/rubbing from an old-fashioned capo in first position. There is also one crack on the guitar -- on the center of the back/lower-bout. It's cleated and sealed.

It comes with: its original hard case.