Workshop: Leftyfication of a '34 Gibson L-4

Mr. Pascal in France bought this classy old L-4 from me right before our Xmas break and waited patiently for me to adjust it to a lefty configuration for him. I did a little extra, too, making a new pickguard and fitting a K&K pickup internally so he could get it out for gigs. I'm really happy with how it turned-out despite that it took me a couple weeks to get all the stuff in one place to do the job (it didn't help that I'd forgotten that my ebony blanks had run out in my wood storage).



Here's the new ebony bridge top. It's not as classy as the stairstep pattern of the original but it's a little more durable and practical. Someday I will take some photos of my process in making bridge tops like this.


So the thing about these old tailpieces...


...is that the design was "over-thought" to use right-hand-centric slotting for the string-ends that means you can't just "swap these" to lefty.


Here you can see I've used my grinding wheel to expand the "lefty-bass-side" string slots.


The new pickguard is not the right color but it's a good-enough interpretation from the materials I had on hand.


My lefty pickguard is a bit of a mongrel but it looks nice in front. I used a bit of scrap hazy translucent plastic as a backing for the thinner, tortoise-looking front. Note how I've used baking soda and superglue to help "tack down" my rubber mounts for the pickguard bracket and "riser" near the fretboard extension.


It can be very difficult to perfectly-match the angle to fit the pickguard bracket on these old guitars. On the original pickguards you can see a scribed line the Gibson factory workers used to match the angle precisely before drilling and fitting the celluloid chunk they affixed to the bottom of the pickguard to do the same job.

In this case my rubber block is a little flexible so it will "auto-adjust" to the line of the guitar's side so I don't have to have it be so precise.


Lefty side dots got added in the style of the originals.


Here's the endpin jack fit right into the old endpin socket on the tailpiece. Yip!

Comments

will said…
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Pascal said…
Mr. Pascal in France is extremely satisfied as this guitar is exceptional.
The left-handed conversion is staggering.
The settings are perfect.
I don’t know a superlative who can express my thanks to Jake!
Pascal said…
1934 GIBSON L-4 CARVED-TOP ARCHTOP GUITAR: Amazing and Incredible GUITAR !!!!