1920s Gibson L-3 Carved-Top Round-Hole Archtop Guitar

This gorgeous machine has been done for a week or two, now, and continues to impress folks stopping-by the shop. This style of archtop is very popular with country-blues fingerpickers but it will also do a good job at "old-time backup" -- especially if you're underpinning fiddlers.

It has an interesting history, too. It arrived here with its back off and cleats fit to the top and back where it had cracked before. It was missing tuners, a bridge, nut, and pins for the tailpiece -- though the original tailpiece still in one piece and functional was a bit of a shocker.

The craziest bit is that the entire guitar is refinished but the job is so obviously a '50s or '60s Gibson nitro-finished sunburst that it must have gone back to the factory around that time for repairs. I've seen the same thing happen to other teens-era and '20s instruments (refinished and then often new hardware fit by Gibson) so it's not unknown. The finish even has the normal weather-check you would expect to see on a late-'50s guitar.

Aside from fitting the back on again, it also got a refret, new adjustable bridge (with custom-fit saddle/upper), replacement fretboard binding, a new bone nut, and a set of '40s Kluson tuners fit at the headstock. Also, before the back went back on, I mentioned to Ancel that these guitars are usually overbraced and so he did a nice, clean job of shaving the braces a bit as well.

Due to all the work (all done by Ancel -- good job!), this is the nicest-sounding and best-playing example of one of these small-L Gibson archtops I've had through the shop. It's still got the big old neck, though, and the tight radius to the board as well (both common for the era).

Repairs included: back reglue, minor brace shaving, board plane and refret, new binding for the fretboard, replacement bridge, replacement tuners, replacement nut, replacement pins for the tailpiece, cleaning, and setup work.

  • Weight: 3 lbs 12 oz
  • Scale length: 24 1/8"
  • Nut width: 1 7/8"
  • Neck shape: big V
  • Board radius: 7 1/4"
  • Body width: 13 1/2"
  • Body depth: 3 1/4"
  • Top wood: solid spruce
  • Back & sides wood: solid maple
  • Bracing type: tonebar
  • Bridge: ebony
  • Fretboard: ebony
  • Neck wood: mahogany
  • Action height at 12th fret: 3/32” bass 1/16” treble (fast, spot-on)
  • String gauges: 54w-12 lights
  • Truss rod: non-adjustable
  • Neck relief: straight
  • Fret style: medium modern

Condition notes: there are repaired hairline cracks on the top and back and also a few small repaired ones to the sides. There's pickwear and usewear throughout the finish but most of it is minor. The entire guitar has been refinished but it looks like a '50s or '60s Gibson factory job. The frets and fretboard binding are new. The tuners are replacements but older, '40s Klusons with new buttons. The bridge is a replacement but custom-fit for the tight board radius. The tailpiece is original but the ebony pins in it are new (note that we have it loaded "ball-ends on top" for a reason). It has a new bone nut.

It comes with: sorry, no case at the moment, though I am trying to find one that fits it well. I will probably have to ship it in whatever chip case is at hand that fits.

Consignor tag: MM