Gibson L-4 Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1936)
Gibson L-4 Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1936), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 521B-31 (FON), sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard. Item # 6937
With its 16" body, small unbound F-holes and deep "V" profile neck this L-4 was the closest thing remaining in Gibson's mid-1930's line to the original 1920s L-5, the first modern archtop. The Gibson archtops above this price point had been "Advanced" to 17" bodies by this time, approaching the height of the swing era when acoustic f-hole archtops ruled the roost. With a pearl fleur-de-lys inlaid in the bound peghead and single-bound body, this L-4 is in some ways as classy looking as some of the more expensive Gibsons, with the company's classic look and sound at a moderate price.
This model has a flat back, an unusual and short-lived feature. Other than this oddity the earlier L-7 had in fact been practically identical to this L-4, one of the many confusing marketing moves perpetrated by Gibson during the Depression! Besides looking very stylish, this L-4 is very nice guitar for a range of musical applications, equally at home in early Jazz and Blues or more recent styles.
Overall length is 40 1/4 in. (102.2 cm.), 16 1/8 in. (41 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.). This fine old L-4 has seen a lot of wear and repair but is a sweet player, and a very good value in a pre-war, carved top Gibson. The guitar's fingerboard is unusual-it has an L-5 style peak at the treble end and pearl block inlay, which are more deluxe features than the model usually was fitted with. The rosewood board itself appears quite old, with period celluloid binding but later style fretwire-we cannot say for sure if it was a custom-ordered featute of this guitar and was later refretted, or if the board itself was a slightly later upgrade.
There is an old repaired heel crack that does not extend into the rims, solid but still visible. The top has several deep wear spots that have been touched up, and appears to have a light clear overspray overall. There are also some fairly deep wear spots to the back of the instrument and to the side of the neck near the 11th fret. The back of the neck itself shows some light overspray and/or polish-out. The hardware is mixed; the tailpiece and bridge are original, the pickguard appears to be an older correct-style repro using the original bracket. The tuners are 1940's gold-plated openback Klusons with newer tulip buttons, the truss rod cover is also not original. While it has obvious wear and tear, this guitar has a lot to offer as a player's instrument with a cool period vibe. Overall Very Good + Condition.
Prices subject to change without notice.
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