Gibson TG-30 Arch Top Acoustic Tenor Guitar (1935)

Gibson  TG-30 Arch Top Acoustic Tenor Guitar  (1935)
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Item # 11227
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Gibson TG-30 Model Arch Top Acoustic Tenor Guitar (1935), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 1427-4 (FON), black lacquer finish, maple back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard, original chipboard case.

This is a fairly rare and cool looking pre-war Gibson archtop tenor guitar, the TG-30. This 4-string version of the small-body L-30 archtop was made in very limited numbers, only offered for a couple of years. Originally priced at $30 (plus case) this was the least expensive F-hole tenor in Gibson's catalog but still a fairly substantial investment for a student-level instrument during the Depression. Also by that time the tenor guitar had fallen from favor among orchestra guitarists so the market for them was shrinking anyway, even for teaching studios.

This guitar was made in late 1935 and has features specific to the period. It is nearly identical to the standard L-30, which itself was only in production for a limited time in 6-string form. The single-bound body has a gleaming black finish overall, which not only looked wicked but enabled Gibson to use visually flawed woods to good effect. The top is carved spruce with very slim F-holes, the back is flat. The narrow neck has an unbound rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlay, the headstock a script white stencil Gibson logo. The small ebony bridge is a full-width 6-string version notched for 4, while the tailpiece is a specific tenor unit. The tortoise celluloid pickguard is the same as the standard version.

With its small body and deep soft "V" profile neck, this TG-30 is very comfortable to play and has a bigger, more powerful sound than one might expect, surprisingly deep and resonant for an arch top 4-string instrument. It is currently strung and tuned to the lower Irish tuning and sounds great that way.
Overall length is 38 1/2 in. (97.8 cm.), 14 7/8 in. (37.8 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 23 in. (584 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/8 in. (29 mm.).

This is a relatively clean and original guitar overall, showing some play wear but no notable repair. The ebony top finish has noticeable pick scratching in the area above the strings, which looks like it was mostly all done at once by some careless user. Other than this the all-original finish is mostly quite clean with only some minor dings, dents and scrapes and a nice still-shiny patina.

There are no apparent cracks or other repairs. The only alterations are a newer set of geared planet style tuners, a replaced nut and an old strap button added at the heel. Apart from these the hardware is original and complete. The original fingerboard and frets are very clean; this is a good player currently strung and tuned for G-D-A-E Irish style, with a big chunky sound for an arch top 4-string. It comes in a lovely original case, the higher grade chipboard of the period with a cool "Aeroplane Cloth' covering and a striped lid. Overall Excellent - Condition.