Gibson Black Special #4 Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1936)

Gibson  Black Special #4 Arch Top Acoustic Guitar  (1936)
Item # 8834
Prices subject to change without notice.
Gibson Black Special #4 Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1936), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 1046B-9 (FON), black lacquer finish, maple back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

Gibson issued a number of fretted oddities in the 1930s, but the "Black Special" arch-top guitars like this one are still largely unexplained. There are a number of shipment records for guitars designated as such, but no catalog information appears to have been published and so the whys and wherefores are lost. This guitar is basically a 16" L-50 devoid of its sunburst finish and trim, finished in gleaming black overall with white single binding and a silkscreened logo. The top is carved, the back is flat and the guitar is all solid wood, not the laminated stock used on most Kalamazoos. The hardware -- plastic button Waverly strip tuners, adjustable rosewood bridge and nickel-plated tailpiece -- is the same as used on the lower end period Gibsons.

The neck is the "V" profile typical of many less expensive 1930s Gibson guitars, with the adjustable truss rod not fitted to Gibson's off-brand instruments. The opaque finish likely allowed Gibson to use up whatever cosmetically flawed wood they had and then sell these "Specials" to dealers at a very low cost, still a major advantage in the later Depression period. Whatever its origins, this is a fine-playing and sounding guitar, better than many other similar period instruments and a very good quality pre-war carved top guitar notwithstanding the "black sheep" trim.
Overall length is 40 1/2 in. (102.9 cm.), 16 in. (40.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

Overall this is a very nicely preserved and all original guitar, with some light checking and wear but no serious finish loss. The top shows some dings, scrapes and pick wear most notably near the bass side of the fingerboard. The back has two long repaired cracks in the middle which is fairly typical of these arch top, flat backed instruments. This guitar plays and sounds very well, and represented a great value when new that it maintains today. Overall a fine example of what Gibson could offer in the pre-WWII era in a budget carved-top instrument. Includes a modern HSC. Excellent - Condition.