Gibson L-00, Formerly Owned by Norman Blake Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1933)

Gibson  L-00, Formerly Owned by Norman Blake Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1933)
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Item # 9024
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Gibson L-00, Formerly Owned by Norman Blake Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1933), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 551, sunburst top, dark back and sides finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

The L-00 has always remained one of Gibson's most popular Depression-era flat-top guitars, then and now. This is not the cleanest we have had, but is one of the best-sounding we have ever heard. Astonishingly light at just over 3LB, this very early 14-fret L-00 also has a special provenance; the last owner bought it directly from Norman Blake just under 20 years ago. While we don't know just how much Norman used the guitar when he owned it, it certainly has a sound suited to his lovely and subtle picking. It was built around mid-1933 (when the list price was $27.50, without the case) and retains the exceptionally light construction and superbly responsive tone of the earlier 12-fret models. It shows some fairly heavy use but even so has less play wear and survives in more original condition than many.

The top finish is a deep dark sunburst with a small lighter center, typical of the early-mid 1930s guitars. There is single-ply white celluloid binding around the top edge, which is also ornamented with a tortoise celluloid pickguard and a three-ply sound hole ring. The braces under the top are exceptionally light and slim. The back and sides are finished in dark mahogany as is the shallow "V" profile neck, which is much softer on the spine than typical mid-'30s examples. It is fitted with a plain dot-inlaid, unbound rosewood fingerboard. The headstock carries a white stenciled "Gibson" logo and simple openback brass strip tuners.

While this model was at the bottom of the flat-top line in the early/mid-1930s, it offered a great value in sound. The L-00 quickly became a working-class standard of the day, a professional grade guitar at a price affordable to blues players, Hillbilly string bands, and many other itinerant musicians as well as Gibson's intended student customers. Each one of these guitars has its own character. This amazingly lightly built and exceptionally responsive guitar is great-sounding both finger- and flat-picked, with a powerful ringing tone that never gets harsh. While we can't promise you'll be able to play like Norman Blake on this guitar (that's up to you!), the sound of this little Gibson is truly inspirational.
 
Overall length is 39 5/8 in. (100.6 cm.), 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/4 in. (10.8 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 is a well-played but also well-cared for guitar, with some typical wear but no major repairs or damage. The finish shows wear and checking overall, especially on the back and the bottom edge of the sound hole rim. The only crack is a tightly sealed grain split off the top edge of the pickguard which is hardly visible. The lacquer on the back of the neck is worn down to the wood on much of the surface.

The neck has been reset (there is a just bit of old glue visible around the heel) and the original bridge fitted with a compensated saddle; playability and intonation are excellent. The frets look like correct old Gibson wire but we can't imagine the guitar was not refretted at some point, and the fingerboard shows some light divoting. Still, this guitar is a pure pleasure to play and hear, as delightful an old Gibson to while away the hours on as we can imagine. It includes a recent HSC, in which is a brief pithy hand written note from Blake ("This Gibson guitar...was owned by me") on his stationary and a receipt for the check that purchased it from him in 2000. Overall Excellent - Condition.