Pre-War Gibson L-5 Owners' Club




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Starting in August 1935, the Gibson L-5 moved to a 17-inch wide ‘Advanced’ body size with five-ply binding around the top and a triple bound back. For a period, the L-5 was available with a choice of a thin or thick carved top. The thin-topped version was fitted with a ¾ inch bridge while the thick-topped version came with a 1¼-inch bridge.


Details included unbound f-holes and an X-braced top.

The 17-Inch L-5 Timeline


Neck & Headstock

The two-piece bookmatched curly maple neck had an ebony centre strip.


The headstock was now Gibson’s standard design (i.e. wider at the top) and featured five-ply binding, as did the fingerboard and pickguard. It was inlaid with a pearl 'flowerpot' motif and pre-war 'Gibson' logo in thick horizontal script. The bell shaped truss rod cover was bound with white plastic. Initially individual gold-plated open back Grover StaTite tuners were fitted. After about a year, these were replaced by gold-plated Grover Imperials and, from 1939 onwards, gold-plated Kluson Sealfast machines. Until 1936, the scale length remained 24-½ inches.


The ebony fingerboard once again had a pointed end and was initially fitted with 19 frets. Pearl block fingerboard markers started at the first fret.


The flat tailpiece was engraved with the ‘L-5’ legend.


The finish was sunburst nitrocellulose lacquer.


From 1933


White oval label, 'Gibson Inc.', in typeset lettering (no 'Mandolin-Guitar Co.'). The serial number and model name were now hand inked stamped.


Late 1920s to the 1950s


'MADE IN USA' impressed into the back of headstock of examples intended for export.

The L-5 Premier

From 1939 the L-5 was available as the L-5P – with a single rounded ‘Venetian’ style cutaway (the model was renamed the L-5C c. 1948).


In most respects, the L-5P was identical to the non-cutaway L-5 of the period, though the earliest L-5Ps had a fingerboard that rested almost flat on the top of the guitar. All L-5 Premiers had parallel top bracing.


flower pot

Tailpiece engraved with 'L-5' Legend

1936 17-Inch 'Advanced' L-5

'Venetian' Style Cutaway

NEW L-5 FULL FRONT NEW L-5 TAILPIECE cutaway 17 inch premier