Pre-War Gibson L-5 Owners' Club




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Year shipped: 1930

Serial number: 86195

FON: 8698

Headstock: See below

Neck/fingerboard: See below

Body: 16-inch body with maple back and sides

Hardware: See below


Gibson L-5, with a 1930s 16-inch body, a 1970s top and a Johnny Smith neck.


Originally shipped in 1930, this L-5 is now fitted with a Gibson Johnny Smith style neck and fingerboard. According to its current owner, the guitar was re-necked at the Gibson factory in the 1970s and at the same time, the top was replaced. The original serial number is stamped on the back of the headstock.


Note the five-piece headstock motif, split-block pearl fingerboard inlays and single bound f-holes and Kluson Sealfast tuners.


Like a Gibson Johnny Smith, the guitar now has a 25-inch scale length and the bridge has been re-positioned to accommodate this (16-inch L-5s were built with a 24 3/4 inch scale length).


A metal plate that displays the former owner’s name replaces the Johnny Smith tailpiece’s original ebony insert. In addition, the guitar has been fitted with what appears to be an early version of the Gibson Citation pickup.


Though we have included this guitar in the Type Two Gallery it is impossible to say whether it originally had dot or block fingerboard inlays.


According to Joe Spann, this guitar was returned to the Gibson factory for repairs on 4th February 1936, 14th October 1937, 8th November 1943, 24th June 1949 and 21st July 1949!


Today the highly figured maple back and sides are all that remain of the original instrument. Despite this, it is still a beautiful guitar with an interesting, if somewhat chequered history.

86195 front 86195 back 86195 label 86195 tail

With thanks to Ruurd Feitsma of the Dutch Archtop Guitar Museum