Pre-War Gibson L-5 Owners' Club




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Year shipped: 1930

Serial number: 86289


This guitar began its life as a tenor guitar and was converted at some point to a regular six-string - its owner Howard Emerson believes that this was done at the Gibson factory. As a result, much of the hardware is non-original to the guitar as it was shipped. See below for Howard's memories of how he came by the guitar.


Howard says: “My TGL-5, was converted from a Tenor to a six string at the factory in 1933. It still maintains its banjo heritage via a 10th fret marker.


“I got the guitar from the daughter of the original owner, whose name was Louis Bauman but performed under the stage name of Lou Bernie, which is written on the truss rod cover!


“Lou was originally a banjo player and, despite its having been converted to a six string, the guitar still has its 10th fret inlay in place!


“Lou’s daughter, Sandy Bauman, owned an antique store that I used to frequent and we got friendly over time.


“At some point she told me that she had an old guitar that had belonged to her father and asked if I’d be interested in buying it. She brought out this old, worn case and upon opening it, I knew exactly what it was!


“The heel and upper bout sides were cracked and there was a hand-made curly maple bridge. I took the guitar out of the case and said to her 'Sandy, in good shape these things are worth a lot of money' Without missing a beat she said 'Give me $35.00 and it’s yours.'


“I took the guitar to my friend, John Monteleone and he glued and doweled the heel crack.


At some point I traded the guitar to John for a 1954 Martin 00-18 and a 16-inch Stihl chain saw. John eventually sold the guitar to the late Michael Katz for $1,000. Michael found an original tailpiece and had Bob Jones do a neck set on it.

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Michael saw me playing at the 20th Century Guitar Show in Dix Hills, NY and after my set, he came over and said “You make that guitar sound so good, Howard so it is yours to keep”………I was stunned, to say the least!“I have used it as my bottleneck guitar ever since and it has all the sustain of a good flat top - probably due to its having the lighter bracing of a tenor guitar. It still has the punch of an archtop, of course!"


To see more on Howard Emerson, go to his Players' Page 

where you can also see him playing his L-5 live.