Pre-War Gibson L-5 Owners' Club




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Year shipped: 1943

Serial number: 97670


Headstock: Diagonal 'Gibson' script logo with no dot on the i and ornate pearl inlay in place of the 'flowerpot.'

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret ebony fingerboard with pointed end and block inlays starting at the first fret (re-fretted)

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and bound f-holes. Sunburst finish

Hardware: Gold-plated hardware including a hinged L-5 trapeze tailpiece with silver centre insert. The tailpiece is engraved with Roy Smeck’s name. Non original Grover Imperial tuners


RS_L-5_full RS_L-5_head RS_L-5_tp2

Images above courtesy of John Stewart

“Over the years I have seen at least half a dozen L-5s with this inlay pattern on the peghead (see right) and they all appear to date from about the same time,” comments vintage guitar expert George Gruhn (

“It is the exact same pattern used in 1924 on the Gibson TB-5 trapdoor banjo (see below). The guitar featured here was made at a time when Gibson was experiencing wartime shortages and was using leftover inlays and other components on its instruments," says Gruhn.


See Serial Number 89849, which has the same diagonal 'Gibson' script logo and headstock inlay as the instrument featured here.

The ‘Roy Smeck’ engraving on the tailpiece (right) very likely indicates that this instrument was built for him.

1920tb503-1 kennard top 97670 kenard back 97670

Images below courtesy of Kennard Machol