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Headstock: Diagonal 'The Gibson' logo
Neck/fingerboard: Reproduction fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the fifth fret
Body: Maple back and sides, Virzi Tone Producer in place
Hardware: Original bridge, pickguard and tuners with a replacement pearl nut and period correct reproduction tailpiece made by Jackson Cunningham
Notes: This guitar has been refinished and the treble side of the body, the neck and the fingerboard have been replaced. There are two three-inch cracks on the bass side of the body.
Antiques Roadshow L-5
On June 14th, 1997, this L-5 was appraised on the Antiques Roadshow USA by their expert Kerry Keane. According to Mr Keane, it had been refinished, the neck had been reset and some of the binding had been replaced. In addition we noted that it had a non-original truss rod cover and had been fitted with a Vibrola (possibly a modified Kauffman unit).
Pictures (above) courtesy of Antiques Roadshow USA
Virzi Tone Producer, reflected in a mirror (above)
Body with Vibrola removed (below)
The three-on-a-strip tuners are silver plated, despite their appearance in this photograph.
The guitar’s current owner tells us that the treble side of the body had been replaced, the fingerboard had been removed and re-glued or a new fingerboard had been fitted. In addition, some of the binding had been replaced and the nut was not original.
New neck and fingerboard
The low position of the truss rod cover and absence of a dot on the ‘i’ of Gibson logo indicates that the entire neck may have been replaced at some point. We would suggest that this took place in the late 1920s, since there is no ‘epsilon’ engraving on the ‘flowerpot’. The ‘upside down’ silver-plated, three-on-a-strip tuners with pearl buttons are correct for a Loar-era L-5 and may have been salvaged from the original neck.
Prior to restoration, the guitar had a 20-fret fingerboard with dot inlays from the third fret. Most examples that we have seen with this feature were shipped in 1930/31.
In summary, the neck appears to have been replaced in the late 1920s and a new fingerboard fitted a few years later.
The photos below show the guitar in the process of restoration
Photos courtesy of Carl Meine:
Pictures above and below show the side of the fingerboard with missing binding
Pictures above courtesy of: Dave’s Guitar Shop (davesguitar.com)
Below; one of the guitar's previous owners (note the Kaufmann Vibrola)
L-5 Serial No. 77400 after restoration