Pre-War Gibson L-5 Owners' Club




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European Guitars

According to Tomas Dvorak ( the Radiotone, Coletti and Avalon guitars featured here were made in Schönbach in the mid to late 1930s and distributed in the UK by Dallas (dates of manufacture are arrived at according to their appearance in dated catalogues).


Schönbach was the name of a small town which in the 1930s was in Czechoslovakia (today called Luby u Chebu in the Czech Republic). Located just a few kilometers from Markneukirchen, Germany (where C.F. Martin was born), it was the centre of string instrument making in central Europe before the WWII.


The four guitars pictured below are hand carved from solid timbers using spruce and maple for the bodies and beech for the necks. The fingerboards and bridges are ebony (unless otherwise indicated) and the finish is nitrocellulose. Details include mother of pearl inlays and celluloid pickguards.


Though none are exact copies of the L-5, they illustrate the influence that Gibson’s groundbreaking archtop had on guitar manufacturers throughout the world.

Radiotone FRONT Radiotone back Radiotone HEAD

Radiotone Archtop Model 7812

Radiotone 2 FRONT Radiotone 2 BACK Radiotone 2 HEAD Radiotone 2 HEAD BACK Radiotone 2 HEEL

Coletti Archtop Model G61c Serial Number 1106

Coletti FRONT Coletti back Coletti head Coletti heel Avalon side Avalon FRONT Avalon HEAD Avalon BACK

Dark sunburst finish – similar to the Cremona brown finish found on early L-5s. Bound top, back, pickguard and 21 fret fingerboard with a rounded end and small parallelogram pearl inlays.


Unbound headstock is inlaid with ‘Radiotone logo’ and ‘sharp’ headstock motif in pearl. Simple trapeze tailpiece.


According to Tom, this is an early example.

Radiotone Archtop Model 7812 serial number 4094

Radiotone 7812 serial number 4094


Large block pearl fingerboard inlays from the first fret, ‘Radiotone logo’ and ‘sharp’ headstock motif in pearl. Fancy trapeze tailpiece and three-on-a-strip tuners with plastic buttons and engraved baseplate.


Tom says that this is a later example.

The most expensive of the guitars featured here, the Coletti G61c has a bound 20 fret fingerboard with large pearl block inlays from the third fret, multiple bound fancy pickguard (with ‘C’ for Coletti) and bound, art-deco style headstock with marquetry facing. Nickel-plated hardware includes trapeze tailpiece and three-on-a-strip tuners with plastic buttons and engraved baseplate. This guitar has been refinished and would originally have had a sunburst finish similar to that of the Radiotones models above.

Avalon Archtop Model 9276a

This is a relatively plain guitar with a dark sunburst finish, unbound 20 fret flat rosewood fingerboard with small pearl block inlays from the third fret.


In place of a pearl inlaid headstock logo, the Avalon brand name is pinned to the face of the headstock on a separate plaque. The bridge is not original.





Photos courtesy of Tomas Dvorak (

93281 head front copy full front full back

Coletti Model G61c, Serial Number 1162

head back head front bridge head stamp-1 label pickguard