Pre-War Gibson L-5 Owners' Club




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In an article that first appeared in the December 2010 edition of Vintage Guitar magazine, André Duchossoir took a fresh look at Gibson’s ledgers for the period 1935 to 1944.


Earlier attempts to quantify shipping totals for a specific model over a given time frame had taken Gibson’s records at face value by simply totalling the list of entries made under that model name.


The key to Duchossoir’s revised list was the realisation that Gibson instruments - particularly high-end models like the L-5 – were often returned to the factory before being shipped a second, third or fourth time (during the economic downturn of the mid 1930s, many dealers struggled to move high dollar items). This resulted in multiple entries for the same instrument. Indeed, L-5 serial number 92970 appears in Gibson’s ledgers a total of 12 times between 1936 and 1942!


Having painstakingly weeded out multiple entries Duchossoir arrived at the revised shipping totals displayed below:



Note that to avoid counting an instrument more than once, only those identified by a serial number or FON are included in Duchossoir’s revised shipping totals.

L-5 shipping totals

Gibson L-5s Type One (signed and dated by Lloyd Loar). Below is a list of all the 30 known Loar-signed L-5s. Examples noted in the right hand column are pictured on the 16-Inch Type One Gallery 

* March 1st 1924, according to one source


** Possibly 12/21/24




Only one known example was shipped in 1923 (signed by Loar on 07/06/23)


Fourteen of the guitars listed above were signed by Loar on 03/31/24, one on 02/13/24, thirteen on 12/01/24, (one of these possibly on 03/01/24) one on 12/21/24 and one on 12/31/24 (possibly 12/21/24).


15 of the instruments listed to the left were shipped after Loar had left Gibson (nine in 1925 and six in 1926).


For a comprehensive list of all Lloyd Loar signed instruments, visit Darryl Wolf's F-5 Journal

André Duchossoir’s Revised Shipping Totals

Though Gibson’s catalogue N of 1923 (below) made no mention of the L-5, the model is pictured in an artist endorsement photo. It also appears on a price list dated April 15th, 1923 (left). Note that the price of the L-5 has been left blank.

First mention of the Gibson L-5

1923 cat

From the collection of Paul Fox (

The 1924 Gibson brochure pictured above titled 'Mastertone Stringed Instruments' appears to pre-date 1924’s Catalog O and is the first piece of Gibson promotional literature to mention the L-5.

From the collection of Paul Fox (

1924_L-5_Cat O SEND 1924 F-5 mastertone brochure

Gibson L-5 as it appeared in Gibson's Catalog O, issued in either late 1924 or early 1925.

Catalog_N_cvr 1