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When this guitar was acquired, two holes had been cut into the top to fit pickups with additional holes - on both the right and left of the bridge - for tone and volume controls. At a later stage the pickup holes had been filled with spruce patches and the remaining holes lugged.
A heavy coat of varnish had been applied to the body and neck as well as the fingerboard. Though the guitar still had its original trapeze tailpiece, later Kluson tuners had been installed, the pickguard was missing and there were no thumbwheels on the bridge.
Restoration was carried out by luthier Michael Heiden (heideninstruments.ca). This included fitting a new 19-fret ebony fingerboard with a square end and dot inlays from the third fret and rebinding the neck (the guitar originally had a block inlaid fingerboard).
New patches were fitted to the holes in the top - fortunately the braces were undamaged – and the guitar was refinished with a black top, to conceal the repair work and sunburst back, sides and neck. New Grover 18:1 Sta-Tite Gold tuners and a new bridge completed the work.
“As a memento of its previous life, the guitar retained the 1940s strap hooks that were on before the restoration,” says its owner Richard Poitras.
Marek Rejhon restores L-5 Serial Number 94773
The L-5 pictured here belongs to Marek Rejhon. It was restored by Petr Prochazka and Petr Grotzbach of Petr Prochazka Custom Guitars (www.guitar-makers.com) where Marek works as a consultant. Marek - who builds guitars in his spare time - also contributed to the restoration, as did French polisher, Jaroslav Špilar.
Petr Prochazka Custom Guitars builds Gibson L-5 and Super 400 inspired guitars, as well as carrying out restoration work on vintage instruments.
Marek talks us through the restoration of this L-5:
“This L-5 is unusual in that the top and back plate are carved in exactly the same manner as the contemporary X-braced Advanced L-5s (with a flat centre arch ) but it left the factory with parallel top bracing.
"It was purchased without any hardware in UK and has had several repairs - some good, some terrible! Its restoration is almost complete and we decided to not try to hide previous signs of use and repairs. Traces of several older refinishes were apparent and as we were not sure about the original style of finish, we decided to do it Natural with a period correct white pearloid pick-guard.
"The finish was done with French polished amber shellac, which blends with the cracks and repairs better. “
Petr Grotzbach playing the restored L-5