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One Piece Necks
Although most L-5s have a neck constructed from two sections of maple with a dark centre lamination (described by Gibson as a ‘three-piece neck’), in the early 1930s, a number were shipped with a one-piece maple neck. All of the L-5s that we have encountered with a one-piece neck were shipped in 1930 and 1931 and all unmodified examples have the following combination of features: a horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo, a 20 fret fingerboard with a pointed end and dots from the third fret, a wrap-over tailpiece and three-on-a-strip Waverly tuners. We have not come across any Advanced or Premier L-5s with a one-piece neck and the sole block neck 16-inch L-5 on our website with a one-piece neck (serial number 86950) has non-original hardware, a replacement fingerboard and a body that has been refinished, suggesting that it may have left the factory with the specifications outlined above.
Joe Spann, author of ‘Spann's Guide to Gibson 1902-1941’, comments: “It appears that the L-5s with one-piece necks that you reference were made about mid-year 1930, then required six to eight months to clear out of inventory, which accounts for some having been shipped in early 1931. At that time 90% of Gibson's production was banjos. I would think the most likely explanations are that a mistake was made and no one caught it, or that Gibson purchased some larger dimensional timber stock that was sufficiently quarter-sawn for use as one-piece necks.”
Above (left) L-5 serial number 81273, shipped 1927 with ‘three-piece neck’
Above (right) L-5 serial Number 86981, shipped 1931, which has a one-piece neck