GIBSON L-4, 1923
Sunburst. A fantastic 90 y.o. archtop guitar from Gibson's "Loar Era", when Kalamazoo factory was under the direction of Lloyd Loar, one of the most important innovators in American guitar history. Loar is responsible for the project and production of the first modern archtop, the famed L-5 of which you can see a beautiful example in our private collection, one of the 24 guitars with their inventor's signature on the label.
Unlike the L-5, the L-4 was deeply rooted into the Nineteenth-Century tradition. There is no trace of the innovations introduced with the L-5 (f-shaped sound holes, elevated fingerboard, etc.): the L-4 had an oval sound hole and a 12-fret neck with the fingerboard's end flush with the guitar's top. The instrument you see here is a gorgeous example of the model.
The body has a spruce top and birch back and sides, like early L-5s. The V-shaped neck is made of two pieces of mahogany. The headstock has the old-style "The Gibson" script logo inlaid in mother of pearl, and perfectly working engraved tuners of the same type installed on the L-5, except for the material of the buttons (ivoroid instead of real mother of pearl). Other parts identical to the ones found on the L-5s are the silver-plated trapeze tailpiece (with July 19 1910 patent date), and the ebony bridge (with January 18 1921 patent date). The celluloid pickguard has the older style bracket, clamped to the side just like on the Harp Guitar Style U you can see in our private collection, and both the plastic and the metal parts have their own patent date (respectively March 30 1909 and July 04 1911).
The oval sound-hole is finely engraved with a diamond-pattern rosette and is bound in ivoroid plastic, just like all the rest of the guitar - body, neck and headstock. The ebony fretboard has the same pointed end as the L-5. One of the tuner buttons had been replaced, but we have replaced it with a correct reproduction (please see the pictures for a direct comparison between repro and original parts)... You would not have seen this detail unless we told you... but you know how Real Vintage likes to work!
The guitar is in absolutely exceptional conditions. No cracks at all, the truss rod works fine but there is no need to adjust the action. Playability is excellent, as is the sound - "old", just like the resin fragrance that comes from the sound hole and that captures you every since the moment you open the case. The frets are still the original ones. The instrument has been kept with the greatest care by the musicians family that has owned it for almost one century.
The original hardshell
case, in great shape except for the missing handle, is a precious object
in its own right, since it's the same model used for the Loar-era L-5 -
very sought-after by collectors. We have chosen not to separate the
instrument from the case that has kept it so well during all those years.
An exceptional guitar, a precious page of the history of Gibson Company
and American music alike.