1925 manufacture date (traditional estimates)
1927 shipment date, according to Spann's Guide to Gibson
Guitar, Style L5
Factory order number unknown
From Folkway Music:
The Gibson L-5 designed by Lloyd Loar and introduced in late 1922 revolutionized the guitar world. Loar's 16" carved instrument was the first to employ "F" holes in its design, and signaled the genesis of the modern arched-top guitar. The L-5 featured many other modern features: An adjustable truss rod in the neck, a height adjustable and intonated bridge top, an elevated pickguard with a right-angle mounting bracket, and an elevated fingerboard which allowed the top's effective vibrating size to be enlarged; and a fourteen fret-to-the-body neck. Similar to his famous F-5 Mandolins, Loar's L-5 guitars featured Gibson's most select timbers, with spruce and maple plates carved, graduated, and tap-tuned to perfection. Thanks to Lloyd Loar, 1923 also saw the end of the celluloid tailpiece bracket (replaced with metal), and the introduction of a tilted-back neck attachment which permitted a taller bridge, more downward pressure on the instrument top, and a resulting increased volume. Today, the Loar-era "Master Model" instruments (L-5, K-5, H-5, F-5 and Style 5 Banjos) which bear Loar's signature are among the most prized instruments on the vintage market. Loar resigned from Gibson in December of 1924. The last known Loar-signed instrument was an F-5 dated December 21st 1924 bearing serial number 80416.
The instrument pictured here is an L-5 completed in the spring of '25. This instrument's construction was undoubtedly begun during Loar's tenure at Gibson, but completed after his departure. As such it bears the Master Model label associated with Lloyd Loar, but not Loar's signature label. This particular L-5 bears certain transitional features indicative of the immediate post-Loar period: An angled peghead logo, flowerpot inlay, dot fingerboard inlays from the 5th fret on, single-bound fingerboard with pointed end, and gold hardware. Of note are the original tuning machines - gold Grover "Pancake" planetary banjo tuners with pearl buttons - a rare and beautiful feature.
A one owner guitar and a local instrument, this L-5 came to us after being in storage since the early 1980's. There is finish wear to the back of the neck and to the areas that were in contact with the owners clothing. There is one small and largely insignificant top crack at the waist below the pickguard, and an invisible center-seam repair (done by us) beneath the tailpiece. The back and sides are in crack free excellent condition. The top braces are intact, and the top's arch is perfect. Original frets, pearl nut, bridge, endpin, and bound pickguard. The original tailpiece string hanger is bowing forward slightly, but is intact and functional. As is evident in the photos, the pickguard was once notched for a DeArmond floating pickup, and there is a fairly well-hidden 1" splice of fingerboard binding adjacent to the 18th and 19th frets. This instrument features two Master Model labels, one almost completely obstructing the second. We'd only love to be able to read the hidden label, but we can't, so that's all we can tell you about it... sorry. The maple figure in the neck, back, and sides is tight and deep; and is accented nicely by the Cremona sunburst hand-rubbed stain. Set up in our shop, this instrument plays perfectly up the neck. 24-3/4" scale, 1-3/4" nut. Tone? Well, that's the best part. If you've never played one of these first L-5's you really ought to soon.