Up for sale, a 1934 Gibson L-C "Century of Progress" vintage acoustic guitar in exceptional condition. An extremely rare Gibson model (and the inspiration for Gibson's modern Elvis Costello signature instrument), the L-C was crafted in extremely small quantities and dressed to impress, with a pearloid fretboard and peghead inlayed with Brazilian rosewood, as well as a tiger stripe pickguard, flame maple back and sides, and an Adirondack spruce top. These features were meant to showcase and commemorate the Century of Progress international exhibition in Chicago, which lasted from 1933-34, and this Worlds Fair was the perfect platform for a "modern" steel string guitar that had both an exquisite tone and stylish good looks.
Featuring the original targeted sunburst finish seen on the earliest Century models from 1933-34, this is a prime example that will satisfy discerning collectors and serious players alike. All of the necessary maintenance and restoration due a guitar of this vintage has been done to ensure optimal playability, including a professional refret with slender, vintage-style fretwire, reseating the bridge, resetting the neck, and regluing all of the braces. The result is a guitar that has a commanding and powerful voice, with cannon-like projection. There's a sweet, clear, and chiming quality to the plain strings, complemented by a robust and focused low end that has a certain sinewy snap and drive. The midrange content is smooth and tempered and the overall sonic footprint of the guitar is very detailed and rich sounding, with a note attack that is quick and pronounced, no doubt due to the pearloid fretboard. Professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar, this L-C has optimal action and fresh 12-53 phosphor bronze strings.
The neck is a very large and pronounced V shape, with shoulders that are quite round and big as well. Suffice it to say that this profile is very substantial and essential to the sustain of the guitar, and even for smaller hands the profile is quite manageable even as it fills the palm. The bound pearloid fretboard is inlayed with Brazilian rosewood blocks, which are in turn inlayed with smaller pearloid diamonds. The peghead matches this aesthetic as well, with a larger Brazilian inlay inlayed with a Gibson script logo, and notched diamond, topped off with the original pearloid truss rod cover. The guitar has been professionally refretted, and this work was expertly done so as not to impact the pearloid fretboard. The current frets have slightly more crown and width than the original fretwire, while still being decidedly slender and "vintage" in their overall feel and appearance. The frets show virtually no wear and play cleanly up the neck with no buzzing or dead spots. The action measures 1/8" on the bass side at the 12th fret, and 3/32" on the treble side measured at the same fret, and there's plenty of height on the saddle for future adjustment if desired. The nut measures a full 1 3/4" in width, and this hand carved translucent piece of bone is likely the original nut! The original open-geared tuning machines are intact as well and turn smoothly with their original oval buttons.
The neck reset was very well executed, with only the faintest signs that the reset was ever done in the finish adjacent to the neck heel. The angle is now ideal for future decades and a new compensated saddle has been carved to accommodate the new neck angle. The original Brazilian rosewood bridge is present and has been freshly reglued to the top of the guitar, and the solid Adirondack spruce top sits quite flat, with minimal deflection and no excessive pull behind the bridge.
Cosmetically, this guitar is one of the finest examples of a Century of Progress Gibson offered for sale in recent years, with an original nitro lacquer sunburst finish that is 100% original and free from touchup or overspray. There is prominent, wavy finish checking across the solid flame maple sides, and checking that is more vertical and wide on the bookmatched flame maple back. On the top, the lacquer checking spiders out in all directions and is very tight, clustered most densely on the upper bout. The wear in the pick path consists of some moderate pick wear into the finish between the end of the fretboard and northernmost edge of the soundhole, with more prominent wear down to the bare spruce on the treble side, following the contour of the pickguard and soundhole. There is one very slight and professionally repaired crack on the treble side lower bout edge, and also some light flaking of the finish on the treble side of the body, mostly at the waist and directly adjacent to the neck. Near the rear strap button there are also some small nicks and finish chips, which are mostly clustered near the back binding. The sunburst is very warm and rich, with a deep amber center fading to dark chocolate brown and almost black at the edges of the body. The sides and back are bursted along with the top to highlight the beautiful figuring in the maple. The original factory order number is still faintly visible on the neck heel as well and in the 900 range without a letter suffix, conclusively dating the instrument to 1934.
A modern heavy-duty hardshell case is included.