I apologize in advance for telling you folks what some of you already know and others of you don’t want to know, but it’s stuff which anybody who is considering buying this guitar ought to know, so here goes:
Gibson introduced the LG-3 in 1942 as a kind of junior partner to the famous J-45, with the same solid spruce top and mahogany back, sides, and neck, according to George Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars. It had internal X-bracing, full 3-ply body binding (one ply on the back), a three-stripe rosette, a straight rosewood bridge with pearl dot inlay and white bridge pins, a 14/20-fret (after 1955) rosewood fingerboard with dot inlay, a blackface headstock with a screened gold logo, and three-on-a-side nickel Kluson Deluxe tuners with white plastic buttons. The LG-3 was a substantial upgrade both from its predecessor, the L-00, and the less expensive models in the series (LG-0, LG-1, and LG-2), both in its design and in its "specially selected" woods.
The smaller dimensions of the LG models (14 1/8” lower bout, with a 24 ¾” scale) allowed Gibson to use straight-across ladder bracing on the top as well as the back of the LG-0 and the LG-1, but for the LG-2 and LG-3 they used the more responsive X-bracing of the J-45 itself. Similarly, for the less expensive models Gibson used a single piece mahogany back with no center seam; the LG-3 had a book-matched two-piece back. It was usually in a natural finish, showing off the grain of the fine spruce top--rather than covering up imperfections with a sunburst finish, as on the less expensive ladder-braced LG-1 and X-braced LG-2. While it was itself succeeded by the B-25 by 1966, the LG-3 is perhaps Gibson’s all-time best small-body acoustic.
However, in 1958 Gibson also acquired the Epiphone trademark and equipment, lock, stock, and barrel, and as the Blue Book of Acoustic Guitars says, “It was decided that Epiphone would be re-established as a first-rate guitar manufacturer, so that Gibson’s parent company, CMI, could offer a product comparable in every way to Gibson....Gibson was (in effect) competing with itself,” selling virtually identical models of guitar. All were built at the Gibson plant in Kalamazoo to the same high standards, in many cases by the same designers and craftsmen, but with different labels and model numbers. While this situation only lasted until 1969, when most Epiphone production was shifted abroad, the Epiphone guitars produced during this period look and perform almost exactly like their Gibson counterparts, and are therefore highly prized by players and collectors alike.
The Kalamazoo era is when this particular guitar was made: the label designates it as an Epiphone FT-45 Cortez, but it was the spitting image of the Gibson LG-3 described above. The serial number (166802) suggests that in the somewhat unreliable Gibson “system” it was produced in 1964. It had the tortoise pickguard which the Blue Book says was introduced with no logo in 1961, and at one time you could tell at a glance—as well as with a chord or two—that the DNA of this guitar was 98% Gibson; it looked like an LG-3, played and sounded like an LG-3, and was a truly cool little instrument.
I hope that you’re still with me—perhaps thinking that if it’s really like a 1964 Gibson LG-3, this thing’s worth serious consideration, and you’re right. The good news is that the following parts seem to be original and in very good condition: the neck and headstock are totally sound, with no cracks or repairs; the finish on the solid back and sides is excellent for the era, and what appears to have been a slight separation in the seam of the two-piece back and what may have been a small crack have been sealed; the original Kluson Deluxe three-on-a-strip tuners are in place and work well; the binding on top and back is in great shape and has that golden vintage patina; and the end pin is solid and original.
However, this particular guitar’s top has experienced a lot of modifications, and since I didn’t do ‘em, I can’t vouch for ‘em. To start with, apparently several cracks have been thoroughly glued and cleated—but it’s kinda hard to tell because the entire top has been carefully sanded and apparently clear-coated. In the process, the pick guard and rosette disappeared, the bridge was replaced, and a non-original tail piece was installed and then removed (leaving three small screw holes above the end pin). Both the nut and the truss rod cover are also replacements. These modifications are essentially cosmetic in the grand scheme of things, but they obviously reduce any collectible status, if that’s your interest.
Structurally, there are other issues which still need to be professionally resolved but which are beyond my skill set. It sounds and looks like there are several loose braces, and one might be missing altogether. No big deal. However, I suspect that the bridge replacement and the tailpiece experiment were an attempt to avoid re-setting the neck (again?). While the truss rod appears to be working, the action is currently unplayably low judging from a straight-edge/visual check. My assumption is that the bridge/neck/nut relationship is gonna have to be dealt with by someone who knows what he’s doing, and my luthier says he can’t get to it for three months. “Maybe.” So opportunity is knocking for you to own a vintage X-braced Gibson which needs love—and which should respond with a great sound for life.
The case is a vintage chip board case—probably not original, but certainly adequate for this guitar at this stage in its rehabilitation. It is in pretty good shape for its age, inside and out, with all hardware intact, and a clean gold plush interior. It’s a bit large for the smaller shape of the FT-45, but it affords vintage protection for this quality vintage instrument.
Buyer pays a flat rate of $55 for insurance and shipping to the lower 48 states; shipping costs elsewhere will be negotiated as necessary. Payment by Paypal is preferred; cashiers and personal checks are acceptable, but checks must clear before the guitar will be shipped.
I have tried to be perfectly clear and accurate in describing this vintage guitar, so its return will not be accepted unless it can be shown that it was egregiously misrepresented in this listing. It clearly is a project guitar and is explicitly being sold as-is. Please check out the pictures and ask any questions you might have before offering to buy.
Thank you for your interest in this potentially cool vintage instrument.
Payments by Paypal, cashier’s checks, money orders, or personal checks are acceptable, but all payments must clear my bank before the guitar will be shipped. I will CONSIDER reasonable offers, even including installment payments and trade-ins, but generally since I already attempt to price my guitars very competitively, unusual deals must be unusually sweet.
From henceforth [that's how retired English teachers talk], insurance and shipping to the lower 48 states is FREE; shipping costs elsewhere will be negotiated as necessary. I have sold guitars to Russia, Japan, Australia, and over 50 other countries, as well as almost every state in the USA. Since some of my guitars travel thousands of miles, I take care to use lots of packing materials, protect the neck inside the case, and of course de-tune the strings.
I make every effort to describe and illustrate each guitar and case with scrupulous accuracy. However, many of my instruments are well-played vintage items which are many years old, and I am not a luthier. One should assume that any guitar will require some set-up to satisfy your personal requirements, and that not every flaw or ding will be seen/recognized/described in the listing. Thus the return of an instrument will not be accepted unless it can be shown that it was egregiously misrepresented in this listing. Please read the listing carefully, check out the pictures, and ask any questions you might have before offering to buy.