The Gibson L-1 was first introduced in 1902 as an archtop round soundhole guitar. It had a single bound top and back, a single bound round soundhole with two rope pattern wood rings, an ebony fingerboard with dot inlays, an orangish natural spruce top finish, and red mahogany neck, back, and sides. It was available with a lower bout of either 12 ½” or 13 ½” sizes.
In 1908 came an early Gibson transitional archtop, the second design to carry the L-1 name. The new L-1 specs: only the 13 ½” lower bout was offered, with a narrower waist, a trapeze tailpiece with pins anchored in a tortoise celluloid plate, an elevated pickguard, 13 of the 19 frets clear of the body, a fully bound ebony fingerboard with a 24-3/16" scale length, and an inlaid slanted "The Gibson" logo on the black veneered headstock. After a brief experiment in 1912-13 with no pickguard, the L-1 elevated pickguard was restored in 1914. After a few other spec changes, in 1925 the L-1 archtop was discontinued, to be re-introduced in 1926 as a flattop.
The serial number on the label of this guitar (22456) indicates 1914, and while the Factory Order Number on the neck block (2406) doesn’t really match Gibson’s notoriously ambiguous early lists, all the other specs are on target. The white oval label with hand-written model and serial numbers matches the 1908-1932 label style. It has a clearly slanted Gibson script logo on the headstock, and the body dimensions are those of a transitional 1914 L-1. While it has not been professionally restored, most of the parts seem to be original; however, I am confident that the tuners are vintage but not original, and the abalone-dot black bridge pins are clearly replacements. It is very playable, with a 1 ¾” nut and the action (depending on the bridge placement) at 3/32” at the 12th fret low E.
The body is actually in amazing condition for a 107-year-old guitar, with no cracks at all and only a few dings and bruises. The somewhat V-shaped neck is solid, the thin original first three frets are worn but playable (and there is remarkably little wear on the fret board), it has the carved arched top and back of the early 1900s, and the tall thin X-bracing is intact. And the sound is cool, woody, and Robert Johnson-ish despite the archtop configuration.
The vintage chip board case in which it came is cool but clearly not original, as it is slightly too large for the L-1 body. It is in pretty solid shape, and it certainly is a great vintage complement to this vintage Gibson, but you will probably want to find an arched-top hard shell case if you plan to take this guitar out.
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; cashier’s checks are acceptable, but payment must clear before the guitar will be shipped.
I have tried to be perfectly clear and accurate in describing this vintage instrument, so its return will not be accepted unless it can be shown that it was egregiously misrepresented in this listing. Please check out the pictures and ask any questions you might have before offering to buy it.
Thank you for your interest in this historically great little guitar.
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 $55 due to constantly rising shipping costs unless a specific listing says otherwise; 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.