1928 Gibson L-1
This little Gibson stunned me as I played it. It’s a small guitar with a curious honey-bee shape, and it’s tone is lush and sweet to the point of being hardly believable. It seemed as I played this guitar that individual notes not only sounded focused and strong, but also harmonically dense, almost like a wooden bell. When chorded the guitar sings with a piano-like voice--the highs chime and the lows pulse, all producing an intoxicating sound that could serenade a Siren. The playability of this guitar is nearly unsurpassable. The action is incredibly low, and, while currently wearing a worn set of what I believe to be Martin silk and steel strings, I’m sure this guitar would sound like a chorus of angels with the right light gauge steel strings properly installed.
It is worth noting that the guitar has some belly bow, but so far this has not affected playability. The bridge nut has been lowered about as low as it can (or should) go. The guitar appears to have most all of its original appointments, including the original tuners, nut, frets, binding, bridge, bridge pins (to the best of our knowledge these are all original), decorative 7th bridge pin, finish, and strap pin. It does not have the original label, but the screen printed “Gibson” is clear on the headstock. The tuners are stiff, and, for this guitar to become any sort of workhorse, replacement tuners would not be a bad idea. That said, these tuners seem to be operating correctly, and can perhaps be rehabilitated back to their full functionality.
All things considered, this is an amazing, playable, excellent sounding all original Gibson guitar made before the Great Depression. It’s a terrific example of the height that guitar building reached at the time, and it’s featherweight mass and apparent durability is testament to the fine quality of craftsmanship. This guitar would make an incredible addition to any serious recording studio, or for a songwriter or session player that’s looking for a sweet sounding, versatile, heirloom-quality guitar. I give it a solid five out of five stars, plus one for style.