1927 Gibson L-3, Sunburst

By Gibson

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Utterly charming late twenties Gibson L-3 in a perfectly worn soft red sunburst finish. Somewhat of a eccentric model today with its Archtop construction combined with the round soundhole it gives the L-3 an interesting voice that defines this early era of guitar production.

Introduced in 1902 alongside the L-1 and L-2 models the L-3 was offered in three different sizes; Standard Size, Concert Size and Grand Concert Size. At a little over $100 the L-3 was the most expensive guitar The Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Co offered. In its L Style the 13" Concert' size body was standardised on the L-3 in 1908, along with the 13 fret neck, bound fingerboard, and script logo. The red Mahogany finish was standard by 1918, and the trapeze tailpiece by 1924. Most significantly the adjustable truss rod made its debut in late 1922. Discontinued by 1933, the L-3 is one of the rarer Gibson Archtops, and later models with the adjustable rod are especially sought after.

In the post-Loar period that this L-3 dates to, features include a compact concert size 13.5” body with a carved Spruce top with Maple back and sides. A 19 fret neck with 13 frets clear of the body constructed of Mahogany with an Ebony fingerboard. Wide post “Snakehead” headstock with pearl inlayed “The Gibson Logo”. As with the rest of the range, the appointments on inter-war Gibsons were still relatively austere with simple pearl dot position markers, a bound soundhole with elegant rosette marquetry. Hardware comprised of engraved Waverly tuners, Tortoiseshell Celluloid pickguard, an adjustable, reversible Hawaiian/Spanish bridge and saddle and a pinless trapeze tailpiece.

The guitar is in good overall condition with some well executed repairs over the years, there is a repaired crack to the soundboard and a repaired area of binding to the neck and a section of replaced wood by the heel block. The finish is play-worn and crazed suiting the feel and aesthetic of a near 100 year old guitar perfectly. The original white label is present with a penciled serial number that dates the guitar to 1927. The tuners are replacements as is the floating pickguard. The guitar retains its original tailpiece, bridge and saddle. The guitar has been refretted with period correct style wire and the nut is likely a replacement. The neck has a generous rounded profile with a nut width of 1-3/4”. Scale length is 24-1/2” and the string spacing at the bridge is just short of 2-1/8”. Action of 1/8th with a full height bridge and light strings.

An interesting and inspiring guitar to play, it has a bright and barky sound with plenty of volume. Easy to play it is a charming reminder of the Gibson company's earliest period. The guitar comes with the later chipboard case.