The L-00 had its first catalog appearance in 1932 but production started a couple of years earlier. Featured alongside the L-0 and L-1, the L-00 was the most affordable guitar in the Gibson range at $25 without a case, still a lot of money in depression-era America. The catalog listed the model as having: “Neck, back, and rim made of Honduras Mahogany; northern Spruce sounding board - finished throughout in lustrous black ebony - hand shaped neck fitted with Truss Rod- rosewood fingerboard, pearl position marks - long wearing frets- rosewood bridge - Mona Steel strings.” The L-00 was an instantly success for Gibson and production remained high until 1942 when Gibson reduced the number of available models in the Catalog due to WWII. Although still in production the L-00 was seldom produced before the model was discontinued in 1945 as Gibson looked to revise it’s range postwar.
This guitars Factory Order Number has faded and is no longer visible but has all the traits of the earlier pre-catalog L-00 produced pre-1932 and has many of the construction methods from this period. Very rarely seen in this early period this guitar has a Mahogany top instead of the standard Spruce making it more alike to an L-0 in its tone wood selection. The body/neck joint is at the 12th fret and the guitar features a white silkscreen Gibson script logo on the face of the tapering headstock, the black finish was used throughout the 30’s with no pickguard initially, then with the iconic white pickguard seem here and latterly with the fire-striped tortoise pickguard fitted. Appointments are simple with a 3-ply rosette and a white celluloid bound top. Despite being an affordable model at the time, the L-00 was built using what today would be in any manufacturers wish list of materials including an Adirondack spruce top, Honduran Mahogany neck, back, and sides, and Brazilian Rosewood bridge and fingerboard.
As is often the case with these lightly built, near 100 year old instruments, this guitar has had some running repairs over the years. The guitar came to us with all the work previously completed to a very good standard and is in what is best described as restored condition. The neck has been reset and internally, the top has had some replaced braces and the lining is kerfed, also likely replaced. The bridge plate is a well made thin maple bridge plate replacement, neatly cut and well fitted. The Mahogany top has some internal cleating to some small cracks but has resisted any serious bellying, an all too common problem with these featherweight instruments. The bridge and saddle are likewise replacements. Under blacklight the black finish shows evidence of work; the body has been lightly over sprayed and there are areas where the overspray looks to have been polished out, the neck has been refinished with a good colour match to the body. Not always the easiest task with Black finishes. The 3-on-a-plate strip tuners are original to the guitar.
The guitar has a ‘C’ profile neck that at 22.45mm at the 1st fret feels very different to the big ‘V’ profile that these guitars become known for a year or so later. The nut width is 44.59mm also wider than the standard 43mm nut width used on later L-00s. These are rare features of the early L-00 guitars and the wider nut width in particular lends itself perfectly to fingerstyle. Is has a loud, dry balanced voice with good note separation and enduring sustain with an action at the 12th fret of a hair over 3mm with plenty of height to the saddle for adjustability.
The L-00 goes through many subtle but important changes in its production from the early guitars featuring 12 fret joint, wide nut and ‘C’ profile neck with very lightweight construction to the later guitars that are more robustly built with a narrower ‘V’ profile and finally on to the later early '40s examples that are more like LG-2s, with their scalloped braces and round necks leaving this very early L-00 as a guitar with a very particular set of characteristics. Add to that the Mahogany top and it has a very rare set of traits that set it apart from all the other L-00s we have encountered. The guitar comes with a well fitted Hiscox case.