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Post new topic My new best friend... 1921 Gibson L-1 archtop
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Author Topic:  My new best friend... 1921 Gibson L-1 archtop
Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 5 May 2017 7:47 am     Reply with quote

This 1921 Gibson L-1 recently landed at the music store where I teach. I Had to buy it! I really like the small body and the tone of the guitar.








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Last edited by Doug Beaumier on 8 May 2017 6:35 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 5 May 2017 7:53 am     Reply with quote

Nice guitar and the playing isn't bad either. Rolling Eyes
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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 5 May 2017 8:27 am     Reply with quote

Yes you played sweet.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 5 May 2017 8:38 am     Reply with quote

Congrats on it!

I had a 1924 L-4 that still had the Virzi biscuit in it. It was a Lloyd Loar-era guitar, and it had bass unlike any other archtop I've ever owned. I really miss the guitar, but I don't really play guitar anymore, so I guess i don't miss it that much. Laughing

This was it:


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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 5 May 2017 8:47 am     Reply with quote

Cool, the Loar era was 1920-24, so my L-1 is from that era too. Mike, I can't believe you don't play guitar anymore! I'm sure you'll come back to it someday.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 5 May 2017 9:07 am     Reply with quote

Doug Beaumier wrote:
Cool, the Loar era was 1920-24, so my L-1 is from that era too. Mike, I can't believe you don't play guitar anymore! I'm sure you'll come back to it someday.


I don't think so. I want to get good at this lap steel thing! Anyway, never say never.
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Lee Baucum


From:
McAllen, Texas (Extreme South) The Final Frontier
Post Posted 6 May 2017 4:49 am     Reply with quote

Gorgeous. I am so jealous!
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Andy Volk


From:
Boston, MA
Post Posted 6 May 2017 4:56 am     Reply with quote

I played that model 20 years ago in a Florida music store and still regret not buying it on the spot. Glad you didn't make the same error!
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post Posted 6 May 2017 6:01 am     Reply with quote

One of the most beautiful guitar bodies, the color, the lower bout and shaping of the back, like a fine violin. Good find.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 6 May 2017 6:45 am     Reply with quote

Yes, it reminds me of a violin too. The neck is fairly thick, especially on the upper end, but I think that's a good thing. There's no truss rod in the neck (pre-truss rod era) and I think a chunky neck is more stable, less likely to flex with temperature and seasonal changes.
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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 6 May 2017 7:39 am     Reply with quote

But I think in opposition to a violin where the top and back was chisseled from thick pieces of wood, the guitar's curves were achieved by soaking the wood in water, put in a mold and heated up. Correct?
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Jeff Garden


From:
Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, USA
Post Posted 6 May 2017 7:49 am     Reply with quote

Sweet little guitar, Doug. It's great to see vintage instruments that have been well-cared for going to a good home to be played. Smile
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post Posted 6 May 2017 8:45 am     Reply with quote

Joachim Kettner wrote:
But I think in opposition to a violin where the top and back was chisseled from thick pieces of wood, the guitar's curves were achieved by soaking the wood in water, put in a mold and heated up. Correct?

I'm pretty sure that's not correct. Gibson's main claim to fame back in their very early days was the fact that they carved the top and back like a violin. Here's a descriptoin of a 19-teens L-1 on archtop.com, which is pretty authoritative on these old archtops.

https://www.archtop.com/ac_18L3_3.html

They did re-introduce the L-1 as a flat top later. Think Robert Johnson.

I had an 19-teens L-1, oh about 20-25 years ago. It was definitely carved. Traded it for a later archtop with a bigger rhythm sound. I wanted the Freddie Green thing. But they're cool for what you're doing with it. I could probably appreciate one of them more now.
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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 6 May 2017 8:57 am     Reply with quote

I understood. Thank you Dave.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 6 May 2017 10:37 am     Reply with quote

Dave, I found an error in the info on that archtop web site. They're selling a 1917 L-1 and under the Setup description it says "truss rod tension and neck relief adjusted". Problem is... Gibson introduced truss rods in late 1922, according to George Gruhn's book. There were no truss rods in Gibsons in 1917. My 1921 has no truss rod. So either the guitar on that site is not a 1917 or the info included is a generic description of a Setup that was copied and pasted in.
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Joachim Kettner


From:
Germany
Post Posted 6 May 2017 11:55 am     Reply with quote

So if that info was wrong they could have also been wrong about the carving. The back might have been molded as I said. The spruce top must have been carved though, because it would have broken if it had been bent.
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Dave Mudgett


From:
Central Pennsylvania
Post Posted 6 May 2017 12:22 pm     Reply with quote

Gibson carved the tops and backs of the pre-1925 L-series guitars - that was their hallmark in the early days. There are many references that discuss this, and it becomes clear if you look inside a number of examples with an inspection mirror. Pressed tops look very different inside.

I didn't look at setup section of that ad. My bet is that they copied/pasted a generic setup description. You can see from the photos that there's no truss rod cover. It looks almost exactly like the one I had, and the serial number does correspond to a 1917 date.
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Brooks Montgomery


From:
Idaho, USA
Post Posted 6 May 2017 1:54 pm     Reply with quote

Doug, that's a beautiful Gibson! Lucky man.
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Bud Angelotti


From:
Larryville, NJ, USA
Post Posted 9 May 2017 5:34 pm     Reply with quote

Hey Doug -

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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 9 May 2017 5:55 pm     Reply with quote

Awesome! I love the finish.
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post Posted 10 May 2017 4:02 am     Reply with quote

I awoke wondering if the finish is the color of lacquer or patina over the years. Now I see it's both.
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Doug Beaumier


From:
Northampton, MA
Post Posted 10 May 2017 6:10 am     Reply with quote

According to Gruhn's book, this model had an "orange top" finish from 1902 until 1918. After that it had a brown finish.
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Barry Blackwood


Post Posted 10 May 2017 8:30 am     Reply with quote

Except for the cutaway, I can see some L-1 inspiration for the design of the old Howard Roberts model Gibson from 1976..

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Bill Cunningham


From:
Atlanta, Ga. USA
Post Posted 10 May 2017 11:03 am     Reply with quote

Barry Blackwood said "Except for the cutaway, I can see some L-1 inspiration for the design of the old Howard Roberts model Gibson from 1976"


That 70's Gibson was a second generation copy of the 1964-69 Epiphone, btw.
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Bill Cunningham
Atlanta, GA
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Damir Besic


From:
Nashville,TN.
Post Posted 24 May 2017 6:40 pm     Reply with quote

how about this 1904 Style O Gibson Very Happy





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