1930 Gibson Nick Lucas Special

Perhaps the finest 12-fret big-body Nick Lucas Special in memory, this example offers the touch-sensitivity, immediacy, focus, and complex overtones a great 1930 12 fret Gibson can deliver, along with the added warmth and lower-midrange presence that the deep-sided NLS body uniquely provides. Beyond that, this guitar is set-up beautifully with newer frets that play easily and cleanly and contemporarily low action. It remains in exceptional condition, with only a few minor and well-executed repairs.

The 12 fret large-body Nick Lucas Special replaced the smaller variant in later 1929 or early 1930 and remained in production until mid/late 1931 with the redesign to the 13-fret rosewood/adjustable bridge models. There are roughly 10 batches of this version of Nick Lucas Special on record, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how many instruments of this kind were actually produced, as the number of instruments in Gibson FON batches varied greatly, and records are long lost. Suffice to say that this is a significantly rare model, and it was likely stamped sometime in the second half of 1930.

This Nick Lucas Special was built with an X-braced spruce top and mahogany back and sides. The side depth tapers from 4-5/8” at the endpin to 4-1/4” at the heel, which has the effect of increasing the body’s air volume by about 1/3 over a comparably shaped L-2, L-1, or L-0 model. That much more air inside a body has a pronounced effect on tone, as you might imagine. The guitar’s other identifying features include fretboard inlays that are unique to this model, multi-bound top and back, bound fretboard, pearl logo, and engraved Waverly tuning machines. In 1930 the Nick Lucas Special was the company’s most expensive flat-top guitar.

This example remains in excellent shape and has received some high-quality repairwork in recent years. The bridge is a perfect replacement with an aged bone saddle and original pins; the frets are professionally installed modern replacements (standard acoustic wire) and are properly dressed and play cleanly; the nut is a perfectly made bone replica, there is a repaired top crack between the bridge and endblock, a cleanly repaired 6” long side crack on the flat part of bass side, below the waist, and a few brace ends have been reglued. There is a craze line in finish of the top’s bass-side that is not a crack. The guitar’s finish is original throughout and remains in excellent condition with light playwear where a pickguard would otherwise be. There are no touchups. The neck angle is excellent, and the neck has never been reset. With the saddle set close to full height, the guitar’s action measures 5-6 64ths at the 12th fret. The original Waverly tuners work well and properly.

The guitar’s neck has a fairly contemporary feel, with a medium/deep C carve, 1-3/4” nut width and a 1st fret dept of .865”. The scale is 24.75, string spread at the saddle is 2-3/8” and neck thickness at the 12th fret is 1.1”. A feathery light guitar that tips the scales at 3.0 lbs.

With original hardshell case