1933 Gibson L-1

We’ve been waxing poetic about pre-1934 Gibson flat tops for years now, and it’s no secret that these guitars tickle our fancy more than most. We’re always on the hunt for great examples to offer here, but they’re admittedly getting harder and harder to come by. Naturally, we’re excited to offer this late 1933/early 1934 L-1 to you. It’s a wonderful guitar, with the combination of gorgeous overtones, strong and clear fundamental presence, and plenty of bass response that gives Gibson L-size flat tops of this period their great reputation.

With a FON that dates this Gibson L-1 to the tail end of 1933, this guitar was likely built over the first dry and wintery weeks of ’34, which explains why it has survived the last 90 years without any dryness-related damage. In fact, this guitar has no top cracks of any kind, and, except for a short, repaired back crack and a few reglued brace ends, it’s pretty much free of any structural repair. It’s in incredible condition, has had its neck reset and frets replaced, and plays beautifully.

Gibson’s L-1 and L-00 models are almost identical, but the L-1 is slightly fancier and features bound top AND back and higher-grade tuning machines. Interestingly, while the L-00s and Kalamazoo KG-11s of the period were built with solid linings, the L-1 and all higher-priced models were built with traditional kerfed linings.

This example has been respectfully used over its life and shows some playwear to the back of the neck and along the sides of the fretboard, a bit of strum-wear at the soundhole, crazed finish, and the regular assortment of dings and dents. The original bridge is unmodified and looks to have never been off, the neck reset is well done, and the frets are newer. Before listing we replaced the nut and saddle, glued the one back crack and a couple of loose brace ends, and dressed the frets. Playability is excellent, with string action of 4.5-5.5 64ths at the 12th fret. We’ve installed Darco D220 PB light strings.

The neck has a V carve that’s quite rounded through the shoulders. First fret neck depth is .909”, 9th fret depth measures 1.0556”. 1-3/4” nut, 24.75” scale, 2-3/8” string spread at the bridge. Spruce and mahogany body with bound top and back, rosewood board and bridge, bone nut and saddle. Original tuners, bridgepins and endpin. Original finish throughout.

With 30's deluxe chipboard case