Gibson L-5 top thickness

“The 1941 L-5 guitar pictured below (Serial Number 97291) was purchased at the Southern California Guitar Show in 1995,” says guitar historian and collector, Lynn Wheelwright. “It was in the condition shown here and I intended to restore it. Though it was a project that I never got around to, I decided to take the time to map out the carve thickness of the top and back for my records. To do this, I used a MAG-ic Probe thickness gauge. I thought this info might be of use to others and figured a good way to get it out there was to share it on Paul’s great L-5 site!”

To see this guitar, head to this page.

  1. Surprisingly thick. I see numbers ranging from 146 to 301, with many around 220. In mm, that’s 3.7 to 7.6, many around 5.6.

    For comparison, a lively luthier-built Sitka Spruce top for a flat-top guitar would be 2.8 to 3.0 mm. So this archtop is approximately twice as thick.

    I agree with Ken Parker–acoustically, there’s a lot of room for improvement in archtops. As he has said, the pickup killed progress in the evolution of the acoustic archtop, and I’m thankful that he is now picking up where Lloyd Loar left off. His tops are much thinner than this, and sound as good as any flat-top.

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