Year shipped and serial number: See Notes below
Headstock: Diagonal ‘The Gibson’ logo
Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret
Body: No Virzi tone producer fitted
Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners with engraved base plate and pearl buttons mounted so that the cog is positioned below the worm gear (see Notes below). Short bound pickguard
Notes: Though the guitar shows no evidence of repair work, there is a two inch separation on the treble side upper bout back.
The guitar’s present owner says that this L-5 was purchased brand new by his grandfather. The guitar was eventually passed on to his son who in turn passed it on to his son, who is currently 74 years old.
Despite its Loar signed label, this L-5 presents a combination of features more typical of an early post-Loar L-5. These include a fingerboard with dot inlays from the third fret and gold-plated hardware, including three-on-a-strip Waverly tuners that are mounted so that the cog is positioned below the worm gear. These are not features that we would expect to see on a Loar-era L-5.
All of the unmodified Loar-signed L-5s that we have encountered have silver-plated hardware, three-on-a-strip Waverly tuners mounted so that the cog is positioned above the worm gear, a fingerboard with dot inlays from the fifth fret and a ‘Master Model’ label rather than the ‘Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Co.’ white oval label we see on the guitar featured here.
Though most Loar-era L-5s have a birch back with maple sides, there are a few examples that have maple back and sides. Unfortunately, the all-black finish of the guitar featured here makes it difficult to say whether the back is birch or maple.
Most problematic however is the serial number that is hand written on the interior label as 77412. This appears in Gibson factory records as a very basic A model mandolin. We have never seen a verified example of a re-used Gibson serial number for any instrument from the pre-World War II period. Gibson authority Joe Spann – author of Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902-1941 – confirms this to be the case.
Images courtesy of Jim Colclasure