A round up of some of the interesting and collectible catalogues and brochures issued by Gibson around the time that the L-5 was being sold in the shops and advertised in music magazine
1924 Gibson Catalog O
From the 1925 Crescendo Magazine, featuring Nick Lucas, “The crooning troubadour.” Although Nick is shown holding an L-4, the advertisement promotes the new L-5, shown below.
Gibson brochure from the 1920s showing an L-5 with an unusual shaped headstock. Image courtesy of Fox Guitars
An advertisement from a 1927 edition of Popular Mechanics Magazine. Image courtesy of Fox Guitars
A 1929 advertisement from Music Trades Magazine Image courtesy of Fox Guitars
A Durium Picture Disc from 1934 shows “The Crooning Troubadour” Nick Lucas with his 16-Inch L-5. The track was “All Of Me”. Image courtesy of Michael Simmons.
From Metronome Magazine, an advertisement from 1935 showing the New Advanced L-5. Image courtesy of Fox Guitars
An advertisement from a 1933 copy of Metronome Magazine showing a Type Three 16-Inch L-5 endorsed by guitarist Carl Kress who is pictured holding a 1933 Gibson L-5 ‘Special,’ that he designed. Image courtesy of Fox Guitars
Left – First In Radio! First In Dance! First In Recording! Dan Perri with a Type 3 16-Inch L-5. Right – Arnold McGarvey with an Advanced L-5. Both are advertisements from a 1937 edition of Downbeat Magazine. Images courtesy of Fox Guitars
Jack Blanchette likes the new L-5! The ad talks about Glen Grey and Jack Blanchette of the famous Casa Loma Orchestra. From a 1937 Gibson advertisement. Image courtesy of Fox Guitars
From a 1937 copy of Metronome. Image courtesy of Fox Guitars
Both images above from 1939 copies of Downbeat Magazine. Images courtesy of Fox Guitars
Left – new for 1940, Gibson’s Premiere “Cut-Away” Super 400 and L-5 models from the 1939 AA Catalogue “Premiere “Cut-Away” Model Illustrated at left Super “400” and L-5 Quickly and easily – without the slightest extra effort – you can reach all 20 frets in this new body design. It gives you more notes, more chords, greater variety, and much greater playing comfort – Premiere models made in either regular or natural finish. Prices: Super “400” Premiere Model (including case and zipper cover) $425.00 L-5 P Premiere Model $290.00 Case $28″ Collection of Paul Alcantara
Right: from the same Gibson catalogue and with hyperbole typical of the company’s marketing material… “Right from the start – the L-5 became a most popular orchestra guitar. It has everything that is needed for a brilliant outstanding performance in the modern manner. Its tone is full and melodious with a vitalizing verve that cuts through for pleasing rhythmic effects. Some of the newer features of this great favourite are: your choice of the regular dark finish or the new natural finish – both unbelievably beautiful; white ivroid binding around the sound holes; a new, heavy, non-vibrating tailpiece; new gold plated enclosed Kluson “Seal-Fast” individual machine heads; and the Vari-tone Control. Price $275.00″ Collection of Paul Alcantara
The front and back of a circa 1929 cigarette packet which Gibson used to advertise its Banjos, Mandolins, Guitars and Ukuleles. It shows Al McBurney, who later took the name Alvino Rey, who was a guitarist and banjoist with one of the most popular orchestras of the time. The cigarette pack is from a 1929 convention and has been established as the earliest known commercial Gibson advertising item that is not from, but sponsored by, Gibson. Pictures courtesy of Lynn Wheelwright.
Cowboy songs as sung by Charles Marshall the ‘Singing Cowboy’ in Death Valley days. Published in 1934 by the Pacific Coast Borax Co., this song collection includes such gems as ‘Whoopie Ti Yi Yo, Git Along Little Dogies’, ‘The Tenderfoot’ and ‘ Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie’. Image courtesy of Michael Simmons of Fretboard Journal
British guitarist Bill Tringham appears on a cover of Francis & Day’s Guitar Tutor. He is holding a 1930s 16-Inch L-5. With thanks to Gary Deacon
The Mastertone Guitar Method by Nick Lucas, Carson Robison, Andy Sanella and Eddie Lang. Image courtesy of Michael Horowitz
Loar’s Modern Method For Ukulele, Ukulele-Banjo And Tenor Banjo published by Nicomede Music co. Altoona, PA. printed in U.S.A. 1925 See notes on Lloyd Loar
The Banjo-Saxo Folio for two saxophones and tenor banjo Published by Nicomede Music, Altoona, Pennsylvania USA Rock You Sinners
The 1957 film,
Rock You Sinners, which takes a look at Britain’s nascent Rock and Roll scene, includes a number of musical performances in which the guitarists take turns in playing the mid-1930s Type Three L-5 pictured below. The guitar has been fitted with a pickup (Hofner?).
Directed by Denis Kavanagh, the film follows the story of a disc jockey and his friend, a writer, who want to put a rock show on the television.
Two very nice dot neck 16 inch L-5s pictured either side of a D’Aquisto New Yorker from the collection of Laurence Wexer
Guitar Player L-5
Written by the late Tom Wheeler (author of ‘American Guitars’), this feature appeared in Guitar Player magazine several decades ago. Some of the information presented is incorrect (the earliest L-5s on record were shipped in 1923, not 1922) but that is forgivable given the publication date.