1931

The shipping dates listed below relate to the instrument’s serial number and are based on information provided in Spann’s Guide To Gibson by Joseph E. Spann

Note that the serial number indicates the date at which the instrument was shipped rather than its date of manufacture

All examples have maple back and sides unless otherwise indicated

If an instrument appears in one of our picture galleries this is noted beneath the serial number

Serial Number: 86811

Year shipped: 1930

FON: 9771

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo, trussrod cover engraved with the name ‘Joseph Martori’

Neck/fingerboard: 19 fret fingerboard with square end, wide pearloid block inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides, repaired top crack

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece. Long bound pickguard

Notes: The tuners and bridge have been replaced

Source: Tim Fees

Serial Number: 86842

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9842

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Short bound pickguard

Source: Mandolin Brothers

Serial Number: 86843

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9842

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Short bound pickguard

Source: Laurence Wexer

Serial Number: 86873

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece. Long bound pickguard

Notes: This L-5 originally belonged to guitarist Les Paul

Source: Julien’s Auctions

Serial Number: 86885

(Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9879

See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including short wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Short bound pickguard and ebony bridge

Notes: This unusual L-5 has a 12-fret neck and was likely a special custom order item (label marked “SPC L-5)

Source: Arlan Ettinger of Guernsey Auctions

Serial Number: 86939

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9879

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal The Gibson logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret

Body:

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts, three-on-a-strip tuners with pearl buttons, wrap-over trapeze tailpiece and short pickguard

Source: Ultimate Vintage

Serial Number: 86940

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Script ‘Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: Replacement fingerboard

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece. Long bound pickguard and replacement tuners

Notes: An area on the back where the original stain was worn has been touched in

Source: Schoenberg Guitars (om28.com)

Serial Number: 86949

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 19 fret fingerboard with pointed end and wide block inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including regular tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Long bound pickguard

Notes: This L-5 belonged to guitarist Bob Bain whose name is engraved on a ‘Mono-Plak’ metal truss rod cover (this is not a Gibson part and was a present from Tiny Timbrell)

Source: scottymoore.net

Serial Number: 86950

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: Replacement fingerboard

Body: Maple back and sides. Refinished

Hardware: The tuners, the tailpiece and the bridge are not original

Notes: Though this L-5 now has a block inlaid fingerboard, its other features suggest that it left the Gibson factory with a dot inlaid fingerboard. We have listed it as a Type Two L-5 accordingly.

Source: Gruhn Guitars (guitars.com)

Serial Number: 86959

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: Unusual one-piece maple neck with 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Ebony bridge, reproduction pickguard

 Source: Tony Marcus

Serial Number: 86981

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9771

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo.

Neck/fingerboard: One-piece neck, 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Short bound pickguard

Source: Gryphon Stringed Instruments

Serial Number: 86987

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20-fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece. Short bound pickguard and replacement tuners

Notes:

Source: Schoenberg Guitars

Serial Number: 87060

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo. The back of the headstock is stamped ‘Made in the U.S.A.’, indicating that the guitar was originally sold for export outside of the United States 

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides. Has solid carved top braces

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners with engraved baseplate and pearl buttons, mounted so that the cog is positioned below the worm gear. Has its original short pickguard and ebony bridge

Notes: There are two repaired top cracks; one beneath the bass side of the tailpiece and the other at the waist on the bass side. There is some light over-spray, the fingerboard has been re-fretted and the upper section of the bridge has been replaced. Has original hard shell case

Source: Retrofret

Serial Number: 87064

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 

Neck/fingerboard: Dot inlaid fingerboard

Source: www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial Number: 87080

Year shipped: 1931

(See Type Two Gallery)

FON: 9879

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: The tuners, tailpiece and pickguard and not original to the guitar

Notes: The guitar’s owner tells us: “I replaced the non-original tuners and made a pickguard. The bridge saddle might be original, but the base probably is not. Unfortunately, the neck was over-sprayed at some point.”

This L-5 is listed on www.mandolinarchive.com with a block inlaid fingerboard, however since 87083 comes from the same batch (it has the same FON) and has an original dot-inlaid fingerboard, it seems likely that the Mandolin Archive listing is incorrect

Source: Dave Osborne

Serial Number: 87083

Year FON: 9879

Year shipped: 1931

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece. Non original tuners, replacement bridge made by John Monteleone and replacement pickguard made by Mirabella

Notes: This L-5 was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s ‘Guitar Heroes’ show in 2011

Source: Alan Haddad

Serial Number: 87092

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 8932

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo, metal ‘Mono-Plak’ truss rod cover engraved ‘Bob Gibbons’

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the fifth fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: The hardware (three-on-a-strip tuners and wrap over trapeze tailpiece) have been replaced with vintage parts while the pickguard is a repro by Cumberland Acoustics.

Notes: The body and neck have been refinished and the guitar has been refretted

Source: Ken Waltham

Serial Number: 87093

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and wide block inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Short bound pickguard

Notes: Tight finish crack on the bass side. Separation of the lower centre seam can be felt on the back of the guitar. Original hardshell case

Source: Heritage Auctions

Serial Number: 87095

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: Replacement fingerboard by Schoenberg Guitars (according to Schoenberg Guitars, the original fingerboard was in the same style). The truss-rod cover is engraved with the original owner’s name; ‘Izzy Brown’

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Short bound pickguard

Notes: The neck has been reset

Source: Schoenberg Guitars

Serial Number: 87155

Year shipped: 1931 

FON: 9952

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Ebony bridge

Notes: Replacement endpin, missing pickguard. A hairline crack at the neck heel and a few grain-line cracks at the soundholes have been resealed There is some light overspray and a strap pin has been removed from the back of the headstock and the hole filled. The trapeze tailpiece has a newly machined crossbar (the original is stored in the case). Has original hardshell case

Source: Dexter Johnson, Carmel Music Co. (carmelmusic.com) and Joe Vinikow (archtop.com)

Serial Number: 87167

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 

Source: www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial Number: 87215

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9952 

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides, solid carved braces

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrapover tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners

 Notes: There is a hairline crack under the tailpiece and the pickguard is missing.

Source: wexerguitars.com

Serial Number: 87216

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9958 (9952 see ‘notes’ below)

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20-fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Short bound  pickguard

Notes: Joe Spann tells us: “The FON indicates production in February of the year 1931, while the serial number indicates original shipping in March of the same year. I believe however that the FON is actually 9952.” The FON 9952 is quoted in the Mandolin Archive ( www.mandolinarchive.com)

Source: Schoenberg Guitars and The Mandolin Archive

Serial Number: 87230

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Regular tailpiece, three-on-a-strip tuners and short bound pickguard with holes drilled in it

Notes: The body has been refinished. This L-5 originally belonged to guitarist Les Paul

Source: Julien’s Auctions

Serial number: 87259

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9952

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo,

Neck/fingerboard: See ‘Notes’ below

Body: Maple back and sides. Solid top braces

Hardware: Gold-plated hardware including regular trapeze tailpiece. The tuners are modern replacements and the pickguard is missing

Notes: Has two labels (one over the other) both with the same serial number. The guitar has a factory refinish and has been fitted with a later ‘Advanced’ style, 20-fret fingerboard with a pointed end and narrow blocks inlays from the first fret.  Although we have included this guitar in the Type Two Gallery there is no way to know for sure whether it started life with block or dot inlays

Source: Tony Marcus

Serial Number: 87464

FON: 99xx

Year shipped: 1931

Source: www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial Number: 87479

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9965

(See Type Two Gallery *)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: Replacement fingerboard

Body: Maple back with maple sides. Solid top braces

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Short bound pickguard

Notes: Has original hardshell case. Though we have listed this guitar in our Type Two Gallery, there is no way of knowing for sure whether it left the factory with dot or block fingerboard markers

Source: Musurgia

Serial Number: 87506

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9966 (last digit appears to be 6 but may not be)

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo. Truss rod cover engraved with the initials ‘R R’

Neck/fingerboard: See Notes

Body: Maple back and sides. Solid top braces

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including regular tailpiece and individual Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. Long bound pickguard

Notes: Some repaired back cracks, with the varnish finish touched up by Frank Ford. This guitar has been fitted with a new 20 fret fingerboard with a pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret. The new fingerboard was installed by CA repair person Dimitri Tenev (it previously had a block inlaid fingerboard, which may not have been original)

Source: Tony Marcus

Serial Number: 87557

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: See Notes:

Body: Maple back and sides, solid tone bars

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and individual open-back Grover 98G ‘Sta-tite’ tuners with butterbean keys. Long bound pickguard

Notes: This guitar has been fitted with a replacement ebony fingerboard with a pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret. The work was done by Nashville luthier Hugh Hansen (it previously had a 19-fret rosewood fingerboard with square end and wide block inlays from the third fret)

Source: Kennard Machol and The Guitar Broker

Serial Number: 87558

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 

Source: www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial Number: 87562

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 

Notes: Neck replaced in 1932

Source: www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial Number: 87568

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo (positioned unusually close to the top of the headstock). A sticker from the Oahu Publishing Company is attached to the back of the headstock

Neck/fingerboard: 19 fret fingerboard with square end and wide pearloid block inlays from the third fret (see notes below)

Body: Maple back and sides. Solid carved top braces

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including regular tailpiece and individual open-back Grover 98G ‘Sta-tite’ tuners with butterbean keys. Original long bound pickguard and compensated ebony bridge with matching serial number appearing on its foot

Notes: When the instrument was re-fretted, the original inlays were stored in the case and replaced with a matching set fabricated from vintage correct aged amber pearloid. There is a short hairline crack near the bass f-hole. Has original hardshell case

Source: Archtop.com

Serial Number: 87707

Year shipped: 1931

FON: Illegible

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo, pearloid truss rod cover

Neck/fingerboard: 19 fret fingerboard with square end and wide block inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides. Solid top braces

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including regular tailpiece and individual open-back Grover 98G ‘Sta-tite’ tuners with butterbean keys

Notes. Has been refretted and fitted with a reproduction pickguard

Source: John Stewart (myjazzhome.com)

Serial Number: 87708

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Pearloid headstock facing with engraved horizontal Gibson logo and floral motif (no flowerpot). Pearloid truss rod cover

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret pearloid fingerboard with pointed end and offset dot position markers at frets 17 and 19

Body: Maple back and sides. There are a number of top cracks and two small screw holes at the end of the fingerboard

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners. The pickguard, associated mounting hardware and one tuner button are missing

Notes: Has original hardshell case. According to Joe Spann, this guitar was shipped in July of 1931

Source: Mass Street Music

Serial Number: 87723

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9965

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners

Notes: Missing pickguard, replacement bridge

Source:  John G. Stewart Fine Guitars (myjazzhome.com)

Serial Number: 87725

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9965

Neck/fingerboard: Block inlaid fingerboard

Source: www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial Number: 87726

Year shipped: 1931

FON: x965 (the first digit is indistinguishable)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo 

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret 

Body: Maple back and sides, solid carved braces 

Hardware: Gold-plated hardware including wrap over trapeze tailpiece, three-on-a-strip tuners with pearl buttons

Notes: Replaced pickguard and repaired separated back seam

Source: Killer Vintage

Serial Number: 87729

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20-fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret. There is a pearl block at the 15th fret, which is probably a later addition and it’s possible that the entire fingerboard may be a replacement

Body: Maple back and sides, solid top braces

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners

Notes: This guitar has been refinished and the pickguard has been replaced. Has original hardshell case

Source: Musurgia

Serial Number: 87887

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and dots from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and individual open-back Grover 98G ‘Sta-tite’ tuners with butterbean keys. Pearl nut, ebony bridge (the serial number is inscribed on the underside of the bridge foot) and short bound pickguard

Notes: A few grainline cracks near the soundholes have been repaired and some overspray applied to the top. White oval ‘Guaranteed’ label and original hardshell case

Source: Joe Vinikow, archtop.com

Serial Number: 87990

Year shipped: 1931 

FON: 8955

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 19 fret fingerboard with square end and wide block inlays from the first fret

Body: Maple back and sides. Solid tone bars

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including regular tailpiece. Long bound pickguard

Notes: Has been refretted and has non-original tuners Three small back cracks at the bass lower bout area have been repaired and the pickguard has a tight crack near the end of the neck. Has original case

See Notes on L-5 serial number 87506, which has a similar fingerboard with a block inlay at the first fret

Source: Mass Street Music

Serial Number: 87991

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9965 

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and block inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and Waverly three-on-a-strip tuners.

Notes: The pickguard has deteriorated

Source: Gothic City Guitars

Serial Number: 87992

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including regular tailpiece. Short bound pickguard

Notes: Non original Waverly tuners and replaced bridge. This L-5 appears to have been factory refinished Cherry red in the early 1960s

Source: Tony Marcus 

Serial Number: 87993

Year shipped: 1931

FON: Illegible

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and individual open-back Grover 98G ‘Sta-tite’ tuners with butterbean keys. Short bound pickguard

Source: John Stewart

Serial Number: 87997

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and dot inlays from the third fret. Pearl nut

Body: Maple back and sides, white oval ‘Guaranteed’ label

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece and individual open-back Grover 98G ‘Sta-tite’ tuners with butterbean keys. Short bound pickguard and ebony bridge

Notes: A few tight grainline cracks near the soundholes have been resealed and a bit of light overspray has been applied to the top only. Has original black hardshell case

Source: Joe Vinikow

Serial Number: 87998

Year shipped: 1931

FON: 9965

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end, dot inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides, varnish finish and solid carved top braces

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including wrap-over tailpiece with replacement crossbar. Ebony bridge

Notes: Replacement tuners and repro pickguard. The original mounting holes confirm that this guitar was factory fitted with a longer pickguard. There are no apparent cracks or repairs

Source: Archtop.com

Serial number: 88003

Year shipped: 1931

FON:

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 19 fret fingerboard with square end and wide block inlays from the third fret

Body: Maple back and sides

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including regular tailpiece and individual open-back Grover 98G ‘Sta-tite’ tuners with butterbean keys. Long bound pickguard

Notes: restored by Bryant Trenier

Source: Rudy Pensa (rudysmusic.com)

Serial number: 88219

Year shipped: 1931

FON: FON: 9991

(See Type Three Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘The Gibson’ logo

Neck/fingerboard: One-piece neck

Body: Maple back and sides. Solid top braces

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including regular tailpiece. Ebony bridge and long bound pickguard

Notes: Replacement dot inlaid fingerboard, non original tuners. Original finish with some overspray on the top. One possible top crack off of the bass f-hole. We have listed this L-5 as Type 3 but it is possible that the original fingerboard had dots

Source: Tony Marcus