1938

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

The first L-5s with a 17-inch wide ‘Advanced’ body were shipped in 1935 and the list below includes examples with both the new 17-inch body and the old-style 16-inch body

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

Although the Natural finish option wasn’t officially available until 1939, 21 L-5s were shipped with a Natural finish in 1937 and 1938 (this number includes one of the last 16-inch models, which was delivered with a Natural finish in May 1938).

Serial Number: 95120

Year shipped: 1938

FON:

Body: 17-inch ‘Advanced’ body

Notes: L-5 Ledger entry indicates ‘Long Scale’ and ‘N.Y. Band’ 

Source: Gibson Ledgers (Paul Fox)

Serial Number: 95122

Year shipped: 1938

FON: 672 C-2

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo. Has the initial ‘A R’ engraved on the truss rod cover

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides, Natural finish and large bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including hinged tailpiece with silver centre insert and three engraved diamonds that is engraved with Allan Reuss’ name and individual Grover Imperial tuners. Long bound pickguard

Notes: This L-5 belonged to guitarist Allan Reuss, whose initials appear on both the truss rod cover and endpin. Gibson ledger entry indicates ‘Long Scale’

Source: www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial number: 95133

Year shipped: 1938

FON

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo with no dot on the ‘i’

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret ebony fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and large bound f-holes. Parallel top bracing

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including flat tailpiece engraved with ‘L-5’ legend and individual open-back Grover 98G ‘Sta-tite’ tuners with butterbean keys. Rosewood bridge

Notes: Tight short hairline crack in back and missing pickguard

Source: Intermountain Guitar and Banjo

Serial Number: 95160

Year shipped: 1938

FON: 672 C-2

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and large bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including individual Kluson tuners with metal buttons, Varitone tailpiece. Long bound pickguard and rosewood bridge

Notes: Label dated ‘3-7-40’ – this appears to have been written through the f-hole and ,ay have been written by an early owner. Has original hardshell case

Source: National Music Museum

Serial Number: 95253

Year shipped: 1938

FON:

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret ebony fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides, Natural finish and large bound f-holes

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

Notes: The long bound pearloid pickguard has been cut and drilled to accommodate a pickup and volume control. Original owner Tony Giambroni purchased this guitar from the New York Band Instrument. Has original hardshell case

Source: Jeff Kelly

Serial Number: 95284

Year shipped: 1938

FON:

Source: www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial number:  95314

Year shipped: 1938

FON: 857D (hard to read) followed by ‘9’ in red pencil 

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: See Notes below

Neck/fingerboard: See Notes below

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and large bound f-holes. Parallel top bracing

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including Varitone tailpiece. Long bound pickguard and rosewood bridge

Notes: This guitar was re-necked at the Gibson factory at some point. The pickguard is missing

Source: Phil Sylvester

Serial number: 95311

Year shipped: 1938

FON:

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and large bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including hinged tailpiece with silver centre insert and three engraved diamonds and individual Grover Imperial tuners. Long bound pickguard and rosewood bridge

Source: The Vintage Guitar Gallery

Serial Number: 95342

Year shipped: 1938

FON:

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and small bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including hinged tailpiece with silver centre insert and three engraved diamonds and Grover Imperial tuners. Long bound pickguard and rosewood bridge

Source: Jean Louis Bouyssou

Serial Number: 95402

Year shipped: 1938

FON:

Source: www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial Number: 95423

Year shipped: 1938

FON:

Body: 17-inch ‘Advanced’ body

31/05/38 Shipped to Music Mart – not described as electric

23/03/39 Shipped to Les Paul – not described as electric

24/01/41 Shipped to New York salesman L. Neal – described as  ‘L-5 Electric Special’

‘L-5 Electric’ shipped 09/07/43 with EH-185 Amp serial number 14545

Notes: Initially shipped to Music Mart in May 1938, this guitar reappeared in the ledgers for the following March when it was sent to guitarist Les Paul. The instrument was shipped a third time in 1941 to L Neal. It was not listed as an electric guitar in the first two ledger entries and may have been converted from an acoustic L-5 at the request of Les Paul.

Serial Number: 95439

FON:

Year shipped: 1938

Source: www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial Number: 95454

Year shipped: 1938

FON: 832

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo (no dot over the letter ‘i’)

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and large bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including Varitone tailpiece and Kluson Sealfast tuners with Catalin buttons. Rosewood bridge

Notes: Replacement pickguard by Gruhn Guitars

Source: Gruhn Guitars

Serial Number: 95498

Year shipped: 1938

FON:

(See Type Two Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script 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. Long bound pickguard

Notes: Replacement tuners, repaired cracks and jack socket hole in top, back centre seam repair and complete refinish. Although eight 16-inch L-5s were shipped in 1938, the featured guitar’s dot inlays suggest that the fingerboard was replaced at some point

Source: Lowell Levinger and www.mandolinarchive.com

Serial Number: 95509

Year shipped: 1938

FON:

Body: 17-inch body

Notes: L-5 electric’ delivered to Roy Smeck in September 1938, this guitar was subsequently shipped to Les Paul on 03/11/42

Source: May 2013 edition of Vintage Guitar Magazine

Serial Number: 95570

Year shipped: 1938

FON: U 98 D followed by 3 in red pencil

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret, 25 ½ inch scale length and 1 11/16-inch nut width

Body: 17-inch ‘Advanced’ body with X braced top and large bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts, Grover Imperial tuners, hinged tailpiece with silver centre insert and three engraved diamonds, the cross-bar of which is engraved with the name ‘Buddy Raye’. Bound pickguard and rosewood bridge. Small cracks on bass side waist and top, beneath the tailpiece

Notes: Has original ‘tweed’ linen covered Lifton case

Source: Fretted Americana

Serial Number: 95602

Year shipped: 1938

FON: 57 D

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel and long scale length

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and large unbound f-holes

Hardware: See Notes

Notes: The tuners, tailpiece, pickguard and trussrod cover are replacements. The fingerboard binding has been cut through when the guitar was refretted and some of the binding has come loose. There are several cracks and a number of holes have been drilled into the side of the fingerboard to accommodate a pickup. There is also a plugged hole in the lower bout where a jack socket was fitted. A strap button has been installed on the heel cap

Source: Richard Heeres

Serial number: 95666

Year shipped: 1938

FON: D-1 (hard to read: the D is ink stamped and the 1 is handwritten)

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo. Has the name ‘S.C. Ronsley’ engraved on the truss rod cover

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and large bound f-holes. Parallel braced top

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including Grover Imperial tuners. Rosewood bridge

Notes: The nut and frets have been replaced, loose binding on the body reattached, the fingerboard re-bound and a separated centre seam repaired. A strap button has been installed on the heel cap. Has a reproduction tailpiece and reproduction pickguard by Paul Fox (fox-guitars.com)

Source: Mark Anagnostopulos

Serial Number: 95674

Year shipped: 1938

FON: none

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel and long 26-inch scale length (see Notes)

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides, Natural finish and large bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including hinged tailpiece with silver centre insert and three engraved diamonds and individual Grover Imperial tuners. Long bound pickguard

Notes: According to its current owner, this L-5 serial number 95674 has an unusual 26-inch scale length

Source: Toby Grosz

Serial Number: 95720

Year Shipped: 1938

FON:

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and large bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including Kluson Sealfast tuners with Catalin buttons and Varitone tailpiece. Pickguard shows some signs of deterioration

Notes: Replaced nut and strap button added on heel

Source: Christian Leger

Serial Number: 95721

Year Shipped: 1938

FON: Not visible

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides and large bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including hinged tailpiece with silver centre insert and three engraved diamonds and Grover Imperial tuners. Rosewood bridge

Notes: Reproduction pickguard, overspray on top and back (possibly Gibson factory work), repaired side crack near end block

Source: Gruhn Guitar (guitars.com)

Serial Number: 95735

Year shipped: 1938

FON: n/a

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo with no dot on the ‘i’. The name ‘Frank Remley’ is engraved on the truss rod cover

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. Wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides, Natural finish and large bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including hinged tailpiece with silver centre insert and three engraved diamonds and Kluson Sealfast tuners with Catalin buttons.

Notes: This L-5 belonged to entertainer Frankie Remley and was originally a left-handed model. The long bound pickguard has been repaired  and since this guitar was built as a left handed model, the pickguard bridge saddle and nut are probably replacements. Has been refretted

Source: John Stewart

Serial Number: 95739

Year shipped: 1938

FON:

(See 17-inch Advanced Gallery)

Headstock: Horizontal ‘Gibson’ script logo with no dot on the ’i’

Neck/fingerboard: 20 fret fingerboard with pointed end and narrow block inlays from the first fret. 25 3/8-inch scale length and wide neck heel

Body: 17-inch body with maple back and sides, Natural finish, parallel braced top and large bound f-holes

Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including hinged tailpiece with silver centre insert and three engraved diamonds and Grover Imperial tuners. Rosewood bridge and long bound pickguard

Notes: Refretted. Repro tailpiece bracket. Has original tweed covered Geib hardshell case

Source: John Stewart and Nino Fazio (www.realvintage.it)