Serial number: 91522
Year shipped: 1935
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 and ebony bridge
Notes: According to Hank Risan, who owned this guitar, there is reason to believe that it once belonged to Les Paul.
This is one of 110 16-inch L-5s shipped in 1935
Images courtesy of Arlan Ettinger of Guernsey Auctions and photographer Paul Schraub
Guitarmaker and Restorer Cris Mirabella describes the restoration of a 1935 L-5, Serial Number 91522.
Near the entrance of the Mirabella work shop there is a large rack that holds twelve guitars. It is regularly filled with D’Angelicos and D’Aquistos that are in for restoration from all over the world.
Often however, there are a few notable Gibsons as well, an L-5 or Super 400 that will interrupt the consecutive line of DA headstocks. And these are not just the average L-5 or Super 400, but Premier models, Crest and Gobles, the Prewars and Loars…
“The 1935 L-5 pictured here was recently auctioned and was in need of a bit of help,” says Cris. “The guitar was sent straight to me from the auction house as the new owner wanted to receive it fully restored and in good playing condition. After accessing the work that would be need to be done, the restoration was underway.
“The guitar had been fitted with large tuners and extra holes marked the backplate of the headstock. Small grafts were made to restore the faceplate from the crushing effects of the larger tuners and the backplate was treated to a similar process in order to hide the extra holes that had been drilled. Care was taken to retain the original finish and blending was done only where needed.
“Next we tackled the fingerboard, which was horribly twisted. Once this had been corrected and the board refretted, the guitar played perfectly.
“Its voice was beautiful, but even more power and response was gained when the bridge was properly refitted to the top.
“A notched strap button on the heel was the next to be addressed. Again, great care was taken to avoid damaging the original finish. A patch of period woods made then blended so that is was all but invisible.
“Once the pickguard was refitted and a new nut made, the guitar was given a final set up. Now this wonderful piece of history was ready to be played and enjoyed once again!”
Pictures and text supplied by Cris Mirabella