Year shipped: 1938
FON: 46 D-1
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 ‘Advanced’ body with X braced top and small bound f-holes
Hardware: Gold-plated metal parts including Varitone tailpiece (which appears to have been re-plated) and Kluson Sealfast tuners with Catalin buttons. The pickguard appears original but has been repositioned to accomodate the DeArmond pickup. Controls for the pickup and mini-jack are mounted to the back edge of the pickguard, with small holes drilled for the mini-pots
Notes: Gibson’s records note that this guitar was first shipped out on Monday, October 10th 1938 to New York Band instrument, Gibson’s foremost Distributor in the NY City area. It was returned to Gibson the following year to be refinished from Sunburst to Natural and was shipped out to Frank Victor on September 13th 1939, notated as ‘L-5 Natural’ (this is documented in the company’s shipping records). The next year the guitar was again returned to Gibson for an unspecified repair, then shipped back to Frank Victor on November 5th 1940.
There is a long grain crack on the treble side of the back that runs the entire length of the instrument. This is solidly sealed but visible. There are also strap-button holes in different locations around the neck heel. The heel and back of the neck have an old clear lacquer overspray and the centre seam on the back of the neck shows some finish flaking but is not open. The guitar has been re-fretted at some point with wire that is larger than the original. It is currently fitted with a circa 1960 DeArmond Model 1000 Rhythm Chief pickup with the controls mounted to the pickguard. There are no additional holes in the instrument.
The guitar still has its original black hard shell case.
L-5 serial number 95567 appears to have belonged to Frank Victor, a noted player/arranger and an important if now largely forgotten swing-era guitarist. In the 1930s Victor played with, among others, Joe Venuti, Eddie Lang and Adrian Rollini but is most remembered for the various guitar pieces that he wrote and arranged, often in collaboration with Harry Volpe.
This guitar is one of 146 Sunburst finish Advanced L-5s shipped in 1938 (see above for details of the instrument’s Natural refinish).
Images courtesy of Retrofret