Serial Number: 96143 Al Valenti

Year Shipped: 1940

FON: 1281F

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, large bound f-holes

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

Notes: This L-5 was owned by Al Valenti who was John D’Angelico’s first and longest standing endorsee. The guitar was bought by the current owner from Valenti’s family in 2017 and comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Valenti’s nephew.

This L -5 – along with several other guitars – was stolen from Valenti in 2001 and subsequently returned to him in 2005 (see the Tampa Bay news report below for details of their return)

The guitar has been re-fretted and a DeArmond Rhythm Chief 1100 has been added with a corresponding endpin jack. A strap button has also been installed at the neck heel. The pickguard and its bracket are reproductions. Comes with original hardshell case

Joe Spann comments: “Through colour enhancement I can read four digits of the serial number, which I believe to be 961_3.

“With that constraint, the shipping ledgers then allow only two possibilities for L-5 instruments, either 96113 – an L-5 Special shipped on 7 June 1940 to Mr. Fennoy Gordon or 96143 – an L-5 shipped on 18 June 1940 to George’s Music Store in Schenectady, New York.

“I read the FON as 1281F, a known group of L-5 instruments.”

It seems likely that the serial number is 96143, since the other guitar is listed as a special order to Mr. Fennoy Gordon. In addition, Al Valenti lived in New York, which corresponds with the  George’s Music Store in Schenectady, New York address.

Images above courtesy of That Rhythm Man Guitars

Al Valenti

The son of Italian immigrants, Al Valenti was born in New York in 1914. A friend of luthier John D’Angelico he got his first D’Angelico guitar at the age of 17 later becoming an endorsee of D’Angelico guitars. Valenti’s career as a musician began at the age of 19, when he appeared with a 14-piece band in the New Yorker Hotel on 8th Avenue in New York City. Widely regarded as a virtuoso musician, Valenti recorded with – amongst others – Bing Crosby, the Andrew Sisters, Connie Boswell, and Tony Martin.

Al Valenti with his D’Angelico Archtop