Serial number: 97670 Roy Smeck

Year shipped: 1943 


Headstock: Diagonal ‘Gibson’ script logo with no dot on the ‘i’ and ornate pearl inlay in place of the ‘flowerpot’

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

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. The tailpiece is engraved with Roy Smeck’s name.

Notes: Has been refretted. Non original tuners. The pickguard has been cut to accommodate a pickup

“Over the years I have seen at least half a dozen L-5s with this inlay pattern on the peghead (see right) and they all appear to date from about the same time,” comments vintage guitar expert George Gruhn (

“It is the exact same pattern used in 1924 on the Gibson TB-5 trapdoor banjo (see image below). The guitar featured here was made at a time when Gibson was experiencing wartime shortages and was using leftover inlays and other components on its instruments,” says Gruhn.

The ‘Roy Smeck’ engraving on the tailpiece (right) very likely indicates that this instrument was built for him.

See Serial Number 89849, which has the same diagonal ‘Gibson’ script logo and headstock inlay as the instrument featured here.

Images below courtesy of John Stewart

Images below courtesy of Kennard Machol

Gibson TB-5 trapdoor banjo