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Style L-30, black finish (14-13/16"). Factory order number 3240-117.
Tony & Bonnie Vinatieri Acquisitions Fund, 2008.
The L-30 was introduced in the fall of 1935, as an inexpensive, small-sized archtop, priced at only $30.00—less than a tenth of the cost of their top-of-the-line, Super 400. The U.S. economy was still struggling at the time, as unemployment had only eased slightly from record highs in 1933. Roughly one in five Americans were out of work. It was necessary for Gibson to supply a product to those customers with only modest means, in order to compete with the budget manufacturers, or risk losing those sales altogether. As stated in Gibsonís New Models flyer (October 1, 1935), "Gibson now makes it possible for every player to own a genuine carved top guitar—no longer is it necessary for those who want this type of guitar to buy anything but the genuine—the name Gibson is your guarantee of satisfaction and assurance of unequalled value." The L-30 did, indeed, have a carved top, but also a flat back, resulting in a tone that combined aspects of a small flattop and a true archtop. The shiny black finish and white binding produces an attractive, minimalist look, and reflects the tradition of the earliest Gibson instruments from the 1900s-1910s, which were often sold with a black finish. Perhaps conveniently, it also served to cover any cosmetic flaws in the wood that would preclude applying a sunburst finish.
Body: Stringing: six steel strings. Soundboard: arched, two-piece, quarter-cut spruce: medium grain. Back: flat, two-piece, slab-cut maple. Ribs: two-piece, slab-cut maple. Binding: white celluloid on top only. Bridge: two-piece ebony (compensated) with nickel-plated brass screws for height adjustment. Endpin: white celluloid. Soundholes: f-holes without binding. Pick guard: translucent, dark, red-brown, imitation-tortoise-shell celluloid, mounted on guitar with nickel-plated brass bracket and two nickel-plated steel screws. Tailpiece: nickel-plated brass, trapeze shape, secured to lower rib with three nickel-plated, steel-domed, philips-head screws. Lacquer: black.
Inscriptions: Silkscreened in white ink on peghead: Gibson
Rubber-stamped in purple ink on inside of back, below treble f-hole, the dash and last three digits written in red pencil: 3240-117
Stamped on treble tuner above top worm gear: TOP
Stamped on treble tuner, wrapping below second worm gear: GROVER
Stamped on bass tuner, wrapping around screw between first and second worm gears: PAT.
Stamped on bass tuner, wrapping around screw between second and third worm gears: KLUSON MFG. / IL. / CHICAGO
Head and Neck: black-lacquered mahogany; bell-shaped, black-celluloid truss-rod cover attached with two domed, slot-headed screws. Tuners: one original Grover, brass, six-gear, worm-gear machine head with white celluloid heads; one later, Kluson, nickel-plated steel, six-gear, worm-gear machine head with black celluloid heads.
Fingerboard: rosewood; 19 nickel-silver frets; mother-of-pearl dots behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 15th frets; two mother-of-pearl dots behind 12th fret; single, white celluloid side dots behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 15th frets; double, imitation white celluloid side dot behind 12th fret. Nut: bone.
Linings: kerfed maple. Neck block: mahogany. End block: mahogany. Top bracing: longitudinal spruce bars between f-holes; braces have periodic saw cuts and are veneered with spruce on lower side. Grafts: maple back graft. Other: linen glued to inside of top around f-holes; two linen strips glued on inside of each center-bout rib at major bend points.
Literature: Steve Beckermann, Rusty Freeman, Michael Keller, and Michael J. Olsen, Art of the Guitar: A Luthier's Renaissance, Catalog of Exhibition at the Plains Art Museum, Fargo, North Dakota, February 26-June 7, 2009 (Fargo: Plains Art Museum, 2009), pp. 4 and 15.