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NMM 13567.  Guitar by Gibson, Inc., Kalamazoo, Michigan, ca. 1935-1937.
Style L-30, black finish (14-13/16"). Factory order number 3240-117.
Tony & Bonnie Vinatieri Acquisitions Fund, 2008.

Portrait view

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.

Front, Back, and Side Views

Front view Bass side view Treble side view Back view

Click on any image on this page to see a larger image

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

Gibson signature on peghead

Views of Body

Front of guitar Bass side of guitar Treble side of guitar Back of guitar

Lower end of guitar

Front, Sides, and Back Views of Peghead

Front of peghead Bass side of peghead Treble side of peghead Back of peghead

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.

Views of Fretboard and Neck

Fretboard Bass side of neck Back of neck Treble side of neck

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.

Neck Heel

Neck heel

Heel cap: none.

Internal Structure

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.


Measurements:  Total guitar length:  1005 mm (39-9/16")
Back length:  492 mm (19-3/8")
Upper bout width:  260 mm (10-1/4")
Waist width:  215 mm (8-15/32")
Lower bout width:  376 mm (14-3/16")
Rib height (including edging) at heel:  81 mm (3-5/32")
Rib height, at waist:  90 mm (3-17/32")
Rib height, at end block:  90 mm (3-17/32")
Head length:  171 mm (6-23/32")
Head width, top:  72 mm (2-27/32")
Head width, bottom:  59 mm (2-5/16")
Neck length (nut to ribs):  349 mm (13-3/4")
Neck width, nut:  44 mm (1-3/4")
Neck width, heel:  56 mm (2-3/16")
Soundhole diameter:  156 mm (6-1/8")
Vibrating string length (nut to bridge edge):  high E:  626 mm (25-5/8"); low E:  631 mm (24-27/32")

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.

Go to Annotated Checklist of Acoustic Guitars by Gibson

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Most recent update: March 24, 2014

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