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Work in progress, Gibson L-50

Guitar Geezer

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SOme of you oldtimers have heard me speak of my San Antonio friend (and incredible restorer of dead guitars) Jaime. He sent an email last week, and an update today. Thought I'd share them with you, if you're interested.




Slow afternoon here with most of our otherwise dedicated workforce out of the office.


Anyway, check out archtop.com, a Seattle dealer in archtops. Lots of pics.


I stumbled upon this site while trying to locate photos for my next project...


The new project I'm working on is an old Gibson L-50 in terrible shape.

Structurally, it's solid. Cosmetically, it's pretty heartbreaking as it had been stripped of its original finish and then (ugh!) coated with a liberal coat of what looks like cheap varnish. On the plus side, everything appears sound. The neck is in good shape, and (almost) all of the pieces are there.

Some idiot (presumably the same one) also stripped the headstock facing down to bare wood, so there's no logo on it, just 3/32" of lumpy varnish.


I have no precise idea how old it is. The model itself was discontinued in 1971, and this one has the tapered-style headstock (it appears slightly tapered when viewed from the side), which probably places it at pre-1962, I'm not sure.


I mentioned that it was coated with varnish, and that coating extended to the fingerboard and frets (what were they thinking?). I've (so far) stripped the junk off of the fingerboard and will be replacing three frets. The fingerboard binding is deteriorated, and it'll need to be replaced also.


I really don't want to put a lot of work into the finish itself, other than perhaps wet-sanding out some rough spots and compounding it. I don't want to strip the finish off (as horrible as it is), it would be too much work and there's no way it will ever not appear to be refinished, as there are an average number of scratches and nicks on the top that are probably best left alone. I also don't want to take a chance on damaging the body binding or risking some wood delamination with chemical strippers. I compare it to fixing up a beat-up old truck, there's no sense in trying to fix it up beyond just making it useful.


The L-50 was one of the less pricey Gibson archtop acoustics, the second or third cheapest model depending on which catalog you happen to look at. It features a solid spruce top and the fingerboard features trapezoidal pearloid (plastic) inlays. It's not a particularly outstanding instrument, but it's worth trying to get it into playing condition.


That's about all that's new from here.


Todays update:
Lynn G
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Todays Update:

Not much new here.


Continuing to work on the L-50 I told you about last week.

I worked on the headstock (front & back)last Sunday. This old guitar was abused terribly, it's a testament to the folks in Kalamazoo all those years ago that it's still basically sound enough to bother with fixing up. The fingerboard will be a real challenge. I'm wet-sanding the top this weekend, probably. Boy, it was trashed. I'll take photos... I think it'll be a while before I try something like this again!


This Saturday in Austin, there'll be a rather elaborate send-off/memorial for the late Clifford Antone. A number of Austin's own (including Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton, among others) will perform. The venue is the Palmer Auditorium. I'm not sure, but I think it's basically a free event (no charge for parking, even) with donations being taken at the door to benefit Austin area charities. For me, one of the best things I think Antone ever did was record that "Last Real Texas Blues Band" CD by Doug Sahm.

BTW Jaime was the one who resurrected my late great 74 LP Deluxe



which was basically a pile of junk and pieces when he discovered it at a storage bldg sale.

Lynn G
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I'd love to see pics of the L-50. ;)


My favorite calls at Gibson Cust. Support were from people with old L-4's, -5's, -50's, L-00's and other pre-war Gibbie archtops and acoustics.


At the time you could buy a near mint L-00 for only $800. I can't imagine what 5 years and the Epi/Gibson reissues have done to the price of the originals.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman




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