1930's Gibson Archtop acoustic

Where to start with this one is a difficult question? Steve, a drinking buddy of mine announced one day that he had an old jazz guitar that was in one hell of a state and had a Gibson logo on the headstock, I have to say that initially I was quite skeptical, especially as he had got it in payment for a job he had done many moons ago. Time went by and out of the blue he appeared in the pub with this guitar, well all I can say is he was dead right it was in one hell of a state and to be honest it looked as though it had been used as a canoe paddle or a snow shovel, the back was partly separated, the sides were buckled and the finish was falling off and to cap it all I couldn't be positive that it was actually a Gibson. Anyhow I agreed to take a look at it and see what I could find out.

Arty farty shot of the done deal!

Not looking too bad in this picture, but things get worse.

The headstock and Gibson logo.

Here's the back all split away, someone had tried to repair it with a "no more nails" type of glue, as can be seen the finish on the guitar is well gone.

I found this number stamped on the headstock.....

...And this label inside, all I could make out was ".....SON" and some other illegible writing, so at this point I knew I was dealing with the genuine article, also some help from members of a Guitar repairers forum came to the conclusion that it was definitely a Gibson by the construction, also it has a back and top that are carved from solid wood, there's no plywood anywhere on the guitar. The general con census of opinion is that it is some cheaper version of an L5 model, probably produced for export.

I built a mould/template to pull the guitar sides to the correct shape and glued-in new kerfling.

I also used an inside template


Here's the guitar ready for paint, I have to say that I don't take lightly to stripping the finish off any vintage guitar but in this case there really wasn't any other choice as in most places it was falling off, I have no idea what the finish was, I'm guessing some sort of shellac, in some places it was sticky and messy and in others brittle.

Here's the finished job...

I finished it in the original colours using cellulose, I made a choice to not over restore it, much of the wood was quite badly stained, so I left some of the "battle scars", reused as much of the original parts as I could such as the binding which was far from perfect (apologies for the modern bridge but on completing the guitar I couldn't find the original..I know it's safe somewhere so I'll return that to the owner when it surfaces!) but all considered I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. A GREAT feature of this guitar is how well it plays and the feel of the neck, one really sweet guitar.