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It may appear old and tired but this Gibson is fighting fit and ready for action. HUW PRICE gets to grips with a late- 1940s workhorse that’s still punching its weight nearly 70 years after it came out of Kalamazoo…


In guitar terms, ‘pre-war’ is generally applied to instruments made before the Second World War, but the Gibson L-4 model was first introduced before the First World War. The example we’ve got here isn’t quite that old but it was certainly made before the rock ’n’ roll era. Based on the FON code under the treble side f-hole, the serial number on the white oval label under the bass side f-hole and the ‘kissing dot’ headstock logo, we would place this guitar’s date of manufacture around the latter half of 1948.

In a sense, this L-4 was something of an anachronism even when it was brand new, because Gibson began making electrics during the 1930s and jazz payers were moving in that direction by the late 1940s. Although Gibson phased out the L-4 in 1956, the basic style and shape of the late L-4 and L-4C (cutaway) models carried over to the P-90- equipped ES-175 – along with the trapezoid position markers and matching tailpiece.

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About Guitar Magazine

The December 2017 issue of The Guitar Magazine is on sale now! Inside, you’ll find a massive 24-page feature devoted to The Secrets Of Studio Guitar. Following exclusive insights into the golden era of session guitar from Wrecking Crew luminary Carol Kaye and Tommy Tedesco’s son Denny, we move into the modern age (albeit via a raft of vintage tube amps) with recording tips courtesy of Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb, first-call LA guitarist Josh Smith’s guide to the perfect session and a tale of how digital modelling can be the answer to your sonic prayers. Elsewhere in the mag, we pay tribute to Tom Petty, review a raft of hot new gear from the likes of Fender, Maybach, Satellite Amps, G&L and Keeley and show you how to build your own acoustic guitar in the latest instalment of DIY Workshop. For all that and a FREE 2018 calendar packed full of beautifully photographed vintage and star guitars, pick up your copy of the December issue of The Guitar Magazine now!