The Gibson L-1 has been held up as the quintessential blues guitar, not necessarily because it is the best sounding guitar for that style of music. But a certain blues player by the name of Robert Johnson, in one of the only known photographs of the legend, is pictured holding one. It's probably one of several guitars Mr. Johnson played in his short life, but the association with the L-1 is indelible. In fact, we have it on good authority that Eric Clapton himself bought a similar vintage model to the one listed here, which adds further weight to this guitar's stature.

The L-1 was once an archtop guitar and Gibson, seeing the rising popularity of flattops in the 20's started converting a select few guitars to meet that demand. The wonderful thing about Gibson acoustics from this period is how lightly they were built. It's a blessing and a curse since that also means very few survived in playable condition and of those that did, there are even fewer that haven't been hacked up by insensitive repair techs. We have one of the lucky ones. It came from the original owner who apparently bought it with the dream of learning Hawaiian style lap guitar as evidenced by the steel and nut extender  in the original chipboard case. They gave it a good try as the slight top wear around the sound hole shows, and then they moved on in life and cased it up for the next eight decades.

When we got the guitar, it needed no more than a bridge repair and a neck reset. The insides are immaculate and feature Gibson's A-brace pattern which gives this particular example a very warm, intimate tone. With the right touch (and perhaps a a couple of decades worth of misery and hardship!), it may release some of those haunting notes once captured on acetate in a San Antonio hotel room one November afternoon in 1936.


  • •13 5/8" lower bout
  • 24 1/4" scale length
  • 1 3/4" nut
  • 2 5/16" bridge spacing
  • Red Spruce top
  • Mahogany Back and sides

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