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JeffD
Aug-20-2009, 2:38pm
I recently came across a 1924 Gibson L-3 guitar in fantastic shape, needing only a pick guard, at a not unreasonable price. I did not get to see how it sounds, and my trying would not be fruitful anyway because I only know a few guitar chords, and only from the audience side, so I can cheat them off the guitar players at a jam.

The aspect that attracted me to this guitar was how beautiful it looked, and how well it would look next to my '23 A2. Similar "snakehead" pegheads, both oval hole instruments, both floating bridges etc.

Yea, I was thinking of getting it to have a guitar like that on hand when I jam with a guitar player.

But probably wishful thinking to expect too much of a correlaton between looking good together and sounding good together.

I guess I will have to go back with a guitar player and hear the thing. I really hadn't thought about trudging through a bunch of guitars to see what sounded best with a 1923 A2, but when I saw this one, I was blinded by the visuals.

MikeEdgerton
Aug-20-2009, 2:50pm
As much as I love snakeheads, and I do, I am a guitar player and these things just never did anything for me, but heck, if it's cheap enough go for it.

Rob Gerety
Aug-20-2009, 3:45pm
Be careful on the pricing. The Gibson Archtop prices are for the most part much lower than you might expect.

Steve L
Aug-20-2009, 4:56pm
That really is a great looking guitar. My experience also is that those arch top round hole guitars tend to disappoint in terms of sound. Honestly, you can get so much guitar now for such short money. I recently played a Blueridge 000 guitar with a solid top and laminate back and sides that looked, sounded and played great. It was about $400 brand new. The mojo on the Gibson is great, but that's what you'll probably end up paying for.

EdSherry
Aug-20-2009, 5:48pm
Unfortunately, there's a reason why very few players play those instruments these days. They certainly look lovely, but generally have necks like baseball bats and (at best) mediocre sound (IMHO) compared to more modern instruments.

allenhopkins
Aug-20-2009, 8:27pm
I'd evaluate it more as a collector's item than a musician's instrument. The combination of carved top, raised fingerboard, floating bridge and tailpiece that worked so well on '20's Gibson mandolins, didn't do the same for their guitars, unfortunately. It wasn't until the L-5, with F-holes and a big body, came out, that the arch-top guitar design "took off."

But I agree it's great visually, and would look wonderful in a duet with a '20's "snakehead" mandolin. If you can deal with a somewhat non-projecting "tubby" sound, and a big honkin' neck -- and it's not too expensive (Vintage Guitars (http://www.provide.net/~cfh/gibson2.html) rates it "D+" as a collectible, with prices from $1,700 to $2,700) -- hey, as an inveterate accumulator, I say, "Why not?"

barney 59
Aug-21-2009, 2:12am
I have always thought that they were a little "tubby" myself and then I listen to Eddie Lang and it's pretty clear I've got it wrong.

grassrootphilosopher
Aug-21-2009, 2:51am
Maybe I am alone with my opinion, but what does that matter. I think that for a certain musical style these guitars are nice. Of course, if you expect a powerhouse of a guitar then this one is not for you. But for sweet music you might get a nice guitar for less than f-holed archtop or even 00-, 000-, OM-, or even D-sized guitars.

Tim May plays an L-4 on this here video:

If the embedding doesnīt work, hereīs the link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNys8nsBxIc&feature=channel_page

I think that the guitar and the combo sound nice.

Ryk Loske
Aug-21-2009, 5:07am
Vintage archtops are my first love.

I don't know how much experience other posters have had with these .... but my experience is that they can be quite nice. Archtop round holes are a cross between the f-hole instruments .... built for projection ... and a flat top ... built more for the player.

As with all instruments ... especially ones this old .... variability is all over the place. Have it played for you. Do YOU like the sound ... from out front ... and standing behind the player?

The neck may be like a baseball bat ... or it could just as well be a nice full C.

When i took my L-4 like this to Ashokan last year i had a hard time keeping it out of the hands of other players and instructors.

It could be nice at a reasonable price.

Ryk

Rob Gerety
Aug-21-2009, 6:42am
but my experience is that they can be quite nice. Archtop round holes are a cross between the f-hole instruments .... built for projection ... and a flat top ... built more for the player.

As with all instruments ... especially ones this old .... variability is all over the place.

It could be nice at a reasonable price.

Ryk

I agree with all of this. I wish I had one now. That price mentioned above sounds pretty high to me - but maybe.

grassrootphilosopher
Aug-21-2009, 6:45am
When I hear the "baseball bat" allusion I am thinking of pre-WWII dimensions of guitar necks in general. When you see mid 30ies Martin necks or look at Gibson necks (think of the wonderful and absolutely underrated WWII banner guitars), many people might think of "baseball bat necks. Why then is it that these guitars are favored by the player as well as the collector. Apart from early 40ies Martin necks that sometimes seem overly small I think that a hefty neck on a guitar guarantees some aditional sound. From a players perspective I donīt think that a full neck ever set me back on my playing proficiency.

Ryk Loske
Aug-21-2009, 7:10am
Hi Rob ....

I didn't see a price mentioned by the poster?

Olaf et al ....

Right on about "full" necks. Assuming one of your major jobs is to provide solid rhythm back up through a whole night of dances or jamming ... you need heavier strings with a slightly higher action ... that extra wood in the neck provides more support for the left hand ... unless of course you're interested in tendonitis ... or some other injury.

But i have played a Gibson flat top that did have a truly baseball bat neck that not even i could love.

Ryk

JeffD
Aug-21-2009, 8:22am
To my ears the guitar in the video sounded ok, nothing special, but it sure made the mandolin sound good.

The L-3 has a truss rod (if you can judge by the truss rod cover on the peg head). It comes with the original case, which I didn't see but is reported to be in presentable condition.



I think I am going to pass on this one. I will get a guitar buddy down there with me to play it once or twice, but I suspect I would be purchasing more mojo than music.

Tom Mylet
Aug-21-2009, 8:34am
I've owned a snakehead L-4, a 1933 L-4 (oval hole) and an L-Jr. I think the oval hole archtop guitars are among the most handsome instruments but of very limited use. I've never gotten much out of the those instruments myself but wound up selling/trading them to people that have thanked me for sending them their way.

Roy Harvey, Leonard Copeland and other guitar players from the Charlie Poole circle all played oval hole L-4s. I was fortunate enough to recently trade the snakehead to someone who plays the Roy Harvey stuff. It was a match made in heaven. I got a 47 (my birth year) J-45 that likewise suits me.

If the L-3 is priced right and you can afford it, I say build up a little trading stock. There's nothing better than a trade where both parties get what they want. The L-3 won't be quick to turn over but is a cool instrument.

Tom Mylet

delsbrother
Aug-21-2009, 4:56pm
Is an L3 the same size as an L4?

allenhopkins
Aug-21-2009, 6:07pm
Here's Vintage Guitars' info:

Gibson L-3 Acoustic Guitar ( 1902-1933 )

In 1902 to 1920 there were 4 gibson archtop acoustic guitars from the L series that were disbursed on the market; they were the gibson L1 , L-2 , L-3 , and L-4 .

These guitars can be easily mistaken for one another because they have the same old antique style shaped bodies and they were mostly 13.5 " wide accept for the L-4 ( 16 inches wide ) .

The L-2 was discontinued between 1908 to 1910 while the L-1 and the L-3 continued and were joined by the L-4 in 1912 .

The Gibson L-3 was an archtop guitar; it had a round bound soundhole ( some with oval soundholes in the late 20s) , 3 rings around the hole , raised tortoise pickguard , trapeze tailpiece , "the gibson" logo, mahogany back and sides ( some with maple back and sides in the late 20s) , 3 per side tuners with plastic buttons; [they] were made in sunburst , orange top and red mahogany finishes .

During the late 20s they had an oval shaped soundholes, and in the early 30s they raised the fingerboard . Were discontinued in 1933 , came in 3 body sizes 12.5 ,13.5, & 16 inches.

Charley wild
Aug-21-2009, 9:42pm
To my ears the guitar in the video sounded ok, nothing special, but it sure made the mandolin sound good.

The L-3 has a truss rod (if you can judge by the truss rod cover on the peg head). It comes with the original case, which I didn't see but is reported to be in presentable condition.



I think I am going to pass on this one. I will get a guitar buddy down there with me to play it once or twice, but I suspect I would be purchasing more mojo than music.

Hey Jeff,
You know me, mister non-mojo, non-cosmic, etc. BUT that is one great looking guitar. If I had the money I'd buy it just to look at it!:grin:

JeffD
Aug-22-2009, 4:39am
BUT that is one great looking guitar. :

Isn't it though.

From the posts here I am less than hopefull that it will sound as good as it looks.

Rob Gerety
Aug-22-2009, 7:09am
If you can deal with a somewhat non-projecting "tubby" sound, and a big honkin' neck -- and it's not too expensive (Vintage Guitars (http://www.provide.net/~cfh/gibson2.html) rates it "D+" as a collectible, with prices from $1,700 to $2,700) -- hey, as an inveterate accumulator, I say, "Why not?"

That was the price I meant to reference. I think you can do a lot better than that for a real nice Gibson archtop these days if you keep your ear to the rail.

As far as the tone etc. - if you have never played an archtop you might want to try a few before you plunk down the greenbacks. They do have a different sound. But they are terrific guitars for certain things. They are used a lot for acoustic blues because they tend to be on the fundamental side of the spectrum without a lot of sustain. Also, they are used a lot to back up fiddle players and in swing and jazz.

sunburst
Aug-22-2009, 7:24am
Disappointing sound? Baseball bat neck? You guys are missing the important stuff here! When that instrument was built, LLoyd Loar actually walked through the door of the plant where it was made! It has a snake head ...and a truss rod...a truss rod, I tell you!

Oh...it's guitar, not a mandolin...well, that's different...
;)

Rob Gerety
Aug-22-2009, 7:40am
Here is a fine example - although its tough to keep your ear and eyes off that fiddle player isn't it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU_-QAFZq4I&feature=related

Jake Wildwood
Aug-30-2009, 9:27pm
I love archtops...

But beware the tester's misfortune: some folks can't get used to the sound being tinny and thin from the player's point of view: just remember that the audience is hearing it much more full and rich.

A good way to hear one of these more truthfully is to go into a small room (yes, the bathroom) and play off some empty walls.

I entirely suspect that a lot of people are turned off by archtops of all sorts because they can't get used to that.

JeffD
Aug-30-2009, 9:35pm
Here is a fine example - although its tough to keep your ear and eyes off that fiddle player isn't it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU_-QAFZq4I&feature=related

Or here it is again with all the Quebe sisters. Nice sound.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yYr_U0Pcow

JeffD
Aug-30-2009, 9:36pm
Disappointing sound? Baseball bat neck? You guys are missing the important stuff here! When that instrument was built, LLoyd Loar actually walked through the door of the plant where it was made! It has a snake head ...and a truss rod...a truss rod, I tell you!

Oh...it's guitar, not a mandolin...well, that's different...
;)

The sales guy told me someone had asked him if it was a Loar era guitar!

:))

barney 59
Sep-02-2009, 1:45am
The sales guy told me someone had asked him if it was a Loar era guitar!

:))

Is that a question? Maybe it's not but if it is , 1924 is considered a Loar era instrument.

JeffD
Sep-03-2009, 11:13pm
Is that a question? Maybe it's not but if it is , 1924 is considered a Loar era instrument.

Here is a Loar era Chrysler :))

Well he could have come to work in one, and while overseeing the making of a mandolin he might out of the corner of his eye seen an L-3 guitar go by.

It could-a happened that way. :grin:

BradKlein
Sep-04-2009, 2:34am
There are some confusing bits to this thread in my mind. First of all, the L-3 is indeed a Loar era guitar, and I think it's safe to say that Lloyd Loar had a marked influence on the entire guitar line, not just the L-5. I think that most would agree that in the mandolin line, the Loar era instruments differ all the way down to the Jr. from the earlier and later examples of the same model.

Secondly, Gibson's round hole archtops are very fine instruments and if taken for what they are, shouldn't disappoint. Remember that the players of the day were willing to pay considerable sums, more than for many flat tops that today sell for MUCH higher prices. I think this has to do with tastes and changing styles of playing, of course. But the old archtops can be wonderfully sweet sounding, and can really pack a punch when played with some muscle. And can be just plain fun to pick.

I think that May sounds great in the clip above for example.

Rob Gerety
Sep-04-2009, 6:25am
Or here it is again with all the Quebe sisters. Nice sound.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yYr_U0Pcow

Of course - the video I posted above is the guitar player in the Quebe sisters band and one of the sisters. Same folks. I think you knew that. But man, that younger sister smokes, eh?

JeffD
Sep-04-2009, 1:34pm
There are some confusing bits to this thread in my mind. First of all, the L-3 is indeed a Loar era guitar, and I think it's safe to say that Lloyd Loar had a marked influence on the entire guitar line, not just the L-5. .

I had heard about Loar signed L-5 s , but I never thought he had much to do with other guitar models. Just like my 1923 A2 is considered Loar era, but my understanding is he had nothing to do with A2 s. :(


Things you learn on this site. :mandosmiley:

John G
Sep-04-2009, 3:55pm
The L-series are very nice guitars. Don't compare them to Gibson Jumbos or Martin Dreadnaughts. They were made for a different sound in a different era. Less bass, more even treble sound. The necks vary considerably - some fast,some clubby. I have an L-7 that is very nice. I've also played L-00s that are very nice,too.

John Rosett
Sep-04-2009, 4:24pm
Here is a fine example - although its tough to keep your ear and eyes off that fiddle player isn't it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU_-QAFZq4I&feature=related

That IS a great sounding guitar, but Joey McKenzie could make a cardboard box sound great.

Pete Martin
Sep-04-2009, 7:01pm
That IS a great sounding guitar, but Joey McKenzie could make a cardboard box sound great.

How true. Joey is the best fiddle tune backup guitar player I've ever heard.

Charlie Becker
Sep-06-2009, 12:13am
Jeff...
As beautiful as this guitar is...and it is...it must sound beautiful...wow...Charlie Becker




I recently came across a 1924 Gibson L-3 guitar in fantastic shape, needing only a pick guard, at a not unreasonable price. I did not get to see how it sounds, and my trying would not be fruitful anyway because I only know a few guitar chords, and only from the audience side, so I can cheat them off the guitar players at a jam.

The aspect that attracted me to this guitar was how beautiful it looked, and how well it would look next to my '23 A2. Similar "snakehead" pegheads, both oval hole instruments, both floating bridges etc.

Yea, I was thinking of getting it to have a guitar like that on hand when I jam with a guitar player.

But probably wishful thinking to expect too much of a correlaton between looking good together and sounding good together.

I guess I will have to go back with a guitar player and hear the thing. I really hadn't thought about trudging through a bunch of guitars to see what sounded best with a 1923 A2, but when I saw this one, I was blinded by the visuals.