In the '30s, Maybelle Carter revolutionized American guitar playing with her 1928 Gibson L-5. Her famous archtop was 16" across on the lower about, and even though the L-5 became a wider 17" by 1934, fortunately Gibson carried on the tradition of the 16" archtop with other models such as the L-50.
There is a particular tone to a 16" archtop that you won't get from other guitars. It has a round, direct sound that isn't exactly a jazz guitar (even though the f-holes might fool you). A good 16" is a natural fit for old-time, blues, or folk music where an expressive guitar with a wide dynamic range is needed.
This L-50 was made in the late-'40s—probably 1947 or early 1948, some time around the transition from the prewar script logo to the modernized gold "Gibson" logo of the postwar era. Interestingly, you can see the old script logo underneath the modernized logo. That probably means the neck was built prior to the change but then updated with the newer logo before the guitar shipped. It's an extremely cool detail that you can only see when the peghead catches the right light.
Over the years, this Gibson L-50 has been nicely preserved, and it finds us in very clean cosmetic condition. The finish shows the expected finish checking of treasured vintage guitar, and there are some minor bumps and bruises here and there (see photos). There also may be some light overspray on the back of the neck. But it still sports all of its original parts and components, and it has no history of damages or issues.
As for playability and sound, this L-50 is an excellent example. Its tone is round and woody—a true testament to the 16" archtop reputation. There is still some evidence of fret nibs on the binding, but it's hard to imagine that the frets could be original. More than likely, they've been replaced. Regardless, there is plenty of life left, and every note rings clear and true up and down the fingerboard.
This late-'40s L-50 is a nicely-preserved 16" archtop with a ton of vibe. The original tuners tune well and hold tune, but five out of six of the buttons have been replaced. The guitar includes a period chipboard case that may be original.