In the early days, it’s no secret that Gibson prioritized mandolins. The mandolin focus was reflected in the Kalamazoo-based company’s original name: Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co., Ltd. But by the '20s, Gibson guitars were taking shape. Ultimately, Gibson would help revolutionize the flattop guitar in the '30s, but until then, their guitar designs evolved from year to year.
Originally made around the turn of the century, Gibson reintroduced the carved-top L-2 in 1924, but then the model was quickly discontinued in 1926 before it was changed into a flattop in 1929. From 1924-1926, the L-2 measured 13-1/2"across, and it had a 24-3/8" scale and a round sound-hole. With its small size, shorter 13-fret neck, and strong V boat neck profile, the L-2 certainly shows Gibson's mandolin influence.
This 1925 Gibson L-2 has the "Snakehead" headstock shape used from '23-'25, and it looks like it has seen a lot in its 98 years (and counting!) But with a recent overhaul by Dave Farmer of Turtle Lake String Instruments, it is structurally stable and optimized for tone and playability. While in the shop, Dave reinforced the three top cracks (which had been hastily repaired in the past), and he fit a new ebony bridge from Cumberland Acoustics to the top. He also clean up the frets and serviced the tuning machines. The result is a great playing relic of the '20s with rich, haunting tone.
As for past repairs, this L-2 has clearly had issues with the neck set/neck angle. The neck block looks to have been re-glued, and at some point, someone reinforced the neck heel with a bolt that runs clear through the block (you can see it through the soundhole). The bass side is cracked, too, perhaps from past neck set issues. From there, it shows signs of overspray and minor binding repairs, and the nut is almost certainly not original.
This 1925 Gibson L-2 captures a vibe and mojo totally its own. It has a woody, old-time sound that would be perfect for the blues, folk, or any traditional music. In your hands, it feels ancient, and its authentic prewar vibe pulls sounds and inspiration right out of you. This guitar isn't like anything Gibson makes in 2023. It includes an old chipboard case that isn't a great fit, but the previous owner made it work with a trusty beach towel (included).