Introduced in 1926, the L-1 was one of the first flattop Gibson guitars to leave Kalamazoo. By 1928, its design began to change rapidly from year to year, and in many ways, the lessons learned from the L-1 paved the way for small-body Gibson guitars. Of all the major manufacturers of what are now considered "vintage" guitars, no one was as inventive, creative, dynamic, and open to experimentation as Gibson.
By 1932, the L-1 had evolved dramatically. Early in the year, it still had a 12-fret neck, and the body was 14-3/4" across with a squarish-lower bout, more like the L-00. This particular iteration of the L-1 is known for it's exceptional responsiveness, which is the result of light construction. Thin woods, slim braces, and thin finishes combine to make a guitar that feels alive in your hands.
Because of the feather-weight construction, many of these have required to repair to maintain proper playing condition. This 1932 Gibson L-1 is an excellent-sounding example with an approachable setup and smooth playability. It weighs 3 lbs 2.3 oz. Great care has been put into this old box to maximize its potential, and because of that, it finds us structurally stable with a sweet, nuanced sound.
Over the years, the pull of heavy strings has been tough on the top, and because of that the braces show signs of re-glue in various places (right at the x-brace, the second tone-bar, etc.). Also- the bridge plate has been replaced with a new Maple plate. The bridge has been reglued and was likely reshaped to better fit the top (the back edges look almost rounded off), and the neck has been reset. The top finish appears glossier than the back and sides, so it is likely oversprayed despite the authentic brown/amber sunburst finish.
On the functional side, this L-1 is setup with modern Waverly tuners, a new nut, fresh refret, and a new compensated saddle. Typical of 1932, its neck profile is rounded and closer to a modern profile than the baseball-bat V necks of later in the '30s. Because of that, it plays and feels like a dream.
As for cracks, there appears to be a repaired surface crack on the back of the neck from the truss rod being over-tightened (directly behind the nut/truss rod adjustment). There is also a repaired and cleated crack on the bass side of the back.
This 1932 Gibson L-1 is a deeply expressive and responsive flattop guitar. Relative to an L-00, its tone is more balanced with greater bass content. When you consider the authentic wear and vibe, it's an inspiring instrument, sure to pull new songs and ideas right out of you. It includes a modern L-00 case that has accumulated a few stickers over the years.