Introduced in 1932, the Gibson L-50 is a straight-forward, no-frills archtop guitar that embodies the sound and vibe of Depression-Era instruments. In the early years, its specs changed quite a bit, mainly so the guitar would continue to fit an affordable price point. Ultimately, it became more similar to traditional archtops, but for a few years, the L-50 filled an intriguing void in the Gibson line—an archtop with some flattop elements: a Dust-Bowl blues box through and through.
The 1934-35 L-50 spec is particularly interesting because it shares the same body shape as the iconic '30s L-00, but of course it has an arched Spruce top. Its back and sides are also Maple like an archtop, but the back is flat and braced like a flattop. All of this makes for an archtop that sounds quite different from a traditional archtop. But in 1936, Gibson decided it should have a bigger 16" body, and the L-50 was never the same! 1934-35 L-50s are rare, and they're not quite like other Gibson archtops.
This 1934 Gibson L-50 has been somewhat rebuilt over the years, but it is a fantastic player with rich, authentic '30s tone. It's bluesy and dry, but not without articulation and balance. It's responsive, too, and it barks like a small-body guitar. The original sunburst is gorgeous, and the Brazilian Rosewood fingerboard feels just right with a strong (but not massive) V neck profile. It's hard not to love the "Gibson" stenciling on the peghead. In so many ways, this L-50 captures the vibe and mojo of the Depression Era.
As for repairs, there are five repaired top cracks, as well as five repaired cracks on the back. The treble side has a long repaired crack on the bass side, and it looks like it separated from the back for much of the lower bout (possibly related). Apart from the cracks, the neck has been reset, and the fingerboard has been refretted as well. The bridge is an old replacement that looks to be Brazilian Rosewood. The original tuners have new buttons, and they function well and hold tuning nicely. The nut, tailpiece, and pickguard all appear to be original, too.
Thanks to the repair work, this 1934 L-50 plays nicely with smooth, low action. There is plenty of break angle on the bridge, so the top is well-voiced. Notes ring out clearly all the way up the fingerboard. A previous owner added a K&K Pure archtop pickup, and it sounds natural and full when plugged in. It includes a Roadrunner gig bag.
This 1934 Gibson L-50 has seen some miles, but it has plenty of songs and stories left in the tank. This prewar Gibson is a great player that would be a very cool stage guitar, but it'll provide plenty of inspiration in the studio or in your living room.