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.
Inside the treble f-hole of this L-50, you'll find Factory Order Number Z2878 29, which means it was made in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1952. Typical of the era, it has a beautiful darker sunburst that has nicely patina-ed with time. While has obviously been played over the years (just dig the wear around the pickguard "tan line"), it finds us in nice condition. It also plays nicely with low action, and it has powerful sound that remains smooth through the full range of sound. It cuts when you want it to, but there's a woody sweetness when you approach it softly.
Over the yeas, this L-50 has lost its original pickguard, but it still has its original Brazilian Rosewood bridge, original tailpiece, original nut, and original tuners. We believe the frets may also be original, but since there's a good bit of fret wire remaining, a refret is possible (especially considering some of the wear). At some point, the back edge along the neck heel/neck block was re-glued, but that's the only obvious repair. All in all, there's not much to say beyond the authentic play wear, and that only adds to the character and vibe of an old archtop.
This Gibson L-50 has is a 70-year old archtop with a ton of potential. We love the darker sunburst, and the Trapezoid inlays look just right. It includes a basic modern gig bag.