When it was first introduced in 1947, the LG-1 was Gibson's least expensive flat-top. By adding a third member to the LG family—a line launched in 1942 and designed with war-era shortages and economics in mind—Gibson sought to capture the burgeoning lower-end market in the post-war era. According to the 1950 catalog, the LG-1 was "ideal for students or the guitarists desiring a low priced model."
Conceived as a budget option to the LG-2, the LG-1 had a darker sunburst, which covered imperfections better than the lighter sunburst of the LG-2. Because of that, wood selection didn't have to be as rigorous on the LG-1. While that external difference may seem somewhat negligible, the internal difference in construction had a tremendous impact on sound. The more expensive LG-2 was X-Braced, while the LG-1 has straight-across ladder bracing. On a small body, ladder bracing produces a similar warm sound but with more bark and more bite—an excellent fit for blues and folk music that is a rougher around the edges. Although Gibson's intention may have been to produce a more affordable guitar, the LG-1 offers its own unique tone and inspiration.
This 1959 Gibson LG-1 (FON S2419 19) is a nicely-preserved example of the later-'50s "large pickguard" iteration of the model. While a lot of ladder-braced guitars endure structural issues from decades of string tension, this one has held up nicely and hasn't suffered from excessive top distortion and related problems. As is typical, its pickguard has shrunk over time, and that caused a crack in between the soundhole and the bridge. The crack has been repaired properly.
At some point along the way, its neck was reset, and it was refretted with medium-jumbo frets. The saddle was likely replaced at that time as well. As a result, the action is nice and playable, and notes up and down the fingerboard ring out clear and true. The new saddle has plenty of height, which allows for a strong breakover angle that helps drive the top. While there is evidence of different tuning machines on the peghead, it is currently set up with period-correct three-on-plate Kluson tuners. There is some overspray on the back of the neck, but the finish around the body appears to be all original. The finish-checking and patina on the finish is beautiful, providing authentic mojo and inspiration.
This '59 LG-1 has a warm, punchy tone with pronounced mid-range. It's a great blues guitar that growls when you push it. Hard not to appreciate the mojo and unique vibe of a well-loved vintage guitar. It includes a period chipboard case.