Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - 62

COLUMN The (Way) Back Beat

The lowerend archtops
in 1940
(above), and
the new
natural
archtops.

the War, but was discontinued in the '50s. The next model
down, the $150 Advanced L-10, faded even faster. Though a
good-looking guitar with split-diamond fingerboard inlay
and checkerboard top binding, it was the middle child
of the midline, rationalized out of existence prior to the
October '40 price list.
In contrast, the $125 L-7 proved a long-term success,
offering a full professional package at less than half the cost
of the L-5. The trim was less-elaborate and the woods a bit
cheaper (mahogany neck instead of maple, with a rosewood
fingerboard) but the L-7 was one of the best sound-for-dollar
options of the pre-war years. It was cosmetically overhauled in 1940,

VINTAGE GUITAR

losing the lovely, if quaint, "picture box"
fingerboard inlay in favor of the L-12's
modern split parallelograms. The L-7
was offered in natural finish starting
in October, 1940, for a $10 premium,
as was the venerable L-4. The 16" L-4
was actually downgraded a bit by this
point; the $100 guitar could then be
had for $82.50, $87.50 in blond. Below
this were the amateur models; the $50
L-50, which actually cost $60 by 1940,
and the smaller 143/4" archtop L-37 and
L-30 introduced a few years before. Prices
on them had been creeping up, as well. By
1940, the L-37 became the L-47, which now
came in blond but could still be had in the
old sunburst livery at $42.50.
In 1940, Gibson offered not only acoustic
and electric archtops, but an add-on pickup
device based on its 1940 unit. Earlier attempts to do so with the massive ES-150
"Charlie Christian" pickup had been
problematic. So, it fell to Harry DeArmond to perfect the idea, marketing the
great-sounding Guitar Mike detachable
pickup in 1940. Before that, DeArmond
was a Gibson endorser pictured in the
1937 catalog with an L-5-fitted with a
Kauffman Vibrola.
The roots of the future were there.
The combination of the cutaway
archtop guitar and electric
pickup would come to
define the post-war
jazz guitar style, leading to many more
developments - and
Gibson's designs
still largely dominated the market.
The cataclysmic effect
of World War II altered
all history, including
the story of the guitar. But, despite
changes, Gibson remained
in the forefront.

A late-'41 L-4N.

62

October 2017


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - 3
Vintage Guitar - October 2017 - open - 4
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