Call Us


Welcome to our Community!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Today's Birthday


Who's Online (1)

  • rudolfo.christ 11:30PM

Gibson Pre-War L5 Dimensions

I was wondering if anyone knows the "height" of the sides of the pre-war L5 guitars? By height of the sides I mean the dimension measured from the outside of the back plate to the outside of the top plate measured at the edges of the guitar (i.e. not including the height of the arch of the top and back).

Specifically I'm referring to the 16" L5 as opposed to the 17" in case there is a difference in the side height.



  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    @Bones You mean the body depth? This 1934 L5 I that I just had here had a 3 1/4" body depth: http://www.djangobooks.com/Item/1934-gibson-l5

    BTW, these prewar L5s are outstanding! There's really no comparison to the later models Gibson produced which quickly became more geared towards being acoustic/electric and hence were more heavily built and less acoustically resonant. These pre-war L5s can hold their own with Selmers in terms of acoustic tone and projection.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited February 2018
    Yeah exactly, thanks Michael!

    Is that one X braces or parallel?
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    It had parallel braces which was part of Loar’s design. The X brace models came a little later.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Cool thanks! I'm going to build a 16" archtop loosely based on the early L5 with parallel bracing. I love that early archtop tone for rhythm playing. Classic. Plus I need to use up some wood!
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    @bones awesome, let us know how it turns out!
  • The 16 inch prewar Gibson L4's are said to be the same design as the 16 inch L5's. Has anyone had the chance to compare them side by side? Thanks
  • altonalton Keene, NH✭✭ 2000 Dell'Arte Long Scale Anouman, Gadjo Modele Francais, Gitane DG-330 John Jorgensen Tuxedo
    @MarkA might know a thing or two about these.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Thanks Michael, I'll let u know but it will be a while as I have a Selmac and an 18" archtop in the pipeline ahead of it. :-)
  • pickitjohnpickitjohn South Texas Corpus, San Antonio, AustinVirtuoso Patenotte 260
    edited February 2018

    That's Great Good Luck with your Build. Hope it's your Favorite Guitar.

    In case you missed this site you may like to check out The Pre-War Gibson L-5 Owners' Club...


    If I recall correctly Jonathan Stout one of my Favorite Archtop Players has a vast Knowledge of these guitars.

    A great summation of a Pre War L-5 can be seen here...

    NGD: 1939 Gibson L-5

    He also has a Blog page with tons of information.


    ( strings, Amplification, Video's and some great reads)

    Here's a link to a Guy who's Rhythm playing I Love...

    Marty Grosz-You're Driving Me Crazy

    playing starts at 2:11

    pick on

  • MarkAMarkA Vermont✭✭✭ Holo Epiphany, mystery
    That is a great piece by Jonathan Stout. The 16 inch f-hole archtops (L-4, L-7, and L-12) are all very similar to the L-5. There are some differences, all of which can add a little difference to the sound. Comparing the 16 inch f-hole L-4 (I have one from 1935) with the L-5, the main differences are cosmetics and woods. The L-4 has somewhat fancy varied inlays while the L-5 has block inlays, L-4 has nickel and L-5 gold plated parts. Body woods are the same spruce and maple. The differences were the neck (L-5 had maple, L-4 had mahogany) and fingerboard (L-5 had ebony, L-4 had rosewood). These could make some differences in general but each guitar of course had its own sound. Gibson also made some guitars that did not fully conform to the catalog specs, for example, my L-4 has an ebony fingerboard. The bracing may also contribute to sound differences. Early L-5s had solid braces, but after some years I believed they changed to kerfed braces on all of the 16 inch carved top models (like on my '35). Many find the solid braced guitars sound better, but there are some really great sounding ones with kerfed braces and lesser ones with solid ones. The L-5s are great, and the others also sound excellent as well, for much less money. I spent a week last fall playing a '29 L-5, I thought it was one of the best sounding archtops I ever played, I was sorry I didn't have the L-4 to be able to compare them side by side.
Sign In or Register to comment.
Kryptronic Internet Software Solutions