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LJS 05-13-2020 08:52 AM

1946 Gibson L48
Hi Folks,

I own a 1946 Gibson L48. The gentleman I bought it from said that the top was spruce. I think that most L48s were laminated mahogany all around, and only the first batch (1946) had some spruce tops. Could this spruce top be carved? Additionally, the guitar has no serial number, and from what I could research, this is true up until the fifties for these. Is that correct?



Steve DeRosa 05-13-2020 09:35 AM

The L-48 was usually made from a combination of laminated mahogany top/rims and maple back - which, interestingly enough, resulted in a reasonably good-sounding guitar for the money (FWIW upright bass players had discovered the tonal/structural merits of laminated instruments a couple decades earlier); the use of spruce in the earliest models may in fact have resulted from Gibson's attempt to clear out existing prewar/wartime L-50 bodies - FWIW there are also supposedly some extremely rare, solid-top postwar ES-125 electrics out there (which Loar copied with their LH-309/319) - in which case the tops would indeed have been carved...

An alternative scenario is that the laminated mahogany top would serve to visually distinguish the L-48 from the L-50 (LP-style trapezoid markers would not be adopted on the latter for a few years), and/or that the laminated spruce top did not provide the tone/volume Gibson was seeking. Inasmuch as the competitor Guild A-50 would be introduced with a laminated maple top (a number of contemporary low-end archtops also used laminated hardwood tops - often birch - and the laminated spruce-top, entry-level Gretsch New Yorker was generally regarded as acoustically inferior), there's a certain logic to the argument - unfortunately, at this point in time the only evidence for either position is anecdotal and apocryphal at best...

LJS 05-14-2020 11:55 AM

Thanks for your insight, Steve. Lou

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