Gibson L-1

© Frank Ford, 2002; Photos by FF

In the "Sheraton brown" finish that came to be Gibson's standard color for the modestly priced guitars and mandolins of the very early 1920s, we have a fine example of the L-1. It's an obsoletely (that's not a word, is it?) small acoustic archtop guitar by today's standards, but a fine performer for old-time music. This Sheraton brown is plainly the same shade of stain used at the time by the furniture industry, where it was known as "American walnut." Later in 1922, Gibson introduced the same brown as the dark part of the sunburst on the F-5 mandolins and other instruments, this time calling it "Cremona brown." (Cremona, the stomping grounds of Stradivari and so many other great Italian violin makers, was known for a very reddish brown, of course.) That's marketing for you.

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