Guitar of the Month 2010
September - 1938 Gibson L-5
This guitar has an unusually rich and significant musical history. You heard it on Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Lovesick Blues,” and “Cold, Cold Heart.” It was used to record “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” one of Chet Atkins’ earliest recordings for Bullet Records. And it was featured all over Patsy Cline’s debut album, Patsy Cline. It even toured the Pacific with Frank Tennille—yes, that Tennille’s father—and Bob Crosby’s band during WWII. The battered and bruised guitar showcased here is a 1938 Gibson L-5 used extensively by Nashville session and radio guitarist Jack Shook. Shook’s L-5 has a carved spruce top complete with bound f-holes, carved figured-maple back and sides, a blonde finish, and multi-ply binding. The guitar features a figured maple neck—ebony necks were also available—that’s matched with a bound ebony fretboard. It has an adjustable ebony bridge and a gold-plated tailpiece with an engraved silver insert that was new to the model in 1937. The multi-bound blackface headstock sports a pearl flowerpot inlay and Grover Imperial tuners. The guitar was originally equipped with a raised multi-bound pickguard, but that became a casualty from years of radio gigs, studio sessions, and worldwide traveling.