In the beginning there was this old guitar...

This Gibson L-00 was hanging by a string in a used instrument shop in Dallas, Texas in 1987.  I didn't know what it was, and no one could tell me what model it was or how old it was. It was just a Gibson, and it was old. It was the first Double 0 size guitar I acquired, and is responsible for my passion for this type of guitar.

It needed a lot of work, more than I thought it was worth.  The tuners were missing buttons; frets were worn down to wood; it had a hole in the lower bout; it was missing some binding; the bridge was cracked through the pin holes and was pulling up from the top. In other words, it was unplayable and probably not worth fixing in most people's opinion. 

After some haggling, I got it for $100 and planned on hanging it on a wall just because it was cool looking. Then I did some research and found it was a 1930-31 L-00, so I decided to make it playable. The first few repairs were minimal, just enough to make it play, and included some old, used tuners, 5 new frets, and gluing the bridge back together. This cost about $65.00 back then.

It sounded great, so I fixed the hole in the lower bout and played it just as it was for a couple of years.  Eventually I had some real restoration done: all new bar frets; fingerboard filled and planed; fossilized ivory nut and saddle; and eventually a new bridge and bridge plate.  It is a fabulous guitar. It's "rough as a cob", some would say, but it sounds great and I like the way it looks.

My total investment in 30 years is about $650.00 plus a hard shell case.  Not bad. It has perfect action with plenty of saddle height, and has never had a neck set.  It weighs less than any Double 0 size guitar I have ever picked up, and while it feels fragile, it has been incredibly durable.  I've played it for all these years at dances, jams, events, and in the studio; yet it is no worse for wear.You can hardly find one these days for less than $3000.00, so I consider myself a lucky man to have such a piece of history, and such a fine instrument as well. Whether I'm flatpicking or fingerpicking, it always inspires me.


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