This 1940 L-5 was owned by Al Valenti. Valenti was a professional guitarist for nearly his entire life, gigging for around 80 years! In the 1930s he was reknown as a virtuoso and was the first endorser of D'Angelico guitars. Following his death in the 2010s his family sold off some of his guitars. I purchased this guitar at that time in 2017 to add to my personal collection. The guitar comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Valenti's nephew.
This guitar was one of several that was stolen from Valenti in 2001 and subsequently returned to him in 2005 under some unusual circumstances. The Tampa Bay news report on their return is included in the pics. On the far right of the photo accompanying the article this L-5 can be seen on the far right.
It's easy to tell why Valenti hung onto this guitar for so long. It has an exceptionally stable, straight neck which allows for remarkable ease of playing. The build of this guitar makes it remarkably good at pushing sound out of the front of the guitar. That makes it seem a bit quieter for the player, but there is ample acoustic volume for the audience, making it truly exceptional for playing unplugged with other instruments. It also has a very long ago added DeArmond Rhythm Chief 1100 in gold finish, the most sought after and most valuable of all of the vintage DeArmond pickups. This pickup is routed to an endpin jack, which is the absolute best and most stable way to add a jack to an archtop guitar. This pickup sound creamy and woody, like one would expect of the finest DeArmond pickup. I actually gigged with this guitar several times and found it to be an absolute joy.
The build of this guitar exemplifies Gibson's high standard for its pre-war flagship guitar. The top is made of fine grained, hand carved Adirondack spruce. The back and sides are stunning bubble maple from the fable Gibson stash of this rarest of all figured maples which Gibson used for some of their very best archtops. The neck has a full, but not too big, C-shaped carve, and is the usual three ply of the era made mostly of flamed maple with a center stripe of a dark wood. The oringal tuners are Kluson Sealfast with the shortly lived and highly desirable Catalin button which would have started out white, but turn amber with exposure to light over time. The Brazilian rosewood bridge and tailpiece are original, while the pickguard and its bracket are reproductions. The guitar was also professionally refretted at least once in its life, and again plays effortlessly.
The guitar has been very well cared for during its more than eighty years of life. It is free of cracks and repairs. The neck angle is beautiful and the bridge has room to adjust either up or down. The finish shows very few spot of checking and looks stunning.
The guitar comes with an original painted/lacquered tweed Lifton case and the certificate of authenticity/ownership.
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