Should I pay to restore a Vintage Gibson L4 from 1910?

Carson G7

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
1
Reaction score
4
Hi there, I’ve recently gained possession of a beat up Gibson L4 and I’m curious to know what people think about me getting it restored. It is very broken and so do you think that it is even possible to restore it? Th pictures may not show it, but there’s also a crack on the front and back that has gone through the wood as well.
E1F24C27-47AB-4D48-8B13-7EB96C3A8145.jpeg
C95737F3-524F-42E0-867E-D7F9DBDE1BEF.jpeg
3E6A8903-3677-4223-A29E-4F28F255FCE9.jpeg
2BA9C906-D414-478E-9C49-105DEAB6EBFA.jpeg

Thank you.
 

Barnaby

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2010
Messages
8,964
Reaction score
10,867
Congratulations on a really cool guitar! I think that's very restorable in the right hands, yes.

The issues are more to do with the extent of the repairs (would you simply repair the cracks and get it playing again, or would you restore it), and the eventual cost. If it has a full restoration and repair from a luthier who is able to do that type of work, I imagine it could potentially cost more than the guitar may be worth on the market today. Therefore, it might be one of those "sentimental value" decisions.

One thing not to do is to take it to someone without a proven track record in this type of work who offers to do it cheaply. That way, not only would they likely do a bad job, but they'd also very likely make it even harder to repair and restore properly in the future. We've all seen guitars where someone's had a try at "fixing" them and the first task is to undo whatever the heck they did. It's annoying precisely because it's so unnecessary.

There are some excellent repairers and restorers on here. If I were you, for this instrument, my first point of call would be Freddy G.
 

judson

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2016
Messages
5,765
Reaction score
8,585
honestly i think you have to get it playable again ,otherwise what are you going to do with it ?

i would concentrate just getting it playable and forget cosmetics

looks like alot of work but you can probably find someone to do the work for price that would be acceptable to some.

definitely a cool piece ....you positive its a 1910?
 

Barnaby

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2010
Messages
8,964
Reaction score
10,867
definitely a cool piece ....you positive its a 1910?
I wondered this as well. It looks a lot like a '28 that I've seen in in Tokyo. I also thought Gibson didn't start making them until 1911.
 

mdubya

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Messages
21,407
Reaction score
36,662
I have a 1908 Gibson mandolin (it was my grandfather's) with similar issues. It is not worth much, as is. And the repairs would really only make it playable and not make it worth any thing more than the value of the repairs. Tough call.
 

moreles

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2011
Messages
4,587
Reaction score
3,336
I would not repair it because even if in good shape, that is not a particularly desirable guitar from my perspective. It's totally repairable -- just about anything is -- but it looks like it will cost a lot, and I would spend that $$$ elsewhere. It's tempting to fix any really old guitar out of respect and interest value, but that's not much to justify it, for me anyway. I would look to sell it to someone who is really interested in that kind of guitar and is willing to invest in it. I would not.
 

emoney

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2010
Messages
7,270
Reaction score
3,497
If this is your Great Grandfather's guitar, then by all means, throw the money at it and have a pro restore it. Anything outside of that, I would tend to lean the opposite direction. Odds are, after you've put a ton of money into getting it back to playable shape, the action on that thing is going to be incredibly high. The large crack in the spruce is also going to need to be addressed, once you've gotten through the whole neck crash problem. And then, when you sit back and admire all the work, you may still hate playing it, because the problem is now, there's no way to know to until you're at least halfway through the job. Not the mention the costs involved are going to far exceed it's retored value I'm afraid.
 

fatdaddypreacher

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2011
Messages
6,683
Reaction score
4,833
but i too emphasize to be careful of your choice of luthiers. i used to repair and build furniture for over 10 years. nothing more disheartening than to see a fine antique or family heirloom patched and fannagled, then brought in to be 'fixed'. it only makes the repair harder, more costly, and sometimes not possible.
 

B. Howard

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2014
Messages
697
Reaction score
624
Excellent candidate for a full restoration. Not every old guitar is and most are not worth the money or effort.

It is no small amount of work, but really not much more than to properly stabilize and simply make playable again. Having done quite a bit of this type work I can at least give an idea of work required and cost.

Since the neck joint appears solid I would pull the back to make all structuraul repairs much like here.https://howardguitars.blogspot.com/2015/04/opening-soundbox-for-major-repairs.html
Of course there is a good bit more work inside the box on this Gibby.

If the original finish can be preserved well enough through the process, which it appears it could but I can only really tell in person, the cost here would be about $1300-$1500 based on what I can see and already know from experience with minor finish touch ups at bindings. If the finish needs more work or re-done that takes the price up.... Figure $2500 ish to make it look as close to new as possible.
 

Elmore

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2008
Messages
368
Reaction score
580
I would leave the finish alone and have a true pro work on everything else. Man that is cool. And buy a very protective case.
 

Freddy G

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
16,299
Reaction score
42,855
Hi there, I’ve recently gained possession of a beat up Gibson L4 and I’m curious to know what people think about me getting it restored. It is very broken and so do you think that it is even possible to restore it? Th pictures may not show it, but there’s also a crack on the front and back that has gone through the wood as well. View attachment 453561 View attachment 453562 View attachment 453563 View attachment 453564
Thank you.

Like others have stated.....this is a project for an experienced luthier. I can do it. You'll get top shelf work from Brian Howard as well.
 

bfcg

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 6, 2008
Messages
4,391
Reaction score
186
Repair it, dont restore it . They were not the best of what Gibson had to offer IMHO. Restore and devalue. Repair and have a cool guitar.
 

canis major

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 28, 2009
Messages
9
Reaction score
6
absolute no-brainer, get it restored (or repaired for kudos factor) but by someone reputable!
 

Roberts Luthiery

Junior Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2010
Messages
3
Reaction score
4
As someone who’s repaired and built guitars for over 40 years I can tell you that this will be involved whether you just do a repair or a full restoration. I’m not taking any new repair work at this this however I recommend that you contact Dan Erliwine. Dan has more experience repairing old Gibsons than anyone else I currently know.
 

Bubbles

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2020
Messages
21
Reaction score
16
Send it to the Rosa Stringworks Guy. You'll be famous too! As the pictures show its not going to be playable without substantial work.
 

bigbang3

Junior Member
Joined
Aug 4, 2010
Messages
4
Reaction score
2
Hi there, I’ve recently gained possession of a beat up Gibson L4 and I’m curious to know what people think about me getting it restored. It is very broken and so do you think that it is even possible to restore it? Th pictures may not show it, but there’s also a crack on the front and back that has gone through the wood as well. View attachment 453561 View attachment 453562 View attachment 453563 View attachment 453564
Thank you.
Hi there, I’ve recently gained possession of a beat up Gibson L4 and I’m curious to know what people think about me getting it restored. It is very broken and so do you think that it is even possible to restore it? Th pictures may not show it, but there’s also a crack on the front and back that has gone through the wood as well. View attachment 453561 View attachment 453562 View attachment 453563 View attachment 453564
Thank you.
I am going to head in the opposite direction here and tell you a qualified no do not restore this instrument. These old L4's just are not worth the money, the body size and construction would not warrant putting that kind of money into a restoration of the guitar and then at the end you have a severely damaged guitar that will never let you recover what you have spent on getting it up to playable condition.It is really easy for other people to give you advice on how you should spend your money. Now if this was a '24 or 25 Lloyd Loar L5, or had great sentimental value, it would be a no brainer, you restore it. Lots of people think that old equals valuable or collectible, that is not the case. Get an estimate on the repair and then talk to someone really knowledgeable like Gruhn or Larry Were or Mandolin Bros. Then you can make a better informed decision. I build repair and restore all kinds of new and vintage instruments and I see lots of people put a lot of money into guitars that, frankly are just not worth it and in some cases even new were not great players because of large V shaped necks etc... Good Luck
 

emoney

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2010
Messages
7,270
Reaction score
3,497
Not to mention you can pick up a brand new, G45 Standard for less than the repair costs and they're getting some pretty good reviews
 

Revv23

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 3, 2011
Messages
127
Reaction score
69
if you repair it or not just make sure you dont destroy /discard it.

I've seen a lot of these old guitars come back to life once the economics make sense.

They might not today but that doesn't mean some day this thing won't be worth the price of fixing.

Just think of all the 50's strats turned into firewood when the market deemed them to be worth nothing!
 


Latest Threads



Top