Instruments & Gear: Vintage Vault

1930 Gibson Master Model L-5

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Peghead Nation’s Roots of Jazz Guitar instructor Matt Munisteri demonstrates his main guitar.

by Teja Gerken
May 28, 2018

Peghead Nation’s Roots of Jazz Guitar instructor Matt Munisteri is one of today’s top players of 1920s and ’30s jazz, so naturally his instruments of choice are the most famous guitars of that era, Gibson’s 16-inch L-5s. Matt owns two 1930 Gibson L-5s, and in this video, he demonstrates the one he uses most often (check out this demo of Matt’s other L-5).

Matt purchased this L-5 from New York vintage guitar expert Larry Wexler around 2000. At the time, the guitar was believed to have been built in 1927, but with the help of some of Gibson’s original shipping records, which had been discovered by Joe Spann, author of Spann’s Guide to Gibson 1902–1941 (Centerstream), it was determined that the guitar was actually built in 1930. Originally it would have had a neck with dot inlays, but the records indicate that it was shipped back to Gibson in 1936, and it is likely the neck was replaced with its current one, which has rectangular inlays, at that time. The guitar also has a new pickguard with an original design by Tom Crandall of TR Crandall Guitars in New York. The new pickguard doesn’t obstruct the f-hole in the way an original Gibson pickguard does and attaches to the fingerboard extension only. This is made possible through graphite reinforcements, removing the need for the traditional metal bracket on the side of the body.

“This one is really, really even,” Matt says of the guitar. “It will always open up and give you more when you need it. I’ve used it on so many recording sessions, for all kinds of music. I’ve used it on pop things and singer-songwriter sort of stuff, country stuff, not just what you’d think it would be, like chunking out chords. It’s also a beautiful fingerstyle instrument, it has all this clarity and note-separation.”

To study jazz guitar with Matt, see his Peghead Nation course Roots of Jazz Guitar.


Category: Instruments & Gear


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