Any ideas what the very first left handed Gibson was? A ’50s Les Paul perhaps? According to John Engel, it’s a 100 year old archtop…
Last night I was perusing my copy of ‘Uncommon Sound: The Left Handed Guitar Players That Changed Music‘ by John Engel. In each of the two books, the final sections are dedicated to pictures of noteworthy left handed guitars from years gone by.
On page 412 of the blue book I stumbled across this.
Is This the First Left Handed Gibson?
It’s a 1915 Gibson L-4, and according to the book, it is the oldest known left handed Gibson. The image is accompanied only by a brief section of text:
1915 Gibson L-4, the earliest known left-handed Gibson. The venerable 16″-wide L-4 was launched only 3 years before and would live on in different guises through the 1960s. The oval soundhole (pictured), rounded in the late 1920s, would be replaced by f-holes in the early 1930s. (jv-ds)
After this description are the initials J.V and D.S. According to the book’s guide J.V is Jeff Veitch, who from a little Googling seems likely to be the photographer of the image above.
D.S stands for Dugald Stermer, who I assume was the owner of this guitar when it was photographed. Dugald was a respected illustrator, also well known for his enviable collection of vintage left handed Martin acoustics (amongst others). Sadly, he passed away in 2011.
That’s All She Wrote
Surprisingly, that is all the information the book offers up on this 100+ year old guitar. After a few hours of research I came up empty, so I thought I’d put up this post in the hopes that you lovely readers might be able to shed some light on this guitar.
During my time spent searching for this guitar I noticed that quite a few lefties from various forums had been acquainted with Dugald in the past, and had even tried out or traded guitars with him.
Was this guitar originally made left handed, or was it later converted. Where is it now?
If you know about this guitar, please leave a comment below!
If you’d like to read my review on Uncommon Sound by John Engel, click here. This is a set of books which should be on every guitarists shelf, left or right handed.