Gibson 1940 L-5
Gibson introduced the 'Advanced' model L5 in 1935. It had the new 17" body and a few new appointments, including a larger tailpiece.
In 1938 Gibson Catalog Z, the L5 was introduced with a newer, aesthetically better tailpiece as an advancement.
The largest improvement can be seen in 1939 Catalog AA. In this catalog, Gibson offered the L5, as well as the Super 400 guitars with a 'Premier' cutaway body, as well as a new 'natural or blonde' finish. These new advancements would change the overall look and playability, as well as add to the Gibson archtop legacy up to present-day.
The tailpiece from the preceeding year (1938) was advanced slightly, to include the all-new 'Vari-Tone' Control. The L5 shown is from 1940 and includes the natural finish with the new 'Vari-Tone' Control in the tailpiece.
1935 'Advanced' L5
1938 Updated L5
1939 Latest model until electrics added in 1951
According to Joe Spann, this 'L-5 (serial #96751 - FON 1083) was produced about mid-year 1940 and shipped only once, on March 19, 1941 to Sherman Clay & Company in a #600 case. The fact that it took nearly 9 months to ship after being produced is indicative of the slow pace at which such expensive guitars sold.'
The above photo shows the very similar tailpieces used on the 1940 L5 and the short-lived ES-300 with the long slant pickup. The tailpieces are very similar but different. For example, the L5's features Vari-Tone hole, glod plating, heavy engraving and a nickel plated badge. The ES-300's tailpiece features nickel plating, no badge, no engraving and a hinge. To view all of photos of these two tailpieces, please visit Tailpieces ES-300 Vs. L5.