This Nick Lucas walked into the local shop that I frequent.   My ears perked up when I heard about it even though I knew it was a bit rough.  Since there were only 57 (but about 200 have been found/documented, an estimated 400 total produced thanks to some forum knowledge, thanks TM) documented Nick Lucas Specials produced in any body style, one showing up locally is quite an occurrence.

I told you it was rough, but I could not care any less.  The Gibson Nick Lucas Special is my favorite flat-top guitar ever.  What makes them so special is the combination of appointments, scarcity and body depth.  Of course, I am not the only one who thinks the NL is special.  Here is Bob Dylan with his.

The first Nick Lucas Special is believed to have been produced in 1928 with a list price of $125.  The first models shared the same body dimensions as the L-1 and L-3 (like the previous NLS that I wrote about).  This guitar features the 0 and 00 body width but retains the deeper body much like the L-1.  It also has 14 frets clear of the body instead of 12.  The serial numbers on NLS guitars often date to '28 or '29 even though they were often made much later.  I don't have the FON on this one but I would guess '34, '35 or '36 because of width of the burst and the Maple back and sides.  

Here is a shot of the interior.  I don't think the interior of this guitar has been worked on much because I don't see any ugly reglued braces.  You can pretty easily see the loose back braces.  I would venture to guess that they would just fall out if you nudged them.  The top braces are probably in about the same condition.  The owner is taking no chances on this guitar: he is sending it to Ren Ferguson of Gibson Montana fame.  Ren is not only responsible for turning Gibson's acoustic offerings around at the end of the 80s but is also a top notch guy.  He took the time to talk to me (just a nerdy guitar kid) about how they came up with the idea for using Walnut on the Gibson Jackson Browne Signature model among other things.

I am absolutely thrilled that the owner decided to send this guitar to Ren.  The guitar may even be more valuable just because Ren worked on it (at least it is to me!).  It will probably take him a long time since Ren has been quite busy as of late.  You may have heard that he is working with Fender (Guild).

Here is the back of the Nick.  You can see the gorgeous flame maple peeking through that Cremona Brown sunburst.  It has plenty of nicks and scratches but it really isn't that bad.  I don't think it was even dusted off at the time of this picture.  Looks like whoever played it used one of those nasty capos that took chunks out of the back of the neck.  Pet peeve of mine.

Here is the label on the Nick.  I love seeing the hand written model numbers/names.  The handwriting is usually very elegant which is very rare these days.  I know my handwriting is terrible!  This appears to have been filled out in error though.  The space after "Gibson" should say "GUITAR" and the style should say "Nick Lucas Special."  I thought at first that this was even the wrong label but a friend from a forum informed me that the they used this label on the Maple NLSs.  The original label looked like this:

I'm not sure if they ran out of them or just stopped using them.  That is one interesting thing about Nicks is that they often have strange features.  As my friend says about Gibsons, "If it perfectly matches the description then it is probably fake."  They had a couple of different body shapes, 3 different types of wood for the back/sides and many different style bridges.  These are true custom made guitars.  It is estimated that 300-400 were produced over 11 years in a time where Gibson was slapping guitars together with whatever they had around.

Here is one repair we can clearly see.  The fretboard has been planed about halfway down.  I'm not sure if that was a result of a neck set or a couple of refrets.  I will guess that it is a result of a whole bunch of refrets because the fret wire they used was much softer than what they use now.  I didn't really see any evidence of a neck set either.  Although, I know it will need a neck set now. 

Leave it to Ren,  he will get this sad looking Nick in tip top shape.  I'll do another post when it comes back.  I might be able to include a video!  We will see what the owner will allow.


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