It is rumoured that between 1942 and 1945, due to the call up of men deemed fit to fight in the war, Gibson employed women on its production lines to manufacture guitars. Curiously, this fact has always been denied by the company for reasons unknown. What is true is that during this period, Gibson’s production facilities were commissioned to make parts for the military, with guitar production reduced to very small numbers. Materials were in very limited supply and shortages of wood and metals, coupled with the absence of its regular highly skilled workforce, meant that any guitars the company did turn out would out of necessity have to be without any fancy adornments.
First introduced in 1942, the LG-2 was a small-bodied acoustic with a sunburst spruce top, mahogany back and sides, rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays and a ‘banner’ Gibson logo. It was designed for fingerstyle, blues or voice accompaniment but discontinued in 1962 when it was replaced by the B-25. Now available as the LG-2 American Eagle, which Gibson describe as “a little sweetheart with a giant tone”, the model hasn’t really changed much, excepting the antique natural finish instead of sunburst and to bring us right up to date, an LR Baggs Elements pickup system with a sound hole mounted volume control.
As you would expect with a Gibson acoustic, the quality of the timbers used in construction is exemplary. The Sitka spruce top is very attractive with a fine, even texture and the mahogany is very light in colour, with a pinkish hue, possibly revealing its African origins. The smaller size and light weight of the LG-2 means it sits very comfortably in the lap would be an excellent song writing tool as well as a stage instrument. This is a guitar that naturally requires a lighter touch and responds accordingly. An ideal fingerpicker’s instrument, the LG-2 imparts a sweet top end with a clear, open sound that also makes it a useful recording tool. Although not the loudest guitar ever acoustically, plugged in it comes to life and with some judicious EQ’ing would hold its own with the best.
Further examination reveals the installation of smallish, vintage-style frets, white button Kluson tuners, a ’belly-up’ bridge with a Tusq saddle, ‘V’-profile neck shape, MOP dot fingerboard inlays and an end pin jack for the pickup output. Curiously, Gibson has not fitted a strap button on the heel, a necessity if the guitar is to be used live on stage in the accepted way. Additionally, the saddle has not been compensated on the B string, which is a feature now a common on guitars in all price ranges and would have been a welcome inclusion here. Whether these two omissions are an attempt to keep the guitar looking as ‘vintage’ as possible is unknown but the practicalities must surely outweigh the aesthetics on this occasion if the guitar is to be used in a professional capacity.
In a way, it’s the unadorned nature of the Gibson LG-2 American Eagle that should make it appeal to roots, blues and Americana musicians, whose down-home approach to music usually matches their taste in guitars. However, it should not be regarded as an unsophisticated utility instrument and while staying true to its vintage roots, the addition of the pickup should give it a much broader appeal.