Gibson Century of Progress LC and HG Guitars
Description: Gibson Century of Progress, L-C, L-Century flat top guitar
Available: 1933 to 1941.
Collectibility Rating: L-C models: B, H-G models: C-.
Production: (no pre-1937 production numbers) 1937:143, 1938:102, 1939:49, 1940:3, 1941:1
Many believe this model is more "show than go", as they usually do not
sound very good (too much plastic limiting the sound of the wood). But
a very pretty model. One I would love to find, because they are so
In 1933 Chicago hosted the Century of Progress International Exhibition.
This commemorated the 100 years that had elapsed since its incorporation in 1833.
In the middle of the Great Depression, the 1933 to 1934 Century of Progress exhibition
attracted 48 million visitors.
Gibson sought to capitalize on this event, focusing on the
exhibition's emphasis on scientific progress. Gibson unveiled two instruments
in 1933 that were decorated with "pearloid", a celluloid plastic which had
the look of pearl. The L-Century guitar and A-Century mandolin featured pegheads
and fingerboards covered with this material often called "mother-of-toilet-seat"
(since it was not "mother-of-pearl", and this celluloid was often used for
toilet seat covers during the 1950s).
Gibson capitalized on the Worlds Fair sensationalism with a new guitar
model named in its honor. The Century model L-C was remarkable for
its over-use of pearloid. Often called "mother-of-toilet-seat" (many toilet
seat of the time used pearloid), during the 1930s this material was
considered modern and certainly grabbed a lot of attention.
Gibson produced these Century instruments from 1933 to 1941.
The HG model of this instrument was set up for Hawaiian playing. This means
the neck has no truss rod, the bridge saddle is straight, the frets are usually
short or just celluloid lines, the neck set is very shallow (because the
string height is very high), and the neck heel is wider.
Yes this model can be converted to "normal" Spanish
style (like an L-C), but at a fair amount of work and expense.
If you need to figure out the exact year of your Gibson Century HC guitar, use the serial number.
This is located inside the body's sound hole.
See the Gibson Serial Number Info web page
for help determining the exact year.
Using Joe Spann's book on Gibson FON numbers, here's a list of known Gibson Century
factory order numbers (not all inclusive.)
- 373 = L-Century
- 382 = L-Century
- 539 = L-Century
- 555 = L-Century
- 556 = L-Century
- 573 = L-Century
- 608 = L-Century
- 623 = L-Century
- 655 = L-Century
- 668 = L-Century
- 682 = L-Century
- 695 = L-Century
- 698 = L-Century
- 699 = L-Century
- 728 = L-Century
- 741 = L-Century
- 778 = L-Century
- 786 = L-Century
- 788 = L-Century
- 805 = L-Century
- 823 = L-Century
- 827 = L-Century
- 838 = L-Century
- 855 = L-Century
- 897 = L-Centry
- 898 = L-Centry
- 903 = L-Centry
- 935 = L-Centry
- 936 = L-Centry
- 937 = L-Centry
- 938 = L-Centry
- 939 = L-Centry
- 940 = L-Centry
- 946 = L-Centry
- 973 = L-Centry
- 1389 = L-Centry
- 1397 = L-Centry
- 1412 = L-Centry
- 213a = L-Century
- 219a = L-Century
- 293a = L-Century
- 458b = L-Century
- 492b = L-Century
- 646b = L-Century
- 723b = L-Century
- 825b = L-Century
- 889b = L-Century
- 125c = L-Century
- 258c = L-Century
- 273c = L-Century
- 398c = L-Century
- 699c = L-Century
- 1211c = L-Century
- 1258c = L-Century
- 1359c = L-Century
- 1962c = L-Century
- 6d = L-Century
- 22d = L-Century
- 78d = L-Century
- 79d = L-Century
- 709d = L-Century
- 723d = L-Century
If you have a vintage Gibson Century HC guitar for sale, please contact me at
- 1933 Gibson LC Century guitar introduction specs:
- $55 list price, 14 3/4" wide,
maple back and sides (usually figured maple), mahogany neck, triple bound top & back,
triple bound fingerboard, white pearloid
fingerboard and peghead veneer, notched diamond inlay within rosewood
rectangles fingerboard markers (some with hearts and flowers or wreath
pattern), 14 frets clear of the body, notched diamond peghead inlay,
firestrip celluloid pickguard glued to the top, rectangle bridge,
"small" sunburst finish on entire body.
- 1937 Gibson H-G Century guitar specs:
- Hawaiian setup, straight mounted
bridge saddle, 12 frets clear of the body, heavier bracing, "large" sunburst.
- 1938 Gibson L-C and H-G Century guitar specs:
- single bound top and back,
rosewood peghead veneer with pearl "gibson" logo, pearl notched diamond or elongated diamond
peghead inlay, large sunburst.
- 1941 Gibson H-G Century guitar specs:
- some with no truss rod due to war-time shortages,
some with two pearl dots on the bridge.
- Gibson L-C and H-G Century Models discontinued 1941.