Hand Tools Archive

The significance of limba (korina)

David Weaver
At one point in the past, Gibson screwed around with various woods, trying to keep their supply in order (and probably due partly to budget as they were never really on sound financial footing when they were making their most iconic guitars - an era that stopped in 1968 when they began making adjustments to guitar designs (some due to difficulty in finding good stock, and some probably due to thinking that modernizing techniques - like laminating wood together - would also provide better stability).

Before any of that, one of the woods that they tried was limba (korina), and its early use was in this guitar - the early flying V.

You can see the price - vintage guitar stores with well-heeled customers will sometimes get closer to half a million dollars for one.

I am too cheap to pay an extra $100 for a given guitar to find white limba (which is just the same wood without the dark markings in it), but gibson eventually claimed that the wood was unstable, prone to cracking and very difficult to work. Compared to most of what we use for cabinet work (other than honduran mahogany), that's not true. I think they just didn't want to use it and couldn't get a good lead on a constant supply. As honduran gets harder to secure in good quality, korina is starting to show up in large boards.

Some of you guys may have been around in 1958. Back in the 1960s, our own George Wilson was an authorized repair person for Gibson, and did work to guitars that got damaged in shops locally. Those days are long gone, but he remembers these guitars coming out. I only ever picked one up once - you can't sit with them and play them and the upper fret access isn't really that great. seemed dumb to me. George said when they came out, you could buy an add on to stick on the guitar or on your lap (can't remember which) so that between you and the guitar, you had a geometric contraption that allowed playing while sitting down.

One of the reasons they're so valuable now is probably because they were a flop.

I will never have anything from the real original gibson company, and that's OK, but the magic of the internet has made it so that really hard to find woods (locally) are now available at relatively little expense as long as one has a mailing address and a mouse.

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