Connoisseurs have long known that the best sounding Gibson archtop
guitars are the 16" L5 models that were designed by the legendary
acoustic engineer Lloyd Loar. These were the very first jazz guitars
which, largely due to the innovations introduced by Lloyd Loar,
posses tonal subtleties and acoustic projection that later models never
matched. Loar's design improvements included violin inspired features
such as a cantilevered fingerboard, "f" shaped sound holes, and a tap
tuned top and back, as well
as modern conveniences such as an adjustable bridge and a truss rod.
produced in 1922, the L-5 quickly became the gold standard for jazz
guitar and found its way into the hands of numerous virtuosos of the
time, including such luminaries as Eddie Lang, Nick Lucas, Les Paul,
Kress, and Dick McDonough. Not only a jazz guitar, the L-5 is an
versatile instrument that was also played by
country music star Mother Maybelle Carter and Nashville session
guitarist and Grand Ole Oprey player Jack Schook. Even long after
Gibson had introduced the larger Advanced Model L-5s, these smaller 16"
models remained legendary for their unparalleled tone and projection,
and continued to be the first choice for acoustic work by players such
as Barney Kessel, Tony Romano, and Marty Grosz.
Gibson introduced the "Advanced" model L-5 in 1935, bumping up the body size to 17" and lengthening the scale to 25 1/2". While these changes were welcomed by acoustic big band rhythm players who were seeking greater power and projection, many missed the balance, versatility, and tonal complexity of the smaller 16" L-5s. Fortunately, Gibson kept the 16" option available by redesigning the L-4 along the lines of the old 16" L-5, retaining nearly all the original specs and adding a few new twists including ornate banjo style fingerboard inlays and a flared headstock. Vintage 16" L-5s are one of the most highly coveted of all Gibson archtops, making this nearly identical, yet much more affordable, sister model one of the best deals in the world of vintage archtops.
This instrument was constructed from some of the best materials Gibson had to offer: a gorgeous flamed maple back, maple sides, a mahogany neck, and a carved spruce top. Original hardware includes a set of Grover Sta-Tite tuners and nickel tailpiece trapeze tailpiece. Updates include a new pickguard mounted with a DeArmond Rhythm Chief pickup along with tone and volume controls.
Anyone who has shopped for a good sounding acoustic archtop these days will tell you just how frustrating it can be. As electrics began to take over in the late 30s, Gibson largely gave up on trying to build light weight, highly resonant acoustic archtops in favor of heavier designs that reduced feedback. Now largely a lost art, only a few high priced boutique builders take acoustic archtops seriously, making the search for an acoustic archtop difficult and often very expensive. Fortunately, this well preserved example from the "Golden Era" of acoustic archtops can go toe to toe with the best L-5s out there at a much more affordable price.
With tonewoods nearly a century old, this instrument produces the rich, complex acoustic tone I've only heard in 20s era L-5s. It's featherweight construction and carefully carved top and back are in line with Lloyd Loar's violin based principles for maximum resonance and balance. This instrument projects very well, making it perfect for unplugged performances. It also posses the liquid sounding "natural reverb" that the 20's L-5 are so famous for. The addition of the DeArmond pickup allows for amplification if need be without compromising the instrument's acoustic charms.
This is the CASH price...add 3% (4% for International orders) if you'd like to pay with a credit card.
|Sound Hole||F Holes|
|Fret Neck||14 Fret|
|Scale Length||24 3/4"|
|Nut Width||1 3/4"|
|Body Depth||3 1/4"|
|Back and Sides||Maple|
|Pickup(s)||DeArmond Rhythm Chief 1100|