1994 Gibson Le Grande
I have had many Nashville built Gibson archtops over the years and all have been exceptional, but there's no doubt I've never seen anything quite like this Le Grande! It's aesthetic beauty is immediately evident, but the real surprise is when you play it. It has the richest tone I've ever heard from any archtop, Gibson or otherwise. More about the sound below.
The Le Grande is almost indescribable from it's predecessor, the Johnny Smith model. In the late 80s Johnny Smith switched to having Heritage build his signature model, and then later switched again to Guild which is where the model had started back in the 50s. After Smith's departure, Gibson kept producing the Johnny Smith model under the Le Grande name. The Le Grande only differs from the Johnny Smith in it's longer 25 1/2" scale length, hence the name "Le Grande." Otherwise, it is the same guitar that Smith designed, made famous for it's floating pickup and even response across the entire fretboard.
Materials include a 17" wide and 3 1/8" deep body with handcarved, fine grained solid select Sitka spruce top, highly figured solid five-piece flamed maple neck, highly flamed tiger striped solid maple back and sides, straight-end ebony fretboard, nut width 1 11/16", scale length 25 1/2" and 14/20 frets, pearl and abalone single and double split-block position markers, split diamond peghead inlay, 7-ply body binding, 5-ply neck, head and pickguard binding, triple bound f-holes, polished bone nut, solid ebony bridge with tie pearl inlays in base plate. Hardware includes Gibson Deluxe Schaller M6 tuners and an adjustable fingered tailpiece.
Inside are both a Gibson Master Model label as well as a second inspection label signed by the late James W. Hutchins (the head of the Gibson Custom Shop until 2007.)
The condition is completely mint and all materials are 100% original with no modifications. There are absolutely no signs of use. I cannot find a single ding, scratch, or bit of fretwear anywhere on the instrument.
Sonically I am astounded by this beautiful guitar! As mentioned previously, it has a wonderfully dark, rich tone like none other. So thick, so smooth, so mouthwateringly lush and full. And mind you, this is the acoustic sound I'm talking about. Generally I've found most Gibson archtops from this era, especially the Johnny Smith models, to be somewhat flat sounding when played acoustic. I was astounded to find how wonderful this guitar sounds unplugged. And of course, these qualities translate into a full, robust amplified sound when used in conjunction with the warm BJB floating pickup. Johnny Smith designed this guitar to have an even response from the lowest notes to the very highest. I find that to be true with this instrument; even up at the very highest notes is still projects very nicely with the same volume as notes in the middle of the neck.
Playability is ultra-smooth with the action set at a very buttery 1.4mm.
This is the best work I've seen from Gibson. This instrument will certainly make some lucky owner very happy as it's rare to find an archtop that has the aesthetic beauty, exceptional sound (both acoustic and electric), and easy playability that this guitar posses.
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