From the year that Bird and Dizzy gave us Live at Massey Hall and saw the passing of Django Reinhardt, a superb 1953 Gibson L5 CES anyone?
Initially conceived as a member of the Mandolin family alongside the F5 mandolin (as the popularity go Mandolin orchestras was waining), the L5’s enduring popularity was due in no small part to the great jazz guitarist Eddie Lang who pioneered the use of the guitar in the dance band rhythm sections, finding that the Gibson archtop could easily keep up with the rest of the band. Its elegant Cremona Brown finish and f holes gave the guitar a decidedly violin-like look and set a president for competitors and the company themselves that still exist to this day.
This is a stunning example of Gibson’s longest serving archtop. The sunburst finish is gorgeous and unfaded, a fantastic showcase for the carved spruce top. The guitar has been really well cared for and although are a few minor knocks, the body hasn’t suffered any breaks or cracks.
The chunky C neck is built in that classic three piece maple and mahogany sandwich with an ebony multi-bound fretboard and large block mother of pearl inlays. The script logo headstock has the iconic flowerpot inlay emblazoned upon it, framed by the continued multi-layer binding. The gold-plated Kluson ‘Seal Fast’ tuners work very well and the whole thing makes for a very impressive package.
Electrically everything looks correct. This guitar has a pair of excellent AlNiCo 5 staple pickups. They’re both well balanced and really complement the guitar tonally.
The plastics are in excellent condition as are the hardware. and the rosewood bridge. As to be expected the pickguard is starting to deteriorate a bit but it is nowhere near as bad as some we have seen.
The guitar comes with its correct brown Hardshell case with the blue lining that like the guitar is in superb shape, especially for its age.
The L5’s reputation was built on being able to keep up with a horn section and this one is no exception. It has an authoritative voice acoustically that has a wonderful three dimensional quality that’s translated well when amplified.
The definitive archtop, this L5 would make stunning addition to anyone’s collection.