Gibson L-5C Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1952)

Gibson  L-5C Arch Top Acoustic Guitar  (1952)

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Item # 8717
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Gibson L-5C Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1952), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # A-11164, sunburst lacquer finish, figured maple body and neck, spruce top, ebony fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This is a lovely example of Gibson's L-5C, one of the classic cutaway archtops of all time and the epitome of the company's carved-top heritage. This a guitar has a serial number on the old white "Artist" label that dates to early July 1952. By this point these fully carved acoustic guitars were being built in decreasing numbers as many professional players turned fully electric archtops, but they were still very prestigious instruments. Still, only 17 L-5C models in sunburst left the factory in 1952.

The beautifully grained spruce top and flame maple back are hand-carved, as they had been since the 1910s. The traditional multiple W/B/W celluloid bindings ornament every edge, and the headstock bears the L-5 "flowerpot" inlay that has always marked this model. The adjustable rosewood bridge, engraved gold-and-silver L-5 tailpiece, and gold Kluson Sealfast tuners with tulip buttons are other trademark features. The finish is a beautifully blended sunburst lacquer with more red pigment in it than many from this period.

The neck profile on this guitar is a rather flat and fairly thin (back-to-front) "D" unlike many we have encountered on purely acoustic L-5s, which in this period tend to have chunkier necks. The neck itself is constructed of two pieces of flame maple with an ebony center strip. The ebony fingerboard is multi-bound and inlaid with pearl blocks. The guitar is currently set up with a floating pickup, with a volume control on the pickguard and a jack in the endpin. It performs equally well in both purely acoustic and amplified modes; a superbly classy guitar with a very fine sound.
 
Overall length is 41 7/8 in. (106.4 cm.), 17 in. (43.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

Overall this guitar shows some light average wear but remains well-preserved for its 65+ years on earth. The finish has some typical light checking but retains a very strong color with virtually no fade. The back of the neck has some wear through the lacquer, but otherwise there are just small dings and dents. The fingerboard appears to have been refretted and possibly rebound; this looks like Gibson factory work but from a somewhat later period than the guitar would originally have been built in. The neck shows some light overspray in spots.

The pickguard is a repro, and carries the pickup and volume control wired to a jack located in a replacement endpin. The fitted-base rosewood bridge is original; the saddle has been lowered somewhat from the underside to accommodate lower action settings. This is an excellent-sounding guitar and a delight to play, moving easily from amplified to purely acoustic sounds. It includes a 1980s-era HSC. Overall Excellent Condition.