Gibson L-5CES Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1968)

Gibson  L-5CES Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar  (1968)
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Item # 9178
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Gibson L-5CES Model Arch Top Hollow Body Electric Guitar (1968), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 526527, sunburst lacquer finish, maple body and neck; spruce top, maple neck with ebony fingerboard, original black tolex hard shell case.

One of Gibson's classiest full-body electric guitars, the L-5CES (Cutaway Electric Spanish) was a company mainstay for many years, and a particular favorite of many jazz and classic R&B players. This example is from the late 1960s, with the sharp Florentine cutaway and two patent number humbucking pickups typical of that period. The neck is slimmer than earlier examples with the 1 5/8" nut width typical of the later 1960s, but still has a more substantial feel than some Gibsons of the period.

Although Gibson quality is generally thought to have slipped somewhat in this time period, the top-line carved guitars suffered the least; this guitar still has the feel of a top-quality instrument from an earlier era. The back is laminated maple but the top is still carved spruce, while the neck is a 5-piece maple laminate with a pearl block inlaid ebony fingerboard.

This guitar has one notable oddity; the treble pickup is mounted a bit farther forward on the body than usual, by about 1/2". We can't be sure if this was a custom ordered feature (the truss rod cover does read "Custom", but so do most of them) or simply a Gibson quirk. This placement alters the sound slightly, but not enough for most players to notice.

The "sharp-cut" L-5 CES is considered one of the seminal jazz and R&B guitars, used by many greats in the 1960s and beyond from Freddie Stone to Kenny Burrell. After 1969 the carved Gibson electrics reverted to their earlier pattern rounded cutaway, so this form of the L-5 is specific to this period. While this is not an exceptionally rare guitar, less than 200 of these were made in 1968, a small fraction of the totals for many other period Gibson instruments. This is a lovely example and a supremely classy guitar.
Overall length is 42 1/4 in. (107.3 cm.), 16 15/16 in. (43 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/4 in. (8.2 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 1 9/16 in. (40 mm.).

This guitar shows some light general wear but overall remains a fine and original example. The finish shows some small pick marks on the top and minor dings and dents overall, but no major wear. The pickguard is a very nicely done repro; the original suffered celluloid disintegration and there is some commensurate corrosion and/or plating loss to some of the hardware, particularly the tailpiece. The pickups are original, but the covers have been re-soldered; they were probably removed to be cleaned up. None of this affects function at all.

The orange Gibson label is gone from under the bass f-hole; it likely fell out long ago, leaving the factory order number stamped in the spot that was once under it now visible. The serial number is marked on the headstock. There is a strap button added below the heel but no other alterations. The frets appear original with a recent re-crowning and playability is excellent. This is a truly lovely guitar to play and to hear, with the warm, rich, yet still lively sound characteristic of these fully carved-top Gibson electrics. Excellent - Condition.