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  1. #1

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    Dear fellow jazz guitarists,

    I got my christmas tale come true.

    I've just made the acquisition of a wonderful Gibson L5N from 1940. This guitar has been authentified by André Duchossoir, a fine Gibson expert, as the L5N owned by Dave Barbour. It was sitting in a shop in Paris with an insane requested price. Since it was there for a while I could manage to get with a decent offer.

    The sound is just wow. Very complex to describe. What strikes first is the balance in all the spectrum range. Then you realize how incredible are the medium basses, ideal for delivering nice 7ths and 3rds in Freddie Green triad chords. The trebles have an incredible dynamic range. If you push them a little hard then you get an almost "Djangoesque" sound, alla Maccaferri guitars. The basses are here, very defined and supportive, but not outrageously loud and so never delivering a muddy sound.

    The guitar is certainly not mint, that's not what I am looking for in vintage guitars, but it is in very good shape for its age and, most important, structurally preserved. A great player instrument.

    According to serial number (FA-5015, FON 706 E) this guitar was delivered to Dave Barbour on April 2nd 1940, and he seems to have used it extensively during the '40s. Dave was a very well known guitarist from the swing era and, most notably, the husband of Peggy Lee. There are pictures of them two while Dave is holding the guitar in hands.

    1940 Gibson L-5N formerly owned by Dave Barbour-shows_summer_electric_hour_7_1948may-jpg1940 Gibson L-5N formerly owned by Dave Barbour-peggy-lee-dave-barbour-gibson-l5-jpg1940 Gibson L-5N formerly owned by Dave Barbour-dave-barbour-peggy-lee-1-t690f25g10-jpg

    Dave was a member of Benny Goodman's orchestra in the early '40s and this same guitar can be seen in this '43 video with Peggy Lee:

    The guitar is also featured on these pics with notorious musicians from that period, Woody Herman, Paul Weston, Zutty Singleton.

    1940 Gibson L-5N formerly owned by Dave Barbour-dave-barbour-l5-paul-weston-zutty-singleton-jpg1940 Gibson L-5N formerly owned by Dave Barbour-dave-barbour-peggy-lee-woody-herman-l5-jpg

    In some of these historical pics the resolution is fair enough to show the dings and nicks of the table and also the wood signature on the maple side. They are still there !

    It's a strange feeling to have such an historical instrument in hands, a guitar once used to comp for Peggy Lee or Benny Goodman. I definitly feel like I'm more the caretaker of it than anything else.

    More pics on the following post.



    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    Here are some pics of this babe.

    1940 Gibson L-5N formerly owned by Dave Barbour-l5n1-jpg1940 Gibson L-5N formerly owned by Dave Barbour-l5n2-jpg1940 Gibson L-5N formerly owned by Dave Barbour-l5n3-jpg1940 Gibson L-5N formerly owned by Dave Barbour-l5n4-jpg1940 Gibson L-5N formerly owned by Dave Barbour-label-jpg


  4. #3

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    Congrats! A dream guitar to be sure. May she inspire your playing for many years to come.

  5. #4

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    Wow, what an amazing guitar. Not just a fantastic instrument but a piece of musical history. How could you put it down long enough to take those photos Big congrats!

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro

  6. #5

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    What a gorgeous instrument, and what a fascinating provenance! Congratulations, and play it in good health!

  7. #6

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    What a great find and opportunity to steward a historical piece through a period of its life! Sometimes we mere mortals get a chance to reach out and touch the legends.

    Thank you for sharing!

  8. #7

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    Congrats ! Great start to 2018 !!

  9. #8

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    What a find! Lovely instrument.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #9

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    That is a fantastic acquisition.

  11. #10

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    Congratulations on a fantastic score, Fred Archtop! That is just something really special! I am somehow glad to know it is in good hands!

    Maybe someday down the road you'll treat us to a demo in one of those great videos you share from time to time...

    But for now, play it in good health.

  12. #11

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    Incredible. Wonderful. Real mojo.

  13. #12

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    That's awesome. I'm especially glad it is in the hands of a player! Dave enjoyed his blondes, eh? The photos are precious. And you have no need to have a pickguard made because he didn't use one, either.

    My '47 L-5N and I salute you, and we anticipate potentially hearing this guitar one day.


  14. #13

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    Fantastic history for an incredible guitar! Enjoy and we look forward to a new video soon

  15. #14

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    Another piece of history recovered and in the hands of a forum member - Congrats and enjoy her in good health!

  16. #15

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    Oh man. Congrats! I can’t wait to hear your recording. Do you plan to amplify it? With this guitar I would thing there’s no need but I remember you put a floating cc on your other L5. Whatever you end up doing I hope to hear its acoustic tone first.

  17. #16

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    Wow that's gorgeous. Hope you don't mind if I use that 1st pic from the 2nd post as my computer wallpaper for a while...

    Play it in good health.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  18. #17

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    WHAT A GREAT SCORE !! I cannot believe how terrifically documented your guitar is. Not only is it gorgeous and I am sure a real sweet playing guitar but you have all that mojo oozing out of it. Can you hear any echos of clarinets when you put your ears near the f-holes ??? I am just, well I am humbled you found such a beauty.

    I was looking at a 1939 L5 that was a real old refinish to blond, but I just couldn't pull the trigger on her. YOU sir got the kind of guitar I was hoping for, yet with all that pedigree to boot...

    Well played my friend, well played.


  19. #18

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    Zowwie !!!!

  20. #19

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    What a find! I know, given the way I have seen you play your other archtops, that you will enjoy this L5.

    Way to go.

  21. #20

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    Amazing guitar
    Incredible provenance

    Can I borrow it please? OK, that's understandable.. had to ask, as that is one awfully desirable L5, and I'm guessing I have already heard it played, given where its history.

    Glad for you, enjoy!

  22. #21

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    What a nice axe Fred. It is in the right hands. A big Congrats !

  23. #22

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    Dave Barbour certainly had 2 beautiful blondes in his life.

  24. #23

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    Better be careful who's around when you play that guitar. Or at least use it to your advantage...

    From Wikipedia:

    In March 1943 Lee married Dave Barbour, a guitarist in Goodman's band. Lee said, "David joined Benny's band and there was a ruling that no one should fraternize with the girl singer. But I fell in love with David the first time I heard him play, and so I married him. Benny then fired David, so I quit, too. Benny and I made up, although David didn't play with him anymore. Benny stuck to his rule. I think that's not too bad a rule, but you can't help falling in love with somebody."

  25. #24

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    Dear Jazzers,

    Million thanks for your friendly humoristic and anthousiastic comments. But now... here is the blonde in action. Actually pretty hard to render the sweetness of her tone, especially when the rhythm section is kicking your bottom a little bit. Although she can bite hard, like through a brass section, the tone is actually mellower IRL than in my video.

    Clearly I am not so much a guitarist trained to play pure acoustic jazz (hey Jonathan...a couple of lessons might help). You clearly have to play mostly downstroke to get a big sound out of it.

    I am planning to drill a big hole and put a CC mic...NO, don't call 911, I'm just kidding! If I need to play it amplified she will get a DeArmond Rhythm Chief period. But so far so good as it is.

    Thanks and take care.

  26. #25

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    This forum is really heating up!
    Fred, I am so happy for you. What a great buy. And Dave left some magic in that guitar. The midtones sound better than most guitars' Bass notes..

    Outstanding playing. One of my favorite videos. Magical is all I can say.

    Home run bro!

    Joe D

  27. #26

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    That's fantastic Fred Archtop!

    I love your playing, your guitars, and how rock that scarf

  28. #27

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    That is a wonderfull guitar in very capable hands. Congratulations and enjoy her many years in good health.

  29. #28

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    Incredible find, Fred. That guitar has definitely found a good home with an excellent guitarist.

    Tony D.

  30. #29

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    That guitar has a beautiful voice, and you know how to bring it forth. Congratulations, and play it in good health!

  31. #30

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    cool guitar, I wonder how it found it's way overseas.
    has the optional metal button Klusons that were only available circa '39-41.
    somewhere along the line it got a more modern L-5 tailpiece.
    congrats, enjoy that one Fred!

  32. #31

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    Faaaaaaantastic, thought i was listening to Howard Alden, thank you very much for that, i smiled all the way through it. Big congrats.

  33. #32

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    Fred Archtop,
    What a fantastic instrument with great provenance. The advanced size L5’s are great instruments ....and when broken-in exude that responsiveness and magic for which they are known.

    That’s a real beauty- and if the wood could talk I’m sure there are many great stories hidden in that soul.

    Wishing you many years of enjoyment !

  34. #33

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  35. #34

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    The tailpiece appears to be the same as in the picture of Peggy and Dave above, so if it was replaced, it would have had to be very soon after purchase. I don't know the date of the picture, but it's clearly in the 40s. And the stuff (can't tell what it is exactly - rubber, felt, something) threaded between the strings in front of the tailpiece to stop ringing looks familiar. I do that with some guitars.

  36. #35

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    it's postwar L-5 tailpiece, just like on Fred's '50s L-5C.
    a circa 1940 L-5 t.p. would have a rectangular engraved wriggle pattern around the perimeter of the crossbar and stamped patent applied for on the mounting plate.
    late 40's and onward t.p.'s had 3 horizontal engraved lines in the center of the crossbar, just like they do today..

  37. #36

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    Just stunning, both the guitar and the playing.

  38. #37

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    Lovely playing!!!!! - you and that guitar were meant to find each other )


  39. #38

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    Wow! Congratulations Fred, that is an amazing guitar!

    What is even more incredible is that we have probably all heard that guitar many times throughout our lives on numerous recordings. It's a piece of jazz history in itself.

    Enjoy your 'new' guitar!

  40. #39

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    I saw that on RF Charles website and thought I hope it goes to someone who'll play it, and happily it did. Wonderful guitar and such great provenance. Very happy for you.

  41. #40

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    Phew, wonderful story and beautiful playing, as always. Sounds superb! I am sure that lady is just as thrilled about her new caretaker. Congrats & enjoy!

  42. #41

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    Hey jazzers,

    Thanks for being part of the trip with me.

    Now, just her.


  43. #42

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    Congrats on joining the Jazz Forum Conservators Club. That is a beautiful guitar with boatloads of provenance. It sounds incredible, too. Your have a nice feel to your playing and it jives with that guitar's voice so well. If that guitar is a magnet for blondes like Peggy Lee, then I would be gigging every night.

  44. #43

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    If you look at some other Barbour videos, you see him playing a cutaway guitar with a single (CC? dogear P90?) pickup, block inlays, and a plain tailpiece.

    Maybe I am missing something obvious, but I'm not recognizing a model with those specs, which indicates that he was tinkering around a bit with stock Gibsons.

    BTW, guys with guitar collections like Fred's don't have to put pickups on acoustic guitars.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by nopedals
    If you look at some other Barbour videos, you see him playing a cutaway guitar with a single (CC? dogear P90?) pickup, block inlays, and a plain tailpiece.
    Thanks for the great video. This is his Gibson ES-5, a special order with a P90 if I recall correctly. This guitar is still around in a collection but it had its genuine P90 changed for another P90 in white color.


  46. #45

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    It's a circa '47 custom P90 equipped ES-350 w/block inlay and plain trapeze. I wonder why he didn't like the stock 350 t.p.

  47. #46

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    I've Found this :

    It is a Gibson
    ES-5, custom ordered in 1949 with only one pickup. Now the property of Robb Lawrence, who bought it years ago from Peggy Lee. The Van Eps string damper (which was made by George's dad, Fred Van Eps, BTW) is still in the case pocket About the most figured flame blond Gibson I have ever seen.


    Anyway, ES-5 and ES-350 are pretty close...

  48. #47

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    He could've just ordered a 350, but I guess he wanted an ebony board w blocks.
    Besides the plain t.p. that's about the only difference between them except maybe more binding on the ES-5

  49. #48

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    Somewhere in between early ES-350P and ES-5..... seen here with the white P90 and L-5 tailpiece.
    Last edited by Burrellesque; 01-06-2018 at 10:41 PM.

  50. #49

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    Just watching the Peggy Lee bio "Fever: the music of Peggy Lee".
    So great. Cool to see that guitar footage of Dave Barbour and his guitars, too.

  51. #50

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    Awesome, I remember hearing that guitar on recordings as I was just starting to play, and Barber was a masterful player for sure! It sounds really fine in your hands as well.