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  1. #1

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    Looking for opinions good, bad or otherwise about the Gibson LeGrand model.

    I'm looking for a "miked acoustic" sound and believe this will do that. I have a concern about the contour of the neck.

    The seller says it's an "ES" profile, traditional rounded style. Wondering if that'll be a little big for me...

    Any comments or suggestions for alternatives are greatly appreciated.


    Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-gibson-legrand-jpg

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  3. #2

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    I like mine, great acoustic sound and very good electric sound as well.

    Not sure if the stock pickup will get you your "miked acoustic" sound...

  4. #3

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    I like mine. It sounds acoustic enough to me. I prefer the rounded ES neck, always have. I have long hands though.

  5. #4

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    Yeah I like the neck on mine as well .. or at least it works for me

    I wouldn't consider it a big neck ... but then I like big necks

  6. #5

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    From the Gibson Le Grande's I've tried in the past, I thought the neck wasn't that big at all. Probably .840-.950 C shape or there abouts.
    Ask forum member Danny W., he has the most experience here with newer Gibson archtops

  7. #6
    Quite a bit of difference between .840 and .950 IMHO. I'll reach out to Danny W as you suggest.

  8. #7

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    The necks are not uniformly one size. Saying it has an “ES profile” really doesn’t mean anything to me. My 2003 LeGrand has a medium C shaped neck with a 1 9/16” (narrow) nut. Others may have a big, fat full C with a 1 3/4” nut or fairly thin D shape with a nut somewhere in between. Any combination is possible. That’s true of any “ES” guitar too.

    As far as acoustic tone, mine has a very sweet, complex tone that excels for solo playing and it has decent volume too. It does not at all have the tone to be used as an acoustic with a horn section though. The BJB pickup requires my amp to be tweaked differently than with other archtops, but sounds really great once the amp is set right.

  9. #8

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    Sorry I should have been more clear. .840 at 1st fret tapering to .950 at 12th fret depth C shape.

  10. #9

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    The LeGrande I had the neck was identical to a modern L5 profile. Very comfy.

  11. #10

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    Have you played played any gibsons that you liked as far as neck? I've had 2 legrand I would call them middle of the road as Gibson goes.

  12. #11
    Thanks for the reply. There aren't any Gibson archtops available here. All I have are 24.75" solid bodies with 10s, so not at all a meaningful comparison. I have an entry-level archtop that I've quickly outgrown. I've begun to "crack the code" sufficiently to justify a decent instrument. I may just roll the dice if the LeGrand is still available. Unless it's an absolute club I could probably manage it. Otherwise thinking of a Triggs I've seen.

  13. #12

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    Some of the guys here use a small mic that can be attached to the guitar to amplify the acoustic sound for live performances

    The Le Grand is a good candidate for one of these

    I don't recall the brands

  14. #13

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    My 2012 LeGrand VSB measures between 0.865" and 0.875" under the first fret. My calipers aren't that accurate. A rounded C profile with very small shoulders.

    I am not crazy about the fingers tailpiece. I wish Gibson had used something like the one from the Citation/ES5 or Byrdland. I can live with it though and I have.

    The LeGrand is the closest thing to a Citation. I prefer the LeGrand as it does not have the volute and the large headstock. It is about half to 3/5th of the market price of the Citation on the used market but 100% of the playing and tonal value. Not a knock on the Citation as it is a great guitar and I would love to have one at a decent price. I am happy with the LeGrand and do not pine for the Citation. I don't feel that I am missing anything. If Gibson could make a Citation with a Super 400 headstock and inlays, I'd call that perfect. I don't like the woolly fluffy cloud inlays. Kinda fey.

    That's my opinion and I am sticking to it.

  15. #14

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    I love my two LeGrands. The 1998 has a C shaped neck, the 2014 more of a D shape similar to my 2003 L5. Both are comfortable to play, they are light and feel small. They quite different from each other and i replaced the BJB's on both with KA12poles to be able to adjust the polepieces. I also installed a tone control on each.

    Both sound great in live situations when played through the amp. I never tried miking it without the use of the pickup/amp at the same time. When i record i get a great sound on both guitars by miking the amp with a ribbon mic and aiming a condenser direct to the top. Mixing the two signals still sounds acoustic and allows me to go without equalization on the board. Listening to the condenser channel alone feels a bit on the thin side, but i record with a small diaphragm schoeps, the sound would certainly be different/larger with a large diaphragm condenser.

    Alternatives: maybe a Guild Artist Award??? I recently played one which i liked a lot and i will get it next saturday - will be able to tell more then.

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky
    My 2012 LeGrand VSB measures between 0.865" and 0.875" under the first fret. My calipers aren't that accurate. A rounded C profile with very small shoulders.

    I am not crazy about the fingers tailpiece.
    That sounds manageable for me. I agree about the fingers tailpiece. Must be some logic behind it, although it escapes me.

  17. #16

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    The fingers tailpiece with the fine tuners actually works. The main tuners seem kind of crude on most guitars, now that we have such accurate tuners to clip on. I like the Imperial tuners most of all. Easier on the hands and easier to dial in.

    The downside to the fingers tailpiece is when you change strings. That's kind of a pain.

  18. #17

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    i never bothered with a le grand because i play like le crap

    but as far as the finger tailpiece goes- would the capo trick work, like it does when restringing a bigsby? attach the string at the bottom, pull it taut and clip it down. the capo acts as your "third hand", holding the string in place against the neck so you can work it around the tuner's post without it slipping off the other end.

  19. #18

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    For me restringing the LeGrand presents no downside because of the finger tailpiece. I roll/fold a small cloth and move it under the fingers to stabilize them. Once the strings are mounted i pull it out.

    Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-img_0273-jpg

  20. #19

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    The capo trick just might work

    I don't find the Le Grand tailpiece to be any more annoying than any other archtop tailpiece ... they're all rather annoying IMHO

  21. #20

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    Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-100_0536_copy-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-100_0533_copy-jpg




    I got this one from the famous RhoadsScholar in a complicated trade, as our most of ours over the years. This was NOS from 2001. There was a batch of two LeGrands and a Citation at a Detroit music store. He got the LeGrand last year I believe and relayed it to me.

    The finish really is a natural but Gibson calls it Chablis. Heritage calls it rose natural. The LeGrand, as most know, is the "heritage" of the Gibson Johnny Smith. It's 3" deep, 17" across roughly, and light. The nut is 1 11/18" and the scale length is 25.5".

    I measured it against my L-5 Premier or Acoustic (whatever it is) from around the same time period of creation. The L-5 is about 1/2" longer.

    The bracing is an unequivocal cross type. It is the same as Heritage does on its cross bracing. The LeGrand is tapped tuned. The top is on the thin side, but I've seen thinner. The neck is a solid medium C.

    This came with a TOM/bridge base set and a ebony saddle/base set.

    I have played it minimally since I got it last night. So far, it's an excellent acoustic instrument that's pretty loud. I haven't plugged it in yet.

    This on has a James Hutchins signature on the label. I am aware that some people are not impressed by him or his signature. Those of us who lived at Kalamazoo at the time had respect for him as a decent and gifted luthier. It is likely true that he only supervised the build of this instrument and tuned the body. That's still something.

    Gibson Guitar's James "Hutch" Hutchins Leaves Behind a Legacy All His Own

    Here are more pics.

    Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-100_0532-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-100_0527-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-100_0525-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-100_0519-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-100_0523-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-100_0524-jpg

  22. #21

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    LeGrand next to L-5. The quality is poor but you can appreciate the size difference and the f holes. Rhoads holding the guitar with a smile.


    Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-legrand1_copy-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-100_0538_copy-jpg

  23. #22

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    I own a Hutch signed Byrdland and Citation, They’re the best Gibsons I own. The wood on yours has that “Hutch cut” look I really like

  24. #23

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    What did Bob get in the exchange ? That was supposed to be his retirement guitar. Beautiful LeGrande ! Congrats Mark.

    I hope my good buddy Bob is happy.

  25. #24

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    Marty it is wonderful and he did not have the guitar long really. I am looking for one of those myself really I did see one on ebay for not a bad price but you got a stunner for sure.

  26. #25

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    congratulations, LeGrands are in a league of their own .......

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    What did Bob get in the exchange ? That was supposed to be his retirement guitar. Beautiful LeGrande ! Congrats Mark.

    I hope my good buddy Bob is happy.
    Money and another guitar. That's how we roll. Sometimes the guitars go in one direction and sometimes the other. Amps too.

    Bob had suggested years ago that we have a "guitar library" so we can check them in and out. Or maybe a guitar co-op.

    There's a fair chance the guitar will end up back with him.

  28. #27

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    Wow, what a gorgeous Le Grand! Play it in good health.

  29. #28

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    Marty,
    Gorgeous guitar in every way. The Legrand is my favorite Gibson Archtop, do enjoy.

  30. #29

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    Here's what I sold to get the money for the Legrand. It's also a Hutch creation. There are similarities in the top and back.

    Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-6_zpsteedkquh_37523560051_o-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-20161212_164910_zpsyxtukjxa_37523556401_o-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-8_zpsr6ilr8uz_37492324112_o-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-7_zpsn7jwyrq1_37492324412_o-jpg

  31. #30

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    Your Le Grande is indeed grand. The woods are exquisite. Congratulations, and play it in good health!

  32. #31

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    Congrats, that is a real beauty! I have an L5 Custom from 2001 that looks exactly like your L5P (except blond). Can you describe any differences in sound and playability between the LeGrand and your L5? Have not yet had a chance to try out a LeGrand. Maybe that's a good thing...

    Thanks,

    Len

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Len R
    Congrats, that is a real beauty! I have an L5 Custom from 2001 that looks exactly like your L5P (except blond). Can you describe any differences in sound and playability between the LeGrand and your L5? Have not yet had a chance to try out a LeGrand. Maybe that's a good thing...

    Thanks,

    Len
    Too soon to comment.

    One has LaBella 15s and the other Chromes 12s.

    I'll need a few months.

  34. #33

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    I am on the look out for one of these but I get mix results on the width of the lower bout. It I believe is suppose to be 17 inches, however I have seen descriptions by some that have it at 16 3/4. So would some of you who might have one give the there answer. Remember that a correct measurement is worth more than 1000 guess so even go so far as to break out a yardstick or tape measure. I would appreciate it muchly.

    FInally having researched treads is seems to be a toss up on if a Johnny Smith Gibson is a better guitar than a Legrand. I am looking here for nice acoustic sound that is lively although does not need to be a power monster that will cut through a 12 piece band. Most Johnny Smith I have played ( many, many) meet this definition although I have played a few of them that were absolute dogs, heavy and nothing. I have played a few Legrands but it has been years so don't remember and have not played more than 1 or 2.

    My bias is that the Legrands have better wood and were under better quality control than Smith's at least for the entire time GIbson made the two models, Good Johnny SMith with flame and in nice condition seem to be running more..............I don't pay these dollars........at least for now.

  35. #34

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    QAman’s advice will be what you might want to hear.
    I have a special place in my heart for a Johnny Smith though. But you might find a LeGrand in better shape for less.
    Good Luck Mark.
    JD

  36. #35

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    I bought a brand new 2016 LeGrand. Worst sounding guitar I ever owned. The top was carved thin as a potato chip. Thin and bright sounding with no bottom end. Played like butter though. I blame the horrible top carve. I also bought a 2014 L5P with the same BJB pu and a thick top and it was fabulous. IMO extra caution is required buying a LeGrand due to tops being carved too thin. If you can find one with a top carved more like a L5 IMO it will be a great guitar. Thin top thin sound.

  37. #36

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    Interesting in that generally a thinner top produces better lows. But I talking from individual makers carving tops with a micrometer all around.

  38. #37

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    I am no LeGrand expert. I have only owned 1. I had a 1979 JS and it sounded great but didn’t care for the neck profile.

  39. #38

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    I bought a LeGrand in '95 and another in '97. Unlike Vinny's, both were outstanding instruments with what I'd consider normal thickness tops. At the time I owned several Smiths, but sold them after getting the LeGrands. One of them in particular, from '68, was quite exceptional--the guy who bought it from me, a serious collector, said he'd been searching for a JS like that for years. Part of the reason I sold was that I was moving away from 25" x 1.75" fretboards, but I also thought the woods and workmanship on the LeGrands were superior.

    That being said, I would not have considered any of those guitars suitable for unamplified playing except in a very quiet room with very quiet players.

    At the time I sold the LeGrands I measured them at 16.5" width. It was four years ago and I might be misremembering, but I do remember being surprised at how small they were.

    Danny W.
    Last edited by Danny W.; 05-30-2020 at 09:20 AM.

  40. #39

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    Hey Mark. Heck, I always thought that the LeGrand was the name of the Johnny Smith after Johnny broke the association with Gibson. I had no idea it was so different.

  41. #40

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    I currently own both the Legrand and the Johnny smith. Ill measure the lower bout for you tomorrow. I have owned other examples of both these guitars. IMO they really are different guitars depends on what you play as to which one is better. Johnny smiths are a better electric guitar a bit more sustain in the high register. The necks are very different. Single note lines I would choose the Johnny smith. I’ve never played a bad playing Johnny smith. They all sound pretty great plugged in but vary quite a lot acoustically. The legrand is more of an Acoustic guitar. Workmanship is up there with any private Luther. My legrand is very loud and woody with a deep base sound. I have heard examples that sounded bright and thin to me, mine isn’t at all like that. I would say for cord melody this is the guitar even Johnny would play. They are both great guitars and both capable of making anyone happy in all departments. These are in my opinion where their strengths lie. Hope that helps.
    Quote Originally Posted by deacon Mark
    I am on the look out for one of these but I get mix results on the width of the lower bout. It I believe is suppose to be 17 inches, however I have seen descriptions by some that have it at 16 3/4. So would some of you who might have one give the there answer. Remember that a correct measurement is worth more than 1000 guess so even go so far as to break out a yardstick or tape measure. I would appreciate it muchly.

    FInally having researched treads is seems to be a toss up on if a Johnny Smith Gibson is a better guitar than a Legrand. I am looking here for nice acoustic sound that is lively although does not need to be a power monster that will cut through a 12 piece band. Most Johnny Smith I have played ( many, many) meet this definition although I have played a few of them that were absolute dogs, heavy and nothing. I have played a few Legrands but it has been years so don't remember and have not played more than 1 or 2.

    My bias is that the Legrands have better wood and were under better quality control than Smith's at least for the entire time GIbson made the two models, Good Johnny SMith with flame and in nice condition seem to be running more..............I don't pay these dollars........at least for now.

  42. #41

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    My Legrand is 17" at the lower bout. The Johnny Smith lower bout is shorter length wise than Legrand. Hope that helps!

  43. #42

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    Oh yes that helps thank you. What year is yours.

  44. #43

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    42.8 cm on mine so that is 16-7/8” to you

    Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-e0b8fb2f-5057-43a8-8689-5402d29cb251-jpg

  45. #44

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    I have been prowling for a LeGrand with a thicker top. I think the ones made in the late 90’s are the ones to seek. I had a couple Golden Eagles with potato chip tops that sounded thin also. I think the reason I love modern L5’s so much is there thicker tops. Personal taste. I like a thicker woody tone over a bright acoustic tone. L5’s are pretty consistent in tone. I think LeGrands vary more. I know QAman has a great one as does fws6. I am still searching. I will say the ’16 I had was very comfortable and had a fantastic neck.

  46. #45

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    Let's hear it for the full electric sound of a well-made archtop! If I wanted acoustic sound, I'd use a nice microphone and stand.

  47. #46

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    Mark - as you know I have 2 Legrand’s and both are outstanding guitars. Body width on my mid 90’s Hutch period is 16-3/4, and on my 2015 16-7/8. Both body depths range from 2.950 to 2.900 and scale lengths are 25.312.

    As for thickness of top , both measure .187 at bass side F hole - at north east corner viewing guitar from front . Actually , as compared to thickness on my outstanding Wes, the Legrand is actually .030 thicker when measured in same area.

    The interior neck block is solid up to the portion of fingerboard (cantilevered) relief cut. The Gibson Johnny Smith has a longer solid neck extension and interior support block.

    As for comfort , Legrand much more comfortable than 3.350 body depth of Wes.

    As for sound , the Wes is a bit more airy and the Legrand’s are slightly more focused.

    My 90’s Hutch period burst is the finest sounding Gibson Archtop I have ever played. It sounds like a D’Angelico in the mid range .......and the 2015 is close.

    What I like about my Legrand’s - is the notes just roll off the fingerboard with a very smooth sounding balance . Both are very responsive and effortless to play. You can play these with a light touch, unlike other Archtop’s which require some gymnastics to play.

    If I had to pick one post 60’s Gibson Archtop guitar to own and keep it would be my Hutch Legrand. It offers the best unplugged - and plugged in experience....fit and finish exemplary - every bit as good as a Citation.

    Of course, these are my experiences with this model and others my have different opinions.

  48. #47

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    I am really taken by the fact that the width of the bouts vary that much on a factory guitar. Now I completely understand this on individual builders they can vary quite a bit in fact. That was the one thing about GIbsons. You get an L5 and bingo it is the exact dimension on everyone or at least not discernable without a serious machinist ruler. I am going assume these Legrands may not be cookie cut like the general production archtops? I have no idea but I sure don't see how they can vary up to a 1/2 inch without something being reworked.
    Individual makers even using molds of same a come up varying at times. Great example are D'angelicos that can be 19, 18, 17, 17.5, 16.5, and all over the place.
    My other thought is to skip the LEgrand and just go to an L5C. THat too would be a good option I just don't need one of the big hitters from the 50s that seem to draw the highest prices. Anyone have one and wants to sell look me up. An L5 is and L5 is an L5.............

  49. #48

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    Mark,
    You’ve been contemplating an L5 / Legrand purchase for quite some time - and I actually offered you my L5 before Joe was interested. I think it’s best to go play these guitars and see what moves you.

    Don’t get so caught up in fractional variations in dimensions - it’s about the feel and sound and how it inspires you. Your always welcome to take a trip to NY and play my Gibsons if you like.

    But once you play the Trenier’s - you wouldn’t be looking at a Gibson.

  50. #49

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    I think Steve is right. When Gibson gets it right nobody can touch them. My 2014 L5P with BJB was a absolutely fantastic guitar. I regret selling it but had 4 L5’s and was feeling like a big hoarder pig. I sold it to a great forum member though and made a lifelong friend.Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-fd276ea7-c3ed-488a-a3f4-c248414c40c6-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-a531d9f9-279d-41da-a567-aee66184d974-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-1f8bbfd3-0c08-4b96-bf5f-ff0ca622da98-jpgGibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-6bb2ed84-19b6-4c61-8cf7-d5b7fb8af72d-jpg

  51. #50

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    Deacon Mark,

    I purchased my Culberson signed Legrand in April '18. The serial number is 10108001 and I fondly imagine it could be the last LeGrand out of the Gibson Custom Shop prior to the demise of the company as we knew it. As shown in the attached photo it is a true whisker shy of 17" - perhaps 16 -15/16 wide. It shines both as an acoustic and amplified instrument! I love it!

    You noted that the sizes have varied up to 1/2". I've not seen such a variance.

    Like QAMan I've owned several nice Gibson archtops but settled on the LeGrand as my keeper.

    Albert
    Attached Images Attached Images Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-img_1240-jpg Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-img_1239-jpg Gibson LeGrand - Your Thoughts?-img_1238-jpg