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  1. #151

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    Quote Originally Posted by skykomishone
    Greentone, the magnetism? Never thought about that, but my '55 175 P90's should come with a warning to people with pacemakers too! Man, are they strong.
    Yes. The pole pieces on Gibson pickups sit atop bar magnets. On Fenders the pole pieces are themselves magnets. They exert significant force on the strings and need to be kept a reasonable distance from them for optimum performance.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #152

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomvwash
    I'm surprised that a maple back on an L-4 CES, instead of solid mahogany, is a laminate. Is this correct?
    The 1994 Historic catalog shows the L-4CES as having laminated maple sides and backs. The version with mahogany back & rims was all solid.

    Danny W.

  4. #153

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    The L-4 CES is the last guitar on my bucket list. It was the first Gibson guitar I ever played (back in 1976)and I fell in love with it. It was wine red and, me at 13 years old, I dreamed about that guitar instead of girls.

    In the many years since then, I’ve owned dozens of guitars and amps as a working musician playing hundreds of gigs. In my older years, I play for enjoyment. As money has allowed (been careful and sold off most of my gear) I’ve focused on finding my 3 personal ‘dream’ guitars (L-5 CES, L-4 CES, ES-175). I made my list 7 years ago, but last year this forum taught me about the Tal Farlow model so that got added to the list making it 4.

    Like many of us, I have had to be focused and disciplined in saving up and selling off in order to fund these purchases. And, I admit to occasional bouts of GAS still, but it feels good to have made a goal and seen it through to near completion. I’ve owned many 175s over the years, but the one I kept is the best one. My L-5 is alive and dreamy sounding. My Tal is even better than my beloved 175. I hope I’ll find an L-4 CES I’ll like as much. It’s only fitting that the last archtop to complete the list be the first archtop I played as a kid. I’m keeping my eyes open!

    Have a great week my friends!

    Roli

  5. #154

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    Roli,
    How are you buddy.
    Its funny, the guitars you plan on ending up with are exactly the guitars I want to end up with, only exception being the 175 which I will be happy with my floater 165 in its place.
    Your list is the THE list. A dream for any Guitar Aficionado who favors Gibson's over all else.
    You are my kinda guy!
    I've never played an L4, but we have a mutual dear friend who can be helpful with this one.
    Joe D

  6. #155

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    Robert when you are ready for a great mint VSB L4CES Mahogany email me. I will mail you those tubes in a couple days.

  7. #156

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    Robert when you are ready for a great mint VSB L4CES Mahogany email me. I will mail you those tubes in a couple days.
    Thank you, Vinny. You are a true gentleman. Will be nice to fire up the old Fender GB. Been sitting idle for a few years.

  8. #157

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405
    Roli,
    How are you buddy.
    Its funny, the guitars you plan on ending up with are exactly the guitars I want to end up with, only exception being the 175 which I will be happy with my floater 165 in its place.
    Your list is the THE list. A dream for any Guitar Aficionado who favors Gibson's over all else.
    You are my kinda guy!
    I've never played an L4, but we have a mutual dear friend who can be helpful with this one.
    Joe D
    Thanks Joe! I’m doing well (thanks to the big guy upstairs). I’m glad you enjoy your ES-165.

    Pardon if I’ve told this story several times before... but, about 20 years ago, I studied with a great jazz guitarist (Donald Better—Cleveland Institute of Music) who would always compliment my ES-165 at every lesson. He’d get this impressed look on his face and say, “wow, that’s the best sounding 175 I’ve ever heard”. He said that many times.

    I think Gibson hit it out of the park with the Herb Ellis model. Mine was a 90s model with an inset ‘57 Classic. The gold hardware just adds a touch of class. I foolishly sold it. But it was to help out a friend of my high-school-aged son high school kid who was heading off to Berkeley to study jazz guitar. He loved it and one day, close to graduation, he asked if I would sell it to him. How could I say no?! He was a very talented kid and committing himself to real study to become a great guitarist. Sold it to him cheap and smiled the whole time. But, I do miss the clear ringing yet woody tone that guitar had. In a word, it sounded Sweet.

    My playing skills pale in comparison to yours Joe. But, my love of these classic Gibson archtop electrics is right up there with yours. I guess, that makes us (and our friends here) brothers of sorts.

    Until I can swing for an L-4, I’ve been enjoying my Indonesian made Ibanez LGB-30. These guitars are beautiful but overpriced due to the crap hardware and electronics. I scrapped and redid everything important (new tuners, nut, Seth Lover pickups, braided wire, Switchcraft switch and jack, CTS pots, Sprague orange drop caps, and correctly radiused bridge. With these upgrades, this little guy is my temporary L-4. I’ve really found that the cheaper and mid-line guitars coming out of asian factories are decent guitars hobbled with bad setups and cheap hardware.

    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-84520430-2aab-4714-abc7-6bbad8ce7d48-jpg

    Loving life and trying to keep improving after a health scare earlier this year. Not fully out of the woods, but moving the right direction.

    Have a great evening, buddy!

  9. #158

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    "The L-4 CES is the last guitar on my bucket list. It was the first Gibson guitar I ever played (back in 1976)"

    Is that year a typo? The only factory electric L-4s back then were the short run 50s/60s CC pickup equipped models and they weren't called CES.

  10. #159

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    "The L-4 CES is the last guitar on my bucket list. It was the first Gibson guitar I ever played (back in 1976)"

    Is that year a typo? The only factory electric L-4s back then were the short run 50s/60s CC pickup equipped models and they weren't called CES.
    I don’t think it’s a typo. I was in the 8th grade during ‘75 and ‘76 and after school some days I would walk to a Guitar Shop on the main drag (El Camino Real) in Menlo Park, CA. The shop was called Guitars Unlimited and after a few visits trying an SG and a Les Paul, I came across this gorgeous Wine Red carved top Gibson and it sounded so rich and woody. It had parallelogram inlays and gold hardware and it fed back like a son of a gun. I’m sure it had a pointy cutaway and two pickups. No idea what year the guitar was. I didn’t know anything about hollow guitars at the time and it wasn’t until years later that I put the pieces together to figure out it was an L-4. Whether CES in the the model name or not, it certainly was a Cutaway Electric Spanish. Maybe a special run? But, it was glorious.

  11. #160

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    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    I don’t think it’s a typo. I was in the 8th grade during ‘75 and ‘76 and after school some days I would walk to a Guitar Shop on the main drag (El Camino Real) in Menlo Park, CA. The shop was called Guitars Unlimited and after a few visits trying an SG and a Les Paul, I came across this gorgeous Wine Red carved top Gibson and it sounded so rich and woody. It had parallelogram inlays and gold hardware and it fed back like a son of a gun. I’m sure it had a pointy cutaway and two pickups. No idea what year the guitar was. I didn’t know anything about hollow guitars at the time and it wasn’t until years later that I put the pieces together to figure out it was an L-4. Whether CES in the the model name or not, it certainly was a Cutaway Electric Spanish. Maybe a special run? But, it was glorious.
    Studying and collecting this stuff closely for 35 + yrs I've never heard of anything like that except a wine red L5CES but they didn't have parallelograms or florentine cutaways of course. Unless it was some wacky 1 off custom order I think it was another model you played.
    I just checked the Gruhn book and no mention of such a run, only the CC equipped model.

  12. #161

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    Speaking of wacky 1 off custom Gibsons I had a '69 ES175 w short Byrdland scale , all L-5 appointments, including gold hardware, so it's not impossible you're remembering correctly and it was 1 off.

  13. #162

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    If it really had a carved top could have been a modded L-4C, but I suspect it was a WR ES-175 and didn't have a carved top.

    Danny W.

  14. #163

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    Except 175s weren't offered in wine red to my knowledge.

  15. #164

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    One thing I know is that over time details can get confused. For ex, many times I've seen or purchased instruments from orig owners that swear they bought their guitar in 1955 for example, when the model wasn't introduced until 1960.

  16. #165

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    From the Gibson website:

    “The first wave of these guitars were built in small batches throughout the 1950s, but were perfected late in the decade. Along the way the guitar’s body traded its rounded edges for a single cutaway horn to allow easier access to the high notes – a sign of the L-4’s evolution from rhythm to lead-and-rhythm instrument. Finally, in 1958, the design reached a pinnacle with a run of 20 guitars bearing the Gibson L-4 CES name. Some had Charlie Christian pickups, others Alnicos, and a few sported humbuckers. Over time the humbuckers proved the most versatile and practical, and thus today’s graceful mahogany L-4 CES model reached maturity.”


    In 1975 such a guitar would have only been 17 years old. The L-4 CES I played those times at Guitars Unlimited had a pair of humbuckers. It changed me. I hope to play another one soon !

  17. #166

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    Except 175s weren't offered in wine red to my knowledge.
    During the '70's Gibson had plenty of wine red to spare, regardless of what their catalogs showed. The ES-175T came stock in it, so it's not hard to imagine that an occasional full-depth version escaped:

    https://www.empireguitarsri.com/list...e-red/16837577

    Or perhaps a refinish. Seems more likely than an L-4CES back then.

    Danny W.

  18. #167

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    I do remember being confused by the model name because they also had a flashy (ugly to my eye) solid body Gibson L5S and I couldn’t remember which was the L4 and which was the L5. At that time, I knew nothing about the iconic L-5 archtop we all love but I did know Steve Howe played (among many others) an ES-175. The L-4 they had did look like Steve’s guitar only it was wine red, had gold hardware, and a fancier tailpiece, similar to the one on the ugly solid body L5S. These fragments and others (it would feedback at very low volumes, I clearly remember the slightly raised, straight grain lines on the spruce top). No, it was a carved spruce top guitar. Not an ES-175. Who knows! Fun memories though.

  19. #168

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    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    From the Gibson website:

    “The first wave of these guitars were built in small batches throughout the 1950s, but were perfected late in the decade. Along the way the guitar’s body traded its rounded edges for a single cutaway horn to allow easier access to the high notes – a sign of the L-4’s evolution from rhythm to lead-and-rhythm instrument. Finally, in 1958, the design reached a pinnacle with a run of 20 guitars bearing the Gibson L-4 CES name. Some had Charlie Christian pickups, others Alnicos, and a few sported humbuckers. Over time the humbuckers proved the most versatile and practical, and thus today’s graceful mahogany L-4 CES model reached maturity.”


    In 1975 such a guitar would have only been 17 years old. The L-4 CES I played those times at Guitars Unlimited had a pair of humbuckers. It changed me. I hope to play another one soon !
    That's very interesting, thanks for the reference! But I've never seen or heard of an L-4 w factory humbucker, let alone an Alnico, which was discontinued on standard guitars a little earlier. They couldn't have made more than one or two of each of those as experimental models. What are the chances the wine red w gold hardware you played was one? btw wine red wasn't introduced until the mid 70s I believe, though there are custom cherry guitars in the late 50s early 60s.
    I've seen at least 10 CC equipped L-4s over the yrs. Gruhn says they only came stock w CC's beginning in 58 w 9 shipped in 69. He's not the be all end all, I've seen him stumped more than once, no one knows everything, not even Gibson themselves
    I dont think I'm wrong but hope I am, new day, new knowledge!

  20. #169

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    I dont think I'm wrong but hope I am, new day, new knowledge!

    I was only 13. I may be remembering it wrong. But, it’s a great memory! Unlike the time the shop keeper told me to please stop after I played “Long Train Runnin’ “ for the hundredth time.

    But that shop was amazing. I rented a blackface Vibrolux Reverb from them and a Les Paul Custom black beauty for my first real gig in 1976. I think it cost me $20. They had lots of interesting older guitars and newer ones. In the front display case, they had a ‘54 Les Paul with staple pole pickups. Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir taught guitar there a few years before I started going there. Seems like jazz players hung out there too. It was the first time I heard the term “cats” used to describe the people that went there. Ah, there were some great music stores in the San Francisco Bay Area at that time. I wish I could go back and get that Vibrolux Reverb. And that mystery wine red beauty.

  21. #170

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    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    The first wave of these guitars were built in small batches throughout the 1950s, but were perfected late in the decade. Along the way the guitar’s body traded its rounded edges for a single cutaway horn to allow easier access to the high notes – a sign of the L-4’s evolution from rhythm to lead-and-rhythm instrument. Finally, in 1958, the design reached a pinnacle with a run of 20 guitars bearing the Gibson L-4 CES name. Some had Charlie Christian pickups, others Alnicos, and a few sported humbuckers. Over time the humbuckers proved the most versatile and practical, and thus today’s graceful mahogany L-4 CES model reached maturity.”
    I believe that Gibson was lining up Sascha Distel for a signature model along with the Johnny Smith, Barney Kessel and Trini Lopez models, but it didn't happen. Here he is with an L-5CES and some versions of the L-4CES. He subsequently had a deal with Jacobacci in France for a similar signature guitar.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 08-08-2020 at 04:46 AM.

  22. #171

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    Robert I remember that guitar store very well. They had a great repair tech too. I bought my 1978 Super 400 from them. They always had some nice archtops in stock. Gelb, Gryphon, and Guitars Unlimited.
    Gelb and Gryphon are still here.

  23. #172

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    [COLOR=#232323][FONT=Helvetica]I believe that Gibson was lining up Sascha Distel for a signature model along with the Johnny Smith, Barney Kessel and Trini Lopez models, but that it didn't happen.
    And, as though that weren't enough, Sacha Distel & Brigitte Bardot were an item for over a year .......And he had others too !

    Some guys are have all the luck....... : )

  24. #173

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    Robert I remember that guitar store very well. They had a great repair tech too. I bought my 1978 Super 400 from them. They always had some nice archtops in stock. Gelb, Gryphon, and Guitars Unlimited.
    Gelb and Gryphon are still here.
    Good times! I bought my first Gibson (a ‘72 or ‘73 SG standard) at Guitars Unlimited. First tube amp (Traynor) was purchased at Swain’s on University Ave in Palo Alto! Neither of those places exist any more. Glad that Gelb is still around.

  25. #174

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    I recently resisted for a week or two a local 1992 L4CES in natural finish on Craigslist. One day it was gone. Then it was posted again on Reverb and Craigslist 2hrs away. I contacted the seller it was the same one. The local seller unfortunately had some health issues and the buyer bought other guitars from him as well. It sold quickly. Kicking myself.

  26. #175

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    Robert I remember that guitar store very well. They had a great repair tech too. I bought my 1978 Super 400 from them. They always had some nice archtops in stock. Gelb, Gryphon, and Guitars Unlimited.
    Gelb and Gryphon are still here.
    I've also spent time at each of those fine Bay Area shops over the years. Great memories.

  27. #176

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    The Music Zoo has a brand new one is stock. Very nice.

  28. #177

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    Gibson Custom Shop L-4 Archtop Vintage Sunburst | The Music Zoo

    Looks like an Indian Rosewood fretboard though. Still, nice to see a new one in 2020.

    Its serial number is going to cause some confusion in the future. Gibson started the 2000s Noughties with 2xxx0xxx ending in 2xxx9xxx for 2009s. 2010s are 1xxx0xxx ending in 1xxx9xxx for 2019s. 2020s are...2xxx0xxx, the same serial numbers as Year 2000!

  29. #178

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky
    Gibson Custom Shop L-4 Archtop Vintage Sunburst | The Music Zoo

    Looks like an Indian Rosewood fretboard though. Still, nice to see a new one in 2020.

    Its serial number is going to cause some confusion in the future. Gibson started the 2000s Noughties with 2xxx0xxx ending in 2xxx9xxx for 2009s. 2010s are 1xxx0xxx ending in 1xxx9xxx for 2019s. 2020s are...2xxx0xxx, the same serial numbers as Year 2000!

    Jabbs,
    From the MZ ad the fretboard does look like Indian Rosewood, I must say ,but the specs quote an Ebony fretboard ( ? )
    I am inclined to agree with your opinion however.

    Silverfoxx

  30. #179

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    Here in Europe, it seems that we'll have it with rosewood fretboard, but with 7-9 weeks waiting :
    Gibson L-4 CES VSB – Thomann France

  31. #180

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    I think ebony fretboards may be a thing of the past for the L-4CES. Gibson seem to be hoarding ebony for their flagship archtops and Les Paul Custom reissues.

  32. #181

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    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-fb8e568c-862f-46d7-bd34-221d7e95db5b-jpg2014 was the last year for ebony fretboards on L4's.
    Last edited by vinnyv1k; 08-10-2020 at 04:46 PM.

  33. #182

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    Just got my first archtop: a 2001 L-4!

    Got it off a dealer I had a great experience with last year on Reverb, and he fid it again!

    I was at first put off as it was shipped without strings on the axe (of that caliber and price, why?) and the masking tape (!) bridge markers, but the bridge was wrapped well and the guitar was fine at 19 years.

    I bought Thomastik Jazz Swing 12s and got to work stringing and setting up: for my first time I am happy. The intonation was on point (as well as “on point can be: both E’s were OK). I will need to work with the thumbwheel a bit but playing acoustically it was gorgeous.Gibson L-4 CES Owners-607a082d-8038-46d3-bb68-9a274b5296e0-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-4cf7a3a3-85bb-4906-91e0-a51797f2e4be-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-6e30f791-745e-484c-8054-8a199fa842de-jpg

    So far so good...loving it! It will be plugged in tomorrow: it has “Patent Applied For” stickers on the PUs: could the be real? Anyway I am happy for this new experience!
    Attached Images Attached Images Gibson L-4 CES Owners-ab0e7327-06c4-4004-93c1-c4f6c03cbcbf-jpg 

  34. #183

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    Speaking of wacky 1 off custom Gibsons I had a '69 ES175 w short Byrdland scale , all L-5 appointments, including gold hardware, so it's not impossible you're remembering correctly and it was 1 off.
    Pretty sure it was a '67. ;-)

  35. #184

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    Quote Originally Posted by customxke
    Pretty sure it was a '67. ;-)
    yes, you're right



  36. #185

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    Quote Originally Posted by OsaSmiz
    (..,) it has “Patent Applied For” stickers on the PUs: could the be real? Anyway I am happy for this new experience!
    Congrats! Looks sweet!

    The pickups are probably real ones: teal Gibson Classic 57s. They have that famous sticker too.

    They were long the ’better’ standard Gibson humbuckers in late ’80s (or ’90s?) and since, beside a bit hotter 490-series. Then in early 2000s came Burstbuckers etc.

  37. #186

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    Quote Originally Posted by OsaSmiz
    Just got my first archtop: a 2001 L-4!

    Got it off a dealer I had a great experience with last year on Reverb, and he fid it again!

    I was at first put off as it was shipped without strings on the axe (of that caliber and price, why?) and the masking tape (!) bridge markers, but the bridge was wrapped well and the guitar was fine at 19 years.

    I bought Thomastik Jazz Swing 12s and got to work stringing and setting up: for my first time I am happy.
    Congrats! A dream guitar for sure. Enjoy!

  38. #187

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    Mike & Mike's guitars in Seattle has a really sweet one.

  39. #188
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    Mike & Mike's guitars in Seattle has a really sweet one.
    1998 Gibson L-4 CES Archtop Electric Guitar Vintage Sunburst Near Mint 100% Original w/ohc

    $5200? Very high price. I paid $2700 for a Mahogany back and sides in 2016. Double the price in 4 years? Hmmm

  40. #189

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    The L4CES and Tal Farlow used to be dirt cheap and the 2 best bang for buck Gibson’s. Those days are gone forever.
    You can’t touch either now in good condition for under $4K.
    You also can’t get a good L5 for under $6K unless you are OK with a players grade.

  41. #190

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    Here’s a photo of my little sunburst family. I’m very proud of them. But the family won’t be compete until I add an L-4 CES. Until I can swing it, there’s an empty spot in my heart.
    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-793d3594-6462-4f2a-ae4f-88db2a76a053-jpg

  42. #191
    Sunburst. I love Sunburst.

    Yes, I know I gave my L4CES away for $3k. But sometimes one simply has to pay it forward.

  43. #192

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    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    The L4CES and Tal Farlow used to be dirt cheap and the 2 best bang for buck Gibson’s. Those days are gone forever.
    You can’t touch either now in good condition for under $4K.
    You also can’t get a good L5 for under $6K unless you are OK with a players grade.
    well, here's one for sale for a whole $5 less than 4K and there's a burgundy one for a couple hundred less.
    but yeah, those and Tals have definitely gone up lately, probably because of all the hoopla on this forum!

    1996 Gibson L-4 CES Archtop Guitar Jazzbox - Nearly Unplayed Condition | eBay

  44. #193

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon
    well, here's one for sale for a whole $5 less than 4K and there's a burgundy one for a couple hundred less.
    but yeah, those and Tals have definitely gone up lately, probably because of all the hoopla on this forum!

    1996 Gibson L-4 CES Archtop Guitar Jazzbox - Nearly Unplayed Condition | eBay
    Wintermoon, as I think more about it, that guitar I mentioned playing back in ‘75 or ‘76 may very well have been an L-5 CES and not an L-4 CES. It may have been one of the pointy Florentine cutaway L-5s from the 60s. Your suggestions of the unlikelihood of an L-4 CES existing at that time make me reflect more deeply on the fact that there was a similarly named solid body guitar (L5S) in the same shop. I could never remember which was which and they had the same or very similar tailpieces. Who knew! I may have actually played an L-5 as a 13 year old!

    I do distinctly remember its finish being some variant of red (wine or cherry?). For many years, I’ve assumed it was an L-4 CES and have nostalgically pined for one. Well... I’m still pining for one, regardless. .

    I love the scale and body size of the L-4 CES. My ‘59 VOS ES-175 and other 175s I’ve owned over the years are just about the perfect size so I’m confident I’ll be right at home with an L-4. And that extra touch if mellowness from having the neck pickup just a bit farther from the bridge (compared to an ES-175).

    So, either way (special ultra rare run of late 50s L-4 CES prototype OR 60s L-5 CES) I was a lucky kid to be permitted to handle and play such iconic instruments by that shop owner. Guitars Unlimited, I pay respect to your memory!

  45. #194

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    Roli,
    It's all good, when you play a guitar 40 yrs ago you might not remember the exact details.
    I wasn't there of course but I'm still thinking it might have been a rounded (Venetian) cutaway, the 70s which were peak production for those I believe, I'm only aware of 2 ultra rare "red" custom made sharp (Florentine) cutaways L-5s in the 60s and they were translucent cherry red, not burgundy