The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #76

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    I played a 1989 (I think) L-4CES last week at la Vonne's music. It had a laminated mahogany back and sides and was signed off by Hutch. It seemed a bit lighter than my 2009 carved back and possibly was brighter too. I had been playing my L-4 the evening before so I thought it was a fair comparison. It is a well played guitar as it showed the good kind of wear. They have several other archtops including a L-5 and a 1945 Eppi among others.
    Thanks John


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  3. #77

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    Still have my '88 L4CES .... I've thought about selling it a few times

    But then I pull it out to shine it up ... and it just sounds too good to let go


    Goo luck with your NGD

  4. #78

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    Had the good fortune to find that my old
    L4ces remains unsold with the dealer. It
    was offered back at an unrealistic figure
    and declined. I countered with a 25%
    reduction which was accepted. It is a
    2008 Natural finish. Not as pretty as the
    S/B NGD which 2b has acquired but it's
    a known quantity, a good player. Having
    reneged on a recent resolve Not to buy
    more, I must lay the blame elsewhere,
    2b, Jabberwocky , and Vinny are equally
    complicit after dangling the carrot of
    temptation here.

  5. #79

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    That L-4CES is a beauty. I didn't see the pictures until today. Wow, wow, wow. I think I finally have seen a L-4 that would make me swear off of ES-175 guitars. I'm a guy that passed up L-5CES guitars to purchase just the right ES-175 back in the early 80s, so this is a big deal.

    Nice get on the "git."

  6. #80

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    I just acquired a sweet 1989 L-4 CES Hutch guitar that needs some tuning up. I was looking for a 175, but this L-4 just felt like a higher class instrument against every 175 I compared it against. The only negative is the frets are so dang low and it’s taking a bit to adjust to the neck/scale. I’m new to L-4s, any insights from owners?

    It Def needs a refret (stainless?), new tuners and pickguard. It also has a surface crack that needs sealing.
    Anybody know where I can get a black replacement pickguard, or a recommendation on replacement tuners that will match? Thanks in advance!

    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-bc536202-775c-445d-ba07-4bc50f0c1f5e-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-ee6b5f4a-e370-4949-85a2-1a27dce60cc3-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-8a6fb0ff-e685-4fbe-81a8-acdf774de466-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-803ed6aa-e61e-48bd-998f-f8eb5fd79ea5-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-d01b8241-d409-4f17-bd92-4ce0e1254093-jpg

  7. #81

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    Jescar EVO Gold frets would be killer on that guitar. I would go with those before stainless for sure.

  8. #82

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    That "broken glass" pickguard is a Gibson original; not original to the L-4CES necessarily but original to Gibson. Gibson used it on the LeGrand and L5 Studio.

    I echo TheRhythmMan's recommendation of Jescar EVO Gold; 47095 EVO (also available as 47095 Stainless or 51100 Stainless only). There is also the 47104 EVO but they are wide and look like railway ties on the fretboard. You may like it or you may not.

    Fret Wire Specifications – Jescar

    That "crack" in the top looks like a lacquer check. Even if it is a crack, it does not look as if it has gone through the top to the other side. It does not look deep at all; more like a very long scratch than a crack. It does not look like it has opened up so I'd get a luthier to inspect the underside. If the luthier suggests because there is evidence that it has gone through to the other side or is going to split, cleat it or reinforce with thin silk and glue. But I'd be inclined to just leave it alone. Looks harmless to me.

    With new frets, a well-dressed nut, a good set-up she is good to go for another few decades.

    (A word of caution since the Gibson truss rod scares me: ask your tech to check out the Dan Erlewine method of using cauls, a long levelling gauge, f-clamps to take the work off the truss rod for adjusting neck relief. The Gibson truss rod is an ancient design and with age and torsion acting on the truss rod it has been known to break just right below the truss rod nut. The truss rod really should not be doing the work of forcing backbow in the neck. It should just capture it and hold it. It mostly works when the truss rod is new until it does not work and then you are looking at a $2300 repair bill. The folk who chuckle at me conveniently disappear when someone reports a Gibson truss rod breaking. They then say that it is the nature of the truss rod to break. Some of these folk are well-meaning and all out sincere, too. But it is a $2300 repair bill and only "it has always been done this way" prevents us from exercising some common sense about it. Torsion, baby, torsion. Twist any metal rod anchored at one end enough and it eventually breaks. I had that experience long ago with a thread-cutting tap; the damn tap broke in the holder as I was turning it to cut threads. Wood screws break without a pilot hole, etc.. Same principle applies to the Gibson truss rod. Rant over.)

    As for the tuning machines, check out the Hipshot with the Adaptor Plate that requires no new holes to be made. Those Gibson-Schaller M6 Kluson-style tuning machines are a pain in the arse. I'd replace them with Gotoh 510 closed back ones if you don't mind new holes or Hipshots. Gotoh makes the Schaller-M6-Kluson-style too.
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 07-29-2018 at 04:26 PM.

  9. #83

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    Congrats! I love mine, a '92.

    I broke one of the original tuning pegs, and replaced them with Tone Pros Kluson replacements. They were on clearance on Stew Mac when I got them. I opted for black on gold. I think they look slick, although I get that someone who wants to keep everything looking original wouldn't care for it.

    Before the new tuners arrived, a clever tech screwed a volume knob onto the post of the tuner to hold me over. Pretty funny.

    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-img_20180613_204835_304-jpg
    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-screen-shot-2018-07-29-8-37-32-pm-jpg
    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-screen-shot-2018-07-29-8-32-50-pm-png

  10. #84

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    I have an '88 L4CES ...

    IMHO these guitars are usually a step above a 175 in tone ... thanks to the solid spruce top ... and I love 175s

    For a while they could be had for less than a 175 if you didn't insist on having a blonde ... looks like they have up gone in price since then, though

    When I first saw mine in 1992 at Chuck Levins Washington Music Center it was new old stock and the neck was extremely bowed ...

    but the techs there were able to straighten it out ... it has only required a small tweak or two since then to stay straight

    I have some other nice Gibson archtops now and have thought about letting my L4CES go to clear out some space and free up some money, but when I pull it out to play I always decide to keep it

  11. #85

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    I think the crack is indeed just on the surface. The detailer in me wants to get it repaired just for aesthetics’s, but I agree to not to mess with it I got some nickel replacement tuners and a tune-o bridge. I’m In the process of de-Golding it I was told you can wipe off the gold off the tailpiece as well, if you want.

    Ill def use the Jesco stainless wire. I like big frets on my Tele’s (6105 or 6150s, any recommendations on size for an L4 with 12 flats?

  12. #86

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluedawg
    I have an '88 L4CES ...

    IMHO these guitars are usually a step above a 175 in tone ... thanks to the solid spruce top ... and I love 175s

    For a while they could be had for less than a 175 if you didn't insist on having a blonde ... looks like they have up gone in price since then, though

    When I first saw mine in 1992 at Chuck Levins Washington Music Center it was new old stock and the neck was extremely bowed ...

    but the techs there were able to straighten it out ... it has only required a small tweak or two since then to stay straight

    I have some other nice Gibson archtops now and have thought about letting my L4CES go to clear out some space and free up some money, but when I pull it out to play I always decide to keep it
    Totally agree. I went in looking for a vintage 175 and after comparing this L-4 to about 10 different 175’s, I realized it was the one. Not sure it’s due to being a Hutchinson build, but it feels like another class of instrument all around. Mines extremely resonant, but holds together even with a fair amount of dirt. Will be my workhorse. Seems like the neck pup being farther up fattens it up a hair as well.

  13. #87

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    Anyone know where i can get a black pickguard for my 89 L-4 CES pictured above?
    Having a hard time finding a repro with the proper PUP spacing for an L4...

  14. #88

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    You’ll have a hard time finding an L-4 pickguard. I have made several over the years using the Allparts L-5 guard. It’s a high quality piece with excellent binding.

    A seller or two on eBay sell the Allparts L-5 guard and you may be able to save few bucks there. But, be warned—there are total crap EBay knockoffs that look like they were made by chimpanzees and I advise against them. Be sure to get the Allparts one. It’s great.

    Once in hand, you’ll have to cut the pickup notches yourself. Use the existing pickguard as a template to mark the cutouts on the new guard. The material is brittle and it’s risky to drill or cut with a saw. Best to use your Dremel tool and a suitable bit (I use a small cylindrical bit to do the cutouts). Once you’ve roughed out the cutouts, wrap the edge of a 2 x 4 with sandpaper and use it to finish the cutouts. Old trick—the narrow edge of a piece of 2x4 material is actually 1.5 inches wide and has near perfect size and contour to make those pickguard cutouts look like a factory job. You can cut the adjustment screw notches either before or after sanding. I use the same cylinder bit. If you take your time, you can make it look perfect. For the screw hole, I also use a Dremel bit to create the countersink then a smaller pointed bit to finish the hole.

    Here’s the last one I did.

    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-3d071404-bccb-4844-a65e-d9946d6fd74d-jpg

    Hopefully this gives you another option.


  15. #89

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    I'm a nerd and I have Jescar Gold EVO frets on all of my guitars. It is a copper alloy that contains no nickel. It is nearly as hard as stainless, and it will make any guitar with gold hardware pop! They simply do not look worn after much playing. I personally like the look and feel of the .104/.047 size.

    I think the .118/.058 option would indeed look like railway ties, and that only Yngwie could love them!

  16. #90

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    Neyzensia, I’ve never been able to find L-4 guards when I needed them. If you are able to get an actual L-4 ces guard (and tortoise to boot!), that would be ideal. The L-5 guard is a 1/2” longer and will go all the way up to the edge of the cutaway (as your current guard does). Whereas an actual L-4 guard fits better by not going all the way to the cutaway.

    Yours with L-5 size guard:
    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-ed547fa8-f8e4-48b7-9710-cfd73030ea21-jpeg

    A factory L-4 size guard fits like this:
    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-5b6100b9-60dd-40e0-a901-7071914192e5-jpeg

    Best of luck! Nice to have options!


  17. #91

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    I may have an L-4CES pickguard (multi-bound tortoiseshell) around here. I'll check...
    Found it, but I'm not sure if it's the right one. Not NOS, but in great shape. So much for my memory. Here are some pix, including one that shows the distance between the pickup cutouts. They seem a bit closer to each other than the ones on your guitar, maybe? In which case, perhaps it's from an earlier version of that model, or from another fancy Gibson.
    Attached Images Attached Images Gibson L-4 CES Owners-img_2935-jpg Gibson L-4 CES Owners-img_2933-jpg Gibson L-4 CES Owners-img_2937-jpg Gibson L-4 CES Owners-img_2936-jpg 

  18. #92

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    Hmm, I bet that's a ES-175 pickguard? The L-4 is nearly the same guitar from what i understand, but the Neck Pickup on the L-4 is farther up towards the neck.
    Looking at this picture of a 175, I bet that's what it is. Bummer, that is a sweet pickguard!I think I'll have to go with the black Allparts L-5 repro and do some modifications to fit the pickups

    Thanks so much for checking!!

    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-175-jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images Gibson L-4 CES Owners-175-pickguard-jpg 

  19. #93

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    Too fancy for an ES-175, which has a multi-ply B/W/B/W pickguard.

    Maybe an ES-775, which is a fancied-up ES-175. It has a multi-bound tortoiseshell pickguard. But that pickguard is screwed into the top, and has a counter-sunk hole at the top. Mine has no hole and has a pin for mountng ito the side of the neck. Not a Byrdland - too big. Hmmm....suggestions from the peanut gallery are welcome....
    Last edited by Hammertone; 08-01-2018 at 12:49 AM.

  20. #94

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neyzensia
    Sorry guys, unfamiliar with the Jescar Gold frets. Are they as long lasting as Stainless, of is it a look thing.
    Being that this git has neck binding, I figure go with Stainless for longer lasting investment.
    The Jescar EVO Gold alloy is about more than just aesthetics. They are frets with a far, far longer life expectancy than traditional nickel alloy frets.

    Some complain about the tone they have after refretting with stainless. I’ve never heard such complaints with EVO Gold.

    Here they are on my GJS.

    Last edited by ThatRhythmMan; 08-02-2018 at 04:37 PM.

  21. #95

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    Interesting, thanks for sharing! I've gone stainless on a few of my older Tele's over the years and never really had any issues with the sound, but never have tried them on an archtop. I was just thinking of going stainless for the longevity. Anyone else tried stainless frets on an archtop and dislike or notice a big sound difference?

  22. #96

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    An update for fun - we spent some time last night replacing tuners, bridge, pick-guard and rubbed the gold off the tailpiece with a gorgomyte conditioned cloth. The gold rubs off shockingly easy Interestingly, we realized the original bridge had unevenly spaced nothces in the saddles, so the string spacing's were not uniform!
    Next step is to get the L-5 pickgurad, and customize it for the L-4 pickup spacing...
    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-l-4-de-golding-tuners-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-l-4-bridge-de-golding-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-l-4-de-golding-2-jpg

  23. #97

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    Final L-4 remodel step complete! We Modified an Allparts L-5 pickguard per @rolijen ‘s direction and it came out so sweet! Will Refret at some point, but man this guitar is singing now! I must say this L-4 is really a notch above all the 175’s I compared it against. Thanks again for all the direction guys!!
    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-1f507cb9-d8f4-42c3-9e3a-55d8a3ee0600-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-03f3eeb8-35f1-4980-ba75-42adf39abde0-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-09329154-dea9-4c68-a4df-e044b31740d2-jpg
    Last edited by Neyzensia; 08-08-2018 at 01:00 PM.

  24. #98

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    Dear fellow jazz guitarists,

    She's arrived a couple of days ago. A 1989 Gibson L4 CES that was crafted by James Hutchins. For those of you who have seen some of my videos before, I mainly own guitars with CC pickups. This time, I wanted to have a guitar equipped with humbuckers.

    So here she is. The combination of the spruce top with mahogany back and rims is really nice and you can hear the sweet mellow sound given by mahog.

    With the small exception of the bridge humbucker that has tarnished, she is like new.

    Gibson L-4 CES Owners-img_3203-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-img_3198-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-img_3201-jpgGibson L-4 CES Owners-img_3197-jpg

    Have a nice week-end

  25. #99

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    Lovely sound and wonderful playing. I have a sunburst from about the same vintage, with really low frets. I'm kind of surprised that this model is not more talked about. Thanks for posting this.

  26. #100

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    That sounds so good in your hands, Fred! So good.

    A real sleeper archtop, the L-4CES.

    Make great music with it!