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  1. #1

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    Well, this is the first NGD that I ever posted. Not to say that I have not had guitars worthy of it but I have wanted this one since I saw the cover of "Movin' Wes" when I was in high school. However, I had to have the 1 11/16 nut and a somewhat more substantial neck profile than the later 60's. I finally got it! I can't begin to tell you guys how happy I am. This one checks all the boxes for me!

    So it's an all original 1963 L-5CES, carved top and sides with a one piece back. Untouched early pat. # pickups with wiring harness. It has a 3 piece neck with tort side markers. It has been played but well cared for.

    It has the original frets as well which are way too low for me. They have been leveled multiple times and are due. So it's heading off to my tech next week for a refret. I don't really care about nibs and to be honest, it's been leveled enough that there a barely nibs left in several places. I like medium jumbo frets and plan to go with them, I think I used Stew Mac #149 last time I refretted a Gibson.

    But curious on what you guys think on this one.

    The nut is original and has been filed as well over the years. On a vintage guitar, do you usually try to save the original nut? Build it back up, possibly shim it or get a new bone one cut perfectly for the new frets (throw the original in the case)? I usually get a new one but curious what others do.

    Also, what about fretboard leveling? I usually have a fretboard leveled with a refret. It's usually not much taken off. If more is needed, remove the inlay in that area not to risk any damage to it and put back in after. The fretboard on this particular guitar looks very level as is, I could probably compensate for anything with leveling a few frets if needed. I guess my question is on a vintage guitar, do you level as needed or try not to sand the board at all.

    Thanks guys!
    Attached Images Attached Images NGD 1963 Gibson L-5CES-img_8058-jpg NGD 1963 Gibson L-5CES-img_8059-jpg 

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  3. #2

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    Just sensational. My favorite looking jazz box, and beautifully aged.
    Enjoy that thang!

  4. #3

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    If the fingerboard has high/low spots, I definitely think a fretboard level at the time of refret is the way to go, assuming the person doing it is highly skilled. In my experience, you’ll always get the best result.

  5. #4

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    If the board is pretty straight a good refret/level should take care of any minor issues.
    As far as the nut goes, you can just put the orig in the case for down the road if necessary.
    I wouldn't hesitate to refret it to get it playing and sounding it's best.
    It looks great btw, nice color and dig the playing wear, looks like someone liked strumming over the fingerboard extension.

    Love my '64, had it almost 20 yrs now. It's a 5 piece carved neck but w/carved book matched back--as matter of fact the back, sides and neck look like they're carved from the same tree, tight curl all around.
    I've had other 60s L-5's but after getting this one home I was blown away by the sound, a quick check w/an inspection mirror revealed 2 PAF's, a nice bonus.
    I've had it refretted twice by now, just general maintenance imo.
    Observing as many pre '66 wide neck L-5's as I could over the yrs I've found there was a small window in '64 when Gibson used carved flame maple 2 piece backs and for some reason most of these L-5's have PAF's, have no idea how that happened as it's assumed they just randomly reached in a bin full of PAF and early PAT# p.u.s.
    Most pre '70 L-5CES humbucker equipped guitars have the lam back, not a bad thing, I own several other lam 60s Gibsons, not sure you can really tell a huge difference, likely varies from guitar to guitar.

  6. #5

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    Just love these florentine cutaways. The cheery sunburst is great.

    Congrats for acquiring this beauty.
    Archtop YT Channel: www.youtube.com/+FredArchtop

  7. #6

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    Congrats on this fine looking instrument, if it sounds even half as good as it looks you're in tall cotton! Play it in good health :-)

  8. #7

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    You scored big time with this one ! Those late 3-piece necks are IT for me, they have just the right amount of heft, roundness and depth....
    Re the fret-work I would think that any minor bumps in the fretboard will be un-noticeable once the new frets are all set and properly leveled.

  9. #8

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    Happy Vintage NGD!

  10. #9

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    Congrats !!

    As far as replacing the nut, if , after a good inspection, if your luthier says it's ok, then leave it. But make sure you give it a good look. I bought a '52 L-7 and had struggled with nagging set up issues with it, 'til I discovered the original nut had a hairline crack. After it was replaced, it was problem solved.

    Enjoy it !!

  11. #10

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    That is one sweet mamma. You found the holy grail, to be sure! With the right set up you'll be golden. As central as the nut is to the overall playing of the guitar, I'd likely want to spring for a new nut that is tailored to the new frets and other neck work you do. Just my opinion, though, and not the most "vintage" opinion you'll find here.

    Congratulations on finding the guitar of your dreams! I hope we'll get a clip--VIDEO of course so we can see this beauty in action!
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  12. #11
    Thanks for all the replies! I can't even tell you how excited I am. I have a gig at the Continental Gallery here in Austin this Friday and it's going to make it's debut. Can't wait to hear it with the organ trio. Doesn't have the frets I want yet but I'll power through.

    The pickups sound amazing. They have the perfect balance of warmth and clarity. When we pulled them to check out everything. Apparently these early pat # pickups are identical to PAF's. They pointed out the tooling markings on the pickup, wire, magnet and so on. These pickups checked all the boxes on that. I had no idea about the markings and such, kinda fun to geek out on them. Regardless they sound sweet. I guess they were putting whatever pickups that were in the bin at this time. I have seen them with PAF's, Pat # or one of each. Those were probably done on Friday afternoon.

    Agree, the late 3 piece necks are it for me too. I think they got it right with those imo. So psyched! It was tough to find one.

    I think I will replace the nut with bone and throw that one in the case. I have an amazing luthier here in town and he could make anything work. When I had it in his shop to go over, he said he could keep that one, shim it and make it work just fine. I think it might just easier to get a new nut cut just right with the new frets. He said the fretboard looked great with just a little tail rise, not much leveling to be done at all.

    Yeah, the owner of the guitar was a total neck strummer. I dig it, love guitars with character and it's a liberating for me. I can gig with it and not worry about it. I believe it came from the west coast originally. It has it's share of checking (beautifully checked) but not what I usually see on a guitar of this vintage (usually more). So probably spent most of it's life in a guitar friendly environment.

    So much fun to talk shop. Thanks guys!

  13. #12

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    Congrats on scoring a beauty. May she inspire your playing for years to come. I would opt for the new nut (saving the old one in the case) and would have the board leveled with the new frets. Playability is more important than originality.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  14. #13

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    Very nice, congratulations!

  15. #14

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    Always wanted one with the Florentine cutaway. Congrats :-) Someday, I will spring for one, but those seem to be around 14 to 18K in today’s market. Blonde would be lovely as well.
    It all works out in the end; if it's not working out, it's not the end.

  16. #15

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    So when did they start making the skinny necks?
    -- Isn't it crazy that "archtop" and "luthier" are spelling errors on this forum?

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound View Post
    So when did they start making the skinny necks?
    AFAIK in '61 they started the switch to the 5-piece necks which had a good width (but for some players they are a bit too shallow) up until late 1964 when pretty much all
    their neck shapes were narrowed. In any case it's very difficult to make a broader statement since Gibson's output went through the roof and things got quite chaotic re consistency etc. ....
    I've owned both an L-5 CES and a Super-400 CES from '68 and while these guitars had the narrow neck width they were nicely shaped in a meaty C - for me they were as playable and as good sounding as any other 60's archtop, better than a '67 Byrdland, a '67 ES-175, a '70 L-5 CES.
    The most comfortable neck shape for me was a '62 Super-400C which still had the early type 3-piece neck ... superb guitar but alas not suitable for stage work due to an extreme tendency for feedback. My current Super-400 CES is a '63 model and the 5-p neck is wide and more shallow. Still absolutely playable and not tiring but I had to adapt. The wonderful sound is a BIG motivator :-)

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman View Post
    AFAIK in '61 they started the switch to the 5-piece necks which had a good width (but for some players they are a bit too shallow) up until late 1964 when pretty much all
    their neck shapes were narrowed. In any case it's very difficult to make a broader statement since Gibson's output went through the roof and things got quite chaotic re consistency etc. ....
    I've owned both an L-5 CES and a Super-400 CES from '68 and while these guitars had the narrow neck width they were nicely shaped in a meaty C - for me they were as playable and as good sounding as any other 60's archtop, better than a '67 Byrdland, a '67 ES-175, a '70 L-5 CES.
    The most comfortable neck shape for me was a '62 Super-400C which still had the early type 3-piece neck ... superb guitar but alas not suitable for stage work due to an extreme tendency for feedback. My current Super-400 CES is a '63 model and the 5-p neck is wide and more shallow. Still absolutely playable and not tiring but I had to adapt. The wonderful sound is a BIG motivator :-)
    5 piece necks introduced about late '63 early '64.
    Nut widths narrowed mid-late '65 to mid '69

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    5 piece necks introduced about late '63 early '64.
    Nut widths narrowed mid-late '65 to mid '69
    I stand corrected.

  20. #19

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    Most from the mid to late 60s have narrow necks, but there are many exceptions to that rule. I’ve seen L-5s and Super 400s with necks as wide as 1 3/4” from that period.

  21. #20

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    Beautiful guitar! I would definitely have a new nut made. Bone is my preference. Congratulations, and play it in good health!
    Best regards, k

  22. #21
    I have to agree with Gitman on this one. I believe 5 piece necks started in '61. I have had the opportunity to play a '61 with a five piece neck. Most of the '62's and almost all of the '63's I have come across had 5 piece necks. Here is a killer '62 they had over at Norm's last year.



    I also think Gibson might have just used whatever necks they had in the shop at the time as well as pickups.

    I think the 3 piece is just right (for me). It's close to a '59 profile.

    Thanks for all the kind words. I dig this forum!

  23. #22

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    "
    I have to agree with Gitman on this one. I believe 5 piece necks started in '61. I have had the opportunity to play a '61 with a five piece neck. Most of the '62's and almost all of the '63's I have come across had 5 piece necks. Here is a killer '62 they had over at Norm's last year"

    interesting, I have a pair of '63 Super 400's w/3 piece necks that are very '59 ish profiles, so they're not leftover stock.
    the serial numbers fall about 1/2 way through 1963. I've seen a few other L-5's and Supers from '63 w/ the same 3 piece rounded necks. go figure....
    I might not have paid enough attention to '61 or '62 necks as most are like a tapeworm, not for me.



  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by wintermoon View Post
    "
    I have to agree with Gitman on this one. I believe 5 piece necks started in '61. I have had the opportunity to play a '61 with a five piece neck. Most of the '62's and almost all of the '63's I have come across had 5 piece necks. Here is a killer '62 they had over at Norm's last year"

    interesting, I have a pair of '63 Super 400's w/3 piece necks that are very '59 ish profiles, so they're not leftover stock.
    the serial numbers fall about 1/2 way through 1963. I've seen a few other L-5's and Supers from '63 w/ the same 3 piece rounded necks. go figure....
    I might not have paid enough attention to '61 or '62 necks as most are like a tapeworm, not for me.


    This is interesting. I am only speaking of the guitars I have seen for sale or had the opportunity to play. So the '61 I played had a pretty slim neck profile but sounded spectacular. The first 3 piece neck I played was on a '63. That is when I fell pretty hard for that profile.

    I couldn't figure out the consistency with this period of L-5's. Some had 5 piece necks, some had 3 piece necks, some one piece lam back and others with a 2 piece carved and various pickups. (PAF's and Pat #)

    I didn't mean that they were leftover stock. Just that they were building them with what they had in the shop and ready to go.

    So now I am really curious. I have not seen a 3 piece neck from 1962, only '63 (I know they were all 3 piece up until '60-61). So mine is early '63, John Stewart had one for sale some time ago, serial number close to mine and a 3 piece neck. Wintermoon, yours also fall into the first half of '63. Do you think they switched back to mostly 3 piece necks in the first 1/2 of '63? If they did, I think they nailed then. This is interesting for sure.

    There was one I almost purchased about 3 years ago that was a late '63 with a 5 piece neck and 2 piece carved back. So maybe back to 5 piece necks by end of '63?

    Not that it matters but I am super curious now. I can totally geek out on this kind of stuff.

  25. #24

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    I love Florentine L5’s and Super 4’s.........SWEET !

  26. #25

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    Gorgeous guitar. Congrats.

    Way off topic....:-) But wondering about the black chairs/stools in your studio photos. Just what I'm looking for...do they have a back rest? What is height? Can I ask where you got them?

  27. #26

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    Beautiful to say the least, BIG congrats.

    And excellent questions to ask here, I'll be learning from the answers as well.

  28. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by MacGringo View Post
    Gorgeous guitar. Congrats.

    Way off topic....:-) But wondering about the black chairs/stools in your studio photos. Just what I'm looking for...do they have a back rest? What is height? Can I ask where you got them?
    Thanks!

    They are the roc-n-soc guitar throne. They come in tall and short. I have the short. They are great! Super comfortable and the seat swivels. I believe their standard back rest will attach to these. Might want to confirm that.

  29. #28

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    Congrats on the real beauty ..

  30. #29
    So I had another question. I am going to discuss with my tech as well. This guitar has the original pick guard. I can't believe it has not started to gas. I have had pick guards from the 90's gas out. This one seems to be going strong. However, it is warped. So my question is, has anyone tried to straighten one of these? I had an old strat guard straightened (steaming method) but wasn't sure about how that would work on this material. I will probably let it be but just curious. Thanks!

  31. #30

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    you can clamp it down and run a hair dryer over it
    that might work for awhile, but it might warp again.
    but anytime applying heat to nitro be very careful it doesn't catch on fire, that stuff is caustic as hell.
    I don't even bother anymore, I just play 'em as is.

  32. #31
    Thanks Wintermoon! I didn't even think about it catching fire. I think I will just play it as is.

  33. #32

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    try this : clamp it between a piece of wood and a sheet of thick glass and place it in the sun for a while. As far as I know plastics don't have a "memory" like other materials have so it should not warp back. I have successfully straightened out several pickguards (single layer and sandwich versions) that way.
    BTW: I've had pickguards from US and japanese origin warp and gas out/deteriorate , also from the 80's and 90's but the original marbled guard on my Super400 looks as good as new .... it's a total toss up in my view.

  34. #33

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    What a stunner. Personally I always care way more about the playability, so any changes or updates are fine with me.

  35. #34

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    I'd probably fill the holes on the bridge or just use another base, they're easy enough to find.
    But it wouldn't kill me to have the holes.
    I'd leave the ones in the guitar alone, as you said, they're covered anyway.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC View Post
    So it's at the shop now getting frets and a new unbleached bone nut, can't wait. The bridge on this guitar was pinned down. It looks like it was done very early on and done well, two very small gold screws. I removed the screws and just left it floating. My tech mentioned filling the holes on the bridge and possible the guitar itself. What do you guys think? It didn't really bother me aesthetically with the holes on the bridge and of course, you can't see the ones in the top. Thoughts? Fill them or let it be? Thanks, as always!
    Hey, Charles. Congratulations on the guitar! I'm in Austin. Just curious who is doing the work for you on your L5? Thanks!

  37. #36
    Thanks! I have been going to Dick Dubois for years. He's awesome!

  38. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by D'Aquisto Fan View Post
    Hey, Charles. Congratulations on the guitar! I'm in Austin. Just curious who is doing the work for you on your L5? Thanks!
    Also, let me know if you would like to jam sometime. Always looking to hang and meet new players in town. If you are up for coming out sometime, I have several shows around Austin this month. Thanks!

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesC View Post
    Also, let me know if you would like to jam sometime. Always looking to hang and meet new players in town. If you are up for coming out sometime, I have several shows around Austin this month. Thanks!
    Thanks, Charles. I'll send you a PM.

  40. #39
    Beautiful! Congrats, HNGD and play her in good health!
    Midnight Blues