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  1. #1

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    Hello.
    At any time has Gibson used richlite or anything other than ebony for the fretboards of L5 Wesmo?

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by wengr View Post
    Hello.
    At any time has Gibson used richlite or anything other than ebony for the fretboards of L5 Wesmo?
    Yes. In 2013-2014 there were a number of Gibson L5 Wesmo's on eBay utilizing richlite fretboards. There was some noise, controversy here about it. That's all I remember.
    "You've got to be in the sun to feel the sun. It's that way with music too." - Sidney Bechet

  4. #3

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    Other than perhaps collector value,I found Richlite to be just like Ebony. But we guitarists are a rather conservative lot when it comes to change.

  5. #4

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    Although I would prefer an ebony fretboard, I would not turn up my nose on an L5 with Richlite. It looks and feels like ebony, to me.

  6. #5

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    A formica fretboard on a Gibson L-5? That would be a deal killer for me.

    In a blind "taste test", I might not be able to discern a real L-5 from an L-5 copy, but I still prefer to own and play the real thing. But I am indeed a bit on the conservative side in most things. If it ain't broke , don't fix it works for me. If we cannot harvest the Ebony for conservation reasons (something that I have no issue with as I like "conservation") and no available stock exists, Gibson should use another organic hardwood for the fretboard, not a man made material.

    Hopefully Gibson has learned a lesson regarding Richlite and I suspect that all Gibsons that have Richlite fretboards will take a hit in value forever. Ain't nothing like the real thing baby!
    _____________________________________________
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  7. #6

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    Thanks for all the replies. I wondered if maybe Gibson abstained on these guitars but apparently not. My understanding is that richlite started in 2011.
    For a 2011 model is there anyway to tell beyond sending the serial to Gibson and asking?

  8. #7


    Not to dispute what 2bornot2bop typed/found because they did use it on LPs, specifically Customs and some other LP iterations, but I don't think that anything that was made in the "Custom Shop" was produced with a richlite board (not that there's anything wrong with that)? Not on L-5s and particularly WesMos that I'm aware of anyway? My 2014, which was being produced in the latter part of '13 (shipped in '14) has an ebony fretboard and bridge.

    Here are some links to Gibson's site from the web archive:

    Jan. 31, 2013:

    Gibson.com: Gibson Custom Wes Montgomery L-5 CES

    Oct. 5, 2013:

    Gibson.com: Gibson Custom Wes Montgomery L-5 CES

    Feb. 21, 2014:

    Gibson.com: Gibson Custom Wes Montgomery L-5 CES

    Dec. 3, 2014

    Gibson.com: Gibson Custom Wes Montgomery L-5 CES




    Midnight Blues

  9. #8

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    I could have the dates wrong. These may have been 2012 guitars. But I distinctly recall observing a L5CES with a Rosewood board and a Wesmo in black with a richlite board, and thinking what is richlite? Jabberwocky would know. Where are you Jabberwocky?
    "You've got to be in the sun to feel the sun. It's that way with music too." - Sidney Bechet

  10. #9

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    There was at least one 2012 L5CES Ebony with an Indian Rosewood fretboard that was in the inventory of Dave's Guitars. This followed the USFWS raid on Gibson in 2011.

  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop View Post
    I could have the dates wrong. These may have been 2012 guitars. But I distinctly recall observing a L5CES with a Rosewood board and a Wesmo in black with a richlite board, and thinking what is richlite? Jabberwocky would know. Where are you Jabberwocky?
    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop View Post


    Nope, not trying imply that you're (or Jabberwocky) wrong/or have the wrong dates 2bornot2bop. Certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility given the infamous raid?


    Midnight Blues

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by wengr View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. I wondered if maybe Gibson abstained on these guitars but apparently not. My understanding is that richlite started in 2011.
    For a 2011 model is there anyway to tell beyond sending the serial to Gibson and asking?
    You can try the web archive, but I've always had good luck with Gibson customer service over the years. They've always been very responsive and quite helpful as well.


    Good luck and
    Midnight Blues

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger View Post
    A formica fretboard on a Gibson L-5? That would be a deal killer for me.

    In a blind "taste test", I might not be able to discern a real L-5 from an L-5 copy, but I still prefer to own and play the real thing. But I am indeed a bit on the conservative side in most things. If it ain't broke , don't fix it works for me. If we cannot harvest the Ebony for conservation reasons (something that I have no issue with as I like "conservation") and no available stock exists, Gibson should use another organic hardwood for the fretboard, not a man made material.

    Hopefully Gibson has learned a lesson regarding Richlite and I suspect that all Gibsons that have Richlite fretboards will take a hit in value forever. Ain't nothing like the real thing baby!
    What I've read is that there actually isn't a shortage of ebony. The problem is only the blackest ebony is taken for fingerboards and the rest of the log is set aside. But the color actually is irrelevant to the quality of the wood's tone. I think Taylor has stated they are going to start using ebony with streaks and varying color for that reason. It feels right, sounds right, the only difference is the even dark coloration versus varying color.

    If we could all be happy with streaked or lighter ebony, there would be tons more ebony available for tone woods.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  14. #13
    OK, so since I'm not doing anything else at the moment, here are a few more links (there are more throughout this time-frame):

    Jan. 8, 2011:

    Gibson.com: Gibson Custom Wes Montgomery L-5 CES

    Sep. 3, 2011:

    Gibson.com: Gibson Custom Wes Montgomery L-5 CES

    Dec. 9, 2012:

    Gibson.com: Gibson Custom Wes Montgomery L-5 CES

    Again, not trying to imply that anyone is wrong, just trying to help you out. I would definitely try Gibson's customer service though.


    Midnight Blues

  15. #14

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    Like I said even if you can't see, feel or hear the difference, people won't accept Richlite. Funny part of all of this is not only performs better,but doesn't chip when a refret is necessary.

    Funny how perception and marketing work together,LOL!

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blues View Post
    OK, so since I'm not doing anything else at the moment, here are a few more links (there are more throughout this time-frame):

    Jan. 8, 2011:

    Gibson.com: Gibson Custom Wes Montgomery L-5 CES

    Sep. 3, 2011:

    Gibson.com: Gibson Custom Wes Montgomery L-5 CES

    Dec. 9, 2012:

    Gibson.com: Gibson Custom Wes Montgomery L-5 CES

    Again, not trying to imply that anyone is wrong, just trying to help you out. I would definitely try Gibson's customer service though.


    Thank You. I have used this site (if I'm using it correctly) and scanned through many months from 2011 - 2014, and all I see is the same page with the VSB L-5 where the ad copy claims ebony board. So I guess if their ad copy can be believed they were ebony.
    Also I will try to get the serial in order to contact Gibson.

  17. #16

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    I hope Stringswinger is right about the value of Richlite-equipped L5 guitars taking a hit. I'd be very willing to scoop up a "distressed" value Richlite-board version...if it dings the value enough.

    It won't ding the sound or feel...or the look, for that matter. It is undeniable, however, that just knowing that the fretboard is made from a paper composite that is ordinarily used for counter tops is enough to unnerve some owners.

    Well...I've owned Hagstrom guitars for 50 years. Some of them feature vinyl, plastic, etc. Yet, they sound and feel like great guitars!

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    I hope Stringswinger is right about the value of Richlite-equipped L5 guitars taking a hit. I'd be very willing to scoop up a "distressed" value Richlite-board version...if it dings the value enough.

    It won't ding the sound or feel...or the look, for that matter. It is undeniable, however, that just knowing that the fretboard is made from a paper composite that is ordinarily used for counter tops is enough to unnerve some owners.

    Well...I've owned Hagstrom guitars for 50 years. Some of them feature vinyl, plastic, etc. Yet, they sound and feel like great guitars!
    GT~I'm with you on the 'ding' devaluation theory. If an L5 shows up for sale somewhere, sufficiently discounted due to the dreaded Richlite fretboard, I'd pounce like a shark in bloody waters after it.

  19. #18

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    This Richlite prejudice is emotional, but that doesn't mean it doesn't matter. Playing guitar is technical and emotional.
    MG

  20. #19

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    On an L5, no.
    On a Tele, yes.

    For me, L5s have the weight of tradition, but Teles are working guitars -- tools.
    Build bridges, not walls.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by wengr View Post
    Thank You. I have used this site (if I'm using it correctly) and scanned through many months from 2011 - 2014, and all I see is the same page with the VSB L-5 where the ad copy claims ebony board. So I guess if their ad copy can be believed they were ebony.
    Also I will try to get the serial in order to contact Gibson.
    It's ad copy. The richlite and rosewood L5's appeared only on certain guitars during 2012. I distinctly recall seeing the two on eBay. One was a black L5. The other a crimson red L5. But I assume those guitars sold because they're not there any longer!
    "You've got to be in the sun to feel the sun. It's that way with music too." - Sidney Bechet

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by wengr View Post
    Thank You. I have used this site (if I'm using it correctly) and scanned through many months from 2011 - 2014, and all I see is the same page with the VSB L-5 where the ad copy claims ebony board. So I guess if their ad copy can be believed they were ebony.
    Also I will try to get the serial in order to contact Gibson.
    You're welcome. I think contacting them would be your best bet.
    Midnight Blues

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop View Post
    It's ad copy. The richlite and rosewood L5's appeared only on certain guitars during 2012. I distinctly recall seeing the two on eBay. One was a black L5. The other a crimson red L5. But I assume those guitars sold because they're not there any longer!
    That's very true, however, I do remember them changing the ad copy for the Frampton signature model when they started using richlite on those.


    Midnight Blues

  24. #23

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    Bill Comins GCS-16 series utilizes Richlite on the pick-guard and tail pc overlay , and he retains ebony on the fingerboard. I think this was a good choice for the use of Richlite - which by the way looks and feels great on Bills GCS series . It’s contains over 80% wood product.

    Many purists will never accept Richlite on a fingerboard - and I certainly respect that opinion. But quite frankly , I owned an ES-275 with a Richlite fingerboard and was never disappointed - it played and sounded just fine , but for me the neck was too small.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    What I've read is that there actually isn't a shortage of ebony. The problem is only the blackest ebony is taken for fingerboards and the rest of the log is set aside. But the color actually is irrelevant to the quality of the wood's tone. I think Taylor has stated they are going to start using ebony with streaks and varying color for that reason. It feels right, sounds right, the only difference is the even dark coloration versus varying color.

    If we could all be happy with streaked or lighter ebony, there would be tons more ebony available for tone woods.
    Many violin/cello/bass makers don't have a problem with using streaked ebony and dyeing it black, using india ink is a traditional method.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    Many violin/cello/bass makers don't have a problem with using streaked ebony and dyeing it black, using india ink is a traditional method.
    Exactly.
    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
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  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    Many violin/cello/bass makers don't have a problem with using streaked ebony and dyeing it black, using india ink is a traditional method.
    I have long assumed that most if not all of the ebony fretboards on Gibson instruments were dyed black.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by QAman View Post
    Bill Comins GCS-16 series utilizes Richlite on the pick-guard and tail pc overlay , and he retains ebony on the fingerboard. I think this was a good choice for the use of Richlite - which by the way looks and feels great on Bills GCS series . It’s contains over 80% wood product.

    Many purists will never accept Richlite on a fingerboard - and I certainly respect that opinion. But quite frankly , I owned an ES-275 with a Richlite fingerboard and was never disappointed - it played and sounded just fine , but for me the neck was too small.
    So Bill can bring to market a guitar with an ebony board that streets for ~ $2200, yet Gibson can't supply on guitars selling for multiple times that?

  29. #28

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    It's funny to me...forever everyone said "I only want the blackest ebony". Then they ran out of black ebony and now they come up with something that looks exactly like ebony, is environmentally superior in every way and now everyone is "ok cool so I really like white stripes in ebony".

    Personally I think black black fingerboards look cool. It's cool they invented this stuff.

  30. #29

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    Thomann in Germany had several L5 CES guitars a little while back with rosewood boards, and even, I think, a Wes. I think they may all be sold now. Never saw a richlite one.
    Like QAman, I had a 275 with richlite board which I had no problem with but sold it for the same reason he did - neck too small.

  31. #30

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    Times and tastes change.

    I distinctly remember when any Fender guitar made after the sale to CBS was automatically grounds for a BIG discount. In particular, nobody wanted Stratocasters with the big "paddle heads." Folks were actually sawing these headstocks down to pre-CBS dimensions--particularly if you had a transitional example from '65 with an "L" prefix serial number. I saw a bunch of those with cut-down headstocks and reapplied decals, to make them look like the earliest '65 examples. (Big pain to go through, given that they were all CBS instruments, as near as I could tell.)

    NOW, plenty of people are happy to play a paddle head because Jimi Hendrix and others did. (Not to mention the fact that many of the guitars made from '65-'68 feature pickups from '65 and frankly sound and play marvelously.)

    I suspect that with time people are going to really warm up to the Mr. J-era archtops and be glad that they exist.

  32. #31

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    I think streaky ebony looks cool.

    I also had a student with a richlite-boarded Martin. You'd never know it wasn't ebony, except for looking REAAAALY close and noticing there's no grain at all.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
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  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    I think streaky ebony looks cool.

    I also had a student with a richlite-boarded Martin. You'd never know it wasn't ebony, except for looking REAAAALY close and noticing there's no grain at all.
    I have a custom Martin 00016 with a Richlite board and bridge. Indeed, it is hard to tell a difference.