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  1. #1

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    Does a laminate back and side on this guitar amount to a significant difference in tone or sound, compared to solid mahogany back and side ? I'm assuming that the top--solid spruce--is the primary component here, but nonetheless, I wish I had a point of comparison between the two. I did not realize that this 1999 Gibson era produced laminate backs.


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  3. #2

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    i used to think so but I'm not so sure anymore. A bigger diff will be the maple neck that you typically see on the maple top L4 CES

  4. #3

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    Wow I never realized Gibson used maple tops on any of their carved top guitars. To me it was always Spruce for the high end guitars.
    I have seen Heritage guitars with some but never Gibson.

  5. #4
    The top is not maple. It's spruce, and I am not actually positive that the back is a laminate or not. A Gibson forum post said that these L-4's through the 90's have a laminate back. That surprised me too.

  6. #5

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    90’s to 2004 was solid spruce top with laminate maple back and sides. After that all solid with mahogany back and sides. Huge sound difference between the 2 versions.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by vinnyv1k
    90’s to 2004 was solid spruce top with laminate maple back and sides. After that all solid with mahogany back and sides. Huge sound difference between the 2 versions.
    Yes, I've read that and still surprised, somehow. Thank you for clarifying. How does the sound difference compare to your ears?
    Last edited by tomvwash; 08-05-2020 at 07:00 PM.

  8. #7

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    Mahogany is much more mellow sounding with a softer attack. More clarity with the maple. I have the mahogany version. Would be nice to have both. Different animals.

  9. #8

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    good gibson info, per usual, from vinny!

    without tech knowledge of that specific guitar, it really depends on the actual it 3 ply?...5 ply? what woods used...the direction of the woods..even type of glue used...laminates can be made to sound good..have nice resonance...but requires skill & knowledge, like a good carve does

    but generally, a lam maple body is going to be a little more forward, brighter than a solid mahog body...mahog is a softer, warmer toned tonewood

    but of course exceptions abound!


  10. #9

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    The L4CES entered the catalogue as a production model in 1986. Between 1986 and 1992, the L4CES was made in parallel with the ES-175, both with laminated mahogany back and rim. Starting in 1993, both L4CES and ES-175 appeared with laminated figured maple back and rim. Sometime in 2004, the L4CES went from laminated maple back and rim to solid mahogany back and rim-you can find both versions bearing 2004 serial numbers. I don't know when the last L4CES rolled out of Gibson before JC Curleigh canned archtops-probably 2018, in the last year of Henry's tenure as owner-CEO.

    I don't recall any maple-necked L4CES. It was not made during the Norlin Gibson era.

    I have a custom ordered mahogany bodied one from 2010 with one neck pickup, and another from 2000 with two pickups and laminated maple back and rim. The maple has a shorter sustain and brighter sharper attack. The mahogany one has a warmer tone with a rounder attack.

    The laminated maple ones look more posh due to the figure of the maple laminate. My 2010 has clear-coated nitrocellulose; the 2000 has Antique Sunburst nitrocellulose. I have seen one in Chet Atkins Tangerine Burst.

    Either version sounds plummy. It is a smaller L5CES for most intents and purposes. The shorter scale length makes it a blast to play for people with short appendages.

    I lament its loss under the current Gibson incarnation. Henry, at least, kept the archtop department going for as long as he was boss. The archtops were never better than under Henry. Henry caught a lot of flak for the Gibson USA planks and semi-hollows but he kept the Custom Shop, Nashville and Bozeman, open and making great guitars in the main. For that, I miss him; he was not all that bad. Oh dear, I am getting teary-eyed.

  11. #10

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    When I started looking at the L4CES in the late Noughties, it was priced about $1000 more than the ES-175. I recall Dave's Guitars asking $3894 for a new L4CES ASB in 2009 or so, and $2765 for an ES-175 ASB. Add $600 more for L4CES Natural, $450 more for ES-175 Natural. That is Dave Rogers' pricing and that is why I like Dave's. I may be off by $50 to $100 in my price recall.

    In 2018, the L4CES Natural carried a MAP of $7450, if I am not wrong.

    It was never very popular and on the used market in the early 2010s you used to be able to find mint condition ones in ASB selling for $2980.

  12. #11

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    2014 l4cesMaple Laminate Back and Sides on 1999 Gibson L-4 CES-bbcdc533-b0ca-44c4-80e8-aca712a5dc09-jpgMaple Laminate Back and Sides on 1999 Gibson L-4 CES-b08ea3ef-3fe0-4bda-9f18-d44baa711b42-jpgMaple Laminate Back and Sides on 1999 Gibson L-4 CES-b294286d-c393-4412-b726-1b87f8706c6f-jpgMaple Laminate Back and Sides on 1999 Gibson L-4 CES-d67abe26-0cb5-4cf9-b30e-e1beec3c9d5a-jpgMaple Laminate Back and Sides on 1999 Gibson L-4 CES-7382b30a-c7cf-4055-8346-6eb0595b0bb8-jpg

  13. #12

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    Love it, Vinny! I bought my 2000 from Rudy's SOHO in mid-2011. I paid $3330 shipped for it, about $300 more than it was selling for on ebay at that time. It was and is well worth it.

    I bought my October 2010 L4CESN from Joe V in January 2011. It was a few months old at that time. The guy who ordered it consigned it to Joe V for sale in December 2010. I paid $3485 for it.

    2010 Gibson L-4CES

  14. #13

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    Here's a 2009 that I nearly bought but didn't:

    2009 Gibson L-4CES, Single Pickup

  15. #14

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    Hi Jabberwocky,
    Your L4CES is a stunner, a rare i pickup model. I suspect that there
    would be great interest , in the unlikelihood that you wanted to
    sell it. A magnificent specimen.

    Best, Silverfoxx

  16. #15

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    Your L4CES ,is in mint condition ,the norm for all of yours , I don't remember
    seeing a pic before, but its worth a look , mine was a 2008 in good condition
    but not mint, they're underrated , as the TF used to be , with a very
    good jazz tone , i am in the minority with the opinion that it is superior to
    the Es175, very popular and widely used by many famous players.

  17. #16

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    Jabber....LOVE yours ! I am a single pu guy. A L4 Wesmo....sweet !
    A real stunner there.