1. #1
    Hi — I’m looking to buy either a vintage L7 or an L4 and I wondered if anyone could let me know what the difference between the two is in terms of sound quality and to a lessor degree playability/build. I would be playing acoustically

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  3. #2

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    I have a '50 L-4c and a '49 L-7c. I feel that mine are two good examples but others of these models will vary.

    Besides the 16" vs 17" body size, here are a few things that I notice with quality of build/playability and sound.

    First the most obvious differences in build.

    L-4c has a 24.75" scale length.....the L-7c has the longer 25.5" scale

    L-4c has a carved spruce top, solid maple sides, and a laminated maple back.
    The L-7c has a carved solid back.

    Bracing layout is similar.
    Carve may vary from guitar to guitar.

    As for sound and playability...forgive my attempt at describing these as its not easy to put into words without resorting to audio cliches.

    The smaller L-4c is bright and more forward with strong clear trebles and not as deeply voiced in the bass as the L-7c.
    I attribute the extra punch to a nicely responsive top coupled to a laminate back. The sound jumps out of the guitar which I attribute to the more reflective laminate back. But its a more plain spoken sound which I suppose contains less harmonic content. I've played a few others of these that did not impress me, but this one does.
    My '50 is a very light weight guitar with a nice big neck.
    I'm very tall.....this ES-175 sized Gibson is a nice comfy "parlor" guitar for me.

    The bigger bodied, fully carved, longer scaled L-7c has a broader spectrum warmer voice but I'd still say it can have a bright quality. Deeper in the bass and more content in the lower mids. But a player's attack and technique and different string and pick choices all will affect what can be brought out in these guitars.
    The wire strings are not so fat and forward sounding as the L-4c, but overall a very balanced acoustic archtop.
    My '49 L-7c has a nice comfortable C shape....not quite so big as the L-4c has, but Gibson necks circa '49 and '50 will often be variable.
    I love the neck and how it sits when I'm playing.

    I like them both for their differences (a good reason for keeping the two around).

    Both sound great as amplified acoustic archtops with floating pickups.
    But I'd give the edge to the L-7c amplified.
    Both of mine have McCarty pickguard/pickup units.

    On the other hand just to throw a curve....I'm really lately digging some of the Epiphone counterparts!

    Hope this helps....and if possible being able to try a few of each is ideal.
    I'm sure others here might have more to offer or different takes on these.

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by zizala
    I have a '50 L-4c and a '49 L-7c. I feel that mine are two good examples but others of these models will vary.

    Besides the 16" vs 17" body size, here are a few things that I notice with quality of build/playability and sound.

    First the most obvious differences in build.

    L-4c has a 24.75" scale length.....the L-7c has the longer 25.5" scale

    L-4c has a carved spruce top, solid maple sides, and a laminated maple back.
    The L-7c has a carved solid back.

    Bracing layout is similar.
    Carve may vary from guitar to guitar.

    As for sound and playability...forgive my attempt at describing these as its not easy to put into words without resorting to audio cliches.

    The smaller L-4c is bright and more forward with strong clear trebles and not as deeply voiced in the bass as the L-7c.
    I attribute the extra punch to a nicely responsive top coupled to a laminate back. The sound jumps out of the guitar which I attribute to the more reflective laminate back. But its a more plain spoken sound which I suppose contains less harmonic content. I've played a few others of these that did not impress me, but this one does.
    My '50 is a very light weight guitar with a nice big neck.
    I'm very tall.....this ES-175 sized Gibson is a nice comfy "parlor" guitar for me.

    The bigger bodied, fully carved, longer scaled L-7c has a broader spectrum warmer voice but I'd still say it can have a bright quality. Deeper in the bass and more content in the lower mids. But a player's attack and technique and different string and pick choices all will affect what can be brought out in these guitars.
    The wire strings are not so fat and forward sounding as the L-4c, but overall a very balanced acoustic archtop.
    My '49 L-7c has a nice comfortable C shape....not quite so big as the L-4c has, but Gibson necks circa '49 and '50 will often be variable.
    I love the neck and how it sits when I'm playing.

    I like them both for their differences (a good reason for keeping the two around).

    Both sound great as amplified acoustic archtops with floating pickups.
    But I'd give the edge to the L-7c amplified.
    Both of mine have McCarty pickguard/pickup units.

    On the other hand just to throw a curve....I'm really lately digging some of the Epiphone counterparts!

    Hope this helps....and if possible being able to try a few of each is ideal.
    I'm sure others here might have more to offer or different takes on these.
    Many thanks for this detailed response — I’m after warmth and depth, so I’m thinking the L7 is the right one for me

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by charlie whikey
    Many thanks for this detailed response — I’m after warmth and depth, so I’m thinking the L7 is the right one for me
    And if it helps, the current market for acoustic L-7's isn't that good so if you find a decent one, it should be a deal.. I'd say the same thing about L-4's but they never made as many so their availability probably isn't comparable. I don't have production numbers, maybe someone here does.

    Good luck !

  6. #5

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    Whiskey.... here is a link to Gibson Acoustic Archtop Production Numbers...

    I have a '51 L4CN (1 of 49) and a '51 L7C (1 of 99) .. they didn't make a ton of either..
    The L4 acoustically has a thin wimpy sound, almost feels like balsa wood..
    however when recorded with a nice condenser mic it comes alive... sounds fantastic, magical...

    The L7 is a barroom brawler, I only play it amplified.. with a pompadour! Lots of good low-end thump
    and easy to play all of the way up the neck.
    Vintage Guitars Info - Gibson acoustic archtop shipping vintage guitar totals