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  1. #1

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    Just wondering and curious (no purchasing intent). But how are the 1934 L5 reissues (click) compared to the real thing? I remember playing a 1925 Gibson L5 master model years ago one but that was 25k ...

    DB

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  3. #2

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    Not in the same stratosphere

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    Just wondering and curious (no purchasing intent). But how are the 1934 L5 reissues (click) compared to the real thing? I remember playing a 1925 Gibson L5 master model years ago one but that was 25k ...

    DB
    I've never been able to play the genuine article, but I did own a R/I once, and truth be told I've never regretted selling / trading any guitar as much as I've regretted trading that one.
    Their sound is typical '90's-to-current Gibson L-5 acoustic, meaning not much acoustic volume......I compared it to my WesMo and other L-5's, both acoustics and CES's up at Dave's in 2014, and you absolutely know they're related. They'll take to playing hard, but they're a struggle to really get volume from.

    But the magic comes from the look and feel. The workmanship is top-notch and the look is pure magic.

    Jonathan Stout has done some accurate demo's and posts on classic L-5's here in an other thread. Maybe that's searchable.

    I have other guitars that sounded better, but none of them looks as good on a wall. Maybe that's how to appreciate them - as artifacts first and instruments second.

    Just MHO......

  5. #4

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    I had the good fortune to play a 20's L5 , several original D'Angelico, D'Aquisto and Stromberg guitars in the upstairs "inner sanctum" at the old "Mandolin Bros." store on Staten Island, back in the day.... an eye- and ear-opening experience !!! The vintage pieces were awesome to behold, the vibe was incredible BUT : they were all hard to play, did not respond to a light or even medium touch and the tone was anything but sweet or endearing. LOUD, strident, just great for what these were meant for : chomping out rhythm along with drums, bass and a bunch of horns.
    OTOH they also had a Zeidler guitar up there and that guitar was a very different kettle o' fish ! With a sweet + balanced tone, lively, easy to play (even without a pick) and the workmanship was in the stratosphere, surpassing even the D'Aquisto they had in the room. I've seen non better. And it was way cheaper, too ....
    So, in the hands of players like Marty Grosz, Matt Munisteri and a few others I enjoy listening to these old warhorses but generally I vastly prefer the tone and playability of the modern variants.
    As a wall ornament - well, guitars are meant to be played in my opinion.

  6. #5

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    Yes, apples and oranges.
    Lloyd Loar's designs and short stay at Gibson made that name legendary. Loar knew about violin making and implemented 400 and more years old violin features into his archtop guitars.

    Given equivalent woods and body dimensions, what would be the next crucial factors to define the sound characteristics of the acoustic archtop guitar? The plate arching curves, the recurve and the wood graduations. Nothing the majority of amateur and professional players would ever take into consideration.

    Take an original Lloar violin-related design (on the left) and compare it to the reissue (on the right).
    A quick look is enough to see that these guitars have at most the same name. The old Lloar design shows in the contre-jour shot, at least, the very carefully worked out recurve with the typical "figure-of-eight" around the plate edges, which instruments by Niccolo Amati already have. Such a manufacturing requires - regardless of modern CNC technology - a multiple greater effort in production, not only in manual elaboration with violin maker planes and scrapers, but also later in finishing and polishing. Even in highly qualified, manual acoustic archtop guitar making, such features are omitted more often than not, and almost impossible to find in industrial guitar production.
    The highly-qualified skills are gone or forgotten in the archtop guitar world, the management has been using the red pencil for many decades, and the marketing departments do what they can to convince the players of what should be standard or "normal" (the customers are easy meat).

    There is one big advantage though: the average "carved" modern archtop guitar can be acquired considerably cheaper than, for example, a new master-made cello.


    1934 L5 reissue-gibson-l5-1929-vs-gibson-l5-1934-reissue-jpg

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ol' Fret
    Yes, apples and oranges.
    Lloyd Loar's designs and short stay at Gibson made that name legendary. Loar knew about violin making and implemented 400 and more years old violin features into his archtop guitars.

    Given equivalent woods and body dimensions, what would be the next crucial factors to define the sound characteristics of the acoustic archtop guitar? The plate arching curves, the recurve and the wood graduations. Nothing the majority of amateur and professional players would ever take into consideration.

    Take an original Lloar violin-related design (on the left) and compare it to the reissue (on the right).
    A quick look is enough to see that these guitars have at most the same name. The old Lloar design shows in the contre-jour shot, at least, the very carefully worked out recurve with the typical "figure-of-eight" around the plate edges, which instruments by Niccolo Amati already have. Such a manufacturing requires - regardless of modern CNC technology - a multiple greater effort in production, not only in manual elaboration with violin maker planes and scrapers, but also later in finishing and polishing. Even in highly qualified, manual acoustic archtop guitar making, such features are omitted more often than not, and almost impossible to find in industrial guitar production.
    The highly-qualified skills are gone or forgotten in the archtop guitar world, the management has been using the red pencil for many decades, and the marketing departments do what they can to convince the players of what should be standard or "normal" (the customers are easy meat).

    There is one big advantage though: the average "carved" modern archtop guitar can be acquired considerably cheaper than, for example, a new master-made cello.

    1934 L5 reissue-gibson-l5-1929-vs-gibson-l5-1934-reissue-jpg

    OH YES , we guitarists are indeed lucky when comparing the prices of OUR master builders to those of the piano, violin, cello, clarinet, harp or flute playing sisters and brothers ....

  8. #7

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    Guitars are meant to be played and hopefully sound good while doing so. Good looks are nice but secondary--by quite a bit.
    The problem w playing guitars in a music store is they're frequently poorly set up w crappy strings. When trying them out if they don't play well right there most folks will put them down and move on to the next one. A Zeidler would have been a newer instrument and John set them up to perfection (I know this first hand having known John well and having owned several of his guitars) A guitar isn't all about volume, but if you've ever played/owned a well set up 20s L5 you'd never choose a '34 reissue over one for any reason other than cost.

  9. #8

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    I have a friend who had a genuine 35 L-5 and another friend who had a reissue. I played them both. They are very dissimilar guitars. The real deal had a large V neck that I did not like at all and while it was very loud, the tone was harsh. The reissue had a very comfortable neck and a sweet tone, but the acoustic volume was anemic. My friend who had the 35 now has a 28 L-5 (dot neck). It is a magical guitar. Comfy neck, sweet tone and the volume of a Gypsy guitar. My D'Angelico replica (built by JP Moats) has a comfy neck, sweet tone and superb volume and was built in the 90's, so an acoustic archtop with a good neck profile, good volume and sweet tone can be built in these modern times, but it seems very few actually are.

    But based on the reissue that I played (perhaps there are better examples?), I would not suggest buying one.

  10. #9

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    Dutchbopper:

    To answer your questions most directly, a 1934 RI might be an ok guitar, but it's not much like a real 16" vintage L-5. The top carve photos above really demonstrate the difference. I haven't come across a 1934 RI in probably 15 or more years, but from my recollection, my 2004 Eastman 805 was a far superior acoustic guitar in every respect (well, except maybe for the Gibson aesethetics).

    And yes, there are several luthiers in the modern era that can do a much more fitting replica... Cunningham jumps to mind, because I've actually played one, and it was basically every bit as good, but just not 80 years old. But there's a couple others.

    Your memory of a 1925 L-5 may or may not even be the right metric to go by either, because the first generation L-5's, say until 1927 or so, often have absurdly large necks. By 1927 or so, that's about when the L-5 really became the thing it's supposed to be. There may be some great guitars made in that first generation, with George Gruhn's recent acquisition coming to mind, but on the whole, they're not as good as the main "dot" period of 1927-1931 or so.

    Similarly, the "block neck"-era of L-5's is similarly kind of not quite the same either. At some point after switching to the block inlays Gibson got cheap about the construction, and started using kerfed braced bent into place and then with a reinforcing strip glued on top, rather than solid braces perfectly carved to match the inside curve of the top. So, a real 1934 L-5 is often not in the same league as the previous generation with solid braces. Among the best values is finding a block inlay guitar that still has the solid braces of the dot-neck era. I was lucky enough to get my solid-braced, block necked 1932 at a place that happened to have 4 other 16" L-5's in stock, and mine was substantially better than all of the 3 kerfed braced guitars, and right up there with the dot neck they had in stock. But, I will note that I actually first fell in love with one of the kerfed guitars initially, and made 2 more trips back to confirm, and then buy that one. It was only on the final trip that I realized they had more stock, and found the guitar I ended up buying.

    Since I was so close to buying a kerfed-guitar, I want to point out they can be lovely. But when directly compared with the solid braced one they don't stand up.

    And, I'll definitely concur that vast majority of vintage archtops I've come across in stores (or even stuff like the modern era 1934 RI or the Montana-made L-7) were set up poorly and/or inappropriately. I can remember one "snakehead" DA that had .010's and super-shredder low action. It was like driving a Ferrari with flat tires.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by campusfive
    Dutchbopper:





    And, I'll definitely concur that vast majority of vintage archtops I've come across in stores (or even stuff like the modern era 1934 RI or the Montana-made L-7) were set up poorly and/or inappropriately. I can remember one "snakehead" DA that had .010's and super-shredder low action. It was like driving a Ferrari with flat tires.
    Ain't this the truth! This has repeatedly been my experience, even in stores that ought to know better.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by daverepair
    Ain't this the truth! This has repeatedly been my experience, even in stores that ought to know better.
    "Ought to know better." I have several music retailers as customers. They probably don't read these pages, so let it be aired: the floor-level people are often cynical, under-motivated (read: under-paid), comfort-loving and keen to claim they're overworked. Their bosses hide in the office wing and try to avoid customer contact. Of course, it takes time to keep 200 guitars in tune so why not let the customers do it. And, yes, some customers are a pain with their never-ending questions and indecision. One thing is certain: nobody cares to read manufacturers' e-mails so you must arrange a physical pow-wow with some perks to get any attention. Not feasible for a micro-enterprise.
    Last edited by Gitterbug; 01-27-2021 at 03:06 PM.

  13. #12

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    I noticed that a guy on the Facebook L7 group has a ‘34 Reissue for sale. I believe he is located in the Netherlands.
    Keith