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  1. #1

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    Hello,

    For a while now I have been researching 30s and 40s Gibson archtops. I have one question about the L50s and the L4s. I know some of the L50s from the 30s and 40s have a carved maple back as opposed to the mahogany flat back. To me that makes them very much the same as the L4s of the era. Is there really a difference between the 2 aside from the appearance? Has anybody played these models and could give me some advice? Are there any other models I should Iook into from Gibson (or other makers) that would be in the same price range (2000-2500 USD)?

    I would really appreciate an input, thank you!

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  3. #2

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    The L50s with the carved maple backs sound and play like L4s.

    Think of them as dot neck L4s.

    Years for the L50s like this are 1937-1940.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by onaclearday
    Hello,

    For a while now I have been researching 30s and 40s Gibson archtops. I have one question about the L50s and the L4s. I know some of the L50s from the 30s and 40s have a carved maple back as opposed to the mahogany flat back. To me that makes them very much the same as the L4s of the era. Is there really a difference between the 2 aside from the appearance? Has anybody played these models and could give me some advice? Are there any other models I should Iook into from Gibson (or other makers) that would be in the same price range (2000-2500 USD)?

    I would really appreciate an input, thank you!

  5. #4

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    I'm going to have to disagree with Greentone, which doesn't happen much.

    An L-4 from the 30s is probably much superior to a same-period L50. L-4 specs tend to be all over the place but my understanding is that this is because Gibson built them out of remaining parts from previous versions of popular models. So a 16" L4 from 1934+ could have been made from bodies that were designed for L7s, L10s, L12s, even L5s. Additionally L-4s have elevated finger boards, which result in more resonant tops. Some L-4s I've seen even had ebony finger boards. Later L-4s (40s on) are a different story.

  6. #5

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    Omphy,

    You are correct about the fingerboard extension elevation on the L4. It's flat to the body on the L50 of the same period.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    Omphy,
    Gibson L-4 vs L-50-img_5228-jpg

  8. #7

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    Always be on the lookout for an L7. Sometimes they show up with significant play wear at reduced price in need of some TLC, but can be diamonds in the rough! I did.

  9. #8

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    The 16" L7 guitars are pretty special.

  10. #9

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    I had a 16" 34 L7. Best L7 I ever played.

  11. #10

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    I guarantee that if anyone ever played Steve’s mid 40’s L7 you’d ask him to sell it. Best acoustic tone I’ve ever heard. And I’ve owned a ton of acoustics.

  12. #11

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    Thanks 2B. You are a kind soul! It does have the mojo. And I always try to guide seekers!

  13. #12

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    An L7 can be like a sharp looking wife and you scored. But in fact under all the looks she is wisdom, brains, and a keeper.

    Be on the look out!

  14. #13

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    At some point, the L50 went to a carved back and stayed that way, though I don’t know when. My L50 is a 1960 model and has a carved two-piece back.