The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Posts 1 to 25 of 33
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    Just curious-how come there seems next to zero talk on here about Gibson L4 CES? Were they not made for very long?
    If I recall, they use good woods-Spruce top, maple back and sides, solid wood. They seem to be kind of like a Super 175-better woods, 16" lower bout, etc.

    Discuss.
    Last edited by Doug B; 08-01-2022 at 06:31 AM.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    I have an '88 L4 CES. I like it a lot.

    Kind of an upgraded 175.

    I get confused by the vintage ones from the 60s and before. They seem to be mainly acoustics.

    The more recent L4 CES seems to have come out in the late 80s and was taken out of regular production when the new management took over around 2018.

    You might be able to order one new through the custom shop, but they seem to be struggling to work through a heavy back log of orders. It would be a long wait.

    They can be very nice guitars. My guess is if more people knew about them, they would be more in demand. They weren't around when jazz was more popular in the 50s or 60s so probably not enough history or big-name players associated with them.

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    Much talk about them here the last several yrs but tapered off the last yr or so when prices started to climb.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    After owning Heritage 575 I stopped paying attention to solid vs laminate, so many variables.

    Does the L4 CES actually have lighter / more acoustic build compared to 175?
    Last edited by burchyk; 08-01-2022 at 08:21 AM.

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Very nice sounding guitars. I had an earlier L4C with a chief pickup. As far as the CES goes, I always thought that cosmetically it needed a bound headstock. The plain headstock seems out of place on such a fancy archtop. Purely superficial.

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug B
    Just curious-how come there seems next to zero talk on here about Gibson L4 CES? Were they not made for very long?
    If I recall, they use good woods-Spruce top, maple back and sides, solid wood. They seem to be kind of like a Super 175-better woods, 16" lower bout, etc.

    Discuss.
    They’re not very common and aren’t associated with nearly as many important players as 175s or L5s. So that limits discussion somewhat, but there are quite a lot of threads about them here (hard to find because the search feature doesn’t work well).

    I think a fair number of people would disagree that they’re an upgrade over a 175. It’s different, but lots of people prefer the laminated sound in an electric guitar.

    That said, I’m not sure why they’re not more popular. The ones I’ve tried were great, and if I had to choose between an L4 and an L5, I’d probably go for the L4 (though I’m one of those laminated guys). I like the extra bit of warmth/sweetness vs an L5 from the different pickup position, and I much prefer 16” bodies to 17.
    Last edited by John A.; 08-01-2022 at 11:28 AM.

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    They’re not very common and aren’t associated with nearly as many important players as 175s or L5s. So that limits discussion somewhat, but there quite a lot of threads about them here (hard to find because the search feature doesn’t work well).

    I think a fair number of people would disagree that they’re an upgrade over a 175. It’s different, bu t lots of people prefer the laminated sound in an electric guitar.

    That said, I’m not sure why they’re not more popular. The ones I’ve tried were great, and if I had to choose between an L4 and an L5, I’d probably go for the L4 (though I’m one of those laminated guys). I like the extra bit of warmth/sweetness vs an L5 from the different pickup position, and I much prefer 16” bodies to 17.
    And if I am correct, the L4 has the shorter, warmer scale.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Are there any professional/famous players that played an L-4CES?

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    I don’t think many even know / knew that there is / was an L4-CES. Back when there was only an L4-C, they were rare and cost as much as a single pickup 175. In the 1960 catalog, a sunburst L4-C was $225 and a single pup 175 was $249.50 - so the choice seems clear for a gigging guitarist. There were few pickups available in those days - you couldn’t just order a floater for it, and the DeArmonds were big & expensive relative to a $225 guitar. A 175 was a better buy, more durable, and easier to maintain.

    Had the L4-CES been available alongside the L5 at significantly lower cost, it might have been a different story. But I suspect the L4 cost about as much to make, so sales would have been low given the popularity of the better laminated archtops among pros.

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    And if I am correct, the L4 has the shorter, warmer scale.
    Yes, 24.75" Warmer than 25.5" all else equal, I guess. But since all else is not equal I'm not sure one could really tell how much of the difference between the sound of an L5 and an L4 is due to that.

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    They are also in no-man's-land a bit. People who prefer laminates would go for ES 175's, people who prefer carved Gibson's would go for L5's. I don't think many would pick an L4CES over an L5 CES and L4's are almost as costly to make as L5's.

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by nevershouldhavesoldit
    I don’t think many even know / knew that there is / was an L4-CES. Back when there was only an L4-C, they were rare and cost as much as a single pickup 175. In the 1960 catalog, a sunburst L4-C was $225 and a single pup 175 was $249.50 - so the choice seems clear for a gigging guitarist. There were few pickups available in those days - you couldn’t just order a floater for it, and the DeArmonds were big & expensive relative to a $225 guitar. A 175 was a better buy, more durable, and easier to maintain.

    Had the L4-CES been available alongside the L5 at significantly lower cost, it might have been a different story. But I suspect the L4 cost about as much to make, so sales would have been low given the popularity of the better laminated archtops among pros.
    The 1962 catalog has the L-4C at $245 vs the L-5C at $620. In the '60's I found my L-4C to be a much more versatile guitar than an ES-175:

    What - No Gibson L4 CES?-mellotones-concert-jpg

    What - No Gibson L4 CES?-drw-quarry-heights-l-4c001a-jpg

    Danny W.

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    They are also in no-man's-land a bit. People who prefer laminates would go for ES 175's, people who prefer carved Gibson's would go for L5's. I don't think many would pick an L4CES over an L5 CES and L4's are almost as costly to make as L5's.
    The one exception to this that’s potentially important is that a 16” often projects and cuts through a band better when comping. For those who play in groups and settings that encompass both rhythm and lead playing, especially over a variety of styles, an L4-CES may be a better choice. The shorter scale even makes deep bluesy bends easier.

    I think an L4-CES is also a bit more versatile than a 175. I played a ‘60 175DN in a great wedding band for years, and the leader commented many times on how my comping sounded too “electric”. With set pickups, acoustic tone from a CES isn’t as big as it is from a 17” box. But with the volume up just enough for reinforcement, I and the band would have preferred the woody chunk of an L4’s spruce top to the duller thunk of my plywood 175 when I pretended to be Freddie Green.

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    I've always loved the upscale look of the solid-carved L4 CES, especially compared to the more basic, laminate ES-175.

    When Heritage introduced the carved bodied H-575, it was as if the L4 and 175 had the perfect love-child. The 575's body is a bit slimmer than its Gibson distant relative, but that makes it even more comfortable to play.

    That said, I still admire the L4 CES for what it is, especially the Mahogany back/sides version.

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    I owned a SB with a ‘hog back. Great guitar. It serves a niche for those wanting a guitar smaller than an L5. And yes, it’s got it’s own tone, nothing like an L5.

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    I've no playing experience with the model, but from its build and specifications as a fully electric archtop, it seems the L-4 CES is its own thing.

    An acoustic L-4 or L-4c is a very different guitar.....I do play and enjoy one of those with a floating pickup occasionally.

    Gibsonwise.....comparison's of the L-4 CES to the L-5 CES or possibly one of the more heavily built ES-175's makes more sense to me.

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    The L4-CES Magogany is a very nice guitar. Nice warm sound with mahog and positioning of the neck pick up. As said, it is also quite versatile if you mix the two pick ups. You can easily get a nice crunchy sound.

    I did this comparison L5-CES vs. L4-CES some time ago:



    Best and take care.

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by zizala
    An acoustic L-4 or L-4c is a very different guitar.....I do play and enjoy one of those with a floating pickup occasionally.
    But when the L4C was $225, the 175 was $250, and a 175D was $310. So a new Rhythm Chief at $39.75 in 1960 added almost 15% to the cost of a single p'up 175. That made an L4C with a RC $15 more than a single pickup 175 and halfway to the list price of a D. We were moving away from add-on pickups, and a 175 was / is one of the best guitars in history for working musicians. An L4C with pickup added was a different animal in more ways than just sound and feel. It was a solid, reliable, workhorse that weathered almost anything we threw at it. The price and nature of an acoustic L4C kept its appeal limited to those who wanted a small body carved archtop. Gigging musicians wanted a 175, including me - and I got a '60 DN in 1961.

    There were no readily available floaters from anybody back then - you couldn't just call Kent Armstrong to order one. So if you wanted to amplify an L4C, it had to be with something like a DeArmond. There were simply no alternatives that came close to the mechanical solidity of having the p'up built into the instrument. I remember vividly having to solder up adapters so I could carry spare cables for the guitars I had with output connectors other than a 1/4" jack. I had DeArmond pickups with small screw-on connectors, a Vega with a weird pinned connector similar to an XLR, and a few with either hard-wired cables or oddball connectors that never did time in a Switchcraft catalog.

    We now live in the golden age of guitars. Despite costs and availability, we have so many great options that it boggles the mind! Long live the L4-CES, long live DeArmond pickups, and long live 175s. They all fill needs for somebody!

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    I'm lucky enough to have an L4CES, L5 CES, and an L5 WES.

    In my experience the difference between the tone of an L4 CES and an L5 CES, if any, is subtle, especially on a recording. At least to the listener.

    They are different experiences for the player of course due to the different body sizer and scale length.

    Both can be great guitars.

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Thanks for all the info people. Very informative indeed.

    Doug

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    I, too, had a 1988 L-4 -- it was my first, real jazz guitar! I ended up selling it to a former student, though, when I was funding my first custom guitar build. At that time -- despite all the "upgrades" you mentioned (compared to the 175) -- I had a hard time selling it! Everyone wanted a 175, cuz, you know -- it's a 175! These days, though, they seem to do better on the used market, and they really are great guitars!

    [I think Joe Diorio played one for a while, along with other guitars, of course!]

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    At the risk of offending the L-4CES owners here, I am going to offer a contrary view.

    I own three 175's and 2 L-5's (electric versions with built in PUPS). I have tried L-4 CES models on a gig a couple of times (The other guitar player had one and we switched guitars for a set). I was not impressed enough with the L-4CES to ever buy one. Why? To my ears they are neither fish nor fowl. The short scale, carved spruce top and 16 inch body does not deliver the sweetness of an L-5 CES or WESMO, nor does it deliver the dry thunk of the 175. Other than Joe Diorio, I don't know of any well known players who adopted the L-4CES model and like the ES-775 (a Norlin upscale 175), it never sold well.

    The ES-350/Tal Farlow is another story. Great players have used these guitars and I believe that sales of these models have outperformed the L-4CES. I have never spent much time with these guitars but seeing as I do not like the cosmetics of the Tal and the ES-350's out there are selling for more than I am willing to pay, I am out. But I have many great Gibson archtops to play (in addition to the five I mentioned, I also have a Super 400CES) so I will just have to enjoy the sound of the ES-350 through the hands of others like my old friend Bruce Forman.

    And if the L-4CES owners out there enjoy their guitars, that is excellent news. But seeing as that model never floated my boat, and they are quite expensive, I would advise a would be purchaser to play before they buy (which is alweays good advice in any case).

  24. #23

    User Info Menu

    I bought a 2011 L4CES w/ the hog back for $2700. No so expensive 6 years ago.

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    The short scale, carved spruce top and 16 inch body does not deliver the sweetness of an L-5 CES or WESMO, nor does it deliver the dry thunk of the 175.
    While I follow you on the side of dry tone/short percusive notes missing with the L4CES compared to lamimated models, I don't agree on the side of sweetness. A good L4-CES is sweetness machine with a tone coming close (but not exactly) to what a L5 can deliver.

    And the price was so attractive just couple of years back. You could get one for 1/3 of the price of a good L5-CES.

    Best and take care.
    Last edited by Fred Archtop; 08-02-2022 at 05:03 AM.

  26. #25

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Archtop
    While I follow you on the side of dry tone/short percusive notes missing with the L4CES compared to lamimated models, I don't agree on the side of sweetness. A good L4-CES is sweetness machine with a tone coming close (but not exactly) to what a L5 can deliver.

    And the price was so attractive just couple of years back. You could get one for 1/3 of the price of a good L5-CES.
    Best and take care.
    I am pleased to agree with Fred Archtop's view of the L4CES having just acquired a
    1988 masterbuilt ( by the late J Hutchins, it is the opposite of Stringswinger's description but it does have
    Mahogany back and sides !
    I will however agree with SS on the newer L4CES models( having had one previously )
    there is no comparison to the Hutch masterbuilt early model.
    Silverfoxx