As featured in the June 2019 edition of Guitar Player Magazine. https://www.guitarplayer.com/gear/the-unparalleled-beauty-of-the-gibson-l5-archtop.
This is an extremely rare, thin-bodied, sharp-cut 1962 Crest. Label says “Crest”. Serial Number 60319. This is one of six Crests that I've identified, each with slightly different features. They were individually sold by Andy Nelson, the great Gibson demonstrator and innovator. The Crests are described in "Gibson Electrics The Classic Years," A.R. Duchossoir, at page 183. (These are different than the double-cutaway, rosewood Crests that Gibson issued in the late 1960’s). This is a special guitar and one of the coolest Gibsons ever built.
This Crest is a presentation grade, over-the-top model that showcased all the fanciest features and appointments that Gibson offered at the time. The Crest is based on a sharp-cut, thin-line L5 body. It has a large headstock (like a Super 400 and Johnny Smith), split block fingerboard inlays, and a mother-of-pearl headstock inlay depicting a shield with three crescent moons and topped by a medieval knight with a castle on his head. Crazy, definitely not art deco but totally opulent. They cost $2,000, half down on order, half on delivery. That was serious money in 1961 and much more expensive than a Super 400, Gibson’s flagship model.
I'm told that Nelson sold mine to a Motown studio musician, who sold it on to Joe Podorsek, who was a very busy Motown studio musician and, for a while, Ted Nugent’s guitar teacher in Detroit. Joe’s signature is on the underside of the pick-guard. Joe recorded heavily with this guitar. After Joe retired the guitar sat in its case in the “sun room” and dried out to the point where the fingerboard separated from the neck and the neck separated from the body. I located the guitar after a lengthy exchange with a fellow enthusiast on The Les Paul Forum (of all places) and flew out to Detroit to pick it up.
Cris Mirabella did the restoration. The PAFs, tuners, bridge, knobs and truss rod cover are original. We removed a late1960's Varitone circuit and coils of replacement wiring, installed a vintage correct harness and pots and wired it mono. The guitar was factory equipped with a Bigsby. We replaced a late 1960's Bigsby with a vintage correct L-5 tailpiece that was totally stripped of plating, and had it replated and cut down to fit the rim (the insert is now silver). The endpin is factory routed to function as an input jack but when I got it, the jack was mounted on the lower rim (and covered with a metal plate, since removed). Mirabella correctly reset the fingerboard and neck and removed some overspray from the neck and the back.
The body is 17” wide and 2-3/8” at the rim, so it is an inch thinner than a full-depth L5 and a touch thicker than a standard Byrdland. The geometry of the body is slightly different than that of a "standard" L5-CT or Byrdland. I find the guitar to be unusually well-balanced, well-proportioned and comfortable.
The nut is 1-11/16” and the scale is 24-3/4” (like a Les Paul, ES-335 or ES-175, which makes sense because Andy Nelson also designed the ES-335). The neck profile is a full, medium “C” cup and fills the palm. The sharp cut-away gives you access up to the 20th fret. There’s a noticeable radius to the fret-board. The neck is fast. Mirabella refret with medium jumbo frets.
Two PAFs (double black). Johnny Smith-style ebony bridge base (with the inlaid fleur de lys). Gold, no-wire ABR-1 bridge with nylon saddles. The guitar has a bright, lively acoustic voice with an unusual amount of punch. Plugged in, the neck neck-up is a monster—single lines sound like a sax and Wes-style octaves sound smooth and breathy. The treble and middle positions sound a little out-of-phase and snarly. (Recall the guitar intro to Edgar Winter’s “Free Ride”).
The guitar is now in very good overall cosmetic condition, with some lacquer checking and minor dings, but no cracks or structural issues. It’s pretty clean overall. The rims and neck are highly flamed and the back has moderate figure. The original marbleized, Super 400 pick-guard looks great against the ice tea burst. All the bling somehow comes together.
Very clean, brown/pink “Cali Girl” case (tan on the outside and pink on the inside). Gibson badge on the outside but no Lifton or Stone sticker on the inside. Has the case key.
This is an impossibly rare, presentation-grade Gibson archtop that plays, looks and sounds over-the-top. It's one of the coolest guitars on the planet. Simply holding it will enhance your powers. I rescued it, restored it, set-it up to taste, and play it. I’m not really looking to sell it but will consider serious offers.
Paypal accepted (but contact me for the email address) or Wire transfer of immediately available funds to my account per my wire transfer instructions. or Certified bank check from a major US bank.
I would prefer that you personally inspect and take delivery from me at my location in Manhattan or from Mirabella Guitars in St. James, Long Island, New York. Otherwise, unless we agree on another method, I will ask Mirabella to ship to your location, at your expense by UPS or FedEx for 2d day delivery, insured in excess of the purchase price.
Each of my guitars has been inspected and to the extent required restored to vintage specification (with vintage parts if necessary) by Cris Mirabella. All condition and restoration issues are fully disclosed. I strongly urge you to inspect the guitar in person at my location or Mirabella's before shipping. I am happy to consider giving you a right of approval for a specific number of days, especially if you aren't able to audition the instrument in person prior to committing. But unless we agree by email on a right of approval in advance, all sales are final, "as-is, where-is" with no right of return. If you feel that I have materially misrepresented a particular condition or restoration issue, I will, at your request, consider an appropriate price reduction to be granted or denied in my reasonable discretion. This is not a policy of "caveat emptor" or "buyer beware." Instead I am asking you to commit to a purchase on the basis of my full disclosure and your right of prior inspection. I'm a private collector with a day job, not a retail store. I simply don't have the time or resources for you to shop casually. The vintage guitar market can be a tricky space to navigate--there's a fair amount of ignorance, misinformation and outright lying. I've gone to the effort and expense of having each guitar inspected and restored, to the extent necessary, by Cris Mirabella, the leading repair and restoration specialist of vintage arch-tops. You won't encounter any unwanted or undisclosed surprises. That adds a lot of value to the guitars.