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, round-cut, blonde, 1962 L-5CT. Serial Number 43991.This is one of the last “George Gobel” model L-5CT's. The limited run of L5-CT's is described in A.R. Duchossoir's "Gibson Electrics The Classic Years" at page 183.
I bought this about 8 (?) years ago from one of the New York dealers. He told me that it had once belonged to Andy Nelson, the great Gibson demonstrator and innovator. Nelson designed the L5-CT model specifically for George Gobel, the TV comedian, so that makes sense. This one has some unusual, custom features.
First, it's blonde. I know of two or three other blonde Gobels, but the rest of them were cherry red so that they would stand out on black and white TV. Second, most of them were straight braced. This one is “X-braced”, a feature Gibson re-introduced on the Johnny Smith model in1961-62. Third, though some of the Gobels had Charlie Christian or Johnny Smith pick-ups, this one was originally equipped with a D’Armond (as evidenced by two filled screw-holes under the bass side of the fret-board extension and a filled-screw hole on the lower rim for the original pick-guard bracket). But the guitar came to me with a Johnny Smith pickup attached to the fretboard extension with a gold-plated bracket, and a gold ABR-1 bridge (with retaining wire and metal saddles) . The pickup jack is full-sized and mounted on the lower-rim, not a small jack mounted under the pick-guard. So some discerning pro (like Andy Nelson) customized the guitar with fancy hardware. A single gold “High Hat” volume knob is mounted on the pick-guard . There’s no tone control. Fourth, it has original gold Grover Imperial tuners.
The guitar has an exceptionally warm acoustic voice. Acoustically, it almost sounds like an electric guitar with the neck pick-up rolled off to five. The notes are fat and bloom with excellent sustain and overtones. The tone is pure, round and dynamically sensitive. It was not designed to be an orchestra guitar and go chop, chop, chop. Nelson presumably asked Gibson to voice this guitar differently. The warm acoustic sound translates through the Johnny Smith pick-up.
The body is 17” wide and 2-3/8” at the lower bout, so it is an inch thinner than a full-depth L5 and a bit thicker than a standard Byrdland. The nut is 1-11/16” and the scale is 24-3/4”, which is standard for a “Gobel.” The neck profile is “slim-fast”, a shallow, medium “C cup.” 20 frets (to high “C”). Moderate radius to the fret-board. The frets are original with the binding nibs covering the end of the frets. It plays fast and accurately up and down the neck. Just the right amount of tension on the strings. Original frets and nibs with no visible wear.
It's near mint blonde. A couple minor lacquer checks short of perfection. There is one hairline crack on the lower bout running south of the gold plated end pin for about an inch. It is essentially invisible and has been glued tight. The gold plating on the treble side of both the pickup and the ABR-1 bridge is tarnished. I assume that the original pick-guard started gassing. The replacement pearloid pick-guard by Mirabella is a nod to Hank. The top shows some rippling, which looks like it might be from a factory lathe—more evidence of custom carving?
Period-correct, brown/pink “Cali Girl” case (tan on the outside and pink on the inside.) The case is a little deeper than the standard Lifton Byrdland case. Some minor scuffing on the top but overall in very good condition but for some seam separation and tearing on the treble side of the bottom rim of the case . The extra depth of the case is needed so that the High Hat knob mounted on the pick-guard isn’t squashed into the top when the lid is closed.
This is a rare Gibson acoustic L-5 with a unique acoustic voice. Ratko Zjaka, a protégé of Joe Pass, calls it an “11” in terms of tone, cosmetics and playability.
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.