'Lonesome George' Gobel began his career as a child cowboy singer on the National Barn Dance on Chicago's WLS radio. Turning to comedy after the war, Gobel became a national celebrity in the '50s, hosting a popular variety show on NBC-TV. Though featured with his Super 400, the diminutive entertainer was dwarfed by its massive body, and asked Gibson for a custom instrument better suited to his size. Trimming a standard L-5C to a slimmer 2 3/8" depth, Gibson X-braced the soundboard for a warmer acoustic voice, finished it in a vibrant cherry for the new color broadcasts, and presented it to Gobel live on his show, by country star Tennessee Ernie Ford in April of 1958.
Rushed into production the following year, the new slimline model was designated the L-5CT, and fitted with a fast 24 3/4" scale. A costly top-shelf instrument, only 43 of the L-5CT guitars were recorded in Gibson ledgers in the model's brief official run between 1959 and 1961. Some were fitted with the new PAF humbucker, some with the old 'Charlie Christian' bar pickup, and a few are seen today with Johnny Smith floating mini-humbuckers. And some were built as straight acoustics as well, just like Lonesome George's, nearly all of which were finished in the deep cherry color that was standard for the model.
This exceptionally rare instrument is one of just three blonde L-5CT models we are aware of, and the only one built all acoustic, without built-in pickups. The factory order number indicates the guitar was begun in 1959, but not shipped until late 1962 or early '63, more than a year after the last officially recorded examples were shipped in 1961. (Duchossoir has written that a few one-off examples were made as late as the late 60's.) From an outstanding private collection, this magnificent guitar has been maintained in museum quality condition, with 100% original finish and hardware, right down to the fine medium jumbo frets with binding nibs intact. The guitar is crafted from gorgeous highly figured solid carved Bigleaf maple in the back, sides and neck, and a soundboard of solid carved bookmatched Sitka spruce.
At just 5lb. 14oz. the guitar is phenomenally light in weight, with its thinline profile hugging the body effortlessly, and deftly balanced on the lap or the strap. The neck has a classic gentle D profile, elegant and comfy, with smooth low action over the solid black ebony fingerboard, and a fresh high-precision setup. The natural blonde finish is warmly ambered, all original, and free of pick, buckle, or thumb wear. Even the typical checking one might expect in an instrument of the era is happily absent, and a pickup has never been attached. The instrument shows no cracks or repairs, and apart from some fog on the plating, and a tiny binding shim near the guard bracket, appears much as it left the factory over half a century ago. The feather-light construction and X braced soundboard combine to produce an acoustic voice that is remarkably strong and vibrant, simply amazing for an instrument of its abbreviated depth. In gleaming condition, this handsome instrument appears virtually unplayed, and is fitted in its original Lifton 'California Girl' hardshell case.
A remarkable find, an exceptional player, and one of the rarest guitars Gibson ever made. It won't be lonesome long: call now.
|~1962||Near Mint||blonde||Original Hard|
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