My L5 Collection
My Personal Collection of Vintage L5's and Other Fine and Rare Archtops
This is my personal collection of vintage L-5s and other fine and rare arch-top guitars.
The Collection and each of the L5's are featured in the June 2019 edition of Guitar Player Magazine. https://www.guitarplayer.com/gear/the-unparalleled-beauty-of-the-gibson-l5-archtop.
I was initially attracted to these guitars by something special that I heard, saw or felt. I'm a player first and I only buy an instrument if it plays very well. Next, even an electric arch-top should resonate well acoustically and have tone. Any condition or cosmetic issues are either addressed to the extent possible through restoration or I decide to live with them because of the instrument's overall quality and appeal. All of these guitars survived brutal A-B comparisons against similar models from similar years or even iconic solid body Gibsons.
I'd like to dispel the negative pre-conceptions about the Varitone circuit. It's not a "tone suck." In the pass-through position, the tone is unaffected. My '61 sharp cut retains the Varitone and its electric sound is fully equal to the 1960 electric Gobel, which ate 'Bursts for breakfast before I removed the Varitone. In the early 1960's, high-end Gibsons were supposed to be fancy. As a marketing tool, a number of high-end Gibsons were upgraded with the Stereo Varitone circuit and sometimes a Bigsby. The package screamed top-of-the-line and a lot of performers loved it, including country players, who were and remain addicted to Bling. Gibson marketed these instruments with a line of state-of-the-art stereo amps, which seem worth revisiting. The negative rap on the Varitone is probably due to 335 guys justifying the ungodly premium they paid over a 345, which sounds...exactly the same. If arch-top purists are offended, it is on esthetic grounds ("a chicken nose..uggh") or a concern that acoustic resonance is impaired, although I haven't noticed any degradation of acoustic tone, volume or resonance on any of my four Varitone equipped L5's--which were designed for electric play in the first case. The entire preoccupation strikes me as misinformed, fussy and something of a vanity. Frankly, I find the Varitone to be rather useful when you go from soloing to playing rhythm, although the stereo output jack is a pain in the rear.
Right now, I mostly play the Crest and the 1961 sharp cut. I'm otherwise hoping to "thin the herd." I'm happy to consider package deals and can be flexible on prices to a certain extent.
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.