Gibson’s L-5CES has an illustrious history. It began life as far back as 1922, when it originally featured in the catalogue as an acoustic archtop, designed by Gibson’s legendary master luthier Lloyd Loar.
It was also the first guitar the company made that featured f-holes. The L-5 went on to be number one on the list for big-band guitarists because of its big sound, which was powerful enough to cut through the brass sections of the day.
The first electric model came out in 1951, with a carved spruce top, maple back and sides and a pair of P-90 pickups, with these being upgraded to Gibson’s Alnico V pickups in 1954, before humbuckers became the norm and an ABR bridge replaced the wooden one in late 50s.
Players of note who used an L-5 include Scotty Moore - you can see his blonde model in action in films of Elvis Presley’s 1950s performances - and jazzer supreme, Wes Montgomery, who went on to have his own signature model based on the design.
Our model here is one of only 18 blonde L-5s that Gibson made during 1953 - although the presence of Alnico Vs here would suggest that it must have been late in the year - and shows very little evidence of wear.
The spruce has mellowed down from blonde to amber with very few marks or blemishes, and there’s little indication of any fretboard wear, either, suggesting that this is an instrument that has been used but well loved by its owners over the years.
(Guitar courtesy of the New Kings Road Vintage Guitar Emporium.)
The spruce has mellowed down from blonde to amber with very few marks or blemishes.
The L-5 was the first guitar Gibson made that featured f-holes.
The Alnico Vs would suggest that it must have been made late in the 1953.
There’s little indication of any fretboard wear.