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1953 Gibson L-5 Vintage Archtop Acoustic Guitar Sunburst w/ Lifton Case


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Up for sale, a 1953 Gibson L-5 vintage archtop acoustic guitar in excellent condition and in perfect working order, complete with the original Lifton hardshell case. One of only a couple dozen L-5s crafted in '53, this Gibson is a premium example and one of very few produced when interest in non-cutaway archtops was at low ebb, with production ceasing by 1958.

The brainchild of Gibson luminary Lloyd Loar, the L-5 benefitted from the same expertise Loar brought to Gibson's F-5 mandolin. Boasting a full 17" lower bout with with a carved premium spruce top, carved solid curly maple back and sides, and an ebony fingerboard, the guitar's tonewoods yield ample projection and detail. The lightest touch yields a full-bodied, balanced, and nuanced sound with an exquisite midrange chop and presence. The plain strings are punchy and sparkling, while the wound strings have a full, round quality. The instrument weighs 6lbs 3oz, dialed in with 12-54 bronze strings and comfortable action (string gauge and roundwound/flatwound preference can be adjusted at the buyer's request).

The deeply figured tiger flame maple neck is bisected by a central strip of walnut, and the profile has a notably round C shaped carve with generous shoulder, measuring .905" deep at the 1st fret and 1.005" at the 9th. The ebony fretboard features multi-ply binding and pearl block inlay, refretted with the same medium jumbo-sized fretwire first seen on Gibsons circa 1959. These frets are nigh flawless with plenty of meat and crown, playing effortlessly up the 25 1/2" scale. The original nylon nut measures a full 1 11/16" in width, and the headstock features Gibson's torch inlay and complement of gold-plated Kluson Sealfast premium tuning machines with translucent keystone buttons.

The carved spruce top has excellent curvature, retaining the original carved and compensated Brazilian rosewood bridge, as well as the etched trapeze tailpiece which shows light, uniform surface patina. The pickguard is a faithfully made replica with a brown swirling transparent tortoise material and three-ply binding, with the correct extra tortoise reinforcing strip against the straight edge of the guard on the underside. The clean white oval label with model and serial details is intact and in great shape, visible through the F hole.

The original Sunburst nitro lacquer gloss finish exhibits prominent lacquer checking across the body, with two repaired top cracks on the treble side extending from the edge of the F hole towards the waist, and these have been cleanly and professionally addressed. There is one flawlessly filled strap button hole on the bass-side of the body beyond the neck heel with one dot of touchup, and a few minor dings across the body consistent with careful use. Curly flame figuring extending liberally across the sides, with straighter flame across the entire back, visible into the blackest edges of the Sunburst. On the neck profile there are a couple small spots of isolated palm wear on the shoulders, and a couple cleanly repaired splits in the multi-ply neck binding. The lacquer on the profile is clean and smooth with only a few tiny shallow marks on the profile length which aren’t distracting to the palm while fretting.

The original Lifton premium hardshell case with brown mottled exterior and pink plush interior is included. The case is notably clean, featuring functional latches and the original leather handle.