Up for sale, a 1970 Gibson L-7C archtop, outfitted with a Johnny Smith floating mini humbucker and low profile Volume and Tone controls tucked beneath the pickguard edge. An exceedingly rare pickup in its own right, this embossed cover Gibson pickup preserves the acoustic integrity of the instrument while also offering a delightful electric tone.
As Gibson's most popular professional-sized archtop, the L-7C is identical in construction to the venerable L-5, with only minor cosmetic differences and the same legendary Gibson Jazz Box tone. With its generous 17" lower bout, hand-carved spruce top, and hand-carved heavily figured flame maple back and sides, this L-7C has a prodigious voice befitting its all-carved wood construction. The guitar offers bouncy trebles, detailed midrange cut, and a rich bass register with a smooth growl when played with authority. There’s a dry cut and overarching sweetness to the acoustic sound, and the electrified signal has a real midrange heft and definition that can be tailored to taste via the Volume and Tone thumbwheels.
The sound can get very mellow and broad with the Tone knob rolled back to taste, while retaining plenty of note clarity. Weighing 5lbs 13oz, this L-7C has been professionally setup here at Mike and Mike’s with flatwound 12 gauge strings, offering accurate intonation and easy-playing action.
The heavily figured three-piece flame maple neck has a medium depth C-shaped profile carve at the nut, with round shoulders in every register and notable increase in overall depth and heft further up the fretboard, measuring .830” at the 1st fret and .985” at the 9th. The extremely dark rosewood fretboard features pearl split-parallelogram inlay and the original medium jumbo fretwire which retains its full factory height, with well-rounded crowns and only light wear beneath the B and High E strings on frets 1-6. The guitar plays cleanly up the 25 1/2" scale with a straight neck and responsive, optimally adjusted truss rod. The original nylon nut measures 1 9/16" in width. The bound headstock features the inlaid Gibson logo and crown, and the guitar retains its original set of Gibson Deluxe double line, double ring tuners, with some chipping through the headstock veneer adjacent to a few of the tuner bushings. The serial number is extremely faintly stamped on the back of the headstock (present, but illegible), and there is an additional five-digit factory order number boldly stamped inside the body.
On the body, the electronics comprise the genuine (and year-correct) Gibson Johnny Smith pickup with the Gibson-embossed cover only used from 1970-72. This pickup appears to be an aftermarket install, given the unconventional endpin jack, yet is absolutely correct for the year of the instrument, recently fitted with small Volume and Tone controls beneath the edge of the original five-ply narrow bevel floating pickguard. The original carved and compensated rosewood floating bridge and chrome trapeze tailpiece with raised parallelogram crossbar round out the hardware.
The nitro lacquer Cherry Sunburst finish is very vibrant on top, with a dark shade of Walnut on the back, sides and neck profile, allowing the incredibly deep and dimensional flame figuring in the carved maple to shine through. Cosmetic wear is limited to light wear through the clear coat beneath the feet of the bridge, some small dings and faint finish scratches consistent with careful use on the body as a whole, with some light scuffing central to the lower bout on the back. The gloss on the neck profile is smooth and free of palm wear, with a subtle black "stinger" on the back of the headstock and just a few faint marks central to the carve on the profile length.
This L-7C is an extremely soulful, dynamically responsive, and versatile archtop, offering the sonic palette of an L-5 Johnny Smith.
A black tolex hardshell case is included.