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1994 Gibson Master Model L-5 CES Archtop Wine Red w/ Case, James Hutchins


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Up for sale, a 1994 Gibson L-5 CES archtop in excellent condition, 100% original save for a Bigsby B6 vibrato and complete with the original hardshell case. A premium example of the L-5 CES model from an era that's increasingly highly regarded, this Gibson is emblematic of the high level of craftsmanship afforded Gibson's premium legacy archtop models. This example is hand-dated and signed by Gibson luminary James "Hutch" Hutchins. With a tenure at Gibson that began in 1963 and spanned 45 years, Hutch worked closely with archtop Jazz giants like Chet Atkins, Howard Roberts, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, and Herb Ellis to name a few.

Upon its introduction in 1951 as the electrified version of Gibson's L-5C, the "CES" L-5 has been the gold standard for Gibson archtops, with solid carved tonewoods used throughout. Boasting a full 17" lower bout with a carved, tight-grain premium spruce top, maple sides, and a figured bookmatched carved maple back, the size of this archtop yields rich textured tones with a distinct woody quality and complex midrange character. Naturally, the solid ebony bridge and fretboard impart a glassy note attack and superior articulation integral in round, present tonalities in every register and the kind of note separation essential to complex Jazz chord voicings. The pickups are the original 57 Classic PAF humbucker pair, and these medium output Gibson humbuckers are wax-potted for optimal feedback rejection. The bridge pickup is warm and smooth, with enough top end cut and midrange clarity to satisfy Jazz purists, and the neck position humbucker is even rounder and fatter, perfect for lead work that requires some meat and mellowness. The instrument weighs 8lbs 10oz, professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with roundwound 12-52 strings and low action (string gauge and roundwound/flatwound preference can be adjusted at the buyer's request).

Neck Specs:

-Wood: Three-piece maple with walnut stringers
-Shape: Slender C shape, generous shoulders, measuring .790” 1st fret, .950” 9th fret
-Fretboard: Bound ebony, pearl block inlay, 12” radius
-Frets: Medium jumbo, good meat and well-rounded crowns, no wear
-Scale Length: 25 1/2“
-Nut: 1 11/16”
-Headstock: Multi-ply bound, torch inlay, "Custom L-5" truss rod cover
-Tuners: Original Gibson-branded Schaller-made gold tuners, metal tulip buttons
-Serialization: Stamped on back of peghead

Body Specs:

-Pickups: Gibson 57 Classic PAF humbuckers, untouched solder on covers
-Harness: Original, visible through F hole
-Hardware: Original floating ABR-1 bridge with inlaid floating ebony base, aftermarket Bigsby B6 vibrato with Chet Atkins arm (one tiny doweled mounting hole from previous L-5 tailpiece)
-Plastics: Original amber bonnet knobs and multi-ply bound dark tortoise pickguard
Labels: Master Model serialized label, James Hutchins dated label - Feb 14, 1994

The Wine Red high gloss nitro lacquer finish presents cleanly, and there is just one pinhead-sized mark of note on the bass side of the top between the pickups. Cosmetic wear is otherwise limited to localized buckle rash central to the waist on the back, and just a few additional very minor marks and faint finish scratches in the clear coat of the gloss. The neck profile retains its smooth gloss.

The original brown tolex Gibson USA hardshell case with pink plush interior is included.