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 Gibson L-5CES

Florentine vs. Venetian Style

Click on pictures below

Notes: The electric version of the famed L-5 was introduced in 1951 as the new top-end model alongside with the Super 400CES. Since that date the L-5CES evolved through a series of changes f.e. different pickups, body cutaways and neck contours as the guitar became more an electric guitar and less an acoustic guitar. In late 1960 and until mid 1969 a sharp cutaway called Florentine was used for the L-5CES but the acoustic L-5C has kept the Venetian round cutaway. By reverting the L-5CES to its earlier Venetian style in 1969 the company saved time = money and gained greater flexibility as the initial manufacturing operations were common on both guitars. Therefore the Florentine cutaway was phased out in mid 1969.

Materials: 17" wide body with handcarved bookmatched fine grained solid Spruce top, highly figured solid five-piece Maple neck with two Mahogany stripes, highly flamed solid Maple back and sides, pointed-end Ebony fretboard, nut width 1 9/16", 20 frets, pearl single block position markers, flower pot peghead inlay, multi-ply white / black binding, bound f-holes, compensated solid Rosewood bridge with original scooped-out two-footed Rosewood base plate.

Hardware: Two original Pat. Number humbucker pickups with stickers, L5 tailpiece model name engraved, metal-capped reflector knobs, volume and tone pots (code 1376901), three position toggle switch, quintuple-bound pickguard, Kluson Sealfast tuners, white bordered truss rod cover.

Facts: This instrument was assembled in the very early days of 1969 in the Kalamazoo, Michigan factory at a time when Gibson decided to reinstate the L-5CES with the Venetian cutaway. It is probably the very first reinstated L-5CES with Venetian cutaway as the potis date from the first week of 1969. The orange label's serial number 891XXX is also present on the backside of the neck. Even though the serial number tends more to be from 1967, it is clear that the instrument was made with a somewhat earlier neck that was mounted to a venetian body at a later point during its production in 1969. This is also indicated by the presence of the i-dot in the Gibson logo because if the dot would be missing then the neck would be from the 1969 period. The guitar has the correct internal bracing for CES models which is a little bit different from the L-5C models, and therefore it is a factory equipped L-5CES and not a later-on electrified L-5C which was made occasionally by some players who didn't like the sharp cutaway but wanted to have an electric L-5CES guitar with Venetian cutaway which was not offered from Gibson during this period (almost one decade)

Condition: The original tobacco sunburst finish is in very good condition showing some -but not too much- crazing of the nitro finish which is so typical. The guitar is completely original down to the last screw but the gold plating of the hardware shows some wear. The original pickguard started to deteriorate therefore a new pickguard -see last 2 pictures- has been installed (leaving the old one with the original bracket in the case pocket). It can be re-installed with just two screws. The Kluson tuners work smooth and there are no bent shafts. The original frets still have plenty of life left and the Ebony fretboard is in great shape for its age.

Playability: Buzz-free low action and the straight neck has a comfty rounded C profile. It plays and feels great.

Tone: Its two Pat. Number pickups deliver a full and strong tone and the L-5CES continues to be the first choice for professional musicians.

Case: Original Gibson hardshell case with yellow plush interior in good condition. All latches and hinges work fine.

Setup: This instrument is strung with flatwound strings (.012-.054)

To Summarize: From an aesthetic point of view we esteem the Venetian cutaway but for a player the Florentine cutaway offers more free space for the hand. So it's not the question what is better, it's about what your preferences are. As long as a Gibson L-5 is from the Golden era - fifties to sixties - we love them all and we are proud to offer this guitar to the next great player.

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