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Old 12-29-2020, 09:39 AM
onaclearday onaclearday is offline
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Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 45

Originally Posted by ArchtopLover View Post
I own and play a few examples of what you are looking for. First, each model, from this period has its own particular sound, especially when body size and sound hole configuration is concerned.

My L-1 is a small, delicate guitar, with a strong upper register, but with little, low-end warmth. Great for old-timey 1920's ragtime or blues. But I become bored with of the lack of acoustic depth quickly. A niche tone for sure, and not recommended if this is the only vintage Gibson you are considering.

My L-50s are a mix of later F-hole types and an earlier round hole version. The F-hole L-50s all have that classic Jazz box sound you may already be familiar with, in other words, they exhibit a significant amount of natural reverb, or acoustic overtones and artifacts peculiar to this body design. My 1934 round hole F-50 is a completely different breed of sound. If you have ever played a vintage Gibson LG-2 or LG-3, small body, flat-top, then this is what it sounds like. Exceptionally sweet and detailed upper register, with great sustain and really clean and round bottom end. Not very loud, with no natural reverb, but very responsive and a pleasure to play.

Now, for the best-of-the-best, my 1928 round-hole L-4 is a breathtaking dream to play and to hear. It exhibits an amazing combination of vintage archtop tone and a frequency range, more similar to a modern dreadnought flat-top. It has very little natural reverb overtones (a function of the round hole design), but it does have a very deep and clean bottom-end, with sweet, clear trebels and lots of sustain, which is unusual for an archtop of this vintage. The neck is a very comfortable deep C shape, very similar to my L-7, with narrow frets.

With what I know now about how these guitars sound and play, and if I were to own only one, I would recommend an early L-4. And, as a back-up to this plan, I would chose a 1930's F-hole L-50, if I were to find one, in good playable condition at or below your budget price.

Most of what I own I have purchased on Reverb and eBay at purchase prices well below $2K. All of these instruments needed repairs, extensive repairs or just complete restoration. The only exception is my 1934 L-7. I paid top-dollar for this beauty, and I got burned. She arrived with significant damage and body cracks, that was not disclosed before sale. Oh well, you win some, you lose some....

I hope this helps, and good luck with your search. Let us know if you find something you like .
Thank you very much for such a detailed answer! A lot of first hand information I really needed. I was mostly thinking I'll settle for an L-1 or an L-3 if I should find one, but I think I'm going to wait to find a nice L-4. I see from your signature you also have an Epiphone archtop. How does it compare to the Gibsons f holes?
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