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Old 07-05-2022, 01:06 PM
Steve M. Steve M. is offline
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Default Gibson L-3 vs. open hole L-4

Hello, I'm looking to enter the archtop world.

Wifey bought me a Harmony Stella for my birthday before the pandemic, and I've become addicted to the guitar, playing about 4 hours every day for the past 4 years, and now I'm overjoyed to be able to play many of the depression-era jazz standards I've sung to myself since I was a kid. (I've found that the greatest benefit of getting a guitar as a surprise gift is that I have the credence to be able to play it as much as I want!)

What I really enjoy about this Stella is the 12-fret neck, quite comfy and un-intimidating for my rhythm accompaniment (and chugging along with jazz chords is all I really aspire to). I also enjoy the small size ... so easy to carry all over the house. It's quite beat up, though, rattles a lot, is quite ugly, and likely isn't doing any favors to the music. Seems like some sort of acoustic jazz box should be finding its way to me, and put to its intended use. I currently get some work as a phonograph DJ, playing 78rpm records on hand-cranked horn phonographs, so I have a network of old-jazz-style friends and bookers, and I'd like to take a crack at playing some guitar/vocal gigs instead of hauling all of these 78s around.

I'm liking the open-hole L-4 because of the 11.5-fret neck, but, I'm also drawn to the very small bout of the L-3, and would only be increasing my fret count by one, in that case. The playing experience of the two, no doubt, is a bit different.

So, conditions being somewhat equal of the two ... which of these would you prefer for my situation? I would be looking for as late and as good as possible.
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Old 07-05-2022, 01:29 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is online now
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Hi, back in the mid '70s, I had a (1915) L-3 in almost perfet condition. Built like the Tower of London , and solid with a tonality unusual now.

It is very challenging to fond a differnce between those early 20th C Gibsons L-1,L3 etc,. but when played well which, sadly, they rarely are!

Here's a very similr piece played by Michael Watts, who gets the "right" sound.



https://youtu.be/fAMsldwdufA?list=RDfAMsldwdufA

After all these years, I'd love to get that old L-3 back!

Here's an L-4 played properly too :



I have a 1934 (built) F-hole L-4 - of which, frankly, I am unworthy :

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Last edited by Silly Moustache; 07-05-2022 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 07-05-2022, 01:39 PM
Steve M. Steve M. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post
Hi, back in the mid '70s, I had a (1915) L-3 in almost perfet condition. Built like the Tower of London , and solid with a tonality unusual now.

It is very challenging to fond a differnce between those early 20th C Gibsons L-1,L3 etc,. but when played well which, sadly, they rarely are!

Here's a very similr piece played by Michael Watts, who gets the "right" sound.



https://youtu.be/fAMsldwdufA?list=RDfAMsldwdufA
Wow ... that is quite something!
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Old 07-05-2022, 01:53 PM
Steve M. Steve M. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post

Here's an L-4 played properly too :



I have a 1934 (built) F-hole L-4 - of which, frankly, I am unworthy :

You sound wonderful on your L4! I've watched your video several times in the past, marveling at that sound.

And yes, Jonathan's "Cheek to Cheek" is exactly what my repertoire is all about.

I should mention that I'm not expressly looking for a really expensive Gibson, it's just that I want as few frets as possible, and the old Gibsons seem to be the only archies that offer that.
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Old 07-05-2022, 03:54 PM
gfirob gfirob is offline
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I had a 1936 L4 with a round hole and I found it to be fairly inferior to the F-hole version and I sold it. These round hole arch tops are sort of their own creature, some love 'em others not so much, but they are not the same in sound or internal construction as an F-hole Gibson.
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