This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

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This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by sookwinder » Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:52 am

New Vintage Gibson Archtop Acoustic.
Currently in the 6th week of Stage 4 COVID19 lockdown in the city I live in as the 2nd wave of disaster washes over us. I am surviving OK … the only people I see are the check-out chicks at the supermarket (who seem to have a median age of about 65 years) & my elderly mother when I go out to buy food every 2 or 3 days. So I have been talking a lot to my plastic cactus, re-watched a shit load of DVD TV series that I have and listened to heaps of political podcasts.

Been going to bed at about 4.30AM and rising after noon. Have managed to get some good recordings down "on tape" between 10PM - 4AM and written a lot as well. The problem I have found when you have absolutely nothing to do and have all the time in the world to do it, things take a lot longer to get done. So maybe before COVID19 I would have achieved " X" during a 3 hours recording session, now I create "X/2" … why? because I am not going to work and cannot doing anything tomorrow, other than record music and finish what I started today..

and !!!!!! there are too many great youtube music vids to watch :D ;D

Now … you all must have played a youtube clip of some music or a musician and when the vid is finished it moves into the next one based upon what Youtube has analysed what it thinks you want to see. Over the past 6 weeks this has happened numerous times. And most times the next cued up vid is nothing like what I want to see/hear. But then occasionally something would come up and I would be amazed by the youtube vid. About 2 weeks back this happened, the vid I was listening to finished while I was in the kitchen making a cuppa and started the next vid. It was a guy playing a guitar to a backing rhythm that he had set up with a looper and I absolutely loved the sound of the guitar.

So I stopped making the cup of tea and checked out what the vid actually was. Amazingly it was an acoustic guitar with a fitted pickup. Even more strange (at least to my ears) was that it was an archtop acoustic. A 50s Gibson L-48. I was smitten. Then I spent the whole night (while the cup of tea in the kitchen went cold) checking out other Youtube vids of L-48s. Some with pickups and some without.

Now I have been a good boy and have not bought any new string instruments since December 2019. I had essentially told myself I do not need any new guitars (especially any new acoustic). But I gotta say the vids of Gibson L-48s I listened to just sucked me in to the idea of owning/playing one.

The Gibson L-50 was a model from the 1930s, sort of a low end model ... binding on the body.
After WWII the status of the L-50 was increased with neck binding and pearloid trapezoid inlays.
At the same time Gibson introduced the L-48, effectively to fit into the model position that the L-50 used to compete in.

The L-48 specifications are (I copied these from http://www.guitarhq.com):
1946: L-48 introduction specs: 16" wide, mahogany top (some early models with spruce top), single bound top and back, dot fingerboard inlays (a few early models with trapezoid), silkscreen peghead logo, sunburst finish.
1952: L-48 specs: Spruce top, maple back, mahogany sides.
1954: L-48 specs: Some with a spruce top and some with a laminated mahogany top.
1957: L-48 specs: Mahogany top and sides, laminated maple back specified in catalog but in reality most had a mahogany back.
The L-48 was discontinued in 1971.

So there I was, in COVID19 lockdown, all the time in the world to search the world for a good L-48. I decided I wanted a 1957-1960 model, as the necks have been described as being like the 335 of that era (although obviously necks varied as they were all hand made back then). I did not want any baseball bat type neck profiles.

After a couple of days I had whittled down the available instruments to about 4 or 5 possibilities located in the USA and one located in Ireland. Prices were not that high when compared to similarly aged Gibson flattops. Eventually I selected a 1959 model from Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar from Seattle. I had bought a Gibson B-25 from these guys some years back and was very happy with the service I received.

Twelve days later the L-48 had winged its way across the Pacific and arrived at my home this morning.
Below are some photos of the L-48. The first half are taken in natural light, the second half are those from the seller.

The instrument is in excellent condition, especially for one that is 61 years old. There are nicks here and there as one would expect but no cracks or damage. The binding is secure and no issues and has yellowed extensively, tuners work perfectly, the neck is a delight to play and is exceptionally clean. The only thing not original is the frame of the tailpiece. These often crack at the right angle in the bracket. It appears that the frame of the tailpiece was replaced with a relatively modern chrome version while still retaining the original nickel tailpiece comb unit.

The finish is interesting. The mahogany makes the sunburst seem darker/orange hue, especially compared to my flattops with spruce tops. There is certainly what appears to be sections of red blending into the darker finish on the outer sides. Typical age cracking can be seen in the paint, but unlike the Gibson paint used in the late 60s there is no evidence of any of the paint flaking off.

The guitar arrived with a new set of flatwound 12-50 Thomastik Jazz Swing nickel strings fitted. The seller said (and I confirmed this via looking at a lot of youtube vids) that it seems that it is a 50 : 50 split between players who fit electric strings or acoustic springs (irrespective of whether the L-48 was fitted with a PUP or not). After setting up the intonation and playing with the flatwound 12-50 Thomastiks I decided to fit the standard acoustic strings that I use for my flattops. D’Addario Phosphor Bronze 12-53 acoustic strings.

The change of strings from electric to acoustic suddenly opened up the curtains on what this instrument can achieve acoustically. There is a brashness to the sound, clean, articulate, while there are harmonics, there are not as strong as those in Gibson flattops. Notwithstanding that the bridge is rosewood the sound has a very metallic timbre to it and I can only think that the metal tailpiece has something to do with it. The bass sound is not as strong as equivalent sized dreadnaught flattops (which I must admit sometimes have too much bass response.) The L-48 has a more even sound/volume across the strings but still with the metallic timbre and a hollow sound to it as well. Hard to explain the complex sounds of this instrument. I am very used to hearing flattops with a new set of strings fitted and the archtop L-48 just sounds "old world" to me. This is also my first dreadnaught sized all mahogany instrument. It is almost like the reverse of a J-45. The J-45 has that thud that we all love, but without the top end, whereas the L-48 has plenty of top end to spare, strong lows, weaker bottom end lows and mids that are lower that what one would expect in a J-45.

I have on order, from a pickup manufacturer in Portland, a very thin pickup that is designed to be used with archtops and bronze strings. When I want to record the instrument via a pickup it can be taped to the body using "painters tape". I'll add a posting showing the pickup when it arrives.

In summary I am extremely happy with this L-48, this archtop while being the lower level model of its time has all the sound properties and differences to a flattop that I desire. The instrument itself is in superb condition and one of the easiest acoustics to play that I own. While I would certainly not advise anyone to select the L-48 as their first acoustic or first vintage acoustic (that honour should be a J-45 or J-50), given the difference in tonality and timbre to a flattop, the relative lower prices compared to flattops from the same era, the L-48 is really worth checking out. The sound of the L-48 can really cut through in a crowded mix with a little bit of energetic strumming but also can be quite soulful if required.

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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by PorkyPrimeCut » Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:15 am

Oh man!!
You think you can't, you wish you could, I know you can, I wish you would. Slip inside this house as you pass by.

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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by Steadyriot. » Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:53 am

Hot damn! That's one pretty guitar.
I completely understand going 'nocturnal' during your covid sponsored holiday, but be careful. There's health risks to long time night shifts. Would be a shame if you couldn't enjoy that J48 for as long as you'd like!
Stay safe!
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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by fuzzjunkie » Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:29 am

That’s a long story, so I just scrolled to the pictures, but it looks amazing!

I actually thought this was going to be a condemnation thread about a new failed Fender mashup from the Parallel Universe series or something. This is better.

I AM expecting a failed Fender mashup that we can blame on COVID-19 though.

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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by wproffitt » Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:11 am

David,
Congratulations! I've eyed these in the past and watched many a Youtube video trying to figure out what they'd sound like. The conclusion I came to was that I really did want a flat top after all but these have a LOT of charm and vibe. The neck (from what I can tell of the pictures) still seems to have a bit of heft to it, even if it isn't baseball bat shaped. Is it almost a V shape? Once the kids are in bed tonight, I'm off to scour the internet for vintage J-45, J-50, or even LG-2 listings!

Enjoy it in good heath!
Scott

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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by Telliot » Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:23 am

Hot damn, David!!! :-* :? :-*

I think one of these is in my future, for sure. Congratulations, my friend. :)
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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by windmill » Thu Sep 10, 2020 3:42 pm

That looks like a very nice guitar

It also looks a lot like an ES 125 by the way

Congratulations

:)

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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by jthomas » Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:01 pm

That is one sexy ol' broad. Congrats, Sook.

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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by countertext » Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:15 pm

christ a mighty

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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by Surfysonic » Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:25 pm

Beautiful! Congrats! 8)
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Re: This is what happen when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by zhivago » Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:10 pm

I love them old Gibson Archtops! Great score, David! 8)
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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by sookwinder » Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:54 pm

wproffitt wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:11 am
The neck (from what I can tell of the pictures) still seems to have a bit of heft to it, even if it isn't baseball bat shaped. Is it almost a V shape?
The nut is 42.7mm (just less than 1 11/16")
At the first fret the depth of the neck is about 28mm (hard to exactly measure with strings on the guitar)
Shape of cross-section: soft C profile.

The photo shown above of the back of the headstock sort of implies that the profile of the neck is a V. This is just a trick of the light.
The neck is a delightful soft C shaped profile with a little side shoulder … but not enough to call it a D profile.

I cannot handle base-ball bat style necks … this is so far away from that I am playing cricket !
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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by UlricvonCatalyst » Fri Sep 11, 2020 12:58 am

Your enviable Kalamazoo collection just got more enviable. Enjoy!

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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by papa_hotel_delta » Wed Sep 23, 2020 4:50 pm

That's about as clean as they come.

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Re: This is what happens when you are in stage 4 COVID19 lockdown - NVGAA

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Wed Sep 23, 2020 10:12 pm

The colors on that burst are some of the prettiest hues I've ever seen on a guitar. For me, there's something so incredible about "plain" wood grain (as opposed to flamed or quilted maple tops on modern LPs). Stunning guitar :w00t: :? :w00t: :-* :? :w00t:
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