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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    http://www.gibson.com/Products/Gibso...bos/L%2D4%20A/

    Have any of you ever tried this guitar, or the previous L-4A that had maple back and sides (and Les Paul Standard-style inlays)?

    I'm really interested in this guitar from the specs, but I haven't gotten a chance to try one. It's a lot of money to take a chance on mail ordering (internationally), but I am really interested. I have a J-100 that I really enjoy, but I'm finding the strings a bit too stiff for these old fingers. [I'm already using 12s, a capo is possible, but kind of defeats the purpose of getting an expensive guitar for me, and tuning down is possible, but messes with my singing key -- so, I'm struggling a bit with it and looking at the L-4A as perhaps a better match for me].

    I like the shorter scale of the L-4A, I think that would more than do the trick (I have a cheap 25" scale acoustic that causes me no problems, so 24 3/4" scale would definitely be fine). I also like the Jumbo format, I think (if I understand it correctly) -- like my Super Jumbo, but just a hair less thick? Finally, the cutaway could be nice -- I do find my hand running out of room for some of the things I want to do on my J-100.

    The rosewood body might give it a really nice sound. The previous version's maple body would be cool too, as I dig my maple-bodied J-100. In fact, I mostly just wish I had my J-100 with a shorter scale, so this could be the way to go.

    Possible negatives:

    -if the body is a bit smaller, but otherwise the same, I would expect a bit less bass and volume.

    -the rosewood version might or might not be to my taste, tone-wise

    -The cutaway might rob too much tone (I actually don't have a lot of experience with cutaway acoustics, having never owned one)

    -The shorter scale might have a negative effect on the tone

    *All those things together could add up to a guitar that sounds significantly less appealing to me than my J-100.

    _____


    Well, it's all certainly possible. I'm partly thinking out loud here, and I'll never know for sure until I try one or two for myself, but I would appreciate reading any experiences with this guitar or similar models.

  2. #2

    Re: Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    i played a non-cutaway of similar shape and kona at the artist relations area in 2000-( i cant remember the number but im thinking l-10 or l-100 or something-i have no idea as to what the scale length was-but im guessing it was 25.5 -only becuase i didnt notice the scale length

    the guitar smoked-drop dead wonderful

    had it not been 10K id have bought it on the spot-and im a died the wool martin guy-beautifully balanced, punchy easy to play bassy-the one i loved had way ornate inlay-zodiac type thing-ala Donovan or the like-an incredible guitar

    as for an acccoustic via mail order-while gibsons have great qc on the accoustics-id be sure you can return it

  3. #3

    Re: Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    I've tried the model with the trapezoid inlays and cutaway.. i cant say it did much for me.. i tried to like it, but the tone wasnt there for me. Not particularly rich sounding, though it did sound nice amplified

  4. #4

    Re: Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    My youngest son's band has both the L4A and The J100 for writing, touring and recording. The L4A is smaller than the J100 and when properly set up is easier to play all things being equal. The acoustic volume is not bad. It amplifies very nicely. It has a good sound. There are plenty of shops out there that have maple ones in stock. Just check around. It is a very sturdy guitar capable of enduring a lot rigors. Good Luck!

  5. #5
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    Stevedenver -- $10k, ouch!

    aim75, thanks for the input. I'll have to try a few for myself of course to see if the tone tone does it for me, but it'll be interesting to hear the consensus. That guitar must be quite expensive in Australia. I was there this past summer (for me; winter for you), and was quite surpised at how high the gear prices were.

    Dave Carpenter, also thanks for the input. I'm glad to have the smaller size confirmed too, as Gibson doesn't give the body dimension specs on their website. An L-4A and a J-100 seems like it would be a pretty cool set up to me! Can you compare the tone of the two guitars to each other?

  6. #6

    Re: Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    If you call Gibson acoustic in Montana they will give you the dimensions, 1-800-426-2636. You might ask for Don Ruffatto, he is a knowledgeable guy. The L4a (small body) has less bass than the J100 (jumbo body) the L4a has a bit more midrange. The J100 has nice bass a slight mid scoop and airy highs. The J100 is a great singer songwriter acoustic because of the nice bass and hole in the middle to sing through. Great acoustic accompaniment instrument regardless of the situation. The L4a while it may not work as well in all those situations we have talked about using the J100 for, it is well designed for all of that. Plus the L4a is a true acoustic/electric with sound controls right on the guitar. It is a versatile instrument. If you have to do a lot of different things the L4a may be the choice. If you are going to strum the guitar and sign and let the sound man take care of you the J100 may be your instrument. The J100 has a built in pick up. It doesn’t have the sound controls on the guitar. I hope this helps. Good Luck!

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    That was very interesting, Dave.

    "The J100 is a great singer songwriter acoustic because of the nice bass and hole in the middle to sing through. Great acoustic accompaniment instrument regardless of the situation." I hadn't thought about it like that. It's funny, because since I got my J-100, I've been writing more than I have in years.

    The J-100/200, although they are famous for their bass, actually don't have the most penetrating bass. It's more like an airy bass. And though people talk about how bright they are ("due to the maple, as they always say), they're not the brightest guitars in the world either. Yet I see what you mean, there is perhaps a midrange scoop to them. I'm always surprised at how mellow and sweet the individual notes are on my J-100. It's a very interesting guitar. My guitar buddy was over with his girlfriend the other day and he asked to play my J-100. She (the girlfriend) immediately said, "That sounds different than the other guitars" [he owns quite a few]. And it does. It's a unique instrument, as opposed to an all-'rounder.

    That the L-4A has less bass is a little scary to me -- my J-100 has less bass than my cheap old Carlos (then again, I tried between 20 and 30 guitars in the local area at various price points and from various manufacturers [but no Martins, which I wasn't considering], and they all had less bass than my 21 year old Carlos. I guess tastes have changed. The J-100 was the only one that had the bottom end I crave, but it is much less of a thump, and all in all truly less bass than the Carlos. Still, the J-100 has this airy bass that sets the whole body vibrating against you.

    Anyway, L-4A: more midrange, smaller size, cutaway, onboard controls, but less bass -- I'm intrigued, but really have to try one before buying. It sounds like I probably want both -- aughhh! One for singer-songwriter strumming, the other for playing lead and tote-ing around.

  8. #8

    Re: Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    actually i just saw it in the music 123 catalog delivered today called a zodiac accoustic-and it gone up to 17K!!!(egads) (page 89)

    really was a nice sounding and playing guitar if its the exct one i played in 2000- id ont recall the soundhole treatment on the one i played-and it is brazillian

  9. #9

    Re: Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by dmt
    That guitar must be quite expensive in Australia. I was there this past summer (for me; winter for you), and was quite surpised at how high the gear prices were.
    thats why i bought my R7 from the states!

    Yeah, from what i recall that L4A was around 4-5K AUD here..

  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    Well, it's only 8 months later (seems longer to me), but I finally got that L-4A the other day! I've been playing it a lot the last three days and man my fingers are sore (I usually play mostly electric).

    http://www.fenderforum.com/userphoto...ml?recid=33201

    I am of course able to compare it to my own J-100 (and I'm definitely keeping both), but I also got to compare it to a J-185 EC (same basic design but different wood selection and upgraded cosmetics) at the store.

    The L-4A matches with what has been said in this thread (less bass than a super jumbo, more midrange, smaller body with nice amplification system), but I'll add that it is an overall bright guitar, sparkly even.

    I have three guitars, an old Carlos acoustic (from Korea about 20 years ago), the J-100 (maple back and sides, so like a J-200 sans pickguard) and now this [rosewood] L-4A. The L-4A has the least bass of the bunch, though it does produce good, deep bass notes on the low strings (with a rosewood punchiness, instead of the airy bass that maple seems to produce). The overall "EQ" of the [unamplified, acoustic] sound is not bassy though. The L-4A is also the brightest of the bunch. It makes nice, bright chords when strummed, but when fingerpicked, the treble notes really sparkle. The midrange notes are sweet too, with a presence-like sparkle to them, as opposed to the warm, sweet thickness of the midrange notes on my J-100. Notes get a really nice sustain when fingered correctly, but I find if my finger is a little off of the sweet spot, the notes very quickly die. I hope this just because the frets are new -- seems like this should be a setup related thing (either that, or I just need to get used to the guitar more, so my fingers naturally hit the sweet spots). The L-4A is also the quietest of my three acoustics (the cheap Carlos dreadnaught is actually by far the loudest!), but it's not "too" quiet (a J-185 EC I tried was far quieter -- that one was in the "too quiet" range [for a guitar I'd usually play unamplified] for me).

    I'm really enjoying the guitar, though it's brighter/less bassy than what I was initially looking for. I usually flatpick when I play acoustic, but this guitar makes me want to fingerpick and let the treble notes sparkle against a bass string drone. The guitar sits on a strap much more comfortably for me than the large and wide J-100, so that's nice. The Fishman Prefix system works great through my SWR amp, though of course it has that piezo quack like any other. A Fishman blender could be a solution, but I think I'll live with it. A more likely upgrade for me would be the Fishman Prefix-T preamp, which is the same as what I have now except for the addition of an on-board tuner (which would be a pretty cool thing to have, methinks).

    Visually, the L-4A has a smaller, thinner headstock than a super jumbo, giving it a somewhat lady-like appearance. The gold grover tuners and MOP crown add to that impression. In fact, the whole guitar gives off a yin (female) vibe compared to my J-100's (and Carlos', for that matter) yang (maleness). Sorry for getting all philosophical, but I can't shake this impression now that it's in my head. The smaller, thinner, more curvy (with the cutaway) and rounded body, the abalony rosette (which seems like jewelry), the un-gaudy woods, the softer but higher pitched sound all conspire to make me think of it as female, especially when I look over at the big, bold (flamed maple), unadorned, loud and deep-voiced super jumbo sitting next to it. Weird. Not what I was initially expecting, and I'm not totally thrilled about that impression, but it could have its place. I sure am enjoying playing it.

  11. #11

    Re: Gibson L-4A -- anyone have any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by dmt View Post

    Visually, the L-4A has a smaller, thinner headstock than a super jumbo, giving it a somewhat lady-like appearance. The gold grover tuners and MOP crown add to that impression. In fact, the whole guitar gives off a yin (female) vibe compared to my J-100's (and Carlos', for that matter) yang (maleness). Sorry for getting all philosophical, but I can't shake this impression now that it's in my head. The smaller, thinner, more curvy (with the cutaway) and rounded body, the abalony rosette (which seems like jewelry), the un-gaudy woods, the softer but higher pitched sound all conspire to make me think of it as female, especially when I look over at the big, bold (flamed maple), unadorned, loud and deep-voiced super jumbo sitting next to it. Weird. Not what I was initially expecting, and I'm not totally thrilled about that impression, but it could have its place. I sure am enjoying playing it.
    Joined to bump this

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