The Fender Forum
NEW! LPF Facebook Page
NEW! LPF Instagram Page
Merchandise & Donations
NEW! Burst Serial Log Home Page
LPF Homesite
Results 1 to 20 of 20

Thread: The Dark Horse

  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    9,082

    The Dark Horse

    Here's one we don't talk about much here. It's the archtop equivalent of the J-45 or maybe even the Les Paul Standard...a pro level, hi-quality workingman's guitar and one Gibson's longest running, most successful models. The "L7" is also the single best bang for the buck archtop ever to come out of Kalamazoo. The L7 is the same "guitar" as an L-5, the exact scale and body dimensions, bracing, same carved spruce top, maple back and sides, etc.

    The only real difference between the L7 and L5 or L7-C and L5-C is cosmetics and a huge amount of money. The L5 gets fancier binding, inlays, headstock ornament, gold plated engraved tailpiece, gold plated tuner upgrade, ebony board, and fancy bound tortoise pickguard. For a fraction of the L5's heavy price tag you can get the guitar that is every way equal as a fine instrument and honestly, I believe no less beautiful.

    That you can still find these hand carved solid spruce top works of art (non-cutaway versions) made 60 and 70 years ago for UNDER $2k is insane. Gibson would probably charge us $6K-$7K or more to custom shop recreate one of these in the same fashion and you would still not have near the wood these oldies have. A true "Golden Era" vintage Kalamzoo cutaway L7-C model will cost you no more than a used R9. They are (or equal to) the finest hand made instruments ever built and shipped by Gibson.

    I had three L7's in my collection a few years ago. Owned quite a few more in the past. In 2006 I had two 1930's non-cut models and this (pics below) relatively rare 1948 L-7P or "Premier" model. Gibson used the "P" designation for the "C" or cutaway models in the first or "premier" year they were introduced.

    So here's a thread in tribute to one of Gibson's finest yet littlest talked about guitars. I know there are other members that own L7's so feel free to post pics.

    1948 Gibson L7-Premier



  2. #2
    Les Paul Forum Member ZZ Not's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Live Music Capital
    Posts
    704

    Re: The Dark Horse

    I believe these are made in Bozeman and the list is $6903.00. I have seen them for around $4K in the shops.

    Are you saying the quality of the wood and /or construction would likely not be up to snuff?

    The best responses we get from an audience are when we do our worst material.
    - Frank Zappa

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    9,082

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Quote Originally Posted by ZZ Not View Post
    Are you saying the quality of the wood and /or construction would likely not be up to snuff?
    No, I honestly can't say that I know that from anything factual. I haven't seen a modern version. I would be willing to bet whatever the quality, they would be quite different. Just like new counterparts of all vintage guitars. one may prefer new, one may prefer old. They are rarely the same or share a lot in common. I will say that I would probably prefer to own an L7 made 60 or 70 years ago for one third the price of the one above, though.

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member ZZ Not's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Live Music Capital
    Posts
    704

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Gotcha.
    The best responses we get from an audience are when we do our worst material.
    - Frank Zappa

  5. #5

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Last summer I traded this '39 L-5N





    for this January of '49 L-7XP







    The L-5N was gorgeous, however, it weighed a ton and didn't sound very good. The L-7XP is very light and it sounds really good. It's one of the best sounding archtops I have, and I have several pre-war Gibsons and a couple of Epiphones.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member tooold's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Inadvertently representing the USA in France and the UK
    Posts
    2,059

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Great points about the L-7, Kerry. One thing you didn't mention (probably because it's so obvious) is that, with an L-7, you get to join the "Double Parallelogram" club... L-7's, ES-300's and 350's, SJ's, and, of course, 345's. Did I miss any?

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    152

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Quote Originally Posted by tooold View Post
    Great points about the L-7, Kerry. One thing you didn't mention (probably because it's so obvious) is that, with an L-7, you get to join the "Double Parallelogram" club... L-7's, ES-300's and 350's, SJ's, and, of course, 345's. Did I miss any?
    Barney Kessel Standard, ES 175, Hummingbird, Dove, Country & Western. I belive that I once read an assertion by George Gruhn that guitars like L7's L4's didn't have the same level of time, care, and sophitcation put into carving their tops vs. L5's and Super 400's. Any truth to this?

  8. #8

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. 355 View Post
    Barney Kessel Standard, ES 175, Hummingbird, Dove, Country & Western. I belive that I once read an assertion by George Gruhn that guitars like L7's L4's didn't have the same level of time, care, and sophitcation put into carving their tops vs. L5's and Super 400's. Any truth to this?
    This may have been the case, however, I've had lowly L-50 guitars from the 30's that had wood as figured as any that I have seen on an L-5 or Super 400. One of the L-50's that I had was also a great sounding guitar. The general quality of materials, attention to detail and pride in their craft resulted in some great playing and sounding guitars, regardless of the level of ornamentation. Look at that L-5N I traded for the black L-7XP. The materials and detail work were great, however, the guitar didn't sound any where near as good as the L-7XP. Part of it is the luck of the draw, the right combination of wood and labor can result in an exceptional instrument or one that is far less than stellar.

  9. #9
    Les Paul Forum Member tuberide's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    1,469

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Tonal differences have to be significant when taking into consideration the ebony vs. rosewood fretboard and bridge. Please elaborate with regard to tonal differences in your experience gents.

  10. #10
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    9,082

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Speaking of the full sized archtops, other than six or seven L-7's I've owned one 16" L-5, one "advanced" 17" non-cutawayL-5, two 1950's L5-C's, an L-12P, and one 1940's Super 400 which was non-cut. The L-5/L-7tonal differences overlap as much as any two like models would so I can't say that one sounds better or different due to features. I've played quite a few more. Some were great and some were not good at all and this was not dependent on features. I have yet to play a Super 400 that I think sounds as good as an L5 or L7. Much like the J200 I question the acoustic properties of the design. Out of my L-5's and L-7's I felt like a 1934 non cut and 1948 cutaway L-7 were easily the best sounding. I would think this is strictly the luck of the draw. I do have doubts that L-5's are consistently any better than L-7's in sound and playability. My more intense fascination with archtops faded away somewhat in the late 90's but I will definitely own another carved top Gibson one day.

    I've had more than a few cutaway and non-cut L-4's, L-47, L-30, etc. and these can sound quite good as well. Not the same kind of thing as a big body L model, though. I find guitars like L-4C's serve me much better with something like a Mccarty or Dearmond installed. Not crazy about the acoustic sound of any i've had.

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member Plankspanker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Scorpion Butte, AZ
    Posts
    3,797

    Re: The Dark Horse

    "That you can still find these hand carved solid spruce top works of art (non-cutaway versions) made 60 and 70 years ago for UNDER $2k is insane"


    Kerry........I've always beleived that the tops on the L-7 are solid carved Spruce, does this apply to the back also? Every once in awhile you hear someone say that the L-7s Tops were ply, which I don't think is correct.

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member j45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    9,082

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Hi Robert, haven't heard from you in a while. I hope I'm not getting myself in too deep. I was going through old pics last night while I had a Saturday night off. I found a lot of my archtop pics and still find it amazing that they are available for less money than the reissues in a lot of cases. I feel like these more so than electrics represent what insured Gibson's place in history as the finest American guitar builder....way befor the electrics even came along.

    I don't know that any L-7's from the 60's back to 1930's are ply tops. I'm not sure I've ever heard this. I'd like to make it clear that even though I've owned so many vintage guitars over the years and write often I'm in no way an educated expert. Anything I've learned was done much like a monkey would be taught by seeing the same things over and over again until he finally starts to get a little bitof understanding from repetition. the backs of older L-5's are solid and carved. I know backs and sides of a lot of maple Gibsons became ply in the 60's. If anyone knows any more about construction diferences by all means speak up.
    Last edited by j45; 02-21-10 at 07:25 PM.

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member Plankspanker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Scorpion Butte, AZ
    Posts
    3,797

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Thanks Kerry for the info. I've owned several L-7s, mostly the non-cutaways, and all of them appeared to have solid spruce tops.
    I've got a nice clean L-7N I've got to take some pics of and post.

  14. #14
    Les Paul Forum Member DHBucker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    2,367

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Quote Originally Posted by j45 View Post
    Hi Robert, haven't heard from you in a while. I hope I'm not getting myself in too deep. I was going through old pics last night while I had a Saturday night off. I found a lot of my archtop pics and still find it amazing that they are available for less money than the reissues in a lot of cases. I feel like these more so than electrics represent what insured Gibson's place in history as the finest American guitar builder....way befor the electrics even came along.

    I don't know that any L-7's from the 60's back to 1930's are ply tops. I'm not sure I've ever heard this. I'd like to make it clear that even though I've owned so many vintage guitars over the years and write often I'm in no way an educated expert. Anything I've learned was done much like a monkey would be taught by seeing the same things over and over again until he finally starts to get a little bitof understanding from repetition. the backs of older L-5's are solid and carved. I know backs and sides of a lot of maple Gibsons became ply in the 60's. If anyone knows any more about construction diferences by all means speak up.
    Kerry,
    Do you know where one can be found for 2k or under. I would add one to my collection just to have a great arch top by Gibson. I'm sure they are a blast to play and as I respect your opinion would love to look into one. Thanks.

    "On a good day (I know it ain't everyday), we can part the sea. On a bad day (I know it's not everyday), glory beyond our reach."

    "If you can't dig on Esther well you'd better leave town, cause if you think she's bad you oughta see her sister."
    Billy F. Gibbons

    "As the man says, all the southern children like to rock & roll!!" Chris Robinson.

    "With a song in my heart, and an attitude from the start, I took everybody apart to see how they worked." Steve Earle.

  15. #15
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Lost in the Ozarks [again]
    Posts
    42,312

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Quote Originally Posted by DHBucker View Post
    Kerry,
    Do you know where one can be found for 2k or under. I would add one to my collection just to have a great arch top by Gibson. I'm sure they are a blast to play and as I respect your opinion would love to look into one. Thanks.
    Email me.
    Last edited by Tom Wittrock; 02-22-10 at 11:59 AM.
    Pauls to the walls!

    Hüter der Flammen!

    PLEASE SUPPORT www.burstserial.com !!
    Click here: www.burstserial.com

  16. #16
    Les Paul Forum Member tooold's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Inadvertently representing the USA in France and the UK
    Posts
    2,059

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Quote Originally Posted by tuberide View Post
    Tonal differences have to be significant when taking into consideration the ebony vs. rosewood fretboard and bridge. Please elaborate with regard to tonal differences in your experience gents.
    Can't speak to the ebony board, but I swapped the rosewood bridge for ebony on my '29 L-5/L-10 and was staggered by the lack of a difference. Maybe a little brighter.

    I think a lot of the difficulties we have with the acoustic tone of these archtops is that we almost all are coming from flat-tops, which have a specific sound. Archtops - the higher end guitars, at least - were made for a pretty specific purpose, which was playing rhythm in loud jazz bands with horn sections. They were designed to be percussive, and to cut when played hard. This can translate into a less responsive guitar when played solo like a flat-top.

    I really like my L-5/L-10 (it has two labels). It's 16", so it doesn't have that huge body, it's really light, and, while it doesn't sound like a flat-top - it's more mid-range-y - it's really responsive. It also has just about my favorite neck ever.

    The Carl Kress and Dick McDonough records from the 30's are a nice example of what two L-5's from the period sound like when played well as a duo, away from the band context. Great stuff.

  17. #17

    Re: The Dark Horse

    Somehow this thread from the past popped up in my email - no idea why. I've played and owned a bunch of L-7 guitars, and still have a couple of them around here in one of the bunkers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. 355 View Post
    ...I belive that I once read an assertion by George Gruhn that guitars like L7's L4's didn't have the same level of time, care, and sophitcation put into carving their tops vs. L5's and Super 400's. Any truth to this?
    Nope. Complete BS.

    Quote Originally Posted by Plankspanker View Post
    ...I've always beleived that the tops on the L-7 are solid carved Spruce, does this apply to the back also? Every once in awhile you hear someone say that the L-7s Tops were ply, which I don't think is correct.
    L-7 tops were never ply. They are always carved. If any exist that are ply, they are either mistakes or were custom ordered that way for god-knows-what reason.
    Starting in '38, with the introduction of the ES-300, one does find the occasional L-7 with a laminated back. Post-war L-7 guitars occasionally have laminated backs. The vast majority of these guitars have carved backs. Very easy to tell - the laminated backs are typically one piece with no center seam.

    Quote Originally Posted by j45 View Post
    No, I honestly can't say that I know that from anything factual. I haven't seen a modern version. I would be willing to bet whatever the quality, they would be quite different. Just like new counterparts of all vintage guitars. one may prefer new, one may prefer old. They are rarely the same or share a lot in common. I will say that I would probably prefer to own an L7 made 60 or 70 years ago for one third the price of the one above, though.
    The Bozeman L-7C built from 2003 to 2012 is remarkably similar to the Advanced L-7 of the 1930's. I have played several and they were all superb acoustic archtops. The design is a mash-up of features:
    -'30s-style double-hump carve, x-bracing, short scale, mahogany neck
    -P-style cutaway carve
    -L-12 or late '30's L-7 double parallelogram inlays,
    -postwar headstock, tailpiece, tuners
    -L-12-style sunburst on back and rims

    The only issue with these guitars is the utter POS pickguards with which they were equipped. Complete fail, but easy enough to remedy with decent replacement or vintage pickguards.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 10-27-19 at 10:41 AM.

  18. #18

    Re: The Dark Horse

    A couple of Bozeman L-7C guitars, both from 2004:
    IMG_4740 by Nate Lamy, on Flickr
    IMG_4738 by Nate Lamy, on Flickr

  19. #19
    Les Paul Forum Member Hamerfan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    From the best part of Germany - Bavaria
    Posts
    683

    Re: The Dark Horse

    I have a 1948 L7C. My take was -reading Gruhn's book, that all postwar L7 have laminated backs. But nevertheless thanks for the head-up with the centerseam on the solid backs.

  20. #20
    Les Paul Forum Co-Owner Tom Wittrock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Lost in the Ozarks [again]
    Posts
    42,312

    Re: The Dark Horse

    It may be [nine years] too late to say this, but I don't think L-7s are equivalent to J-45s. L-7s are much higher in the line.
    Pauls to the walls!

    Hüter der Flammen!

    PLEASE SUPPORT www.burstserial.com !!
    Click here: www.burstserial.com

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  


Scroll Down And Click On All Of Our Sponsors' Logos For Their Websites!






i