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Who has an L-50?


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The L-50 is a great instrument,

and a real bargain when it comes to a carved spruce top.

Having been out of production for some 44 years, even the newest ones are now at an age where their tone is really good. Although others may malign this instrument as being inferior to the other Gibson premium series archies (L-4, L-7, L5, Super 300/400) one must temper that with the fact that most musicians cannot afford the price these top shelf instruments command. The venues today for un-amplified acoustic archtop playing are such that the cutting power of larger bodied instruments is not as significant as it was when trying to be heard over a horn section in the 1930s. Thus, for a small acoustic combo, solo, or miked in a studio, the L-50 can be quite impressive.



Purchased used in 1990, for $700 with original plush lined case, in Leucadia Ca. Mine has an "X" in the serial number, so according to Gruhns she's a 1954. Has bound neck, laminated back, solid spruce top, diamond on the tailpiece, mahogany neck, mother of toilet seat crown inlays, thin frets. Rosewood board has an orange-brown color. Has wonderful tone and deep warm bass response with good punch, real bright and clear treble and a balanced midrange that does not get muddy when strummed aggressively. Works great unamplified when playing rhythm along with my buddy doing leads on his Tele or Strat, he just keeps his volume low and what a nice blend we get. Also works well for figerpicking or flatpicking bluegrass, country, and classic rock. It has the original plastic nut, and surely a bone nut would be an improvement (open chords and strings only) but it has never been an issue. I had an L-48, same year, and sold it to buy this L-50, it was that much better. Have always used Martin Marquis .012s, having several dozen sets in stock. Only real complaint on this instrument is it lacks a cutaway. One recent revelation about this guitar was that when I compared it to Asian built archtops made with aliphatic resin glues and polyurethane finishes (Eastman, Peerless, The Loar, D'Angelico) it really outshines even the ones with bigger bodies; they lack the punch, and the range of overtones which color the notes and chords. I guess there is no substitute for decades of aging of the premium wood, and rigid adhesives and finishing materials( nitrocellolouse and hide glue) when it comes to the pure acoustic propoerties of archtops like the L-50. Uninitiated players (people unframilliar with acoustic archtops, meaning most guitarists) often comment that it plays like an electric, meaning the wonderful action and neck feel Gibson is famous for. The L-48 and L-50 have steadily gone up in value with really nice examples bringing up to $2K, as people begin to re-discover them.

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