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VegasJazzman

L-5 CES sounds"flat" and "dull"

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I have an L-5 CES, built in 1998. I use Gibson L-5 medium gauge strings (12 - 56), which I change frequently. The guitar always sounds flat and dull to me, and loses (acoustic) volume up the higher frets. It seems that instead of the beautiful sounds I hear from other L-5's (on You Tube, etc.), I get dull flat sounds, even with fresh strings. I have had a luthier look at it. He did a "set up," and said it was O.K. I use a Peterson strobe tuner for tuning and the intonation, but the guitar just doesn't sound or play "right." I've had it for 7 years, and have just dealt with it. I'm an amateur, and play only as a hobby. But as I get better, the sound (or lack of it) bothers me more and more. I also have an ES-347 TD, which I've had for 27 years, and it still sounds great. So my L-5 has been a disappointment. Hopefully, some members of this forum can offer some information and ideas about what my L-5 might need to play like the beautiful instrument it should be.

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I have an L-5 CES, built in 1998. I use Gibson L-5 medium gauge strings (12 - 56), which I change frequently. The guitar always sounds flat and dull to me, and loses (acoustic) volume up the higher frets. It seems that instead of the beautiful sounds I hear from other L-5's (on You Tube, etc.), I get dull flat sounds, even with fresh strings. I have had a luthier look at it. He did a "set up," and said it was O.K. I use a Peterson strobe tuner for tuning and the intonation, but the guitar just doesn't sound or play "right." I've had it for 7 years, and have just dealt with it. I'm an amateur, and play only as a hobby. But as I get better, the sound (or lack of it) bothers me more and more. I also have an ES-347 TD, which I've had for 27 years, and it still sounds great. So my L-5 has been a disappointment. Hopefully, some members of this forum can offer some information and ideas about what my L-5 might need to play like the beautiful instrument it should be.

 

 

I noticed that this message was posted a year ago without any replys. Strange. I've heard a number of experienced Gibson owner/players say that you need to play a couple and pick the one that sounds best. That's hard to do if you live in a city that doesn't cater to this level of archtop. In order to solve the problem of dull sound, locate the best Gibson archtop Luthier in the country and ship it to him for an evaluation. $200 round trip but it might get you some answers. Gruhn Guitars in Nashville might be a start. Try calling and see what they say.

 

I had a 1993 Gibson Herb Ellis. It was a flat, and dull sounding guitar. I sold it. Oh well. My interest in this issue you are having is that I'm currently looking for an L5 CES Wes. I want to play some old ones and new ones and see which I like. Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island and The Music Zoo in Long Island (30 miles apart) will be two shops worth visiting because they have some inventory of new and used (vintage) L5's.

 

Good luck. I hope by now you've found your answers. Please post the result as it would help me in my search.

 

Richard

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The guitar always sounds flat and dull to me, and loses (acoustic) volume up the higher frets. It seems that instead of the beautiful sounds I hear from other L-5's (on You Tube, etc.), I get dull flat sounds,

 

Most of the music I hear on youtube are guitars plugged in to an amp. Does your guitar still sound dull plugged in?

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I noticed that this message was posted a year ago without any replys. Strange. I've heard a number of experienced Gibson owner/players say that you need to play a couple and pick the one that sounds best. That's hard to do if you live in a city that doesn't cater to this level of archtop. In order to solve the problem of dull sound, locate the best Gibson archtop Luthier in the country and ship it to him for an evaluation. $200 round trip but it might get you some answers. Gruhn Guitars in Nashville might be a start. Try calling and see what they say.

 

I had a 1993 Gibson Herb Ellis. It was a flat, and dull sounding guitar. I sold it. Oh well. My interest in this issue you are having is that I'm currently looking for an L5 CES Wes. I want to play some old ones and new ones and see which I like. Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island and The Music Zoo in Long Island (30 miles apart) will be two shops worth visiting because they have some inventory of new and used (vintage) L5's.

 

Good luck. I hope by now you've found your answers. Please post the result as it would help me in my search.

 

Richard

 

Thanks for your reply. I'm familiar with Gruhn in Nashville, but just recently I took my L-5 to another local guitar repairman. He said the main problem was that the frets were worn. They didn't look worn, but he said the frets were no longer "crowned." Anyway, he watched me play for while, and then kept the guitar for about three weeks. He re-crowned the frets, and made various adjustments to fit my (jazz) playing style, i.e., lower string height, intonation, etc. When I got it back, it was an entirely different guitar. I had been unhappy with it and was about to get rid of it (sell or trade in), when all it really needed was an expert repairman who actually knew how to set it up for me. It plays beautifully, and I'm much, much happier.

Hope this helps!

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Thanks for your reply. I'm familiar with Gruhn in Nashville, but just recently I took my L-5 to another local guitar repairman. He said the main problem was that the frets were worn. They didn't look worn, but he said the frets were no longer "crowned." Anyway, he watched me play for while, and then kept the guitar for about three weeks. He re-crowned the frets, and made various adjustments to fit my (jazz) playing style, i.e., lower string height, intonation, etc. When I got it back, it was an entirely different guitar. I had been unhappy with it and was about to get rid of it (sell or trade in), when all it really needed was an expert repairman who actually knew how to set it up for me. It plays beautifully, and I'm much, much happier.

Hope this helps!

 

Glad to hear that your L5 is back to normal. Thanks for the info. I wasn't aware that fret crowning had that much of an impact on tone. But it makes sense. Good luck.

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The guitar always sounds flat and dull to me, and loses (acoustic) volume up the higher frets. It seems that instead of the beautiful sounds I hear from other L-5's (on You Tube, etc.), I get dull flat sounds,

 

Most of the music I hear on youtube are guitars plugged in to an amp. Does your guitar still sound dull plugged in?

 

 

try stringing your guitar with d'addario chromes .11 it might make a world of difference! Jeff

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