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Gibson L-5S - 1980 Maple Flame

crhfish

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,578
I saw this today in a Pawn shop of all places. This is the only pic I got. It was a beautiful guitar with only one blemish that I could find, the pickups have been changed, but other than that it looked original. I had never heard of these. How rare and desirable are these? You can see in the pic the price they were asking.

 

RJLII

Member
Messages
10,430
They're asking about twice what it's worth in my opinion. It's likely very heavy. Some like the L5S quite a bit. I like the look, but the two I've played sounded pretty sterile. It was like they were carved from brass. Cleans were bell like, but they had no warmth to speak of. Seems to me there is a TGP member with a couple of very choice specimens. Perhaps he'll chime in with some first hand input?
 

Da Geezer

Member
Messages
5,036
An old bandmate had one....very heavy, typical norlin-type quality (that is, pretty good), but it never really got me excited.
However, he played with a wound third, and NEVER changed his strings, so that may have influenced my feelings on it.
It got destroyed in a house fire....my friend was very upset. He passed away from cancer several years ago.

Anyway, as RJL said, way too much asking price on that one.

EDIT: just checked eBay
Quite a few L5-S listed for $4000 to $6000+, but the only one that's actually sold was $2250
Here's the Reverb price guide, FWTW
https://reverb.com/price-guide?query=L5s
 
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swiveltung

Senior Member
Messages
14,485
I think these are all maple right? I confused with a different guitar in my other post. Beautiful, but all maple is very bright.
 

R13D

Member
Messages
4,689
The first few years these models had low impedance pickups like the LP recording but sound was pretty nondescript. The later humbucker models were better. Never found them all that inspiring tho.
 

Texsunburst59

Member
Messages
5,274
That's a pretty one Chuck.

I know you won't shell out anywhere close to that.

I know you'd take it home for about $1500 or so.

Haggle them to death and snag that baby.
 

crhfish

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,578
It had a price opinion from Gruhn Guitars in the case. The price I think was $3600 from early 2009. It was a bit heavy, it reminded me of my peavey t-60 in terms of weight and body thickness. In other words it looked thin but was pretty heavy. This one had humbuckers but according to the Gruhn they had been replaced. The guy I talked to today was clueless and laid the guitar back down on the floor with the case open behind the counter right next to some jack stands. The maple on it was really nice and it appeared to be built very well. For $2500 I would snag it. Ok, maybe $2000.
 

Texsunburst59

Member
Messages
5,274
It had a price opinion from Gruhn Guitars in the case. The price I think was $3600 from early 2009. It was a bit heavy, it reminded me of my peavey t-60 in terms of weight and body thickness. In other words it looked thin but was pretty heavy. This one had humbuckers but according to the Gruhn they had been replaced. The guy I talked to today was clueless and laid the guitar back down on the floor with the case open behind the counter right next to some jack stands. The maple on it was really nice and it appeared to be built very well. For $2500 I would snag it. Ok, maybe $2000.
C'mon Chuck, you're like me.

You're after the killer deal.

I could maybe see taking it for $1800 tops, but that's about it. :D
 

treeofpain

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,298
I used to think these were so cool in the late 70's, but that was just based on catalog and advertising pictures. I never had the chance to play one back then.

Fast forward to the 90's. I'm at a guitar show and I see one in a booth. I pick it up more for nostalgic reasons than anything else. Wow, was it heavy. Okay, it was the 70's, right? Played it unplugged - nice low action. Plugged it in. Could not get a good sound out of it, no matter what I tried. Never lusted for an L5S since, but I have played several more, and all were about the same as that first one. Sad because with a few different decisions in the design, it could have been a great guitar.
 

Yamaha 1421

Member
Messages
1,399
I owned 2 of these.................... one back when they first came out and another here several years ago..............sold both. They are a cool guitar and they are typically heavy as you would expect for a all maple guitar that is solid. I had no problem with the sound of either of mine for what I did..........jazz/fusion/instrumental rock. They sustained like crazy and played beautifully.............so easy to play any where on the neck and the build quality was great...........you hear how Norlins suck well............these were great guitars. Sold the first for another guitar I thought I needed...........mistake. Got the second and traded it for another guitar...........with no regrets this time. This one with the pickup changes and who knows what else in the electronics..........2K would be my market worth guesstimate. I must say that is a VERY odd guitar to find in a PAWN................. 5K huh?................wonder what they gave the guy that pawned it???? I bet much less..................much,much less.
 

Matt L

Member
Messages
11,548
One of my "dream guitars" when I was a kid, mostly because of the one in Tom Wheeler's American Guitars. It always made me think of a fancier, thinner Les Paul before I learned more about it.
 

RickC

Member
Messages
7,889
For better or worse, very distinctive sounding guitars. Pat Martino used one during the "Joyous Lake" era. Fareed Haque plays one currently and he gets that same tone Pat got with his. Personally, i like em.

/rick
 

deytookerjaabs

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,344
For better or worse, very distinctive sounding guitars. Pat Martino used one during the "Joyous Lake" era. Fareed Haque plays one currently and he gets that same tone Pat got with his. Personally, i like em.

/rick

Yup, Fareed bought my '73 off the shop I used to teach lessons at, like a dummy I sold it. Amazing guitars, I too had it strung up with heavier gauge strings with a wound third and treated it like an L-5.

Not sure it was mentioned, but they have a carved top and back, same neck, same tailpiece, and same scale length (25.5") as L-5's of the era. Incredibly high spec build, when a Les Paul custom was $600 these were $900-$950, easily Gibby's most expensive solid body ever up until then.

They're one of those guitars people pick up and think "Bro, this will be a Les Paul on 'roids" then those people get all upset that it doesn't sound like a lester at all, lol.
 
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Jayyj

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,849
It's a bit of a problem with vintage models that are fairly rare but not desirable in the context of mainstream tastes that you get a few dealers who stick them on Ebay/Gbase/Reverb for insane amounts of money then they sit there for years and anyone who wants to know how much the one they've had under the bed for thirty years sees them and thinks 'ok, that's the going rate then'.

L5Ss are a prime example, Les Paul Professionals another - if you search for them there are a few that are always for sale for close to $4k, but I paid the equivalent of $1400 for a gorgeous example last year which felt about where the model should be. The Gruhn valuation is probably intended as an insurance valuation rather than an indication of what it would likely go for for if you were motivated to sell it, and anyone who even vaguely follows the vintage market must know it's been a bit up and down since 2008 - I'd go in with a low offer and see what happens.
 

musicman1

Member
Messages
4,600
nI always wanted one of these but the multiple piece maple body makes them too heavy for a realistic night of gigging. I always loved the aesthetics of the guitar personally. There are many variations in these guitars from the pickups to the bridges to the tailpieces. As far as I know they all have traditional L5 necks taken from the archtop L5. Ibanez made a killer copy in the 70s with great pickups but also heavy as hell. Im guessing the sound of a L5s is not as warm as an LP due to the body construction.
 

noctilux1

Member
Messages
858
I was shooting an event years ago. It was the opening of a USO Center. Crosby, Still and Nash (no Young) were playing. David Crosby was playing his L5S with humbuckers. I remember how beautiful that L5S was, sounded great. I've played a few and they were all boat anchors. I like them and if I found one cheap I would get it.
 

MKB

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,706
Those L-5S's with standard humbuckers and flame look SO incredibly fine, I can't stand it. It's the wrong guitar for all I like in one (especially the weight), but it's my #1 heavy drool guitar right now. Never had one either. I'm glad they are not more prevalent around here, my steely resolve would disappear for one of those, especially in cherry sunburst.

IIRC Paul Simon has a live video made years ago where he strummed a L-5S for most of it. And Jorma Kaukonen used to use one.
 

HipKitty

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,674
Jeff Lynne used to use one that was modded which replaced the low impedance pickups with P90's. Run through his Marshall, it sounded killer. This was back on the Out of the Blue tour.

Kerry Livgren used to use on at the heighth of Kansas and it sounded killer as well. Again, into Marshalls.

Maybe Marshalls are the key....
 






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