The sound of the L5

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by carlescountry, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. carlescountry

    carlescountry Member

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    I am looking for the sound as similar as possible to a Gibson L5, but in a more attainable guitar economically. Some suggestion: Eastman 803, D'Angelico NYL-2DH....? You know, archtop with two humbucking..... Is it possible?
     
  2. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Silver Supporting Member

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    You could try several Guild models. They don't make electrics anymore, but archtops such as the X-150 are easy to find and can be found used for under $2000.
     
  3. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

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    There will always be tradeoffs, the extent of which depends on your definition of "economically attainable." I think the Sadowsky archtops are the best value in the industry for a professional grade axe, but they're still around $4,000 USD. That's still considerably cheaper than any L-5.
     
  4. carlescountry

    carlescountry Member

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    Thank you for the quick answers. The Guild I believe that it has one humbucker, and I search with two. Equally it happens with the Sadowski: I believe that only the semihollow takes two humbuckers.
    I have a D'Angelico Vestax NYL-2, with an excellent acoustic tone, and I'm looking for that sound a little more electric of the L5 in an archtop. The price around 2 o 3.000$
     
  5. dharmafool

    dharmafool Member

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    I've seen The Heritage Eagle and Golden Eagle models on Ebay in your price range. Some are two-pickup builds. Just a thought. Very good tonewoods and build quality for the money.
     
  6. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    The L5 is a 17" solid wood guitar, so I don't think the Sadowsky, though a wonderful instrument, is a fair comparison. I don't know of a deep enough bodied Eastman with set buckers. I had the 17" 810 nice, but floater pup.

    I agree with the Heritage comparison. I think the 17" Heritage models would be the best model to answer your question. There are several small batch makers who do an excellent L5 clone, like Jim Triggs. Jim used to run Gibson's Custom Shop, and oversaw L5 production. Google him, and you can get one for around $3k last time I checked.
     
  7. Bluedawg

    Bluedawg Member

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    The Gibson L4-CES is a less expensive alternative. The solid spruce top gives it a very similar tone and some even like it better despite the 16 inch body.

    The Heritage 17 inch guitars can be nice as well. The Sweet 16 is no slouch either. Get one of these guitars with a top mounted, non floating pickup, and you can make some very nice "Wes Montgomery" flavored sounds. Floating pickups can be nice too, but have a slightly different tonality.

    The Eastmans are probably the best bang for the buck. Be sure to play as many as you can before you buy, but then that's true of Gibson L5s and just about any other archtop you can find. They can vary greatly.

    New archtops can take a while to come to life. They need a few years of playing to really sound good, unless you get lucky and find one that starts out good. One that starts out good will just get better.

    If you go for a used one you may find one that's more in your price range and nicely broken in as well.

    Good Luck

    :munch
     
  8. nik

    nik Member

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    An L5 has a 25.5" scale while the L4 has a shorter scale so they feel and sound a bit different. Also, an L5 with a floating pickup is quite a bit different than an L5CES with the two built-in humbuckers since the top is thicker/stronger on the CES trying to reduce feedback. I have owned both L5CES and an L4CES, but my current main guitar is based on a lightly braced L5 with a floating pickup, more like a Johhny Smith model. I love them all for what they are, but they are a bit different.
     
  9. HammyD

    HammyD Member

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    Epiphone Broadway Elite. basically a L-5CES in poly rather than Nitro. Very well made!
     
  10. BuddyGuit

    BuddyGuit Supporting Member

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    The Guild X150 does come in two pup models
     
  11. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    The L5CES also has the neck pickup further from the bridge than a lot of other archtops. This is a serious ingredient to the L5 flutey neck pickup tone. I have the ugliest L5Ces. It's a 1976 black to yellow burst with almost no figure to the wood and stock pickups. It's also one of the best sounding and sustaining guitars I own. I had it refretted with taller frets and did a lot of blues gigs with it. It was very easy to play with a loud 4X10 Bassman.
     
  12. Geezer

    Geezer Member

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    Maybe you can find a good used Guild Stuart. Same scale, hand carved top, two humbuckers.
     
  13. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    The L-5 CES has the long 25.5" scale (unlike shorter 175, L-7, ES-350, and even shorter Byrdland etc.) I always thought this contributed to punch in the attack. The L-5 is warm and fat, but man is it punchy. So check to see if the alternatives out there have that scale. BTW, while a suspened pickup can be sweet and acoustic sounding, I always though the sunken full size humbuckers also contributed to that punch and bite.
    I don't play jazz any more (or very well), but dammit I want one of these guitars! Maybe for my next milestone birthday...Hmmm, time to go manipulate the missus...
     
  14. Bluedawg

    Bluedawg Member

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    L5 and L4-CES are definately different guitars and will sound and feel different in a quiet room in a side to side comparison ..... most of the time. Probably depends more on the individual guitars than the actual designs.

    But add a band or process the sound through a recording system and I'd bet most folks couldn't tell the difference in a blind test. Afterall, one of the nicknames for the L4-CES is the "poor man's L5."

    Although less money than an L5. The L4-CES still isn't cheap.

    :banana
     
  15. sinner

    sinner Member

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    Here's a beauty I would love to own: a 1957 L5CES with the Alnico V magnet pickups. Note the "square" poles:

    [​IMG]

    Speaking of "the sound of the L5", can anyone comment of the sound of these Alnico Vs? Compare to standard P90--or dual humbuckers? Thanks!
     
  16. Flyin' Brian

    Flyin' Brian Member

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  17. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Gold Supporting Member

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    Don't have the experience myself, but I have heard that some believe that the heavier tailpiece contributes something to the sound of an L5. Anyone agree/disagree?
     
  18. HammyD

    HammyD Member

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    On Clapton's "One More Car, One More Rider" DVD I noticed his L5 had those... (But it might have been a Byrdland.)
     
  19. billyguitar

    billyguitar Member

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    A real interesting alternative is the Veillette Jazz 20. Meant to sound like an L5 but with a small body. I've never seen one in person.
     
  20. mikeSF

    mikeSF Member

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    i cannot speak to that but to even get in the neighborhood of the L-5 sound, you need likely want to limit the search to a carved spruce top and built in humbucker. these contribute most to that sound, IMO. Heritage is a good bet.

    and yes, that L5 tailpiece is dang heavy. :eek:
     

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