The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Gibson L-5 Stereo Archtop Electric Sunburst, 1964


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With its roots dating back to 1922, this custom ordered 1964 Gibson L-5 Stereo is formally known as the L-5 CES (Cutaway Electric Spanish), though the label identifies it only as an L-5. This model was aimed at professional, working guitarists, and until 1934 was built with a 16 inch wide body. In 1934, the body grew to a 17 inch width and gained X braces. For 1939, the cutaway finally appeared as a Venetian – rounded – form as the L-5 Premiere, renamed in 1948 to the L-5C. In 1951, the first electric L-5 CES appeared as an L-5C with a pair of P-90 pickups. In 1961, the cutaway changed to the pointed Florentine style seen here.

This Gibson L-5 Stereo example was custom ordered and built in later 1964, and delivered to the customer in 1965. Stereo had been an option for some time, mostly found on the ES-345 and ES-355. ‘Stereo’ in this context means that each pickup can be routed to a separate input on one or two amplifiers or channel strips in a recording console. A standard ‘Insert’ type cable is required.

Here’s the original owner on ordering this Gibson L-5 Stereo:

“My L-5 Stereo was custom made by Gibson Guitar in late 1964. It took three months to complete – I received it in January of 1965. In 1967, it accompanied me to the U.S. Naval School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia. From there, I transferred to the U.S. Naval 6th Fleet in Gaeta, Italy. My Gibson Stereo served me well in the Admiral’s Jazz Combo and Dance Band there. The bands entertained international dignitaries in Italy, Spain, Greece, Gibraltar, Yugoslavia, Africa and France. A very special presentation was given in Monte Carlo for Princess Grace Kelly in 1969 by the Admiral’s Jazz Combo.

This guitar was well maintained with T.L.C. Nice action and the factory stereo was a plus.”

The top of this Gibson L-5 Stereo is, as L-5’s always were, solid carved Spruce paired with a solid, carved Maple back, and Maple rims. The neck is Maple, with Ebony for the fingerboard. The bridge base is Rosewood, and in 1964 most builders still sourced Rosewood from Central and South America. The pickups are standard 1964 Patent Number pickups, with the decal visible on the bottom plate. The tuners are gold-plated Grover Imperial models with metal ‘Keystone’ buttons. The bridge is a standard ABR-1 with the original nylon saddles, and the tailpiece is the gold plated, engraved L-5 model.

This wonderful guitar has been in use since 1965, but has been well cared for. It was professionally re-fretted some years ago, with the frets extending to the outer edges of the binding. The use of nylon tape-wound strings probably contributes significantly to the light fret wear! It plays well, and has the warm, woody tone and ‘thump’ of a solid wood archtop.

The original hard shell case is included.


Price: $21,500.00 CAD
  • Model: L-5 Stereo
  • Year: 1964
  • Finish Cherry Sunburst
  • Class: Vintage
  • Serial Number: 346379. Custom ordered in 1964, delivered 1965 from Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Country of Origin: USA
  • Condition: Very Good
  • Date Posted: 09/12/2022

  • Consignment Item

  • Including original Hard case
  • Instrument Weight: 7.48lbs 3.40kg
  • Scale Length: 25.354in 644mm
  • Nut Width: 1.651in 41.93mm
Gibson Website

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