Home / Instruments /Accessories / Ordering / Tips / Friends
1937 Gibson L-50/ES-150 Conversion
Status: For pricing and hold status for this instrument, please check our Instruments page here. If this instrument does not appear on the Instruments page it has been sold, and is no longer available. Photos and descriptions of Previously Sold instruments may by found here. To be notified of examples of this or any other model in the future, please contact [email protected].
FON #: 1362C-32
Body size at lower bout: 16". Scale length: 24 3/4" Nut width: 1 3/4" Neck depth: .98/1.09, 1st/10th frets
Materials: Solid carved spruce top; solid maple back; solid mahogany sides, solid one-piece mahogany neck, solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, pearl script logo and fingerboard inlays; bound body and neck.
Hardware: Original hardware includes adjustable compensated ebony bridge, Grover open back tuners with ivoroid keys. Vintage correct hardware includes nickel trapeze tailpiece with 1/4" jack well, bound tortoise pickguard, CC ES-150 single coil blade pickup with brown bakelite arrow knobs.
Notes: The inimitable voice of the prewar ES-150 has always been prized by hardcore swing and jazz players. But collectors have priced the originals to stratospheric heights. Here's the most affordable solution ever.
Announced late in 1936, Gibson's groundbreaking ES-150 ("Electric Spanish') model was Gibson's first 6 string guitar to be fitted with a magnetic pickup, and almost instantly became the world's first commercially successful electric guitar. Quickly championed by pioneering jazz guitarist Charlie Christian, the ES-150 became indelibly identified with the artist, who almost single-handedly invented modern solo jazz guitar. The 150 has been known to players as the "Charlie Christian model" ever since (despite the fact that the manufacturer has never referred to it as such to this day.) With its massive bar magnet and smooth hornlike tone, the ES-150 pickup captivated an entire generation of formative jazz plectrists, including Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney and legions of others.
The acoustic twin to the ES-150 was Gibson's popular L-50 archtop. With its 16" solid carved spruce top, ladder-braced flat maple back, and 24 3/4" scale, the L-50 was structurally identical to the 150, right down to the thin script logo, making it an ideal candidate for conversion to electric. This handsome example from 1937 is in great shape, with all-original Cremona sunburst finish, and the traditional prewar V neck profile. Apart from a single hairline crack soundly resealed on the back, and some scattered finish dings on top, the instrument shows few other signs of wear. The guitar is equipped with its original Grover Sta-Tite tuners and adjustable ebony bridge, and fitted with a vintage correct notched bound tortoise pickguard and nickel trapeze tailpiece with the 1/4" jack well at the endblock.
The straight blade pickup is correct for this model year, and made by the British CC brand, the most fanatically accurate reissue of the original ever made. Using exact wire gauge, the pickups are scatter wound to the precise number of windings, with mild steel magnets flux magnetized to the correct original readings. (Given seventy years of demagnetization, it's possible that the CC pickups may sound more faithful to the original recordings than the few original ES-150 pickups still working.) Ever sticklers for detail, the CC designers even reissued the old "radio knob" pointer controls.
The tone is like time travel itself, clear and sparkling in the unimpeded highs, and warm and growly when rolled off through an old tube amp. The action is smooth and low over a fresh high precision setup, and this guitar is gig-ready for Benny Goodman instrumentals or honky-tonk Western Swing. True vintage tone, feel and performance, finally at a price for the working player. One only: call now.
Setup: Trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished, electronics and grounding tested and adjusted.
This instrument is strung with medium gauge nickel roundwound strings (.012-.054). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 4/64" to 5/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.
Case: Deluxe black molded plush lined hardshell case.