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1953 Gibson L-7CN
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Serial #: (A)-13935, white oval label
Body size at lower bout: 17". Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 11/16" Neck depth, 1st/10th frets: .89/.95
Materials: Solid carved fine grained Sitka spruce top; solid bubble figured maple back; three-piece maple neck; solid Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with split-parallelogram mother of pearl inlays; solid bone nut.
Hardware: Original hardware includes nickel triple parallelogram trapeze tailpiece, compensated adjustable Brazilian rosewood bridge, wide bevel 5-ply pickguard. Vintage gold Kluson Sealfast tuners and gold bonnet volume and tone knobs. CC ES-250 blade pickup, with Sprague style 'bumble bee' capacitor and 1/4" output jack.
Notes: Gibson's popular L-7C model was produced between 1949 and 1972, and constructed with the same body size, materials, bracing and scale length as its costly cousin, the L-5C. Blonde examples for the model are the rarest, and sold at a premium price, typically commanding the most highly figured tonewood. Indeed, only 63 blonde L-7CN guitars were produced in 1953, barely a third of the sunburst examples built that model year.
Gibson's single coil bar pickup, introduced in 1936, instantly revolutionized the capabilities of the archtop guitar. Known popularly as the 'Charlie Christian' pickup after its most famous proponent, this iconic pickup with its massive cobalt magnets and three adjusting screws, was discontinued from regular production after 1940.
Through prominent players like Jimmy Raney, Oscar Moore and Barney Kessel, this pickup remained a cult favorite of bop guitarists, and was made available on custom Gibsons through the mid-60's. Though unavailable for decades, this legendary pickup was finally reissued in its most accurate form by CC Pickups, a British firm with an obsessive commitment to recreating the classic tone of the prewar originals. And this handsome guitar is fitted with their top-end model, named after the elusive premium ES-250, with notches in the bar for each string.
The owner of this guitar believed that it was sent back to Gibson at some point to be retrofit with an original 'Charlie Christian' bar pickup. To back up the theory, the guitar remains fitted with original gold Gibson bonnet knobs, which were available only from 1955 through mid-1960. Furthermore, the tuners were replaced with L-5 style gold Kluson Sealfast tuners of similar vintage, and like the bonnet knobs, were available at that time only at the Gibson factory. Then presumably the original pickup would have been replaced with the CC ES-250, as a faint imprint of larger washers around the pickup mounting screws would suggest.
Carefully maintained in fine condition, the guitar shows all original amber blonde finish, with a lustrous figured bubble maple back, and a soundboard carved to particularly fine tolerances. A bit of thumbwear in the mid-neck attests to a jazz history, and the instrument is otherwise notably free of pick, buckle or fingerboard wear, with only some light traces of age checking ensuring the lacquer finish is all original. A pair of tight hairline cracks above and below the treble soundhole have been soundly resealed, and all original binding is tight to the body, with excellent neck angle, bridge height, and bright recent pro fretwork.
Fans of the great Barney Kessel in particular will love this guitar, as it's essentially an all-carved version of his famous ES-350, also equipped with the prewar style ES-150 pickup. The neck profile is a classic gentle C, with a full width 1 11/16" fingerboard, and smooth low action over a fresh high precision setup. (Curiously, while the original white oval Gibson label remains intact, it was somehow mis-labeled in pen as an L-4C. Must have been a Friday...)
With its finely carved top, the guitar has a smooth, warm acoustic voice, and the ES-250 pickup provides true bop era tone to the amp, with its faithful single coil detail and transparency. A classic vintage jazzer from the Golden Age, this striking beauty is a rare find, complete with its period Lifton arched brown faux-alligator hardshell case. A fraction of the cost of a comparable L-5, with tonewood now seasoned for some 70 years, it's a solid best buy in a gorgeous Gibson classic. 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 tested and adjusted as necessary. String action is set to 4-5/64" at the 12th fret, and may be adjusted up or down to suit.