Gibson George Gobel (L-5CT)
|Model:||George Gobel (L-5CT)|
By 1958, pint-sized country comedian George Gobel, after having been dwarfed by his massive Gibson Super 400 for many years, was ready for something more comfortable to play. So, Gibson took the L-5C and narrowed the width by one inch. They also shortened the scale length from 25 ½” to 24 ¾” and used an X-braced design instead of the usual parallel bracing used on all other L-5’s. It received the designation L-5CT for “Cutaway Thin”. While Gibson never officially called it the George Gobel Model, the name was commonly referred to as such. They also gave it a bright red finish so that it would show up on the newly introduced color televisions because at the time Gobel had a weekly variety show on NBC. Gibson produced a total of 43 guitars ceasing production in 1961.
In 1993, Gibson was undertaking a major production shift that would include a separate facility in Nashville simply called the Custom Shop in which they would produce their new Custom and Historic Collection. When they moved the company from Kalamazoo, MI to Nashville they brought along master luthier James Hutchins (Hutch) who had been crafting Gibson archtops for many years. Included in the Historic Collection was the L-5CT.
The initial handful of L-5CT’s produced accurately used the shorter 24 ¾” scale length as had the originals back in the day. Soon after they would revert to the more practical and easier to produce 25 ½” scale length that was used on every other L-5 model they made. This particular example is from that first handful of guitars with the shorter scale length. It is effortless to play and sounds phenomenal in every respect. It is clear, warm and woody. Narrowing the width and shortening the scale length has done nothing to reduce its acoustic power and sustain.
This is the third example I have owned. The first two were made in 1994 and 1998 with the 25 ½” scale length. The cherry red finish is spectacular other than a tiny 1/16” spot of touch-up inside the cutaway that is barely noticeable. You really have to search to find it. The plating is some of the finest I have seen on any Gibson guitar and is like new. After purchasing the guitar I sent the entire pickguard assembly to the legendary Kent Armstrong who rewound the BJB pickup as it had lost some of its output and Kent also made certain the wiring harness was up-to-snuff. The input jack is located beneath the pickguard. 99.9 percent of these were changed to an endpin or lower side jack. No strap button has been installed.
There are two labels affixed to the inside of the back. The label inside the treble f-hole is a Master Model label that simply reads George Gobel and has the serial number with no mention of the L-5CT anywhere. The label inside the Bass f-hole is signed by the builder, James W. Hutchins and dated October 15, 1993. This is truly an extremely rare and highly collectible guitar.
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