I have some and I had others in the past. In this article I want to tell about my impressions on the most famous Gibson archtop models
I had around four 175 and now I have “the one” I mean, I have a vintage 1966 and is wonderful!
I had other of 80s and 90s but as always, vintage is better! The last one before this was a mahogany
and I prefer the normal one made with maple because with body made with mahogany it sound too much “fat” too many middle and bass range.
We can hear 175 from Joe Pass, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny but the old one had p90 pickups (first Jim Hall records for example) and they sound is really different.
I had three L5: two Wes Montgomery and a yes 1969. Of course I prefer the 1969 one that I actually have. L5 is the “jazz guitar” queen! Is not so widespread as 175 and in my mind I have just Wes and Pat Martino sound! I love Wes sound with L5 mainly on record “Boss Guitar”
The main differences from the 175 are: L5 sound more bright because is solid top and body and 175 are laminated, then, the scale is 25.50, 175 is 24.75 so, a longer scale made a sound brighter and bigger with more attack. Also fretboard is wonderful because is ebony. Body is bigger from 175 so is a really different guitar. I don’t think the 175 is more versatile because, I played also blues, funk and jazz rock with both! You can hear some James Brown guitar players who played L5 and also Eric Clapton playing one with P90.
For the moment, L5 is the best jazz guitar in my opinion! 175 is smaller (body and scale) and more handy to carry and play, it sound with more middle range and when I mix I cut sometimes 1k with eq.
Is a wonderful guitar and the acoustic sound is so loud! Is a real archtop, I mean, is a solid top without holes for the pickups and has a floating pickup so it sound louder and more acoustic. I have one natural, vintage 1964 and I’m so happy! It has a BJB floating pick up and is a mini humbucker.
With this technical features it sound really bright so, If you are looking for a dark sound don’t buy it! You can hear the JS very well from George Benson album “breezing” or Pat Partino “El Hombre” The JS has a scale of 25.
I had one vintage 1964. Great guitar but is not for me! Is too small, scale is 23½” so is really small; you can see also the pickups very close so you have a thin space to play with your right hand. With this scale also the sound is original, peculiar and particular but is not for me. That’s why I sold to buy a Johnny smith
Is a great jazz guitar, same level of L5 and it sounds different. Body is really big (bigger than L5) so if you are not tall don’t buy it! Anyway is one of my favorite archtop
L4 is also a beautiful guitar, between a 175 and L5 because top is solid, sides and back is laminated and scale is 24.75 like 175. I’m not a fan of L4 because it seem an hybrid guitar
Le Grand. Very nice and is the modern version of the Johnny Smith. In my opinion the sound is little more “ferrous”or “metallic” compared to the Johnny Smith.
150 and 225. I played in Japan and I was really impressed about these guitars! I love the P90 and both were with P90. 150 unluckily has a bad neck ( I don’t know if everyone is like this) very rude and fat, difficult to play but the sound….wonderful!
225 is very beautiful! An hollow body thin with a wonderful neck! I think is one of most interesting guitar I played because is really original and sound particular. Maybe I will buy one day…
Super V. I played it just a couple of times and Is an hybrid between L5 and Super 400 (neck of super 400 body of L5)
I like the version with floating pickup but I’m not in love with the two humbuckers version.
I played one L7 in New York and was with McCarty pickup. So beautiful sound…
You can hear the same L7 in the Wes Montgomery trio album “A new dynamic sound”
I love that guitar