Vintage Vault: 1974 Gibson L-5S
The L-5S was one of Gibson’s efforts to bridge the archtop and solidbody worlds. The company’s Custom Shop produced a Ron Wood signature model L-5S in 2015.

This svelte solidbody pays homage to a classic archtop.

While the 1970s Norlin phase of Gibson’s history is seen today as a time when the manufacturer strayed from its traditional quality, it was also a period when new, interesting models continued to be created. One of these new designs was the L-5S. This guitar was meant to be a high-quality solidbody version of the classic L-5 archtop, which had been a flagship model since 1922.

The L-5S was discontinued in 1985, but has been resurrected from time to time as a special run Custom Shop model.

The L-5S shared many decorative embellishments with the L-5, such as a multi-ply top and back binding, along with a bound ebony fingerboard coming to an ornamental point at the end. The famous L-5 “flower pot” headstock motif and block inlays were also included, but now in abalone. Completing the elegant look was the traditional art deco L-5 tailpiece. At nearly 13 1/2", the body was a little wider than a Les Paul, but it was also thinner at only 1" deep. When the model was introduced in 1972, it was equipped with the same low-impedance pickups used on the Les Paul Personal, Professional, and Signature models. These pickups proved unpopular and were replaced by regular-sized humbuckers in 1974. The L-5S was discontinued in 1985, but has been resurrected from time to time as a special run Custom Shop model.

The L-5S shared decorative embellishments with the L-5, including multi-ply top and back binding, an art deco tailpiece,
and a bound ebony fretboard.

The 1974 L-5S pictured here has features typical for that year, including a carved, 3-piece figured-maple body with multiple black/white/black binding, a gold-plated “wide travel” Tune-o-matic bridge, a gold L-5 tailpiece with silver-plated insert (which changed to a stop tailpiece by 1976), two gold-plated Gibson “Super Humbucking” pickups, a 3-piece maple neck with a 24 3/4"-scale ebony fretboard, and abalone headstock and fretboard inlays. The controls were laid out in the same manner as on an SG or ES-335, with the pickup selector toggle switch near the volume and tone controls.

The model’s elegant headstock has an ornate “flower pot” inlay and multi-ply binding.

Gibson shipped 555 L-5S guitars in 1974 with a list price of $985 plus $110 for the case. The current value for one in excellent all-original condition is $5,000.

Sources for this article include The Gibson L5: Its History and Its Players by Adrian Ingram, Electric Guitars and Basses: A Photographic History by George Gruhn and Walter Carter, and Gibson Shipment Totals 1937–1979 by Larry Meiners.

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We’re almost finished with the aging process on our project guitar. Let’s work on the fretboard, nut, and truss rod cover, and prepare the headstock for the last hurrah.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. This month we’ll continue with our relic’ing project, taking a closer look at the front side of the neck and treating the fretboard and the headstock. We’ll work on the front side of the headstock in the next part, but first we must prepare it.

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Diatonic sequences are powerful tools. Here’s how to use them wisely.



• Understand how to map out the neck in seven positions.
• Learn to combine legato and picking to create long phrases.
• Develop a smooth attack—even at high speeds.

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Knowing how to function in different keys is crucial to improvising in any context. One path to fretboard mastery is learning how to move through positions across the neck. Even something as simple as a three-note-per-string major scale can offer loads of options when it’s time to step up and rip. I’m going to outline seven technical sequences, each one focusing on a position of a diatonic major scale. This should provide a fun workout for the fingers and hopefully inspire a few licks of your own.
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