Museum: Gibson Guitars

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1961 Gibson L4C McCarty

The Gibson L4C is the acoustic sister to the electric ES-175 model, but built with a solid carved spruce top and tone-bar bracing. The model was introduced in ’49 alongside the 175, and marketed to professional working musicians who wanted all the tone and playability Gibson was famous for, but at a more modest price.

The L4C features a 16” body with Florentine cut-away, three-layer top binding and sunburst finish. The fingerboard is inlaid with pearloid double-parallelograms and bound to match the body. Kluson individual tuners with tulip buttons, adjustable rosewood bridge, and triple parallelogram bridge are all original issue and in great shape.

The guitar is fitted with a McCarty single pickup pickguard that likely dates to around the same year of manufacture as the guitar. The McCarty pickup was an add-on unit, designed for players of acoustic archtops. The unit offered an easy no-modification install, and was complete with integrated volume and tone controls and under-mounted Amphenol jack. The little-known real name for the unit is the Gibson Finger-Rest pickup, but pretty much everyone knows them as McCarty pickups, thanks to Ted McCarty’s part in its development. The pickup sounds a lot like a P-90, but with a slight cut in the mids, likely thanks to its thinner size.

The guitar is in great shape and completely original. It’s been played plenty and the original frets are showing their age, but they still play cleanly despite wear. The guitar has been set-up by us and works well. Apart from a chip in the corner of the headstock and a collection of other small dents here and there the L4C’s only real flaws are a pair of screw-holes into the top under the pickup assembly from someone screwing down the bass-side of the pickup.

The neck carve is typical of 1961 – a low C with full width at the nut – and it’s very fast and comfortable. The guitar doesn’t fight back in the least. Scale length is 24-3/4”.

We’ve found a period-correct matching Gibson case to include with the guitar, and have included a cord with Amphenol screw-on connector.



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