Gibson L4CEN – The Gibson L-4 was first introduced in 1911 as an acoustic rhythm guitar with an oval sound hole (exposing the Spanish roots of the Electric Spanish (ES) range) and was most notably used by the legendary jazz guitarist Eddie Lang. Our story therefore begins with an acoustic jazz guitar of Gibson’s golden era.
Come the 1930’s, the oval sound hole was replaced by two f-holes matching the design of Gibson’s other archtops, such as the L-5 and the Super 400.
Electric versions of the L4 were released in limited editions throughout the 1950’s and were termed the L-4 CES. The L-4CN (cutaway, natural) is a true musician’s instrument, and whilst not perhaps as exotic as the Super 400 (or even the L-5) it has a truly distinguished character all its own.
It was the L-4 with its hard carved spruce top that spawned the most successful electric Gibson jazz guitar – the laminate-top ES-175. The year was 1949 and the jazz guitar world was about to change forever.
To the owner of a brand new, top of the range, Gibson L-4 (natural finish was always a premium price option over sunburst and other shaded finishes) the advent of pickups must have been too much to resist because he could take his guitar back to the shop and have them fit pickups.
He wasn’t alone either – many owners were catching-on and even Gibson converted some L4Cs into L4CESs. OK, so we don’t really know when this CN was converted into a CEN, but it’s a good story, and it did happen quite often!