Initially produced as an acoustic in 1922 under the direction of famed Gibson luthier Lloyd Loar, the L-5 was Gibson’s first guitar with f-holes. In the 1940s the model became the rhythm box of choice for big band players and later the standard guitar for Wes Montgomery, who would eventually receive a custom model. And it was already one of the world’s most popular guitars when Gibson first electrified the model in 1951.
Gibson put a pair of P-90 single-coil pickups and a rosewood bridge on the first 31 L-5 CES models to emerge from the original Kalamazoo plant in ’51. Although the guitars never went into high production, the company’s engineers continued to work on numerous modifications. In 1958, 21 examples of the classic version of the L-5 CES that’s produced today by Gibson’s Custom Shop emerged, beefed up with two humbucking pickups and an ABR-1 bridge.