L-6 Deluxe Restoration

NotScott

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When I am not playing out, some of the local pros bring me their guitars for setups, customized electronics and assorted minor repairs. I have had some very nice and very interesting guitars brought to me but, this one is my new favorite. It is an L-6 Deluxe from the early 70s that has really been put through the ringer.

It belongs to a singer/friend of mine in a band I fill in for. He bought it many years ago and after the nut broke, he shoved it in a closet where it sat and gathered dust for a few decades.

So far, I have found:

1) The nut broke at the Low E slot.
2) The bridge pickup and original pickup ring was replaced years ago.
3) The neck pickup was removed and replaced with a blank piece of plastic.
4) The electronics don't work.
5) The switch tip is missing.
6) The frets aren't covered in divots but they are finished very low.
7) There are decades of gunk and grime all over it.

I did a little research on these since they are not very common and apparently Gibson tried to push these on many artists and it was one of the most heavily endorsed guitars of the 70s. I saw a few videos of some and they seem to have a rather nice, warm tone with a lot of sustain.

My friend doesn't want to spend a lot of money on it but I would like to replace the missing bridge pickup ring and put a matched set of humbuckers in it. If anyone out there has an L-6 pickup ring they want to part with, please let me know. I will post a follow-up when I get all back in order. Thanks!

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dspelman

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When I am not playing out, some of the local pros bring me their guitars for setups, customized electronics and assorted minor repairs. I have had some very nice and very interesting guitars brought to me but, this one is my new favorite. It is an L-6 Deluxe from the early 70s that has really been put through the ringer.

It belongs to a singer/friend of mine in a band I fill in for. He bought it many years ago and after the nut broke, he shoved it in a closet where it sat and gathered dust for a few decades.

So far, I have found:

1) The nut broke at the Low E slot.
2) The bridge pickup and original pickup ring was replaced years ago.
3) The neck pickup was removed and replaced with a blank piece of plastic.
4) The electronics don't work.
5) The switch tip is missing.
6) The frets aren't covered in divots but they are finished very low.
7) There are decades of gunk and grime all over it.

I did a little research on these since they are not very common and apparently Gibson tried to push these on many artists and it was one of the most heavily endorsed guitars of the 70s. I saw a few videos of some and they seem to have a rather nice, warm tone with a lot of sustain.

My friend doesn't want to spend a lot of money on it but I would like to replace the missing bridge pickup ring and put a matched set of humbuckers in it. If anyone out there has an L-6 pickup ring they want to part with, please let me know. I will post a follow-up when I get all back in order. Thanks!

duTFWDz.jpg


3nlwuBZ.jpg


l887d1N.jpg
The L6-S variants are probably some of the most-butchered vintage guitars out there. Reverb hasn't gotten one right in years, misidentifying them all over the place.

I have an L6-S (an original, which was eventually name-changed to L6-S Custom to distinguish it from the cheaper Deluxe and Midnight Special guitars). I managed to find one that's virtually untouched from new and in near-mint condition, and with the original case (also near-impossible to find).

The pick guard and pickup rings are exclusive to the Deluxe and are difficult to find. That may be an aftermarket pick guard already. That "piece of black plastic" in the neck pickup cavity may be the original black plastic pickup cover. Don't lose it. The original pickups did not have screw pole pieces; just the plastic pickup covers. And don't replace the harmonica bridge with a TOM.

There should be an oval "plate" in the back of the guitar where the string ends reside.

I'm not sure what the designation for the original frets was, but mine are sort of medium, much the same as other Gibsons of the '70's. The nut width on mine is about 1 9/16ths, which is typical of '70's Gibsons, but narrower than current models. The L6-S is Gibson's first ever 24-fret guitar and the first with "hot" pickups from Bill Lawrence. While it looks like a road-killed LP, it's wider in the body and the cutaway is wider. Along with the thin body (like an SG) and the bevels, it's a very comfortable guitar to play and the upper fret access is better than most other Gibsons. It's never been a cousin to the L5-S, though you hear that from some folks. The two guitars don't fit in each other's cases, the L5S is a 22 fret guitar, is carved on top and bottom (the L6-S is flat), the cutaway shapes are different and much more. I have an L5-S.

The fretboard on yours should be rosewood. I think the hole on the point of the pickup ring accommodates a screw on the original pickup that allows you to set the angle of the pickup.

It's worth it (these days) to keep an eye out for the original pieces and add them to the guitar (or at least keep them with the guitar) as you go. While these guitars weren't on anyone's "vintage" radar for years (I picked up mine in perfect condition for about $800 a few years ago), they've begun to accelerate in price, and I've seen crap examples showing up on Reverb for silly money. Because they were so cheap for a while, but still had a Gibson (silk-screened) logo, they were modified relentlessly.
 

NotScott

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The L6-S variants are probably some of the most-butchered vintage guitars out there. Reverb hasn't gotten one right in years, misidentifying them all over the place.

I have an L6-S (an original, which was eventually name-changed to L6-S Custom to distinguish it from the cheaper Deluxe and Midnight Special guitars). I managed to find one that's virtually untouched from new and in near-mint condition, and with the original case (also near-impossible to find).

The pick guard and pickup rings are exclusive to the Deluxe and are difficult to find. That may be an aftermarket pick guard already. That "piece of black plastic" in the neck pickup cavity may be the original black plastic pickup cover. Don't lose it. The original pickups did not have screw pole pieces; just the plastic pickup covers. And don't replace the harmonica bridge with a TOM.

There should be an oval "plate" in the back of the guitar where the string ends reside.

I'm not sure what the designation for the original frets was, but mine are sort of medium, much the same as other Gibsons of the '70's. The nut width on mine is about 1 9/16ths, which is typical of '70's Gibsons, but narrower than current models. The L6-S is Gibson's first ever 24-fret guitar and the first with "hot" pickups from Bill Lawrence. While it looks like a road-killed LP, it's wider in the body and the cutaway is wider. Along with the thin body (like an SG) and the bevels, it's a very comfortable guitar to play and the upper fret access is better than most other Gibsons. It's never been a cousin to the L5-S, though you hear that from some folks. The two guitars don't fit in each other's cases, the L5S is a 22 fret guitar, is carved on top and bottom (the L6-S is flat), the cutaway shapes are different and much more. I have an L5-S.

The fretboard on yours should be rosewood. I think the hole on the point of the pickup ring accommodates a screw on the original pickup that allows you to set the angle of the pickup.

It's worth it (these days) to keep an eye out for the original pieces and add them to the guitar (or at least keep them with the guitar) as you go. While these guitars weren't on anyone's "vintage" radar for years (I picked up mine in perfect condition for about $800 a few years ago), they've begun to accelerate in price, and I've seen crap examples showing up on Reverb for silly money. Because they were so cheap for a while, but still had a Gibson (silk-screened) logo, they were modified relentlessly.
Thank you very much! Lots of good info there!
 

dspelman

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FWIW, the original intention of the L6-S was to produce a guitar that had a whole different sound system to compete with Fenders. The L6-S "Custom" had three pots (misidentified by Norm's Rare Guitars as a couple of volumes and a tone control). There's a master volume, a treble roll-off (standard "tone" control) and a mids roll-off. Gibson reissued the guitar briefly about ten years ago, but changed the mids roll-off to a bass roll-off. And they changed the pickup selections as well.

The original L6-S has a six-way pickup selector (mis-identified by most as a Varitone) with a chicken-head knob. Besides the usual bridge, neck and neck-plus-bridge, there are both-pickups in serial and parallel mode, in phase and out of phase. It's not as fast a pickup selection system as a three-way, but offers more sound variations, particularly when used with the mids roll-off. The Bill Lawrence-designed pickups used three ceramic magnets and are about 50% hotter than the then-standard humbuckers Gibson offered.

A lot of folks who bought these new were disappointed that it wasn't a Les Paul-alike, sound-wise.
 

Christosterone

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Also, restore the hell out of it I say…

it’s your guitar and u should make it how u want :h5:

-chris
 

dspelman

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I’ve got an LP Recording and have been looking for the L6S version with low impedance pickups (like my recording) for a few years..

View attachment 609136
That's the L5S, of course (not the L6S). Those low impedance pickups didn't last very long. Mine doesn't have them (standard humbuckers), nor does it have the trapeze tailpiece (that's off the arch top L5). Mine, a 1978, has a TP-6. But it still has the harmonica bridge. You'll find that model at guitar shows fairly often, but not in that condition.
 

dspelman

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I *think* the Deluxe in natural maple finish was satin finish, no? All the rest are gloss.
 

EasyAce

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I played an L-6S once when they first came around. I joined a band briefly and the lead singer had the L-6S. He wanted to switch and the SG Special with mini-hums I had at the time. So I said sure.

Plain language: his L-6S was a horror to play. In fact, it was barely playable. I have no idea whether he got a lemon or just didn't know how to care for it, but between that and his ego (which was out of all proportion to his talent: he was passable as a singer and more concerned about showmanship than music), I didn't stay in that band more than two weeks. I left swearing never to even look at an L-6S again.
 

SASouth

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I played an L-6S once when they first came around. I joined a band briefly and the lead singer had the L-6S. He wanted to switch and the SG Special with mini-hums I had at the time. So I said sure.

Plain language: his L-6S was a horror to play. In fact, it was barely playable. I have no idea whether he got a lemon or just didn't know how to care for it, but between that and his ego (which was out of all proportion to his talent: he was passable as a singer and more concerned about showmanship than music), I didn't stay in that band more than two weeks. I left swearing never to even look at an L-6S again.
I think that it must have been a matter of how it was set setup. While it takes some mental adjustment to stop expecting it to sound like a Les Paul, an L6-S can and will play very nicely if setup properly. I know that mine does.

The thing is though the maple body and neck coupled with an ebony fretboard makes for a very bright sounding instrument. Adjusting the tone on your amp and judicious use of the guitar’s tone controls can produce some pretty pleasing sounds. I like mine well enough to keep it. There aren’t many all original cherry sunburst ones out there.
 

moreles

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I don't think the L-6S was unpopular for "failure to be like a LP); I think its problem was that it sounds and plays exactly like an L-6S, and that's just not a particularly good quality. People chose to buy other, better, and more appealing guitars. Good guitars sell, mediocre ones don't. I don't think there's any buyer conservatism -- people wanted new-style guitars then -- or igonrance at work. It's just a visually meh (or worse), sonically meh, physically meh guitar that earned the tepid reception it received. There's certainly nothing ahead of its time about it.
 

SASouth

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I don't think the L-6S was unpopular for "failure to be like a LP); I think its problem was that it sounds and plays exactly like an L-6S, and that's just not a particularly good quality. People chose to buy other, better, and more appealing guitars. Good guitars sell, mediocre ones don't. I don't think there's any buyer conservatism -- people wanted new-style guitars then -- or igonrance at work. It's just a visually meh (or worse), sonically meh, physically meh guitar that earned the tepid reception it received. There's certainly nothing ahead of its time about it.
I respectfully have to disagree with almost everything you just wrote.

I find that mine was very well built and has its own vibe. Would I want it for as my only guitar, of course not, but it does fill a spot in my arsenal and I think they look cool.

Please tell us your personal experience with the L6-S. Have you ever actually owned one or played one of any extended amount of time?

I will admit they aren’t for everybody but I don’t believe that they should be judged quite as harshly as you obviously do.
 

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