The 20's and early 30's Gibson L-5 was, and still is, a remarkable design and step forward in the development of the modern archtop guitar. The 16" body size, shape, and long slender "F" holes are, to me, a perfect manifestation of the concept of marrying the violin family to the guitar world.
In the 80's, I had built a handful of thinline electric archtops and acoustic archtops of my own design. During this time I was developing my electric guitar design to which I ended up devoting all of my time. Five years ago, my friend, David Gillis, asked me if I would consider building him a traditional 16" L-5 guitar. I agreed, and through my friend and amazing guitar builder, David Wren, I got to measure and examine an original L-5. The resulting guitar, which I call the Elle-5, is the one available here at The Music Emporium.
It's X-braced in favor of parallel bracing, with a solid bridge base, otherwise it shares many characteristics of the original L-5. I designed and built the trapeze tailpiece and pickguard bracket as a nod to the originals. Both are fabricated from brass and finished in bright nickel plating.
I've done a lot of black-topped instruments over the years in the Gibson tradition, and I wanted to have the front of the guitar, including the fingerboard and headstock face, to be black with a traditional sunburst on the back, sides, and neck.
-Joe Yanuziello /September 2019
Joe has built his reputation on impeccably-made, effortless-to-play instruments that are full of soul and musicality. There's something about his builds that just pull you in as a player. It's the feel, or soul, as we're fond of saying. The way it responds to your right hand technique, the perfectly chunky neck carve...There's a whole world of rich, beautifully balanced tones you can achieve just by changing your picking technique ever so slightly. It doesn't fight you. Instead, the Elle-5 feels like a musical ally that wants to work with you.
These sorts of things are always hard to capture in text form, but to be sure, it's a real, tangible thing you feel and experience when playing Joe's guitars (we've yet to meet someone who hasn't had this experience when trying one out in the shop). It's addictive to be sure. You simply want to play more. That's good, right?
Tonally the Elle-5 is a big, beefy sounding archtop. It's got a beautiful bass response without being boomy or muddy. The mids aren't pinched or overly forward and the top-end is sweet and open. Balance is the word here.
Condition: Near mint. The guitar passed through Joe's shop before arriving at TME so the condition, finish, and setup are beautiful.
To say that the Elle-5 is an impossibly rare guitar would be an understatement. To say that it's one of the better acoustic archtops we've played can't be overstated. Simply a gorgeous instrument in every regard. Priced with hardshell case.