1977 Gibson L6-S Deluxe

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: 24‑fret neck, through body stringing, set neck, light weight, value‑for‑money

Thumbs down: Awkward body outline, little‑known pickups, black finish, non‑OHSC

Decree: A bit of an underground cult guitar for those looking for something familiar but a little different at the same time

Model Description:

The original Gibson L6‑S models were only produced between 1973 and 1979. Compared to more familiar Gibson models, the L6‑S remains very much a ‘below the radar’ guitar. The L6‑S was one of several design experiments undertaken by Gibson during the 1970s, which included the S1, the RD series, the Marauder and the Sonex‑180, as well as Ripper and Grabber basses. Despite a number of high‑profile endorsees, the L6‑S was not as commercially or critically successful as the long‑running classic Gibson designs like the Les Paul, the ES‑335 and the SG, which possibly accounts for why it only endured for 6 years. While often overlooked and, arguably, hugely underrated, the L6‑S deserves attention and a retrospective re‑appraisal for several reasons. The L6‑S design was derived from the upmarket L5S solid body jazz guitar and came about from collaboration between Gibson and legendary designer Bill Lawrence (1931-2013). Early L6‑Ss had flexible switching to take advantage of Lawrence’s ground‑breaking (at the time) ‘tarback super humbuckers’, while the lower cost Deluxe has more traditional controls. All L6‑S models featured maple bodies, 24‑fret set necks (except for the little-seen Midnight Special) and through‑body stringing. Gibson reissued a new take on the L6‑S in 2011. When they come up on the vintage market, which isn’t often, they still represent very good value‑for‑money and are well worth looking out for.

Guitar Description:

This mid‑1970s blacker‑than‑black Gibson L6‑S Deluxe is yet another hidden pearl from the Norlin‑era Gibson corporation. Why it has become one of those ‘forgotten Gibsons’ is anyone’s guess, as it is a seriously well put together guitar. The body shape is like a thinner, flattened, contoured Les Paul. However, it is very comfortable to play and its light weight is easy on the spine. Bill Lawrence’s earlier 6‑way pickup switch might have put traditionalists off too, hence the ‘normal’ controls on the Deluxe. Some raised a quizzical eyebrow at a 24‑fret fingerboard on a Gibson but why not? The set neck is slim and feels comfortably slinky. Lawrence’s pickups have a great tone but the aesthetics are, again, unfamiliar (plain black in 5‑sided surrounds with no visible pole pieces) and the ‘harmonica’ bridge was relatively unpopular at the time. Gibson’s black nitro finishes can be a bit prone to a bit of wear and tear, and they tend to show every blemish, as is the case here – nothing serious, just the usual signs of years of regular use. A couple of the points on the single-ply scratchplate have gone but that’s no biggie either. Apart from a replaced volume pot and the newer case, the natty L6‑S Deluxe is all‑original; very much a case of ‘what‑you‑see‑is‑what‑you‑get’. The advantage of the quirky design is that it has become a bit of a cult model and occupying a niche, as it does, means that no‑one has been tempted to mess with it. I was pleasantly surprised by how good this often‑disregarded guitar is. Keep an open mind and enjoy something that’s a bit different from the norm. Bargain American cool.


  • Black gloss nitrocellulose finish
  • Solid maple contoured single cutaway body
  • Maple set neck
  • Unbound rosewood fingerboard with 24 frets and pearl dot markers
  • Original nickel‑plated Gibson-branded tuners
  • Unbound headstock with gold printed ‘Gibson’ logo
  • Nut width 111/16
  • Scale length 24¾” (629mm)
  • Original chrome plated hardware
  • Original single‑ply black plastic scratchplate
  • Original twin black Bill Lawrence‑designed Gibson ‘super humbucker’ pickups
  • Original body‑mounted 3‑way pickup selector switch, tone knobs, strap buttons and jack socket
  • Replaced volume pot
  • Original chrome ‘harmonica’ bridge and through-body stringing
  • Non-original Thomann hard shell case


  • Al Di Meola
  • Carlos Santana
  • John McLaughlin
  • Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones)
  • Paul Stanley (KISS)
  • Mike Oldfield
  • Dave Davies (The Kinks)

Detail Gallery:

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