Few musicians – let alone a guitarist – can lay claim to being as prolific in multiple musical genres as Lee Ritenour. Whether its rock and roll, rhythm and blues, easy listening or – his first love – jazz, Ritenour has ably established himself as one of the most creative and in-demand guitar players of his time. Since the age of 16, when he was summoned to his first recording session with The Mama’s and the Papa’s, Ritenour – or Captain Fingers, as he is known – has participated in over 3,000 sessions, resulting in an enormous catalog of music that includes some of the most celebrated bands and musicians of our time. Ritenour has played with likes of Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Larry Carlton and Pink Floyd, among others. Playing on Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Ritenour contributed rhythm guitar on “What Do You Want,” and played acoustic guitar on what many consider to be the band’s most famous song, “Comfortably Numb.” Along the way, Ritenour has garnered 17 Grammy nominations, winning one in 1986 for the album Harlequin, which he recorded with Dave Grusin. He’s also stayed true to his choice of guitars, which have all been almost exclusively Gibson archtops, the first two of which were an ES-335 and an L-5 he acquired in the early 1970s.
Beginning with his solo albums in the mid-1970s, Ritenour’s smooth style and clean sound have been completely set apart by the use of his beloved Gibson L-5. And while the Lee Ritenour L-5 introduced by Gibson Custom in 2003 stays true to the original in many ways, it is also quite a revolutionary version of this classic archtop. Beginning with the body, the Ritenour L-5 is most characterized by its scaled-down dimensions, which are 15½ (W) X 19¾ (L) X 2⅝ (D). The body retains its traditional tonewoods; high-grade and hand-carved spruce top with high-grade and hand-carved figured maple back and sides. The body is then adorned with multi-ply black and white binding on both the top and back, with single-ply white binding around the f-holes. The gold hardware includes a “fingers”-style tailpiece and endpin jack, with a compensated bridge and base made from ebony.
Neck and Hardware
The scale length of the neck remains at 25½-inches, as does its traditional five-piece construction, which is made primarily from high-grade maple with two streamers made from high-grade walnut, resulting in one of the most stunning neck designs in the history of Gibson Custom. The eye-catching neck is topped by a 20-fret ebony fingerboard with pearl block inlays and multi-ply black and white binding, then hand-fitted with Gibson’s traditional ES-rounded neck profile. The heel of the guitar has also been contoured closer to the body to allow access to the guitar’s higher register of frets. The single pickup is Gibson’s traditional BJB floating pickup, which was originally used on Gibson’s signature Johnny Smith models of the mid-1960s. The pickup is attached to the pickguard, which conceals the wire that runs through the f-hole connecting it to the jack, and also features adjustable pole pieces as specified by Ritenour. Other appointments include Gibson’s traditional flower pot inlay on the headstock, and Schaller M6 tuners. The guitar is available in an Antique Sunburst finish, and comes with a Gibson Custom case and a certificate of authenticity.