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You should be able to use this guide to determine the year of your instrument and then consult the Reverb Price Guide to find its value, all for free.
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For many vintage instruments, determining the date of manufacture involves little more than running the serial number through a reference guide. Whereas Martin guitars have been using a single, consistent numbering system since the 19th century, Gibson has used several different serial number formats since its inception inmeaning that some formats and numbers overlap across decades.
This makes it especially important to first identify the general era during which your instrument was made before pinning down the exact date of manufacture with a serial number. If you know the backstory around when the instrument was purchased, this can provide some rough clues about its era.
The most general physical piece of evidence on the instrument, however, is going to be the logo on the headstock. The original logo featured the words "The Gibson" inlaid in pearl at a slant, with an almost hand-written cursive font.
This is sometimes referred to as the slanted script logo. Some earlier specimens from to did not slant the logo, or went without a logo entirely.
Why Gibson Guitars Go Out of Tune So Easy
Specimens built before had a star inlay or crescent in place of a logo. The script logo continues without the slant.
Some flattop guitars of this era started to omit the word "The" from the inlay. By Gibson had dropped the "The" from all of their logos while retaining the script "Gibson. From tothe logo was a thick golden script, known as the banner logo.
The block logo debuted after WWII and remains the face of the company. There were minute changes to which letters were connected in the font between tobut the main logo had the same look. Gibson stopped dotting the i in their logo on some of their instruments. Most models get a dotted i again inwith the rest following suit from onward.
Aside from the logos, each era of manufacturing included certain identifying traits such as the hardware tuners, knobs, plates, etc.
But not a final verdict. Many older instruments may have reproduction or other non-original parts, including a non-original finish. This makes relying entirely on the physical features of a guitar potentially misleading. The thickness of the headstock, however, is not as vulnerable to modification or replacement.
Before mid, most Gibson headstocks were thinner at the top when looked at from a side profile. Afterheadstocks had uniform thickness. Gibson has historically used two different alpha-numerical formats to catalog its instruments: serial numbers and FONs Factory Order Numbers.
Instruments will generally have one or both of these numbers stamped or written either inside the body generally the case on earlier models or on the back of the headstock. These will generally date an instrument earlier than the serial number, as they were typically applied in the early stages of assembly. Some earlier lower-end models had no serial number at all, making the FON the sole numerical identifier in those cases.
A FON usually consisted of a 3- 4- or 5-digit batch number followed by one or two other numbers in most cases. From tothe FON included a letter suffix.
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The consistency around this stopped during WWII and resumed in the early s. The Kalamazoo numbers were discontinued in Bozeman instruments began using designations and, inNashville instruments began using designations. It should also be noted that the Nashville plant has not reached the s sinceso these numbers have been reserved for prototypes. Examples: means the instrument was produced on Jan.
Dating gibson les paul studio
When the Nashville Gibson plant was opened init was decided that the bulk of the production of products would be run in the South; the Kalamazoo plant would produce the higher end fancier models in the North. Certain guitar models built in the late s can be used to demonstrate the old-style 6 digit serial numbers. In the earlier years at Gibson, guitars were normally built in batches of 40 instruments. Thus, the older Gibson guitars may have a serial number and a F O N.
The F O N may indicate the year, batch number, and the ranking order of production within the batch of This system is useful in helping to date and authenticate instruments. There are three separate groupings of numbers that have been identified and are used for their accuracy.
Examples are as follows: A 23 D 58 E Ina four digit F O N was used, but not in conjunction with any code letter indicating the year. Fromthe F O N scheme followed the pattern of a letter, the batch number and an instrument ranking number when the guitar was built in the run of Higher grade models such as the SuperL-5, J, etc.
When both numbers are present on a higher grade model, remember that the F O N was assigned at the beginning of the production run, while the serial number was recorded later before shipping.
The serial number would properly indicate the actual date of the guitar. There are still some variances that Gibson uses on some instruments produced today, but for the most part the above can be used for identifying instruments.
For the most accurate identification you would need to contact the Gibson Guitar Corporation itself. Prior to when the Kalamazoo, MI factory was closed, the numbers indicated Kalamazoo production. Ranking numbers continued to indicate Nashville production through Ranking numbers for Bozeman start each day at and the electrics may start as low as the s.
The Epiphone Les Paul Studio from the Inspired by Gibson Collection is the modern version of the 80s classic originally intended for players seeking the classic Les Paul sound with no frills and less weight. Featuring Epiphone-designed Alnico Classic humbuckers and world class Grover machine heads in new color finishes including Alpine White, Ebony, Wine Red, Smokehouse . The serial number on Gibson Les Paul guitars is located on the back of the headstock. The earliest Les Pauls made in may lack serial numbers. Beginning in , a three-digit serial number was stamped on the top. Later in the year, and continuing through , Gibson stamped a five- or six-digit number in ink on the back of the headstock. Jul 13, GIBSON SERIAL NUMBERS: Acoustic / Quality Check List (White Paper) / Serial-Number / HOW TO READ MODEL-NUMBERS / .
The sixth number is now a batch number- batch 0 starts at the beginning of the day, and once we stampthe batch number will change to 1. The first 5 numbers remain the same, the last 3 numbers will remain the same.
The only difference is the addition of this batch indicator. Most will be 5 to 6 digits in length, but the earliest examples feature 4 digit serial numbers. There should be a space after the 1st digit with the 4 and 5 digit serial numbers, and no space with the 6 digit numbers.
Ace Frehley Les Paul - Limited run, numbered in sequence as "ACE xxx" Note: The discontinued Gibson USA Ace Frehley Signature Les Paul has a standard 8 digit serial number. Andy Summers ES Limited edition of Numbered in sequence as "AS xxxx" Dickey Betts '57 goldtop Les Paul Limited edition of Les Paul Classic: This model features an ink stamped serial number with no "MADE IN USA" (just as we used on the original Les Pauls). Most will be 5 to 6 digits in length, but the earliest examples feature 4 digit serial numbers. The Gibson Serial Number Decoder currently supports 6 formats from 4 Factories. For guitars made prior to use the extended search function. This new function will try to match the serial number against older formats, details required for an exact match are listed in yellow. Please post any comments, particularly bugs in the user feedback.
Example: 7 is the rd reissue model produced in CS Signature Models: The list below is not an exhaustive listing but we have included many of our most popular Signature models. Please contact us at service gibson.