As one of the oldest and most widely recognized brands in music, Gibson has crafted some of the most cherished and valuable instruments of all time. Determining exactly when your Gibson specimen was made can have high stakes attached to it. A difference of only one year - sometimes even several months - can mean a four-figure difference in value. Our hope is to make the dating process and, in turn, the valuation as easy, accurate and transparent as possible. 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. For many vintage instruments, determining the date of manufacture involves little more than running the serial number through a reference guide.
With that information, you can determine its rarity and, ultimately, its worth. Locate the serial number on your Gibson.
The Gibson serial number decoder Date a Gibson guitar by serial number From to Gibson have used an 8 digit serial number on all of their guitars. This can be easily decoded to show the exact day that the guitar was manufactured along with the location of the Gibson factory. 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. Jul 16, Gibson USA, Gibson Acoustic, Gibson Memphis From the number is typically found on a decal on the back of the headstock. This should be an 8 digit number that can be dated by the 1st and 2nd digits as follows: 99 = 00= 06 =
For acoustic instruments, the serial number is typically located inside the sound hole at the neck joint or on a piece of paper glued inside the guitar and visible through the sound hole.
On electric guitars, the serial number is generally printed on the back of the headstock.
Decipher your serial number if it's eight digits. SinceGibson has used the following method: The first and fifth numbers indicate the last two digits of the year the instrument was produced, the second through fourth digits tell the day of the year it was produced and the last three digits indicate the production rank.
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For example, the serial number means the guitar was the rd instrument made on the th day of Use the Blue Book of Electric Guitars, available for free at Gibson's website, to date your instrument if it has a different type of serial number. Over the years, Gibson has gone through several different serial-number changes, sometimes resulting in multiple guitars with the same number.
The book, which lists all the company's historical serial number schemes, is an invaluable resource when dating vintage Gibson guitars. If you're still having trouble accurately dating your Gibson, take pictures of the guitar, including the serial number, and upload them to the customer service section on the company's website.
Gibson acoustic dating
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
Gibson Acoustic Guitars. Modern Acoustic. Explore Modern Acoustic. The Modern Collection builds on our legacy of innovation by introducing modern features and shaping sound for future generations. G Studio Walnut. $ 1 Finish Options. G Standard Walnut. $1, 54 rows in Gibson changed the serial number pattern and in went from white labels to . Sep 15, The book, which lists all the company's historical serial number schemes, is an invaluable resource when dating vintage Gibson guitars. If you're still having trouble accurately dating your Gibson, take pictures of the guitar, including the serial number, and upload them to the customer service section on the company's website.
From tothe FON included a letter suffix. The consistency around this stopped during WWII and resumed in the early s. To complicate matters further, there was sometimes a second letter from to indicating the brand G for Gibson, K for Kalamazoo, W for Recording King and sometimes even a third letter indicating "Electric" the letter E.
The year is indicated by the first letter in any series of letters for these years. Throughout the war and even for some time after, each year had its own quirks around FON batch numbers and letters.
DATING GIBSON GUITARS AND MANDOLINS BY REFERENCE OF SERIAL NUMBERS. Regarding duplications of serial numbers, Gibson does take the lead. Gibson has used various numbering methods since , making it difficult to determine the production year based on the serial number. Gibson USA, Gibson Acoustic, Gibson Memphis - From the number is typically found on a decal on the back of the headstock. This should be an 8 digit number that can be dated by the 1st and 2nd digits as follows: 99 = 00= 06 =