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Did you know that you can use Epiphone serial numbers to discover the age of your guitar? If you have a vintage Epiphone or Gibson guitar, you could be sitting on a gold mine. Many older models have a rich history, and better than that, they could be worth a lot of money. Epiphone started as a family business in as a luxury banjo manufacturer. As they already owned Gibson, this merge brought the two powerful brand names under one umbrella. In , a second purchase occurred. During each of these transitions, there were also changes made to how the instruments were labeled, which is part of the reason why the serial number identification process is so confusing.
Dating vintage gibson guitars
Gibson has been around sinceafter all. First, you can tell which era your guitar was crafted in by merely looking at the logo.
The original logo is a one-of-a-kind, unmistakable italic typeface with pearl inlay. It is the only variant with a severe tilt, almost turning the brand name on its side.
Gibson used this format from to However, you can find plenty from this era that were never branded. From toGibson shifted the logo similar to its current tilt and removed the dot above the letter I.
These logos are written in thin italics, lacking the pearl inlay from decades prior. The next era of Gibson guitars takes place from to The font during this timespan is thicker, replaces the dot above the I in some variants, and looks more hand-written than any other logo. Guitars made in to feature a banner logo in thick, gold lettering that utilizes a similar typeface from previous eras. You can usually find this version in the middle of the headstock.
Finally, Gibson redesigned their logo to the one you know today after You can find this version in both gold and silver, some with a dot above the I and others without. Since this is the largest timespan for a Gibson logo, identifying which decade it came from can be a challenge. Image from Amazon. Just like the logo, different production years utilize a unique code on the headstock to date the guitar. This is one of the easiest eras to identify.
Each serial number starts with a letter that signifies a year. Gibson used A through H with a few variants to denote specific models. Models made up until place the letter between the order number and batch number, while everything up to puts two or three letters before the batch number.
If there are two letters, such as EG, that indicates both the year and a Gibson make. Additionally, high-end models from to may have the letter A before their letter for the year.
Just like the era before it, this one places indicates in the front of its Gibson serial numbers.
Some years mesh together in their numbering, having no definitive start or stop place within the serial numbering. This era features serial codes for three different Gibson makes. Flat-tops are marked on the neck, F-hole models are marked inside the hole, and solid body models are marked on the back of the headstock.
Both F-hole and flat-tops use the same method for dating.
The factory order numbers FON feature the batch number followed by a letter. These serial numbers look like Z 43, or any similar combination. You can date these models as follows:. Solid body models are marked differently, using the first number in the FON to identify the year. There are only four numbers following any of these indicating digits from to Some may also appear in an X10 format.
Find the current Blue Book value and worth of your new and used guitars, both acoustic, electric and amplifier. The number one source of guitar and amplifier pricing and information so you can find the price and value of your used guitars and amplifier. Use this site for a pricing guide and source of information on all guitars. Jun 05, The next era of Gibson guitars takes place from to The logo now just read "Gibson," removing the article above it from the company name. The font during this timespan is thicker, replaces the dot above the I in some variants, and looks more hand-written than any other logo. Sep 17, When trying to date your vintage Epiphone or Gibson instrument, the most accurate way to do it is by decoding the serial number. Because there aren't any factory ledgers prior to the 's for Epiphone, these stamps will give you the closest approximation to their manufacturing date. Particularly with older models, the serial number may.
Regardless, the first number is specific to each year of production. During this era, Gibson used a standard serial number system. 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.
Vintage Double neck Gibson Collectibility. Double neck models with carved spruce tops are different than any other Gibson design. Because of this they are collectible. Solidbody double neck SG style guitars are not nearly as desirable, though popularized by bands such as Led Zeppelin in the s. Vintage Gibson Electric Bass Collectibility. Gibson Anolomies. Gibson used some pots with strange codes during the s that were confusing. These codes don't make a lot of sense, so are noted below. CBA circa (Gibson parts list) CBA circa (Gibson parts list) CBA late s. C circa CBA circa CBA unknown date. 54 rows Gibson introduced a new pattern when they began producing solid body guitars. An .
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. Before mid, most Gibson headstocks were thinner at the top when looked at from a side profile.
Afterheadstocks had uniform thickness.
Dating Gibson Guitars
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.
An early s pot from a Gibson guitar. Once decoded, the writing on the back or sides can be very informative. If you've been reading articles about dating a vintage guitar, you may well have come across mention of pot codes. The pots, or potentiometers to give their full name, are the variable resistors that control volume and tone. 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. 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 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.
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