Gibson

DATING YOUR GIBSON

 

         Serial Number Configuration and Placement:
      • 1902 to 1908: Rectangular label, no serial number or model name on label, photo of Orville Gibson and lyre-mandolin on label, date sometimes penciled under top.
      • 1904 to 1909: Oval label with serial number, no model name, photo of Orville Gibson and lyre-mandolin: 1904 to 1909.
      • 1902 to April 1947: Number and model name on white paper label, number range 1000 to 99999:
      • 1908 to 1932: Hand ink or penciled (some overlap with previous style):
      • 1932 to 1947: Ink stamped, not penciled.
      • 1927 and later: Low end models with no serial number.
        •  
          • "Artist" serial numbers used on mid to upper line guitars. No serial number used on lower line instruments (date by Factory Order Number). Instruments with an "Artist" serial number should also have a Factory Order Number by which a date can be cross-referenced.
          • Number preceded by an "A-" on white oval label: 4/28/47 to 1/12/55. The first number, A-100, was assigned to an L-7 on 4/28/47. The last white label number was A-18750, used 1/12/55. Note white label numbers A-18751 to A-20000 werenot used.
          • Number preceded by an "A" on orange oval label: 1/13/55 to 2/21/61. The first orange label number, A20001, was used on a F-5 mandolin 01/13/55. The last orange label "A" number was A36147, used 2/21/61. Note the "-" after the "A" was dropped for the orange labels.
          • No number: 1952 to early 1953
          • ink stamped numbers in back top of peghead. First number denotes last digit of year, followed by a space and 4 digits, or no space and 5 digits. No space and 5 digits following the year only occured in 1955, 1956, 1959 and 1960. In 1955 Gibson forgot to reset their serial number back to #5 0001. Instead they continued the 1954 series, just changing the first digit to a "5" for 1955. For this reason the serial numbers exceeded "5 9999", hence 5 digits and no space following the year had to be used. Apparently production was high enough in 1956 to exceed "6 9999". 1959 & 1960 production was also very high, exceeding "9 9999" and going to "932000" or higher.
          • 4 or 5 digits impressed in back top of peghead: 1961 to 1964.
          • 6 digits impressed in back top of peghead: 1963 to 1969.
          • 6 digits impressed in back top of peghead: 1970 to 1975.
          • Letter followed by 3 digits, custom shop or limited edition models only: 1971 to present.
          • Number on decal: 1975 to 1977.
          • 8 digits impressed in back top of peghead: 1977 to present.
          •  
      Gibson Hollowbody instruments 1947 to 1961:
      • "Artist" serial numbers used on mid to upper line guitars. No serial number used on lower line instruments (date by Factory Order Number). Instruments with an "Artist" serial number should also have a Factory Order Number by which a date can be cross-referenced.
      • Number preceded by an "A-" on white oval label: 4/28/47 to 1/12/55. The first number, A-100, was assigned to an L-7 on 4/28/47. The last white label number was A-18750, used 1/12/55. Note white label numbers A-18751 to A-20000 werenot used.
      • Number preceded by an "A" on orange oval label: 1/13/55 to 2/21/61. The first orange label number, A20001, was used on a F-5 mandolin 01/13/55. The last orange label "A" number was A36147, used 2/21/61. Note the "-" after the "A" was dropped for the orange labels.
        •  
          • No number: 1952 to early 1953
          • ink stamped numbers in back top of peghead. First number denotes last digit of year, followed by a space and 4 digits, or no space and 5 digits. No space and 5 digits following the year only occured in 1955, 1956, 1959 and 1960. In 1955 Gibson forgot to reset their serial number back to #5 0001. Instead they continued the 1954 series, just changing the first digit to a "5" for 1955. For this reason the serial numbers exceeded "5 9999", hence 5 digits and no space following the year had to be used. Apparently production was high enough in 1956 to exceed "6 9999". 1959 & 1960 production was also very high, exceeding "9 9999" and going to "932000" or higher.
            • 6 digits impressed in back top of peghead: 1963 to 1969.
       

      Gibson Solidbody instruments 1952 to 1960:

      All models, NO "made in U.S.A." stamped on peghead, 1961 to 1969: 

       

                      .  4 or 5 digits impressed in back top of peghead: 1961 to 1964.

       

      All models, "made in U.S.A." stamped-on the peghead, 1970 to present.

        
      Stamped on the back of the peghead. The "U.S.A." is below the "Made in", which is below the stamped-on serial number. All stamps in the same size type. Used from 1970 to present:

       

      Serial Number Configuration and Placement: 
      • 6 digits impressed in back top of peghead: 1970 to 1975.
      • Letter followed by 3 digits, custom shop or limited edition models only: 1971 to present.
      • Number on decal: 1975 to 1977.
      • 8 digits impressed in back top of peghead: 1977 to present. 

White label as used from 1908 to 1932.
This label is from a 1929 L-4 model.

 

Gibson Non-Hyphen Serial Numbers, 1902 to 1947.
    • Series starts with 1000. Note the format of these serial numbers has NO HYPHEN and NO LETTERS. For a number list with a hyphen and/or a letter, see the previous section under Factory Order Numbers.Year Last Number
        • ---- ----------- 1903 1500 1904 2500 1905 3500 1906 5500 1907 8300 1908 9700 1909 10100 1910 10600 1911 10850 1912 13350 1913 16100 1914 20150 1915 25150 1916 32000 1917 39500 1918 47900 1919 53800 1920 63650 1921 69300 1922 71400 1923 74900 1924 81200 1925 82700 1926 83600 1927 85400 1928 87300 1929 89750 1930 90200 1931 90450 1932 90700 1933 91400 1934 92300 1935 92800 1936 94100 1937 95200 1938 95750 1939 96050 1940 96600 1941 97400 1942 97700 1943 97850 1944 98250 1945 98650 1946 99300 1947 99999 (April 28, 1947)
 

"A" style serial numbers as used from 1947 to 1961.
Left: Oval white label as used from spring 1947 to January 1955.
Right: Orange label as used from January 1955 to 1964. The 1964 to 1969 orange labels are identical, except for the added text "union made".

  

 

Gibson Serial Numbers for Hollow bodies, 1947 to 1961.
    • "A" series, number on interior label, 1947 to 1961 hollow body models. This "Artist" series serial numbers were only used on mid to upper end instruments.Year Number
        • ---- ------ 1947 A-100 (Apr 28) A-411 (Jul 2) A-1146 (Dec 1) A-1304 1948 A-1305 (Jan 8) A-1849 (Jul 2) A-2613 (Dec 8) A-2665 1949 A-2666 (Jan 5) A-3353 (Jul 1) A-4209 (Dec 1) A-4413 1950 A-4414 (Jan 3) A-5456 (Jul 3) A-6312 (Dec 4) A-6597 1951 A-6598 (Jan 4) A-8030 (Jul 2) A-9194 (Dec 3) A-9419 1952 A-9420 (Jan 2) A-11057 (Jul 1) A-12202 (Dec 1) A-12462 1953 A-12463 (Jan 8) A-14332 (Jul 1) A-15883 (Dec 2) A-16101 1954 A-16102 (Jan 5) A-17435 (Jul 1) A-18496 (Dec 1) A-18667 1955 A-18668 (Jan 6) A-18750 (Jan 12, last white label. Note A-18751 to A-19999 not used) A 20001 (Jan 13, First orange label) A 20991 (Jul 1) A 21745 (Dec 1) A 21909 1956 A 21910 (Jan 6) A 23387 (Jul 3) A 24567 (Dec 1) A 24755 1957 A 24756 (Jan 3) A 25899 (Jul 3) A 26695 (Dec 3) A 26819 1958 A 26820 (Jan 6) A 27816 (Jul 1) A 28576 (Dec 1) A 28880 1959 A 28881 (Jan 9) A 30569 (Jul 13) A 31844 (Dec 2) A 32284 1960 A 32285 (Jan 4) A 34068 (Jul 1) A 35252 (Dec 1) A 35645 1961 A 35646 (Jan 3) A 35943 (Feb 1) A 36147 (Feb 21, Last "A" number)
 

Left: The "inked on" serial number on a 1955 Les Paul standard solidbody guitar. This style serial number was used on all 1953 to 1960 solidbody Gibson guitars.
Right: The "inked on" serial number on this 1959 Les Paul Junior has no space between the "9" digit (year) and the rest of the numbers. This happened only in 1955, 1956, 1959 and 1960 when production required a number above "9999", thus occupying the space.

   

Gibson Serial Numbers, 1952 to 1961, solid body models. 

    • Ink stamped number on back top of peghead. The first year of Gibson solidbodies was 1952, and Gibson didn`t use any serial number in 1952. Starting in 1953, the first number is the last number of the year. If the ink stamped number consists of 5 digits, there will be a space between the first and second numbers (separating the last digit of the year from the actual serial number). If there is a 6 digit ink stamped number, there is no embedded space as the serial number has exceeded 9999 and now occupies the place where the space existed in numbers 9999 and lower. No space and 5 digits following the year only occured in 1955, 1956, 1959 and 1960, and the second digit will ONLY be a "1" in 1955 and 1956. In 1955 Gibson forgot to reset their serial number back to #5 0001. Instead they continued the 1954 series, just changing the first digit to a "5" for 1955. For this reason the serial numbers exceeded "5 9999", hence 5 digits and no space following the year had to be used. Apparently production was high enough in 1956 to exceed "6 9999". Production in 1959 and 1960 was also very high, exceeding "9 9999" and going to "932000" or higher (so a "1" or "2" or "3" could be the second digit in 1959). The Ink Stamped serial number stopped at the end of 1960, though a few 1961 instruments were made with a "1" ink stamped prefix. This is very rare, but seen on a few lap steels (pressed in serial numbers started in 1961 for all Gibson instruments) and a few Les Paul models. One other exception to the above rules is in late 1958 where some Les Paul juniors and specials had a FOUR digit serial (no leading year digit).Year First Number
        • ---- ------------ 1952 none 1953 3 1954 4 1955 5 1956 6 1957 7 1958 8 * 1959 9 1960 0 1961 1 (very rare)
      * In late 1958 some LP Juniors/Specials had a four digit serial number with no leading year digit.

Note this style of "Made in the U.S.A." is NOT what is described below.
This style stamp was used on instruments exported to Canada 
during the 1930s-1950s (this is a 1954 LP Junior).

Stamped in serial numbers, used from 1961 to 1969. The 1964 number on the left is still a "pressed in" number, though gibson has inked the impression to make it more readable (they started doing this about 1963 or 1964, when serial numbers went to six digits). The number in the middle is from 1964 (on an ES-335), and the number in the right is from 1961 (on an Les Paul TV Special). Note the lack of "Made in USA", thus denoting these are pre-1970 guitars.
    

  •  Gibson Serial Numbers, Feb 1961 to 1970.
    • All models, stamped in back top of peghead. No "MADE IN USA" stamp below serial number! Note many serial numbers are duplicated from 1963-1969. In these cases, to figure out which is the exact year for a guitar, see the General Specs section for more details. ALSO note: It is easy to confuse 5 digit and 6 digit serial numbers from this era, and hence get the wrong year for a guitar. That is, 55555 is not the same number as 555555 (but when reading the number off the back of a Gibson peghead, these two numbers do look very similar!)Range Year
        • ----- ---- 0100 to 42440 1961 42441 to 61180 1962 61450 to 64222 1963 64240 to 71040 1964 71041 to 96600 1962, a few from 1963/1964 96601 to 99999 1963 000001 to 099999 1967 (all 6 digit numbers starting with "0" are 1967) 100000 to 106099 1963 or 1967 106100 to 106899 1963 109000 to 109999 1963 or 1967 110000 to 111549 1963 111550 to 115799 1963 or 1967 115800 to 118299 1963 118300 to 120999 1963 or 1967 121000 to 139999 1963 140000 to 140100 1963 or 1967 140101 to 144304 1963 144305 to 144380 1964 144381 to 149864 1963 149865 to 149891 1964 149892 to 152989 1963 152990 to 174222 1964 174223 to 176643 1964 or 1965 176644 to 250335 1964 250336 to 305983 1965 306000 to 310999 1965 or 1967 311000 to 320149 1965 320150 to 320699 1967 320700 to 329179 1965 329180 to 330199 1965 or 1967 330200 to 332240 1965, 1967 or 1968 332241 to 348092 1965 348093 to 349100 1966 349121 to 368638 1965 368640 to 369890 1966 370000 to 370999 1967 380000 to 385309 1966 390000 to 390998 1967 400001 to 406666 1966 406667 to 409670 1966 to 1968 409671 to 410900 1966 410901 to 419999 unknown 420000 to 429193 1966 500000 to 500999 1965, 1966, 1968, or 1969 501009 to 501600 1965 501601 to 501702 1968 501703 to 502706 1965 or 1968 503010 to 503109 1968 503405 to 520955 1965 or 1968 520956 to 530056 1968 530061 to 530850 1966, 1968, or 1969 530851 to 530993 1968 or 1969 530994 to 539999 1969 540000 to 540795 1966 or 1969 540796 to 545009 1969 555000 to 557999 1966 558000 to 567400 1969 570087 to 570643 1966 570645 to 570755 1966 or 1967 570857 to 570964 1966 580000 to 580080 1969 580086 to 580999 1966, 1967 or 1969 600000 to 600998 low end models, 1966, 1967, or 1968 600000 to 606090 high end models, 1969 700000 to 700799 1966, 1967 or 1969 750000 to 750999 1968 or 1969 800000 to 800999 1966, 1967, 1968 or 1969 801000 to 812838 1966 or 1969 812900 to 819999 1969 820000 to 820087 1966 or 1969 820088 to 823830 1966 824000 to 824999 1969 828002 to 847488 1966 or 1969 847499 to 858999 1966 or 1969 859001 to 895038 1967 895039 to 896999 1968 897000 to 898999 1967 or 1969 899000 to 899999 1968 900000 to 901999 1970 910000 to 999999 1968

1970`s style stamped serial 
number with "MADE IN U.S.A." 
stamp (see blue circle).
Notice the volute.

  •  Gibson Serial Numbers, early to mid 1970`s.
    • All models, stamped in back top of headstock. "MADE IN U.S.A." stamped below the serial number in back top of peghead, in the same size type, and on two lines with "U.S.A." below the "MADE IN":Number Year
        • ------ ---- 6 digits + A 1970 000000`s 1973 100000`s 1970-1975 200000`s 1973-1975 300000`s 1974-1975 400000`s 1974-1975 500000`s 1974-1975 600000`s 1970-1972, 1974-1975 700000`s 1970-1972 800000`s 1973-1975 900000`s 1970-1972 A + 6 digits 1973-1975 B + 6 digits 1974-1975 C + 6 digits 1974-1975 D + 6 digits 1974-1975 E + 6 digits 1974-1975 F + 6 digits 1974-1975

Left: 1977 Gibson decal serial number for an ES-335,
that was never applied.
Right: 1977 Gibson decal serial number applied on a
Les Paul Artisan.

   

  • Gibson Serial Numbers, 1975-1977.
    • All models, decal, 2 digit prefix followed by 6 digits. The decal can also states the model name/number.Prefix Year
          • ------ ---- 99 1975 00 1976 06 1977 
      1976 Gibson serial number with "00" prefix.

 

  •  Gibson Serial Numbers, 1977 to present.
 
  • All models, 8 digit number impressed in back top of peghead in the following format:
  • YY (1st and 5th digit) = year DDD (digits 2-4) = day of the year, 001=Jan 1st, 365=Dec 31st. NNN (digits 6-8) = rank of instrument for that day. Example: 80012005 = 5th instrument made in Kalamazoo on the first day of 1982.
  • Note all Kalamazoo made instruments (1977-1984) and Bozeman (1989-present) are numbered beginning with 001 each day. Instruments made at Nashville are numbered beginning with 500 each day. 

    Exceptions to the 1977 and later 8 digit serial numbers.
    Vintage reissue and custom shop models use a different serial number format.

    1970s Les Paul Spotlight Special
    • Numbered YY nnnn (with YY being the year, nnnn is the ranking).
      •  

    1994 Electric Gibsons.
    In 1994 only, the Nashville Gibson factory numbered all instruments with a 94xxxxxx style number. The final 6 digits ranked the instruments over the whole year`s production.

     

    1994 Centennial Electric Models.
    Inked on serial number in a YYYY-MM format. This funky formatting keys the YYYY number to a ranking of the model according to the years of centenial (1894 corresponds to #1, 1994 corresponds to #101, etc). The MM was the month of the model within the series, ranging from 1 to 14 (but only 12 models were actually produced, plus 2 prototypes).

     

    Les Paul Classic, 1990-present.

    The LP Classic have a 1950s style inked serial number with the first digit decoding to the last digit of the year.

     

    Vintage Reissues and Custom Shop Models, 1982 to present.
    These models have their own serial number system, and are not covered in this document.

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