Gibson custom shop serial number dating

A new system, introduced in 1961, was made to cover all of the instruments in Gibson’s line (not just acoustic guitars).

This was pretty poorly done though (IMO) and meant that some serial numbers were reused so a certain serial number could be from a guitar from different years.

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The first serial number for acoustic guitars was 100.

Once the serial numbers hit 99999, Gibson decided to change to a new system, rather than go into 6 digits.

FON’s (and serial numbers) on Gibson guitars are usually found either on the inside of the back of the guitar (inside the sound hole) or on the back of the headstock). There are some other ways you can get an idea of the age of your Gibson. You can also use other features to help identify the time period of your instrument. so why discuss all these other aspects, when this post is supposed to be about serial numbers!

Gibson’s logo has been largely unchanged since 1947 but before that time the logo changed a bit, so you can use that to help identify the era your guitar was built. Good question – and the answer is simply that the serial number system used up until 1977 wasn’t the easiest or most reliable system – so you may not be able to accurately determine anything about your guitar using the serial number alone.

In addition to serial numbers older Gibson guitars also had Factory Order Numbers (FONs) imprinted.

In some cases, in fact, only FONs were used and there was no serial number (this was mainly for early low-end models). This can help determine if your guitar was from the 1960s or 1970s (some guitars during those 2 decades had the same serial number).

The only difference is the addition of this batch indicator.

Les Paul Classic: This model features an ink stamped serial number with no “MADE IN USA” (just as we used on the original 1952-1960 Les Pauls).

Unfortunally ESP didn't keep good records of old serial numbers.

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