Gibson Serial Numbers

Gibson Serial Number

Gibson Serial Number Identification and Dating

 

GIBSON SERIALIZATION

Identifying Gibson instruments by serial number is tricky at best and downright impossible in some cases.

The best methods of identifying them is by using a combination of the serial number, the factory order

number and any features that are particular to a specific time that changes may have occurred in instrument

design (i.e. logo design change, headstock volutes, etc). There have been 6 different serial number styles

used to date on Gibson instruments.

The first serialization started in 1902 and ran until 1947. The serial numbers started with number 100 and

go to 99999. All numbers are approximates. In most cases, only the upper end instruments were assigned

identification numbers.

YEAR LAST #

1903 1150

1904 1850

1905 2550

1906 3350

1907 4250

1908 5450

1909 6950

1910 8750

1911 10850

1912 13350

1913 16100

1914 20150

1915 25150

1916 32000

1917 39500

1918 47900

1919 53800

1920 62200

1921 69300

1922 71400

1923 74900

1924 80300

1925 82700

YEAR LAST #

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

White oval labels were used on instruments from 1902 to 1954, at which time the oval label was changed to

an orange color. On instruments with round soundholes, this label is visible directly below it. On f-hole

instruments, it is visible through the upper f-hole. The second type of serial numbers used started with an A

prefix and ran from 1947 to 1961. The first number is A 100.

YEAR LAST #

1947 A 1305

1948 A 2665

1949 A 4410

1950 A 6595

1951 A 9420

1952 A 12460

1953 A 17435

1954 A 18665

YEAR LAST #

1955 A 21910

1956 A 24755

1957 A 26820

1958 A 28880

1959 A 32285

1960 A 35645

1961 A 36150

When production of solid body guitars began, an entirely new serial number system was developed.

Though not used on the earliest instruments produced (those done in 1952), a few of these instruments have

3 digits stamped on the headstock top. Some time in 1953, instruments were ink stamped on the headstock

back with 5 or 6 digit numbers, the first indicating the year, the following numbers are production numbers.

The production numbers run in a consecutive order and, aside from a few oddities in the change over years

(1961-1962), it is fairly accurate to use them when identifying solid body instruments produced between

1953 and 1961. Examples of this system:

4 2205 = 1954 614562 = 1956

In 1961 Gibson started a new serial number system that covered all instrument lines. It consisted of

numbers that are impressed into the wood. It is also generally known to be the most frustrating and hard to

understand system that Gibson has employed. The numbers were used between the years 1961-1969. There

are several instances where batches of numbers are switched in order, duplicated, not just once, but up to

four times, and seem to be randomly assigned, throughout the decade. In general though, the numbers are

approximately as follows:

APPROXIMATE

YEAR SERIAL RANGE

1961 100-42440

1962 42441-61180

1963 61450-64220

1964 64240-70500

1962 71180-96600

1963 96601-99999

1967 000001-008010

1967 010000-042900

1967 044000-044100

1967 050000-054400

1967 055000-063999

1967 064000-066010

1967 067000-070910

1967 090000-099999

1963, 1967 100000-106099

1963 106100-108900

1963, 1967 109000-109999

1963 110000-111549

1963, 1967 111550-115799

1963 115800-118299

1963, 1967 118300-120999

1963 121000-139999

1963, 1967 140000-140100

1963 140101-144304

1964 144305-144380

1963 144381-145000

1963 147009-149864

1964 149865-149891

1963 149892-152989

1964 152990-174222

1964, 1965 174223-176643

1964 176644-199999

1964 200000-250335

1965 250336-291000

1965 301755-302100

1965 302754-305983

1965, 1967 306000-306100

1965, 1967 307000-307985

1965, 1967 309848-310999

1965 311000-320149

1967 320150-320699

APPROXIMATE

YEAR SERIAL RANGE

1965 320700-321100

1965 322000-326600

1965 328000-328500

1965 328700-329179

1965, 1967 329180-330199

1965, 1967, 1968330200-332240

1965 332241-347090

1965 348000-348092

1966 348093-349100

1965 349121-368638

1966 368640-369890

1967 370000-370999

1966 380000-385309

1967 390000-390998

1965, 1966, 1967, 1968 400001-400999

1966 401000-407985

1966 408000-408690

1966 408800-409250

1966 420000-426090

1966 427000-429180

1966 430005-438530

1966 438800-438925

1965, 1966, 1968, 1969 500000-500999

1965 501010-501600

1968 501601-501702

1965, 1968 501703-502706

1968 503010-503110

1965, 1968 503405-520955

1968 520956-530056

1966, 1968, 1969530061-530850

1968, 1969 530851-530993

1969 530994-539999

1966, 1969 540000-540795

1969 540796-545009

1966 550000-556910

1969 558012-567400

1966 570099-570755

1969 580000-580999

1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 600000-600999

1969 601000-601090

1969 605901-606090

APPROXIMATE

YEAR SERIAL RANGE

1966, 1967 700000-700799

1968, 1969 750000-750999

1966, 1967, 1968, 1969 800000-800999

1966, 1969 801000-812838

1969 812900-814999

1969 817000-819999

1966, 1969 820000-820087

1966 820088-823830

1969 824000-824999

1966, 1969 828002-847488

1966 847499-858999

1967 859001-880089

APPROXIMATE

YEAR SERIAL RANGE

1967 893401-895038

1968 895039-896999

1967 897000-898999

1968 899000-899999

1968 900000-902250

1968 903000-920899

1968 940000-941009

1968 942001-943000

1968 945000-945450

1968 947415-956000

1968 959000-960909

1968 970000-972864

From 1970-1975 the method of serializing instruments at Gibson became even more random. All numbers

were impressed into the wood and a six digit number assigned, though no particular order was given and

some instruments had a letter prefix. The orange labels inside hollow bodied instruments was discontinued

in 1970 and were replaced by white and orange rectangle labels on the acoustics, and small black, purple

and white rectangle labels were placed on electric models.

In 1970, the words “MADE IN USA” was impressed into the back of instrument headstocks (though a few

instruments from the 1950s also had MADE IN USA impressed into their headstocks as well).

Year(s) Approximate Series Manufacture

1970, 1971, and 1972 100000s, 600000s, 700000s, 900000s

1973 000001s, 100000s, 200000s, 800000s and a few “A” + 6 digit numbers

1974 and 1975 100000s, 200000s, 300000s, 400000s,500000s, 600000s, 800000s

and a few A-B-C-D-E-F + 6 digit numbers

During the period from 1975-1977 Gibson used a transfer that had eight digit numbers, the first two

indicate the year, 99=1975, 00=1976 and 06=1977, the following six digits are in the 100000 to 200000

range. MADE IN USA were also included on the transfer and some models had LIMITED EDITION also

applied. A few bolt on neck instruments had a date ink stamped on the heel area.

In 1977, Gibson first introduced the serialization method that is in practice today. This updated system

utilizes an impressed eight digit numbering scheme that covers both serializing and dating functions. The

pattern is as follows:

YDDDYPPP

YY is the production year

DDD is the day of the year

PPP is the plant designation and/or instrument rank.

The numbers 001-499 show Kalamazoo production, 500-999 show Nashville production. The Kalamazoo

numbers were discontinued in 1984.

When acoustic production began at the plant built in Bozeman, Montana (in 1989), the series’ numbers

were reorganized. Bozeman instruments began using 001-299 designations and, in 1990, Nashville

instruments began using 300-999 designations. It should also be noted that the Nashville plant has not

reached the 900s since 1977, so these numbers have been reserved for prototypes. Examples:

70108276 means the instrument was produced on Jan.10, 1978, in Kalamazoo and was the 276th

instrument stamped that day.

82765501 means the instrument was produced on Oct. 3, 1985, in Nashville and was the 1st instrument

stamped that day.

However, it has come to light recently that the Kalamazoo plant did not directly switch over to the “new” 8

digit serialization method in 1977. When the Nashville Gibson plant was opened in 1974, it 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. Of course, many of the older guitar builders and craftsmen

were still in Kalamazoo; and if they weren’t ready to change how they built guitars, then they may not have

been ready to change how they numbered them! Certain guitar models built in the late 1970s can be used

to demonstrate the old-style 6 digit serial numbers . It is estimated that Gibson’s Kalamazoo plant

continued to use the 6 digit serial numbers through 1978 and 1979. So double check the serial numbers

on those 1970s L-5s, Super 400s, and Super 5 BJBs!

Gibson’s F O N System

In addition to the above serial number information, Gibson also used Factory Order Numbers (F O N) to

track batches of instruments being produced at the time. In the earlier years at Gibson, guitars were

normally built in batches of 40 instruments. Gibson’s Factory Order Numbers were an internal coding that

followed the group of instruments through the factory. 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 40).

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. The numbers are usually stamped or

written on the instrument’s back and seen through the lower F hole or round soundhole, or maybe

impressed on the back of the headstock.

1908-1923 Approximate #s

YEAR F O N

1908 259

1909 309

1910 545, 927

1911 1260, 1295

1912 1408, 1593

1913 1811, 1902

1914 1936, 2152

1915 2209, 3207

1916 2667, 3508

YEAR F O N

1917 3246, 11010

1918 9839, 11159

1919 11146, 11212

1920 11329, 11367

1921 11375, 11527

1922 11565, 11729

1923 11973

F O Ns for the years 1935-1941 usually consisted of the batch number, a letter for the year and the

instrument number. Examples are as follows:

722 A 23

465 D 58

863 E 02.

Code Letter and Year

A 1935

B 1936

C 1937

D 1938

E 1939

F 1940

G 1941

Code Letter F O Ns were discontinued after 1941, and any instruments made during or right after World

War II do not bear an F O N codes. In 1949, a four digit F O N was used, but not in conjunction with any

code letter indicating the year.

From 1952-1961, the 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 40). The F O N is the only identification number

on Gibson’s lower grade models (like the ES-125, ES-140, J-160E, etc.) which do not feature a paper label.

Higher grade models (such as the Super 400, L-5, J-200, etc.) feature both a serial number and a F O N.

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. F O N examples run thus:

Y 2230 21

V 4867 8

R 6785 15

Code Letter and Year

Z 1952

Y 1953

X 1954

W 1955

V 1956

U 1957

T 1958

S 1959

R 1960

Q 1961

After 1961 the use of FONs was discontinued at Gibson.

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.

The serial number will be an 8 digit number impressed into the back of the headstock with “MADE IN USA” below.

The pattern is as follows:
YDDDYRRR
YY is the production year
DDD is the day of the year
RRR is the factory ranking/plant designation number.
Prior to 1984 when the Kalamazoo, MI factory was closed, the numbers 001-499 indicated Kalamazoo production. Ranking numbers 500-999 continued to indicate Nashville production through 1989.

Since 1989, all Gibson acoustics are built in Bozeman, MT and all Gibson electrics are built in Nashville or Memphis. Ranking numbers for Bozeman start each day at 001 and the electrics may start as low as the 300s.

Examples: 70108276 means the instrument was produced on Jan. 10, 1978, in Kalamazoo and was the 276th instrument stamped that day.

82765501 means the instrument was produced on Oct. 3, 1985, in Nashville and was the 1st instrument stamped that day.

NOTE – Gibson USA goes to a 9 digit serial number in early July 2005..
The sixth number is now a batch number- batch 0 starts at the beginning of the day, and once we stamp 699, the 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.

There are always exceptions to these rules, the two listed below are worth noting:

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). 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.

The 1st digit indicates the year of manufacture for the 4 & 5 digit serial numbers, these were used from 1989-1999. The 1st and 2nd indicate the year of manufacture for the 6 digit serial numbers which we’ve been using since 2000.

Examples –
9 xxx = 1989 (4 digit number beginning with “9” used only in 1989)
0 xxxx = 1990
9 xxxx = 1999
00xxxx = 2000
05xxxx = 2005

Those beginning with “94”:
In 1994, Gibson’s Centennial year, many instruments have a serial number that begins with “94” for the year, with the remaining 6 digits indicating the ranking number.

Gibson Custom

1952-1960 Les Paul, Explorer, Flying V, and Futura reissues (since late 1992):
M YRRR or MYRRRR
M is the model year being reissued
Y is the production year
RRR(R) indicates the guitar’s place production for that year. NOTE: This number includes all models for a particular reissue year – so, for example, a 1958 Reissue serial number may include ’58 Reissue LP Standard and ’58 Explorer production.

Example: 7 5123 is the 123rd 1957 reissue model produced in 2005.

1961-1969 Firebird, Les Paul, and SG reissues (since 1997):
YYRRRM
Y is the production year
RRR(R) indicates the guitar’s place in production for that year.
M is the model being reissued
Reissue model codes:
1= SG Custom and Special
2= SG Standard
3= 1963 Firebird 1
4= 1964 Firebird III
5= 1965 Firebird V & VII
8= 1968 Les Paul Custom

Examples: 050102 is the 10th SG Standard reissue produced in 2005.
030084 is the 8th 1964 Firebird III reissue produced in 2003.

Historic ES MODELS (since 1995):
(A or B)-MYRRR
M is the model year being reissued
Y is the production year
RRR indicates the guitar’s place in the sequence of Historic ES production for that year.
Reissue model codes:
2= ES-295
3= 1963 ES-335 (block inlays)
4= ES-330
5= ES-345
9 with an “A” prefix = 1959 ES-335 (dot inlays)
9 with a “B” prefix= ES-355

Example: A-38005 is the 5th ’63 ES-335 Reissue produced in 1998.
Carved Top models (serial number on orange label)
YDDDYRRR
YY is the production year
DDD is the day of the year
RRR indicate the guitar’s place in the sequence of carved tops made that day.
NOTE – as of 2000, 1st digit will be a “2”

Examples:
91418009 is the 9th carved top produced on the 141st day of 1998.
20045002 was the 2nd carved top stamped on the 4th day of 2005.

Custom Shop regular production models
CSYRRRR
CS stands for “Custom Shop”
Y indicates the production year
RRRR indicates the guitar’s place in the sequence of production

Example: CS10845 is the 845th reg. production CS model produced in 2001.

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.com should you have any questions.

Ace Frehley Les Paul
– 1997 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-335
Limited edition of 50. Numbered in sequence as “AS xxxx”

Dickey Betts ’57 goldtop Les Paul
Limited edition of 114. Numbered in sequence as “DB xxx”

Dickey Betts ’57 red top Les Paul
Numbered in sequence as “DBR xxx”

Gary Rossington Les Paul
Limited edition of 250. Numbered in sequence as “GR xxx”

Gary Rossington SG
Limited edition of 250. Numbered in sequence as “13xxx”

Jimmy Page Les Paul (3 versions)
-1st 25 aged models were hand numbered 1-25 and signed by Jimmy Page, no other number is on this model.
-Limited run of 150 aged models are numbered in sequence as “PAGE xxx”
-Unlimited run of Custom Authentic models are numbered in sequence as “JPP xxx”
Note: The discontinued Gibson USA Jimmy Page Signature Les Paul has a standard 8 digit serial number.

Joe Perry Les Paul (2 models)
– Joe Perry Signature Les Paul from 1996 (trans black finish) – numbered in sequence as “JPxxx”
– Boneyard LP – Pilot Run models have an inked number and hand written “Pilot Run”. The production version (no difference in spec) numbered in sequence as “BONE xxx”
Note: The discontinued Gibson USA Joe Perry Signature Les Paul made has a standard 8 digit serial number.

Johnny A.
Numbered in sequence as “JA xxx”

Pete Townshend LP Deluxe
Limited run of 75, numbered in sequence as “PETE xxx”

Peter Frampton Les Paul (2 models)
– PF LP Custom – numbered in sequence as “PF xxx”
– PF LP Special – numbered in sequence as “PFYxxx” Y indicates the year of production.

Slash Les Paul (2 models)
– 1997 limited edition model, cranberry finish: numbered in sequence as “SL xxx”
– Regular production model introduced in 2004, also numbered in sequence as “SL xxx”
Note: The discontinued Epiphone Slash Les Paul made has a standard Epiphone serial number.

Tony Iommi SG
Numbered in sequence as “TI xxx”

Zakk Wylde Les Paul
Bullseye and the rare “Rough Top” version numbered in sequence as “ZW xxx”
Camo version numbered in sequence as “ZPW xxx”

Gibson Banjos 1988 to present

Earl Scruggs Models
Standard:
Sequential production number, starting at 001

’49 Classic:
YY-RR
YY = Year of manufacture
RR = ranking number (starts at 01)

Golden Deluxe:
YY-RR
YY = Year of manufacture
RR = ranking number (starts at 01)

Flint Hill Special:
FH-YY-RR
YY = Year of manufacture
RR = ranking number (starts at 01)

Special:
ES-YY-RR
YY = Year of manufacture
RR = ranking number (starts at 01)

Style 250
250-TT-RR
YY = Year of manufacture
RR = ranking number (starts at 01)

Granada
YY-MM-RR
YY = Year
MM = Month
RR = ranking number (starts at 01)

RB
RB### = sequential production number

All other models
S(S)-YYMM-RR
S(S) = style (excluding style 250 – see above)
YY = Year
MM = Month
RR = ranking number

Epiphone

Most regular production models since ca. 1993. Many ’80s and early ’90s serial numbers may follow a similar scheme, but may not include a factory ID code.
FYYMMRRRR
F= Factory code (this can be 2 letters as well)
YY= year of manufacture (this can also be just 1 digit for ’90s models)
MM= month of manufacture
R= ranking number (may be more or less digits, not necessarily indicative of total units produced)
Example – S02021234 was issued in Feb. 2002.

Another code used on some current Epiphone models
FYYMRRRR
F= Factory code
YY=Year of manufacture
M= This will be a letter code corresponding to the month (A=January, B=February, etc…)
RRRR= ranking number
Example – R03D0263 was issued in April 2003.

Epiphone Elite/Elitist models
FYSSSS
F= Factory Code (this code will be an “F” or “T”)
Y= Year of manufacture (2 = 2002, 3 = 2003, etc.)
SSSS= Sequential Serial Number
Example – T41234 is a 2004 Elitist model.

Dobro (1995-present)

1995-1997
A(A) (#)###YY
A(A) = model code
(#) ### = ranking number
YY = last 2 digits of year
Example – BA xxx 95 dates to 1995

1997-Current
YMMDDRRY
Y = last digit of year
MM = Month
DD = day of month
RR = ranking number
Y (last digit) = decade

Gibson Goldtone Amps

Product code/production number/quarter and year made

Example – G-03/207/299

Note that the “‘G” is often mistaken for a “6”. This amp was made in the second quarter of 1999.