Maison Guitar Serial Numbers

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Wondering how old your Gibson or Epiphone guitar is? Dobro, or a Goldtone amplifier you’re not sure about. This serial number guide will help you to figure it all out. This guide, republished courtesy of Gibson.com, provides information from 1975-present, covering thousands of Gibson i. Gibson And Epiphone Guitars Serial Number. WELCOME TO GUITAR DATER PROJECT. This website possesses NO DATABASE of guitars made by manufactures, instead simple serial code patterns that are.

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.

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 in 1902, meaning 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.

1902 to Late-1920s

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.

Maison Guitar Serial Numbers

Some earlier specimens from 1903 to 1907 did not slant the logo, or went without a logo entirely. Specimens built before 1902 had a star inlay or crescent in place of a logo.

Late-1920s to 1933

The script logo continues without the slant. Some flattop guitars of this era started to omit the word 'The' from the inlay.

1933 to 1947

By 1933 Gibson had dropped the 'The' from all of their logos while retaining the script 'Gibson.' The original thin script was replaced with a thicker font on higher-end models in the mid-’30s, and across the entire lineup by the end of the decade.

From 1943 to 1947, the logo was a thick golden script, known as the banner logo. Some models (LG-2, J-45, SJ, select L-50s) included an actual banner reading 'Only a Gibson Is Good Enough' in the middle of the headstock.

1947 to Present

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 1961 to 1981, but the main logo had the same look.

1968 to 1972

Gibson stopped dotting the i in their logo on some of their instruments. Most models get a dotted i again in 1972, with the rest following suit from 1981 onward.

Aside from the logos, each era of manufacturing included certain identifying traits such as the hardware (tuners, knobs, plates, etc.), the pickups, the type of finish, and the electronics inside that can give clues as to when an instrument was made. 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-1950, most Gibson headstocks were thinner at the top when looked at from a side profile. After 1950, headstocks had uniform thickness.

Dating a Gibson by Factory Order Number (FON)

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.

FONs were Gibson’s way of internally tracking batches of instruments throughout production. 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.

1902 to 1945 FON Overview

YearFON Batch # Range
1902 - 19161 to 3650
1917 - 192311000 to 12000
1924 - 192511000A to 11250A (suffix included)
1925 - 19318000 to 9999
1931 - 19331 to 890
19341 to 1500
19351A to 1520A
19361B to 1100B
19371C to 1400C
19381D to 1000D
19391E to 980E
1940 - 19451 to 7900 (some with letter, some without)

From 1935 to 1942, the FON included a letter suffix. The consistency around this stopped during WWII and resumed in the early 1950s.

To complicate matters further, there was sometimes a second letter from 1938 to 1941 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.

1935 to 1942 FON Letter Suffixes

YearFON Letter Suffix
1935A
1936B
1937C
1938D, DA
1939Ex (x being any other letter)
1940F, FA
1941E (with no other letters)
1941G
1942H

Martin Guitar Serial Numbers

Throughout the war and even for some time after, each year had its own quirks around FON batch numbers and letters

1942 to 1951 FON Info

YearFON or Letter Code
1942907, 910, 923, 2004, 2005, 7000s (all with banner logo)
19439xx to 22xx
194422xx to 29xx (some without FONs)
19451xx to 10xx (many without FONS)
1947700s to 1000s
19481100s to 3700s (move from script to block logo)
19492000s
19503000s to 5000s
19516000s to 9000s

From 1952 to 1961, a consistent letter code resumed, with the letter appearing before the batch number.

1952 to 1961 FON Letter Prefixes

YearFON Letter Prefix
1952Z
1953Y
1954X
1955W
1956V
1957U
1958T
1959S
1960R
1961Q

Acoustics and Electric Archtops 1902-1961

1902-1947

Gibson’s earliest serialization system was more or less sequential, where each new instrument was assigned the next highest available number. Below is a table of the the highest known number for each production year.

YearLast Numbers
19031150
19041850
19052550
19063350
19074250
19085450
19096950
19108750
191110850
191213350
191316100
191420150
191525150
191632000
191739500
191847900
191953800
192062200
192169300
192271400
192374900
192480300
192582700
YearLast Numbers
192683600
192785400
192887300
192989750
193090200
193190450
193290700
193391400
193492300
193592800
193694100
193795200
193895750
193996050
194096600
194197400
194297700
194397850
194498250
194598650
194699300
1947999999
Maison Guitar Serial Numbers

1947-1961

When the original serial system reached 999,999 in 1947, Gibson started over with an ‘A’ prefix

YearLast Numbers
1947A 1305
1948A 2665
1949A 4410
1950A 6596
1951A 9420
1952A 12460
1953A 17435
YearLast Numbers
1954A 18665
1955A 21910
1956A 24755
1957A 26820
1958A 28880
1959A 32285
1960A 34645

Solid Body Electrics 1952-1961

Early Gibson solidbody electrics received a serial stamp on the back of the headstock, with the first number indicating the year of production. The serial number on this Les Paul Junior indicates that it was made in 1956.

1961-1969

Starting in 1961, Gibson implemented a new serialization system designed to cover its entire lineup. However, while the intent was to maintain a more organized catalog, this system in practice achieved the exact opposite.

Numbers from this era were flipped, reused, and in many cases can date an instrument to several non-sequential years. The general system was as follows, though with instruments from this era it’s important to consult key features to get a more accurate age approximation.

Fortunately, Gibson was making more changes to its instruments during the ‘60s and ‘70s than any other period, so dating these instruments by features alone is relatively clear-cut in most cases.

YearApprox Serial Range
1961100-42440
196242441-61180
196361450-64220
196464240-70500
196271180-96600
196396601-99999
1967000001-008010
1967010000-042900
1967044000-044100
1967050000-054400
1967055000-063999
1967064000-066010
19670670000-070910
1967090000-099999
1963, 1967100000-106099
1963106100-108900
1963, 19671090000-109999
1963110000-111549
1963, 1967111550-115799
1963115800-118299
1963, 1967118300-120999
1963121000-139999
1963, 1967140000-140100
1963140101-144304
1964144305-144380
1963144381-145000
1963147009-149864
1964149865-149891
1963149892-152989
1964152990-174222
1964, 1965174223-176643
1964176644-199999
1964200000-250335
1965250336-291000
1965301755-302100
1965302754-305983
1965, 1967306000-306100
1965, 1967307000-307985
1965, 1967309848-310999
1965311000-320149
1967320150-320699
YearApprox Serial Range
1965320700-321100
1965322000-326600
1965328000-328500
1965328700-329179
1965, 1967329180-330199
1965, 1967-68330200-332240
1965332241-327090
1965348000-348092
1966348093-349100
1965349121-368638
1966368640-369890
1967370000-370999
1966380000-385309
1967390000-390998
1965-68400001-400999
1966401000-407985
1966408000-408690
1966408800-409250
1966420000-426090
1966427000-429180
1966430005-438530
1966438800-438925
1965-66, 1968-69500000-500999
1965501010-501600
1968501601-501702
1965, 1968501703-502706
1968503010-503110
1965, 1968503405-520955
1968520956-530056
1966, 1968-69530061-530850
1968-69530851-530993
1969530994-539999
1966, 1969540000-540795
1969540796-545009
1966550000-556910
1969558012-567400
1966570099-570755
1969580000-580999
1966-69600000-600999
1969601000-601090
1969605901-606090
YearApproximate Serial Range
1966-67700000-700799
1968-69750000-750999
1966-69800000-800999
1966, 1969801000-812838
1969812900-814999
1969817000-819999
1966, 1969820000-820087
1966820088-823830
1969824000-824999
1966, 1969828002-847488
1966847499-858999
1967859001-880089
YearApproximate Serial Range
1967893401-895038
1968895039-896999
1967897000-898999
1968899000-899999
1968900000-902250
1968903000-920899
1968940000-941009
1968942001-943000
1968945000-945450
1968947415-956000
1968959000-960909
1968970000-972864

1970-1975

Despite being purchased by the Norlin corporation in 1970, Gibson maintained the same confusing 6-digit serial system through 1975, meaning instruments with the same serial number could be from either the ‘60s or the ‘70s.

Fortunately, there were two notable changes to the entire lineup that occurred during the transition that make differentiating ‘60s and ‘70s Gibsons straightforward.

The Volute: c. 1969-c.1981

In 1969 Gibson began carving volutes-- small bumps of additional wood where the neck transitions to the headstock-- to cut down on warranty repair work.

'Made in USA' Stamp: 1970-current

Dean Guitar Serial Numbers

Starting in 1970, ‘Made in USA’ was stamped on the headstock below the serial number.

The serial numbers from this period are generally as follows:

NumberYear
000000S1973
100000S1970-1975
200000S1973-1975
300000S1974-1975
400000S1974-1975
500000S1974-1975
600000S1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975
700000S1970, 1971, 1972
800000S1973, 1974, 1975
900000S1970, 1971, 1972

1975-1977

NumberYear
99XXXXXX1975
00XXXXXX1976
06XXXXXX1977

1977-Current

Starting in 1977, Gibson adopted the current date-based serial system which codes for the year and day of production. The first number of the sequence indicates the decade of production, followed by the three digit day of the year, and finally the year.

For example, the serial number 90237XXX corresponds to a production date of 1/23/97. The last three (or four as of 2005) digits signify the location of production and batch number, respectively, but this information isn’t necessary to accurately dating your instrument.

Working with a potentially very valuable old Gibson can be intimidating, particularly for someone who doesn’t have experience with vintage instruments.

If at any point you feel confused or just want a second set of eyes on your instrument, you can always chat live with a Reverb employee during normal business hours.

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So you need to figure out the date of your Martin guitar. It's actually a lot easier than you may think. Unlike the nebulous web of varying schemes and numbering systems used by companies like Gibson over the decades, Martin has employed a single string of serial numbers for a vast majority of its guitars going all the way back to 1898. This means that just using the serial number of your Martin will give a very accurate date of when the guitar left the line.

The Martin serial number sequence starts at 8348 which is how many guitars the firm had estimated it had produced from its inception to when they started the serial sequence at the end of the 19th century. Martin has kept meticulous records of the serial number of last guitar produced each year, so finding the year of production by serial number is as simple as finding the range it falls into the chart below.

Finding the Serial Number on Your Martin

In a vast majority of cases, the serial number on a Martin guitar can be found inside the body near the neck joint. This can be seen by looking through the soundhole on the guitar towards the front of the instrument. It can be a little dark in there, so you may need to use a flashlight (or the glow of smartphone) to read each digit. There are other instances where you may find the serial number of any extant paperwork that came with the instrument.

Here's the breakdown of Martin serial numbers covering over a century of guitar production. Just see where your serial fits in, and you'll have the year:

Last Serial NumberYear
83481898
87161899
91281900
93101901
95281902
98101903
99881904
101201905
103291906
107271907
108831908
110181909
112031910
114131911
115651912
118211913
120471914
122091915
123901916
129881917
134501918
145121919
158481920
167581921
178391922
198911923
220081924
241161925
286891926
344351927
375681928
408431929
453171930
495891931
525901932
550841933
586791934
619471935
651761936
688651937
718661938
740611939
767341940
800131941
831071942
867241943
901491944
936231945
981581946
1034681947
108269 1948
112961 1949
117961 1950
122799 1951
128436 1952
134501 1953
141345 1954
147328 1955
153225 1956
Last Serial NumberYear
1590611957
165576 1958
171047 1959
175689 1960
181297 1961
187384 1962
193327 1963
199626 1964
207030 1965
217215 1966
230095 1967
241925 1968
256003 1969
271633 1970
294270 1971
313302 1972
333873 1973
3533871974
371828 1975
388800 1976
399625 1977
407800 1978
419900 1979
430300 1980
436474 1981
439627 1982
446101 1983
453300 1984
460575 1985
468175 1986
476216 1987
483952 1988
493279 1989
5033091990
512487 1991
522655 1992
5352231993
551696 1994
570434 1995
592930 1996
624799 1997
668796 1998
724077 1999
780500 2000
845644 2001
916759 2002
978706 2003
1042558 2004
11158622005
1197799 2006
1268091 2007
1337042 2008
1406715 2009
1473461 2010
1555767 2011
1656742 2012
1755536 2013
1857399 2014

Exceptions to the Above

There are a number of exceptions to the above. Most notably, Martin Mandolins from before 1991 use a different sequence than guitars. Additionally, the solidbody electrics like the E18 model from the '70s do not conform to the above. Numbers 900001 to 902908 were used by a short run of Sigma-made Martin models in the early '80s so don't not appear on Martin models.

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