When Was Your Gibson Made?

Gibson Serial Numbers 1975-PresentThis Article is designed to assist in dating and/or identifying instruments manufactured or distributed by Gibson Guitar Corp. Please note that most of this information relates to serial numbers used from 1975 to present. For more details on Gibson Serialization prior to 1975 and historical product specs, use your Gruhn’s Guide or view the following PDF files:

If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat reader, download it here.

Corrections and additions to this section will be made as necessary.Gibson USA, Gibson Acoustic, Gibson Memphis

From 1975-1977 the number is typically found on a decal on the back of the headstock. This should be an 8 digit number that can be dated by the 1st and 2nd digits as follows:

99 = 1975
00= 1976
06 = 1977

In 1977, Gibson introduced the serialization method that we primarily use to this day at Gibson USA, Gibson Acoustic, and the Gibson Custom facility in Memphis, TN.

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.

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~ by dolphinblog on July 16, 2007.

15 Responses to “When Was Your Gibson Made?”

  1. I have a Gibson ES-175 with the serial number 02111628.
    Is that 2001 or 2002?

    Thanks,
    Bob McCarthy

  2. Hey Bob.

    Your guitar was made in 2001. Read this follow-up article we posted, which explains how the serial numbers work:

    http://guitarplayer.wordpress.com/2007/08/01/what-a-serial-number-can-and-cant-tell-about-your-gibson/

    but, in a nutshell: the first and fifth numbers show the year (0 and 1)and the second, third and fourth show the day it was made (211)in other words: your guitar was made on the 211th day of 2001)

  3. I have a Gibson Epiphone which was given to me around 1986 as a birthday gift in Italy. The serial number is a white label; however, it has nine digits: 880511387

    Is this a fake, or could it be a European version?
    Thanks
    Heath Hazen

  4. Heath, Epiphone is an entirely different company. It belongs to Gibson (now) but the serial numbers listed here do not apply to Epiphone guitars.

  5. I bought a Gibson Exporer in the 90′s with a serial number 00232694 I was told it was a 76 re-issue when I bought it but all research tells me that the 76 reissue did not have the gold pickups that mine has. Please help me identify the year of manufacture.

    On the back of the headstock in Gold is
    Limited Edition
    Made in USA
    0023694

  6. Anyone help me with my epiphone sg400 les paul custom serial number.
    Im trying to find out which year made and where.

    serial number : 199100309

  7. Anyone help me with my epiphone sg400 serial number.
    Im trying to find out which year made and where.

    the serial number is the white label : 9060363

  8. [...] Here’s a couple of places that may help: The Guitar Dater Project – Gibson Serial Number Decoder When Was Your Gibson Made? Guitar Player Gear Guide __________________ Success is fickle, but creativity is a gift. -Tommy [...]

  9. elo,,i got a gibson les paul classic #008486,,,just wondering what year it wa made..twas a gift frm my grandad on my b_day nov 1991,,tnx

  10. I brought a Gibson flat top guitar back from Vietnam in 1969. The Serial # inside on the back is J46ADJ. Could you tell me when it was made and if it has any collector value. It’s in excellant shape.

  11. i have a gibson, that belonged to paul Kossoff of Free,(it was given to my wife), i cant proove this, but thing is he burnt off the serial number, i think its around 1970. can i get a new serial number or even trace the guitar to the orignal serial number

  12. Can you tell me when Gibson Hummingbird Guitar – Serial No. 58382 – made in Kalamazoo, Michigan was made.

  13. I have a Les Paul Gibson Custom Serial # 177885 I would like to know how much it’s worth

  14. Hey, I have an old Gibson SG that I’ve been playing for about 15 years or so. The serial # is 399537. Trying to date it….any ideas?

  15. Hi, my hummingbird serial # is 80991056, so I assume it was made in 1981. What I feel is different about it, is the natural finish rather than sunburst. Any idea how many of these were made, and a guess at the value in excellent original condition? Thanks, Ron

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