Discovering your guitar’s history can be a very rewarding thing to do. Authority Guitar has collated a mountain of data to give you the history by using your Gibson Serial Number.
Your guitar’s journey from the factory into your hands may be a mystery, but it’s always a good way to dig into the earlier life of your instrument.
It’s also essential to have the correct information if you’re considering buying or selling a guitar. Researching a guitar’s serial number can also stop you from being the victim of fraud.
It’s simple enough with our Gibson Serial Number lookup decoder. Type your serial numbers into the decoder below and you’ll get all the information Gibson has on the instrument.
If you end up with an error message, please scroll down and find your guitar’s credentials manually using our helpful number grids.
*We’ve tirelessly searched the internet for every record, the information gathered is the most accurate we could find. Some documentation crosses over and some has been lost over the years causing gaps in our data.
As Gibson serial numbers are renowned for being a bit of a nightmare, we contacted them and they’ve advised checking the code on the pots when in doubt. They had to be made before the guitar was assembled so they can give a clue to the age of the guitar. Unless, of course, the pots have been changed.
Where Do You Find Your Gibson Guitar Serial Number?
Unlike other brands of guitars, Gibson keeps it simple. Electric guitars having the serial number on the back of the headstock and acoustics are punched inside the soundhole on a sticker.
On rare occasions, some dates can be found on the electric guitar pots.
There are many accessories and extras guitarists need from time to time. Some out of necessity, or maybe we just fancy something fresh and new to play with. Here are all your guitar essentials.
Gibson Serial Number Lookup Decoder
Authority Guitar Top Tip: If you find your serial number doesn’t yield any results, press ‘crtl & f’ and enter the beginning of your serial number. This page will then be highlighted in all the results starting with the numbers/letters you’ve entered. Scroll down to our ‘Manual Checklist’ and you’ll almost certainly find a serial number very close to your own. Giving you a general idea of when your guitar was manufactured.
Gibson Guitar History
In 1845 a gentleman by the name of Orville Gibson was working in his wood store. He produced the very first instrument, which would eventually lead to becoming the largest guitar manufacturer in the world.
The first instruments crafted by Orville Gibson were a family of acoustics and mandolins. Loosely based around the archtop violin design.
Demand was high in 1902, making it impractical to carry on as a one-man Luthier. Gibson decided to go into an agreement with five financers creating ‘Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Company’.
Orville Gibson remains on the workforce until 1904. He retires but is employed as a consultant and collects his monthly pension.
In 1918 Orville Gibson dies.
1921 saw the introduction of one of the most important developments in guitar history. The adjustable truss rod and height-adjustable bridge. Invented by Ted McHugh at Gibson.
Still to this day, all Gibson instruments are installed with the Ted McHugh design.
The first electric guitar was born in 1937. The Hawaiian-styled guitar was named the EH-150. Shortly after that came the Spanish design ES-150.
The Gibson ES-150 was endorsed by Charlie Christian. It immediately becomes a huge hit with Jazz orchestras and bands around the United States.
1937-45 Saw the birth of the superb J-200 acoustic guitars. The Super 400 Premier, the Southern Jumbo, J-45, and the L5-Premier.
Towards the end of World War II, Chicago Musical Instruments saw the chance to take the Gibson brand to millions. They purchase the company and fit the demand.
1946-54 Gibson mastered the classic P-90 single-coil pickup and fits it to guitars such as the ES-5 and ES-175.
During this time Gibson acquired the recording talents of a ceratin Les Paul. The company’s first solid-body guitar was released under the name Gibson Les Paul.
Les Paul sales hit the ground running so Gibson decided to expand on their Les Paul arsenal. The Junior, Special, Standard, and the Custom hit the stores shortly after 1952.
1957 Seth Lover, a Gibson engineer finalizes the Humbucker featuring a double single-coil. It quickly becomes popular in the market.
1958 saw a leap of faith with the first semi-hollow-bodied electric guitar. The hugely successful ES-335 was born.
Three more outrageous designs were brought to the forefront with the Flying V, the Explorer, and the Moderne. These designs were seen as commercial disasters. But they now sit with guitar history’s most sought-after electric guitars.
1961 The Gibson solid-body designs continued to be a roaring success. So naturally, Gibson added to the family with the double-cutaway SG models and the classy Firebirds from 1963.
Nashville Manufacturing Plant opens in 1974.
1978 The First Re-Issues were produced featuring the F-SL, the Heritage Les Paul (1980), and the Heritage Korinas (1982).
Further innovating guitars were Further impressive innovations were produced in 1980. With various B.B.King models and Chet Atkins solid body acoustics (1982).
1990+ saw interest in vintage models reignite. Replicas like the 59′ and 60′ flame top Les Paul send players into a buying frenzy.
1994 the new Gibson Nighthawk wins the Most Innovative Guitar at NAMM.
2002 is the 50th Anniversary of the Les Paul. Gibson flexes its muscles by producing the world’s first digital guitar. Further amazing releases saw the world’s first robotic technology-based guitar.
2014 the world is introduced to Min-Etune. An automatic tuning unit is fitted on the rear of the headstock.
Four new species of pickups (including the Sidewinder). Undercut Fret binding for quicker fingers. A Tektoid nut and Cryogenic treated fret wire for longer playing time.
Gibson really is on a whole different level with the innovation of its instruments.
Gibson Serial Number Lookup – Manual Checklist
Here is a summary of the serial number, model, and year. To gain the best results use our decoder above.
*Authority Guitar Top Tip: Press ‘ctrl & F’ then add the beginning of your serial number/guitar model in the search bar to find your details quicker on our extensive list below.
To reveal an accurate date of the serial numbers below, add your details to our Gibson decoder.
225 Parsons St., Kalamazoo. Michigan
A variation of letters was used to decipher the early production of Kalamazoo, MI Gibson guitars.
The following letters would be found with your serial number between the years 1935 & 1942:
A,B,C,D,DA,E,G,H,Ex,F,FA,xG,xK,xW,xxE. (x being any letter)
Some serials were only 3 digits long. Some have 4 digits, then a _ (space) then another 1 or 2 digits. ex 1234 A & 1234 A5.
Use the decoder above to retrieve a much clearer date.
The Serial process from 1952 was clearer. Archtop models had a stamp on the inside of the ‘F hole’, and the solid-body models displayed the serial number on the rear of the headstock.
The following letters would be found on Archtop models:
Z,Y,X,W,V,U,T,S,R,Q followed by 5 or 6 digits. ex Z12345 & Z123456 would be an Archtop guitar from 1952
Other notable variations from this time period are a 5 character serial number starting with a number, then a space, and 4 digits. ex 3 1234. The first letter in this sequence is the year. 3=1953.
A 6 digit serial number is solid-bodied guitars produced from the years: 1955, 1956, 1959, or 1960.
Serial numbers which start with 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0 & 1, and are 6 digits long are most likely to be a solid body, all bar a few 4 digit serial numbers were LP Juniors or Gibson Specials from 1958. The first number is the year. ex 312345 is from the year 1953 and so on.
As always, to receive the best possible information available, be sure to type your serial info into our decoder above.
1961 was the year Gibson wanted to tidy the serial number process up. But in reality, left us with more of a headache.
Many serial numbers were crossed over giving us a choice of two, and sometimes three years.
Without this list becoming too much of a mess, here are the serial numbers within this nine-year period. Enter your full serial details into our decoder to get a much closer idea of the production year:
|Serial Numbers 1961-1970|
Unfortunately, this is where we start to cross over. Gibson state that all 6 digit numbers starting with ‘0’, are from 1967. Yet you may come across these serial numbers between 1970-75.
Our decoder will give you all of the information in both cases.
|Serial Numbers 1970-1976|
Limited Edition Gibson
Limited edition Gibson Guitars during this period are as follows:
99+2 digits (ex 9912) = 1975
00+2 digits (ex 0012) = 1976
06+2 digits (ex 0612) = 1977
1977- July 2005
Finally during the late seventies right up to 2005 Gibson gave us by far the best method of working out our serial number.
With an 8 digit serial number, the following applies:
July 2005-Early 2014
July 2005 saw the 8 digit serial system replaced by another digit. The extra digit slots in the 6th position and is responsible for the ‘batch lot’ number of the guitar produced that day.
‘Batch’ numbers start from 0, once the number 699 guitar is stamped that day, the batch number changes from 0 to 1.
The stamp number (in silver below) starts at 500 and ends at 699. Once it reaches 699, the next guitar stamp goes back to 500.
In 2014 the serial number information was changed yet again. The number of digits was changed to 9 in total. The batch number, day number were completely done away with leaving a very simple method.
The first two digits are the year, and the next 7 digits are the serial number. ex 171234567. Year=2017 Serial=1234567.
Shame we didn’t have this system back in 1935 eh!
Custom & Special Reissue Serial Codes
The following codes relate to a range of Gibson SG, Firebird, and Les Paul custom or reissue guitars. As always, use our decoder to find out the guitar in question.
6 digit serial numbers ending in 1,2,3,4,5 & 8.
The first two digits are the year, the last digit specifies the type of guitar. In this case, the guitar is a 2012 SG Custom/Special Re-issue.
A- & B- Serial Numbers
Gibson serial numbers that begin with an ‘A’ or ”B’ followed by a hyphen are from the ES collection Reissues, since 1995. 6 Digits in total.
ex A-28123. 2=Model, 8=8year, 123 place in manufacturing sequence
A-28123 = Gibson ES-295 1998 123rd in the sequence.
The (A) Models are :
2=ES-295, 3=1963 ES-335 (block inlays), 4=ES-330, 5=ES-345 & 9=1959 ES-335 (dot inlays)
Other Noteable Serial Configurations
CS- Custom Shop
At this time we have scattered information regarding (CS) Custom Shop serial coding. The closest most notable information is as follows.
Serials beginning with CS05 are from Memphis 2010. CS15 is 2011. At this point it is still unclear what the CS10 number is.
It’s important to point out Nashville and Memphis Custom Shop models are unique, even one off serial numbers. Some important information will be printed or embossed as usual on the rear of the headstock or inside the body on a label.
It has been said the CS ES models start off being built in Memphis. The (’59 & ’63 reissue) bodies are then sent to Nashville for completion. Just in case you weren’t confused enough! These particular models do not have serial numbers on the back of the headstock.
The closest coding we have with an explanation is as follows:
CS= Custom Shop, 1=Year (Last digit of the year, 2011?), 0=Location (0=Nashville, 5=Memphis), 4260= Production Rank
Limited edition Gibsons such as the serial number PAGE xxx, are signature guitars from great players over the years.
Here are more. As always, pop them into the decoder for a clearer idea of the legendary player in question
- ACE xxx
- AS xxxx
- BONE xxx
- DB xxx
- DBR xxx
- GR xxx
- JA xxx
- JPP xxx
- PETE xxx
- PF xx
- SL xxx
- TI xxx
- ZW xxx
- ZPW xxx