DATING GIBSON GUITARS BY REFERENCE OF SERIAL NUMBERS

Gibson has used various methods of numbering from 1900, so it is not simply based on the serial number to identify the year of manufacture..

From 1902 to 1976, Gibson instruments have a serial number or a FON (Factory Order Number) or both. However, in the beginning this was not done consistently, so that there are also be instruments without identification.

Where to find the serial number
The serial number is stamped or punched on the back of the headstock.

Serienummer achterzijde van de kop

If you want to know the production year of your Gibson guitar, you can calculate it with the serial number decoder, or find it in the tables below.

Gibson serial number date decoder
Fender decoder
Martin decoder

Factory Order Numbers (FON) with a letter from 1935 to 1941.

FON consists a batch number of usually four digits, followed by a one letter (sometimes prefixed by a space) followed by one or two digits (ranking).
1935-1937: Letter between the batch number and the order number.
   e.g. 0123 A5
1938-1941: Two or three letters before batch number. The first letter
   is the year. If there is a second character follows it is the code for
   the type of the instrument. (G = Gibson, K = Kalamazoo,
   W = Recording King (Montgomery Wards).
   If follows there is a third letter E, it stands for Electric.
Exceptions: Some high-end models and lap steels from 1939-1940
   have been added the letter A, to the prefixes D, E or F.

1st Letter PRODUCTION YEAR
A 1935
B 1936
C 1937
D en DA 1938
Ex (x = any letter) 1939
F en FA 1940
E (no sequel letter) 1941
G 1941
H 1942
Factory Order numbers with a letter from 1952 to 1961.

The letter preceding the batch number in the FON, and indicates the year of production.
The batch number, the first four digits of the FON, followed by a one or two-digit number. This letter shall stand before the FON lot number.
e.g. Y1234 23

This were used from 1952 to 1961 on archtop models and stamped on the inside of the F-hole.
On flat tops it became the neck block stamped.



FON PRODUCTION YEAR
Z 1952
Y 1953
X 1954
W 1955
V 1956
U 1957
T 1958
S 1959
R 1960
Q 1961




Gibson serial numbers 1952 to 1961, solidbody model.


An ink-stamped number from the back of the headstock.
Gibson released solidbodies in 1952. No serial numbers were used, Gibson just started therewith in 1953.

The first digit of the serial number is the last digit of the year. If the stamped number consists 5 digits, there is a space between the first and second digit (a separation between the last digit of the year and the actual serial number).
When a six-digit serial number is concerned, there is no space, because the highest number in four digits (9999) has been exceeded and so fills the space. This was the case in the years 1955, 1956, 1959 and 1960.

In 1955, Gibson forgot to put back the serial number range to 0001.
So they had just put the year from 4 to 5. For this reason, the array of four-digit serial number was exceeded after 9999.
Thence 5 digits and no space between the year (5) and the serial number. (After 5 9999 came 510 000)

Evidently the production was high in 1956 because "6 9999" is exceeded. Also in 1959 and 1960 there was a high production, "9 9999" is exceeded for "932 000" or higher.
Therefore, the production in 1959 may be a "1", "2" or "3" in the second digit.

Gibson stopped the stamped serial numbers at the end in 1960, although there are a few guitars made in 1961 with a "1" as a prefix. Some lap steels and Les Paul's from 1961 have such a serial number.

Another exception to the above rules is in the autumn from 1958, where a some Les Paul Juniors and Specials had a four-digit serial number.


1st digit PRODUCTION YEAR
None 1952
3 1953
4 1954
5 1955
6 1956
7 1957
8 At the end of 1958 had some LP Juniors/Specials a four-digit serial number without prior year digit. 1958
9 1959
0 1960
1 (rare) 1961





Gibson serial numbers, early to mid seventies.
From 1970 to 1975, the 6-digit serial numbers randomly generated.
In a random sequence numbers were stamped on the back of the headstock. For some instruments, preceded by a letter.

New labels from 1970 onwards
In 1970, the orange labels in the body of acoustic guitars were replaced by white with orange rectangular labels. The electrical models were provided with a rectangular with black and purple triangle.
It was also from 1970 "MADE IN USA" stamped on the back of the headstock. Some instruments from the fifties also had been such a stamp.





Gibson serial numbers, 1970-1975.
At serialization in the 70s a random method was used.
Guitars got six digits in any order, and in some cases they were preceded by a letter that none seemed to have no smeaningful sense.
Note that the series of between 1970 and 1975, may be an overlap from production in 1964 and 1965.

The table below shows the years in which the numbers could relate.


Seral number range PRODUCTION YEAR
000000 - 099999 1973
100000 - 199999 1970 - 1975
200000 - 299999 1973 - 1975
300000 - 399999 1974 - 1975
400000 - 499999 1974 - 1975
500000 - 599999 1974 - 1975
600000 - 699999 1970 - 1972 and 1974 - 1975




Serials 1977-2013.
The most sustainable numbering system Gibson was launched in 1977, an eight-digit number. The first and fifth digit representing the year of manufacture. The three intermediate digits, the day of that year. The digits to six to eight gave the serial number.

After opening of the new factory in Nashville, in the sequence numbers were also included the production site. 001 to 499 appeared on the instruments built in Kalamazoo, 500 to 999 built in Nashville.

Even after the closing of the factory in Kalamazoo in 1984, this process was continued until 1989 in Nashville.

In 2005 the system was upgraded to first digit at the end of the batch number was inserted. The sequence numbers were 500 to 699, after which the batch number 1 was increased, and the number returned 500.





Serial numbers 2014 to present.
Gibson's most simplest system was introduced in 2014. A nine-digit serial number stamped. The first two digits indicate the year, the rest is a serial number for all guitars produced that year.




Gibson serial numbers, from February 1961 until 1970.
For all models, the serial number on the back of the headstock is stamped. Some serial numbers are duplicated from 1963 to 1969. From this period, the 5-digit and 6-digit numbers can be confused easily and gives the wrong date.

Serial PRODUCTION YEAR
0100 - 42440 1961
42441 - 61180 1962
61450 - 64222 1963
64240 - 71040 1964
71041 - 96600 1962 (some 1963 en 1964)
96601 - 99999 1963
000001 - 099999 1967 (all 6-digit numbers starting with 0. are 1967)
100000 - 106099 1963 or 1976
106100 - 106899 1963
109000 - 109999 1963 or 1967
110000 - 111549 1963
111550 - 115799 1963 or 1967
115800 - 118299 1963
118300 - 120999 1963 or 1967
121000 - 139999 1963
140000 - 140100 1963 or 1967
140101 - 144304 1963
144305 - 144380 1964
144381 - 149864 1963
149865 - 149891 1964
149892 - 152989 1963
152990 - 174222 1964
174223 - 176643 1964 or 1965
176644 - 250335 1964
250336 - 305983 1965
306000 - 310999 1965 or 1967
311000 - 320149 1965
320150 - 320699 1967
320700 - 329179 1965
329180 - 330199 1965 or 1967
330200 - 332240 1965, 1967 or 1968
332241 - 348092 1965
348093 - 349100 1966
349121 - 368638 1965
368640 - 369890 1966
370000 - 370999 1967
380000 - 385309 1966
390000 - 390998 1967
400001 - 406666 1966
406667 - 409670 1966 - 1968
409671 - 410900 1966
410901 - 419999 (unknown)
420000 - 429193 1966
500000 - 500999 1965, 1966, 1968 or 1969
501009 - 501600 1965
501601 - 501702 1968
501703 - 502706 1965 or 1968
503010 - 503109 1968
503405 - 520955 1965 or 1968
520956 - 530056 1968
530061 - 530850 1966, 1968 or 1969
530851 - 530993 1968 or 1969
530994 - 539999 169
540000 - 540795 1966 or 1969
540796 - 545009 1969
555000 - 557999 1966
558000 - 567400 1969
570087 - 570643 1966
570645 - 570755 1966 or 1967
570857 - 570964 1966
580000 - 580080 1969
80086 - 580999 1966, 1967 or 1969
600000 - 600998 1966, 1967, or 1968 (low end model)
600000 - 606090 1969 (high end model)
700000 - 700799 1966, 1967 or 1969
750000 - 750999 1966, 1967 or 1969
750000 - 750999 1968 or 1969
800000 - 800999 1966, 1967, 1968 or 1969
801000 - 812838 1966 or 1969
812900 - 819999 1969
820000 - 820087 1966 or 1969
820088 - 823830 1966
824000 - 824999 1969
828002 - 847488 1966 or 1969
847499 - 858999 1966 or 1969
859001 - 895038 1967
895039 - 896999 1968
897000 - 898999 1967 or 1969
899000 - 899999 1968
900000 - 909999 1970
910000 - 999999 1968