Finding out the year of your Gibson Les Paul guitar can be a very tricky task indeed. That being said, if you are trying to figure out what your guitar is worth, just a one year difference can make an astronomical difference in value! In order to help you ascertain what year your guitar was made, and consequently, what it is worth, I have written up a comprehensive guide to dating your Gibson Les Paul guitar. While serial numbers and features can be an effective way to date your guitar, the best way to get the date of your guitar is to contact a vintage guitar expert! Lucky for you, I’m just a phone call or email away and would be happy to assist you! Feel free to contact me if you would like help dating or valuing a guitar.
Step One: Serial Number Decoder & Serial Number Format
The first step in dating your Les Paul is locating the serial number and deciphering it correctly. The serial number will be located on the back of the headstock as seen below.
Next, figure out which type of serial number your Les Paul has. Gibson changed the way they put serial numbers on their guitars over the years, so the serial number format is a great place to start. Click on the format below that matches your serial number to be taken directly to that part of this article! As always, please reach out if you would like to sell your Gibson guitar to a passionate collector who will take care of it and appreciate it!
- 4 to 6 digits and ink stamped 1953 – 1960
- 3 to 6 impressed (No MADE IN USA stamp) 1961 – 1969
- 6 digits impressed with MADE IN USA stamp 1970-1975
- 8 digit sticker with model name and Made In USA (1975-1977)
- 8 or 9 digit impressed (1977-Present)
Dating a Gibson Guitar with 4 to 6 Digits Ink Stamped
From 1952 until 1960, Gibson Les Paul serial numbers were stamped in ink on the back of the headstock. The ink color can be yellow or black. Sometimes, the serial numbers have a gap between the first number and the rest of the numbers. These serial numbers can be deciphered as follows:
The first digit of the serial number corresponds to the last digit of the year. For example:
- 2 = 1952
- 3 = 1953
- 4 = 1954
- 5 = 1955
- 6 = 1956
- 7 = 1957
- 8 = 1958
- 9 = 1959
- 0 = 1960
Gibson Serial Number Search for 3 to 6 Digit Impressed Serial Numbers with NO “Made In USA” Stamp
As you can see above, Gibson changed the way they put serial numbers onto their guitars. Starting sometime in 1961, Gibson switched from an ink stamp, to an impressed stamp. If your guitar has an impressed serial number and NO “Made In USA” Stamp, it was made sometime between 1961 and 1970.
KEEP IN MIND: Serial numbers from this period are very inconsistent and should really only be used as a general guide. They were often reused or used improperly, hence why some serial numbers in this list correspond to more than one year. If you want help ascertaining the exact year of your instrument, feel free to call me at (602) 900-6635 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Serial Number Dates for Six Digit Serial Numbers with “Made In USA” Stamp Underneath
Starting in 1970, Gibson began stamping “Made In USA” on the back of the headstock on all electric guitar models. If your guitar says “Made In USA” on the back of the headstock, it was definitely, unequivocally made after 1970! Once again, serial numbers from this time period are NOT reliable and should only be used as a loose guide. Feel free to contact me at (602) 900-6635 if you have a guitar that you would like help dating or valuing your Gibson. Below are the serial numbers and corresponding years for guitars with the “Made In USA” Stamp
000000 1973 MADE IN USA stamp
100000 1970-1975 MADE IN USA stamp
200000 1973-1975 MADE IN USA stamp
300000 1974-1975 MADE IN USA stamp
400000 1974-1975 MADE IN USA stamp
500000 1974-1975 MADE IN USA stamp
600000 1970-1972, 1974-1975 MADE IN USA stamp
700000 1970-1972 MADE IN USA stamp
800000 1973-1975 MADE IN USA stamp
900000 1970-1972 MADE IN USA stamp
8-Digit Sticker Serial Number with Model Name and “Made In USA”
From 1975-1977, Gibson used sticker serial numbers. These are easy to identify because they also include the model name of the guitar on the back of the headstock as seen above. Below are the corresponding serial numbers.
How to Check Gibson Les Paul Serial Numbers for 8 or 9 Digit Impressed Serial Numbers
Starting in 1977 and continuing on until present day, Gibson began using a standardized and easy to read serial number system. This system was and is very reliable and will always give you a correct year on your guitar. The year of the guitar is determined by the FIRST and FIFTH digit of the number. These two digits represent the last two digits of the year. For example:
Uncover Your Guitar’s Story with Joe’s Vintage Guitars
Let’s discover together what secrets your vintage guitar holds! I want to hear about the family stories, the shows played, and about the owners of these legendary instruments. I am happy to help you date, value and sell your vintage guitar! Sell your vintage instrument to a vintage guitar aficionado today!
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