How To Use Gibson Serial Numbers To Date Your Guitar 

 August 13, 2022

By  Cynthia Swearingen

Image from Pixabay

Gibson is one of the most celebrated names in guitar history. From Jimmy Page to Peter Frampton and Zakk Wylde, renowned guitarists across the world choose this company as their brand of choice. The superb sound, build, and quality of a Gibson is something wholly unique in the world of guitars.

If you own one of these beautiful creations, then you might wonder when your guitar was crafted. Gibson has been around since 1902, after all. Well, there’s a nifty trick to tell exactly how old your ax is using the Gibson serial numbers on the headstock. Here’s how.

Approximating with The Logo

First, you can tell which era your guitar was crafted in by merely looking at the logo. If you have an older model without a serial number, this might be all the closer you’ll get to dating your Gibson. There are five iterations of the company’s logo dating all the way back to 1902.

The original logo is a one-of-a-kind, unmistakable italic typeface with pearl inlay. It is the only variant with a severe tilt, almost turning the brand name on its side. Gibson used this format from 1902 to 1920. However, you can find plenty from this era that were never branded.

gibson guitar logo

Image from Pixabay

From 1920 to 1933, Gibson shifted the logo similar to its current tilt and removed the dot above the letter I. These logos are written in thin italics, lacking the pearl inlay from decades prior. Several flattop guitars during this period only featured the word “Gibson” to save space.

The next era of Gibson guitars takes place from 1933 to 1947. The logo now just read “Gibson,” removing the article above it from the company name. The font during this timespan is thicker, replaces the dot above the I in some variants, and looks more hand-written than any other logo.

Suddenly, Gibson rebranded itself with the phrase “Only a Gibson Is Good Enough” and a new, golden logo. Guitars made in 1943 to 1947 feature a banner logo in thick, gold lettering that utilizes a similar typeface from previous eras. You can usually find this version in the middle of the headstock.

Finally, Gibson redesigned their logo to the one you know today after 1947. You can find this version in both gold and silver, some with a dot above the I and others without. Since this is the largest timespan for a Gibson logo, identifying which decade it came from can be a challenge. That’s where your Gibson serial numbers come in handy.

Codes by Era

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Just like the logo, different production years utilize a unique code on the headstock to date the guitar. Understanding how to read Gibson serial numbers is a little confusing at first, but it doesn’t take long to identify when your guitar was made.








What To Do If You Are Unsure

Dating your guitar using the above Gibson serial numbers isn’t always so cut and dry. If you can’t figure out the date for yourself, then you can have your guitar appraised at almost any reputable music shop. Both Reverb and Guitar World offer appraisals, helping you identify when your instrument was made and how much it is currently worth.

Cynthia Swearingen

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  1. I have a Gibson L6S that I got from my brother. He got it at a yard sale for 25 dollars. Most of the guitar had been altered. I tried to have the guitar put back to its original condition. I was not able to. Mutch better than it was. I spent a lot of money trying to do this. I want to keep going… The date of the guitar would really help. the serial number is 622776. thank you.

  2. So, a serial number of 02005563 would indicate June 14, 2005 and it was the 563 guitar produced? How I tell where it was made?

    1. Brian from what I understand, the format for the most regular production models since ca. 1993. Many ’80s and early ’90s serial numbers may follow a similar scheme, but may not include a factory ID code.
      F= Factory code (this can be 2 letters as well)
      YY= year of manufacture (this can also be just 1 digit for ’90s models)
      MM= month of manufacture
      R= ranking number (may be more or less digits, not necessarily indicative of total units produced)
      Example – S02021234 was issued in Feb. 2002.
      It makes it hard to determine where it was made. You could contact Gibson directly if you really need to know

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