How to date a vintage Gibson Les Paul guitar

John Shults

Posted on May 20 2021

How to date vintage Gibson Les Paul guitar

 

How to date Gibson Les Paul guitars is a study of its own. Gibson's serial number scheme changed in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, so a simple serial number lookup isn't often very helpful. Never fear! This page is intended to clear up some some of the inconsistencies of dating Gibson guitars. If you're looking for "How old is my Gibson Les Paul guitar?" then you've come to the right place. 

If you're looking for help dating a Gibson ES-335, ES-345, or ES-355 then check out How to date a Gibson ES-335 guitar. Or if you think your guitar may be a Gibson SG, check out How to date a Gibson SG.

Need help? I'd be happy to take a look at your guitar. Click the red Contact Me button in the lower right corner of your screen to send me information about your guitar. I'm looking forward to checking it out!

The serial number is one of the first places to start for how to date a Gibson Les Paul guitar. It should be on the back of the neck at the top just between and above the tuning machines. Take a look- if your serial number is more than 6 digits then your guitar is no earlier than 1976. 

Gibson Les Paul serial number check

6 digits or less and ink stamped: 

Is your serial number ink stamped like the 1957 Gibson Les Paul Special above? Gibson used 5 or 6 digit ink stamped serial numbers on Les Paul guitars from 1952 until 1960. The first digit of this style serial number indicates the last digit of the year it was manufactured. For example, this Les Paul's serial number is "7_6227" so it was made in 1957. This is how to date a Gibson Les Paul from the 1950s. Gibson reused this serial number scheme for reissue guitars in the past 20 years as well.

Do you have a Gibson Les Paul with an ink stamped serial number? I am looking to buy Gibson Les Pauls with ink stamped serial numbers like this from the 1950s. Click the Contact Me button in the corner of your browser or click here to sell a Gibson Les Paul.

Gibson Les Paul serial numbers pre-1975

 

6 digits or less and impressed on the back of the headstock:

Gibson used the 6 digits or less impressed serial number style from 1961 until 1975. Gibson guitars with "MADE IN USA" impressed below the serial were made from 1969 and on. If your guitar has 6 digits impressed on the headstock and a "MADE IN USA" underneath then it was likely made between 1969 and 1975. Gibson reused serial numbers during this time period so that's as close as we can narrow these guitars down without reading the potentiometer codes. Here's an example of that style. The serial number is only one way for how to date a Gibson Les Paul from the 1960s. Often the features and potentiometer codes are a better way. 

I'm also looking to buy Gibson guitars with impressed serial numbers and no "MADE IN USA" stamp. You can contact me here to sell a Gibson guitar

Gibson Les Paul serial number lookup pre-1975

Needing help yet? I'd love to check out your guitar. I'm always looking to buy clean examples of vintage Gibson Les Paul guitars. You can send a message to me by clicking the Contact Me button in the lower right corner of your screen. I'm looking forward to seeing it!

3 to 6 digit serial number impressed with no "Made In USA":

Your guitar, if vintage, was made between 1961 and 1969. Serial number ranges here can be tricky since Gibson reused the serial range multiple times through out the 1960s. You would probably benefit from having a professional take a look at your guitar. I would love to take a look. Click the Contact Me Button (lower right of your browser) to send me a message about your guitar. Here's a list of the possible years of manufacture for different serial number ranges:

100  ------ 42440   1961

42441---- 61180    1962

61450 --- 64222    1963

64240 --- 71040    1964

71041 --- 96600    1962, 1963, or 1964

96601 --- 99999    1963

000001 - 099999   1967  

100000 - 106099   1963 or 1967

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 to 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   1969

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

580086 - 580999   1966, 1967 or 1969

600000 - 600998   low end models, 1966, 1967, or 1968

600000 - 606090   high end models, 1969

700000 - 700799   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

Six Digits with "MADE IN USA" Stamp:

Gibson Les Paul serial numbers pre-1975

Six digit serial numbers with "MADE IN USA" stamp underneath. Contact me if you have a Gibson Les Paul in this serial number range:

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

Sticker on back of the neck with two digit prefix, 8 digit total serial number:

99xxxxxx     1975              

00xxxxxx     1976

06xxxxxx     1977

8 digit serial number impressed on the headstock: these guitars were made after 1977. The first and fifth digit will indicated the last two digits of the year it was made. 

Example:    8xxx2xxx  =  1982

2. Potentiometer Codes

Since Gibson serial numbers aren't a simple way to date Gibson Les Paul guitars, we can also use the potentiometer codes to find the year it was made. Potentiometers are variable resistors that allow the player to control the volume and tone of the signal being sent to the amplifier. Potentiometers have codes on the back that indicate the manufacturer, year, and week of the year they were made. If the potentiometers are original to the guitar, it can be no older than the code on the potentiometer.

Gibson Les Paul guitars from the 1950s usually have the codes on the side of the potentiometer which can be tough to find. The potentiometer code on the guitar below reads "134808" on the very bottom line where 134 = Centralab (manufacturer), 8 = 1958, and 08 = the 8th week of that year. This Gibson Les Paul was made in 1958. I am looking for all Gibson Les Paul guitars made in the 1950s: Sell a Gibson.

How to date Gibson Les Paul guitars with potentiometer codes

Gibson Les Paul guitars made after about 1962 are easier to date with potentiometer codes since the codes are located on the back of the potentiometer instead of on the side. The code on the Les Paul below reads "137 6745" where 137 = CTS (manufacturer), 67 = 1967, and 45 = 45th week. I am looking for all Gibson Les Paul guitars made in the 1950s and 1960s. Contact me if you're considering selling a Les Paul: Sell a Gibson.

How to date Gibson Les Paul potentiometers from the 1960s

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4 comments

  • Jeff Aderholdt: May 20, 2021

    I have what appears to be a late 1960’s Gibson Melody Maker. It was purchased as a package with a Kalamazoo amp. The serial number is 590712. It still has the original strings on it and was bought by my grandmother. I remember her playing it in the late 60’s. Can you verify the year by the serial number?

  • Ken Schulz: April 05, 2021

    Hi, my Gibson J45 has a serial number of
    535487. It is not stamped “made in the USA”
    Below the serial numbers. The paper inside the bossy of the guitar is missing. Can you help me pinpoint when this guitar was made and what it might be worth? It’s in very good condition with a straight neck. Thank you!
    Ken

  • David: January 27, 2021

    Hello, can you help me pinpoint my mid 60’s LG-O Gibson please. It doesn’t have a Made in USA stamp.

    Thank you

  • Richard Stepp: January 03, 2021

    My les Paul custom
    300616

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