How to date a Gibson SG
Posted on July 18 2022
Gibson's SG line of solid body electric guitars is a huge commercial success and has been in continuous production since the SG name was introduced in the November of 1959 catalog. Since Gibson's serial number system repeats multiple times throughout the 1960s and 1970s, it's important to inspect a vintage guitar as a whole to find the year of manufacture. The following are steps in how to date an SG.
As a Gibson SG guitar collector, I'm always on the hunt for nice examples of Gibson SG guitars. My favorite SG guitars were made starting at their introduction in 1959, the 1960s, and early 1970s. If you're curious about how much a Gibson guitar collector might value your vintage Gibson SG then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson. You can send pictures to the contact information below so I can check out your guitar.
If you're looking for more information on Gibson SG guitars then I recommend The SG Guitar Book: 50 Years of Gibson's Stylish Solid Guitar. Author Tony Bacon's books on vintage guitars are essential to any guitar nerds book shelf.
How To Date A Gibson SG
1. SG Serial Numbers
SG serial numbers pre-1975 are notorious for being difficult to use to date Gibson guitars. They are style specific, not necessarily consecutive, and repeated multiple times throughout the 1960s and 1970s. I recommend you follow the below steps to check the serial number, then follow the rest of the steps to see if the other aspects of dating the SG match up to the serial number you found. You can find the serial number lookup here: Gibson Serial Numbers.
Four or Five Digits (no MADE IN USA): 1960-1964. I am looking for all four and five digit serial SG guitars. You can contact me here: Sell a Gibson.
Six Digits (No MADE IN USA): 1963-1969
Six Digits with MADE IN USA: 1970-1975
99, 00, and 06 + Six Digits: 1975, 1976, 1977
Eight Digits: First and fifth digit indicate the year. (EG: 83435001 = 1985)
Nine Digits: First and fifth digit indicate the year until 2014, then the system changed to the first two digits indicate the year.
Perhaps the most accurate way to date SG guitars is to check the potentiometer codes. Potentiometers are variable resistors that allow a player to control the volume and tone of the signal being sent to the amplifier. If the potentiometers are original to the guitar, then the date indicated by the potentiometer code is the oldest possible date for the guitar.
How to decipher potentiometer codes for six digit codes (eg. 137 422): the first three digits are the manufacturer code, the fourth digit is the last digit of the year, and the last two digits are the week of the year. The code above is for a potentiometer made by CTS (137) during the 22nd week of 1964.
How to decipher potentiometer codes for seven digit codes (eg. 137 6422): the first three digits are the manufacturer code, the fourth and fifth digit are the last digits of the year, and the last two digits are the week of the year. The code above is for a potentiometer made by CTS (137) during the 22nd week of 1964.
I am looking for all Gibson SG guitars with 1960s potentiometer codes: Sell a Gibson.
3. How to date a Gibson SG with neck width (only specific to 1960s Gibson SG guitars)
The neck width of a vintage Gibson SG can help with how to date a Gibson SG if you're not sure if it was made in the early 1960s or late 1960s. Gibson SG guitars made until 1965 had a standard neck with that Gibson collectors call "wide neck". The measurement at the nut is about 1 11/16". Gibson slimmed the necks down in 1965 to 1 5/8" then all the way down to 1 9/16" by the end of the year.
If you're not sure how to date your Gibson SG by serial number because the number was used in both the early 1960s and late 1960s, you can measure the nut to find out. If the neck measures less than 1 11/16" at the nut then it was made after 1964.
Here's a helpful tool for measuring the neck of a guitar: Digital Calipers on Amazon.
4. How to date Gibson SG Features
Gibson guitar collectors can date a Gibson SG guitar using only its features. One quick and easy feature to look for is the shape of the knobs. Gibson used what collectors call reflector knobs until 1967. Guitars from 1967 and later usually have witch hat style knobs. If the serial number of your Gibson SG guitar was used multiple times during the late 1960s, the knobs style may be helpful.
Reflector knobs (1961-1967) Witch hat knobs (1967-later)
Small vs Large Pickguard
The SG Standard's pickguard was enlarged in 1966 to the more bat wing style shape. The pickguard now surrounds the pickups so the mounting rings were no longer necessary.
How to date an SG:
These are the four aspects of identification that I use to date a Gibson SG guitar. Gibson guitar dater sites can only help by checking the serial number which is almost always incorrect. Finding the year of a Gibson SG guitar by serial number is only the tip of the iceberg of dating a vintage Gibson guitar. We also need to inspect the neck width, potentiometer codes, and the general features.
Sell a vintage Gibson SG
If you've inherited a 1960s Gibson SG guitar and are curious about its value then you can contact me here: Sell a Gibson. As a Gibson SG guitar collector, I'm always on the hunt for nice examples of Gibson SG guitars. I'm primarily a buyer for four and five digit serial number guitars, definitely wide neck guitars, and sometimes late 60s and 70s guitars depending on the condition and features.
If you're looking for where to sell Gibson guitars then I may be the guitar collector you're looking for. I travel world wide to acquire the Gibson guitars I've always dreamed of. I may be able to come to you for an in person transaction for higher value guitars. If not, then I can arrange to have it professionally packed, shipped, and fully insured.
You can contact me here to sell a Gibson SG. Take some pictures of your guitar and send them to the contact information at the bottom of this page. I'd be happy to check it out and give my thoughts on it.