Headstock Logos

Three Distinct Logo Types. The Center One seems transitional as it only lasted a few years.

Sometimes, when you think you know it all, you find out you don’t. There was a thread on the Les Paul Forum-which I started (the thread, not the forum) that dealt with a certain custom order ES 355 of questionable vintage that is currently on Ebay. There were a number of elements that called it’s actual year of manufacture into question. One of them was the Gibson logo. While other forum members were insisting it was an 80’s logo, I was insisting it was a late 60’s logo. I was wrong. Worse than that I was wrong, not because I saw it wrong or misinterpreted it, I was wrong because of a gap in my knowledge on the subject. That, readers, is embarrassing. As they say, I must have missed that class. Well, since I can turn this into a teachable moment, so can you. So today, we look at all the “Gibson” logos that have graced the headstock of an ES-335 from 1958-now. Since the bulk of my interest is in the vintage “Golden Era”, the good news is that the same logo was in use for that period. The first version which was used from 1958 until sometime in late 1968 is identifiable by the open “B” and the open “O”. Note also that the “o” connects to the “n” at the bottom. This comes into play later. This logo remained unchanged until what is usually called the “pantograph” logo comes into common usage in late 1968. You can still find the type 1 logo on much later guitars, so, once again, there is a period of transition that occurs throughout 1969 and into 1970. One of the interesting characteristics of the pantograph logo is that  it was usually (and perhaps always) a big flat piece of pearloid material inlaid into the headstock and the logo part was silkscreened in black over it so that only the letters showed through. As these guitars age, the paint tends to chip off, resulting in a non logo logo.  The earlier type 1 logo was actually cut into the Gibson letters and inlaid. Gibson went back to a real inlaid logo fairly quickly as the complaints poured in. Probably by 1973. The later logo was clearly a lot cheaper to produce and required non of the skilled labor that a true inlay requires. Another Norlin innovation making the world’s best guitars just a little less better.  Also worth noting, the disappearing dot on the “i” in Gibson. This occurred mostly in 1969, although it may be seen in late 68 and perhaps in 1970. Now, if you look closely, there are 2 different pantograph logos-one with the open “b” and “o” and one with closed. The identifying characteristic common to both is the rhomboid shape. The top and bottom of the logo are parallel to each other and the bottom and top of each letter is a straight line. . The type one has curved tops. A pantograph logo with open letters is a 60’s guitar-probably 68 or 69. A pantograph logo with closed letters AND the “o” connection to the “n” at the bottom is anywhere from 69 to 80. Here’s where my so called expertise failed me. While it’s still a pantograph style logo with its squared off letters and closed “b” and “o”, the connection between the “o” and the “n” has moved to the top. This appears to have occurred in 1981, although the earlier type can be seen well into 1982. So, I’m looking through Ebay for photos of the various types and I find a 69 Les Paul Deluxe with the logo that supposedly didn’t exist until 1981. I have no answers other than I’m not a Les Paul expert. However, what motivated me to do this post in the first place was that I was corrected about this particular logo type not existing until 1981. Somebody? Anybody? I know this is incredibly arcane and it seems like things like figuring out how to stop the Gulf oil spill should be taking up our time but I don’t know much about oil spills so I’d just be wasting both your time and mine trying to figure this out.

This is what happens when you cut corners, Norlin.

Pantograph later type from 81 until 1994 or so. High connection between "o" and "n"

And, here's an alleged '69 with an 80's logo. Sometimes I just don't have all the answers.

28 Responses to “Headstock Logos”

  1. very interesting; I have a 1969 Les Paul Custom with Pantographic logo just like the deluxe above only joining the o and n at the bottom. I would like to show a picture of this as you dont see many 69’s with this logo. The ‘s’ has kind of elongated arms linking both the b and the o – like the deluxe above. The s/n of mine starts 841*** not sure how to upload a pic, sorry

  2. OK Guitars says:

    Just attach a photo to an email to me at I’m not much of a Les Paul guy but I know my logos.

  3. […] and the logo part was silkscreened in black over it so that only the letters showed through." Headstock Logos | The Gibson ES-335 I'll try to get a photo of my DC Special this weekend. At first it looked like a decal but as it […]

  4. Irish Brian says:

    And here’s a “64” 335 on Reverb with a dropped crown inlay and what seems to be a later logo????
    Any idea what’s going on here?

  5. Irish Brian says:

    Oops my bad – he wrote that it was “renecked” – I thought that meant a neck reset but I guess it was replaced.

  6. okguitars says:

    Read the rest of the listing. He says it was re-necked in the 70’s which explains everything.

  7. okguitars says:

    And I answered your first post before I read the second. My bad.

  8. Ulrich says:

    Hey Charlie,
    I’m pretty late to read this post, but I was wondering whether you have an idea whats going on with the logo on Bernie Marsden’s 335, supposedly from ’64. You can see it clearly it this video the logo is low, but the rest of the guitar seems to be original. Could that be one of those Gibson anomalties, a re-neck, or is the might the guitar be a later stoptail modded 335?
    This has been a mystery to me for y while, so I’d very much appreciate your thougts on this.
    Many thanks!

  9. okguitars says:

    Most likely re-necked. This has been discussed on the internet in the past and if memory serves, he says it isn’t.
    Unless he’s owned it since new, what he says is arguable. I’ve seen re-necks that are virtually undetectable.

  10. Ulrich says:

    Cool, many thanks for the response! So interestingly, the smaller nutwith necks of post 64/65 still fit into a pre 65 neck pocket…?

  11. okguitars says:

    Yes, the tenon and heel are the same until 69

  12. John Kim says:

    Hi. I am a non-native English speaker. So, please understand my poor English ability. I think we need to conclude carefully that the Bernie Marsden’s 335 was re-necked. I have the same 335 with a low-position crown inlay. My 335 has a 64s specification: 42mm wide nut and 17 degrees headstock angle and thin neck. Interestingly, I noticed that my another crossroads 335 of #25 was previously posted here. I live in Tokyo, Japan where I bought it. I checked the BL test and also compared with the crossroads 335. Completely same thin neck. In fact, my 64 spec 335 has the serial number of 174xxxs that were used for both 1964 and 1965. By the way, recently I also found the same 64 spec 335 with serial number of 174xxx; . I suppose that the 174xxx serial# 335s were mainly for custom made. Anyway, I am very interested in this topic and want to make it clear. If you want, I will upload the detail pictures of the 335 with 64′ spec.

  13. Ed says:

    Are you saying that any 335 with a low crown logo cannot be from 1965?
    What about if the neck nut is only 1 5/16″ wide and the tunematic has white plastic saddles?

  14. okguitars says:

    That’s correct-low inlay means late 66 or later. There are no necks with a 1 5/16″ nut. I assume you mean 1 5/8″-that nut width was used in 1965 but it is possible for a later one to have a wider nut than the usual 1 9/16″. It is also possible to find a 1 5/8″ nut as early as 1959. White plastic saddles were used from 1963 and through the 60’s. I don’t pay attention to the fine details after that. The only 65 I’ve ever seen with a low inlay was re-necked.

  15. John Kim says:

    Recently, I also found that low crown inlay started in 1964 for EB-2. EB-2 has the same 335 body and the same shape 335 headstock. Why only for EB-2? Very curious.

  16. okguitars says:

    I learned long ago that finding rational reasons for Gibson doing the things Gibson did in the 60’s is a fool’s errand.

  17. Daniel heger says:

    Im not sure if its a real gidson but it has a serial no on it and i checked and it says it is but im not sure its off an sg and im looking for oponions here is a pic of the head stock please if anyone could help it would be awesome! Please email me if you have any info.

  18. okguitars says:

    Tough to tell from a single fuzzy photo. Gibson had a number of different logos in the 70’s and this could be a legit logo of the “Pantograph” type. It could also be a decent copy. It would help to see the rest of the guitar.

  19. Mike Kirkpatrick says:

    What is the material used in the headstock inlay of a 1962 ES-335? I think I understand from the above that it’s real MOP as opposed to synthetic, but does anyone know?

  20. okguitars says:

    I’m not 100% certain-I believe it’s synthetic on 335’s.

  21. Chris says:

    I have an ES 335 TD I could use help with. I bought it off a musician in the early 80’s.

    I believe it is a 1963. It has the model number but not a serial number.

    The head confuses me as it says Les Paul Signature in cursive instead of the crown logo.

    I could attach pictures

  22. okguitars says:

    LP Signature from the early to mid seventies. Email sent.

  23. ales says:

    hello, here is the logo i would like to date. The guitar is a mistery. Please help.

    all the best, Ales

  24. okguitars says:

    I’m a 335 guy, not a Les Paul guy. Looks like a 70 but LPs and 335’s don’t always follow the same set of rules.

  25. We are currently restoring a Les Paul Custom from 1969 (serial number 538694 and potentiometers 1376904). What type of method was most probably used on this particular guitar?

  26. okguitars says:

    “What type of method” is not English. It sounds like auto correct. What are you asking (in English, please).

  27. Peter says:

    Sorry, I’m Swedish and I don’t speak and write fluently – not autocorrect, only my poor konwledge in English. I mean – what type of logo was most likely used on a Les Paul Custom from the first quarter of 1969? We are doing a restoration (someone did a bad neck repair and changed the logo in the 70’s) with the ambition to do it as correctly as possible.

  28. okguitars says:

    You know this is a 335 site, right? Fortunately, the LP’s used the same logo. The 69 logo is a block of mother of pearl and the logo is silk screened over the block. No dot in the “i”
    open “b” and “o”. They tend to chip badly.

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