Archive for October, 2010

Mid Sixties Confusion (Again)

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Because Gibson was unfortunate (dumb?) enough to reuse the same serial numbers over and over again, it’s easy to confuse the actual date of your guitar’s manufacture. Most listings will just pick the earliest year and hope no one questions it. Some will give you a choice (it’s a 65 or a 68). Very few will choose the later year but it happens. I’ve covered all of the elements that can be used to date these tricky years but never all at once so I thought I would do a little chart with the usual features that can be used to date these. Then I promise I won’t do it again (unless you never learn). Here we go:

________________1965               1966              1967          1968           1969

Neck:              1 9/16*            1 9/16          1 9/16        1 9/16          1 9/16

Tuners:             Kluson            Kluson        Kluson       Gibson         Gibson

Pickguard:      Wide bevel          Wide          Narrow        Narrow       Narrow

TRC bevel:        Narrow*           Narrow       Narrow         Narrow         Narrow

Body Shape:    Pointy ears        Pointy          Pointy          Rounded     Rounded

Inlay (flowerpot): high             high*            low               low                low

Knobs:             Top Hat           Top Hat*    Witch Hat   Witch Hat   Witch Hat

F-holes:           Small                Small           Small           Large           Large

Asterisk* means their were some of the next years type mixed in at the end, or in the case of the 65 TRC and neck, some wide bevel are seen at the beginning of that year as were some wider necks(1 5/8 or 1 11/16″). All tuners were double line-double ring but 68 and 69’s say Gibson Deluxe instead of Kluson Deluxe although they are other wise identical. All years have trapeze tailpieces except very early 65’s which may have stop tails. When you have a transitional guitar that mixes some of the elements in the chart, look at all these features and through elimination, you can almost always pinpoint the year. For example, if you have a low inlay, witch hat knobs but a wide bevel guard, you can figure with reasonable accuracy that the guitar is a late 66. It is with guitars like this that the serial number can help you. If there were no 66’s with your serial number, then it is not impossible that it’s a very early 67. This is more art than science. And, of course, it assumes that earlier owners didn’t make changes in the knobs, guards, TRC (truss rod cover) or anything else that can be easily swapped. The serial numbers can be helpful but only after you’ve looked at these features and made an assessment. If you conclude your guitar is a 66 and the serial number wasn’t used in 66, then consider whether it could be an early 67 (or a late 65). You will be stumped maybe 1 or 2% of the time-usually between a late 65 and an early 66 or a late 66 and an early 67. Also, if there is no dot in the “i” in Gibson, it’s a 69. If it has no visible neck tenon (under the neck pickup), it’s a 69. If it sats “made in usa” on the back of the headstock, it’s a 69 (or later). If it has a volute, it’s a ’69 or later. Similarly, a 65 can have all the features of a 64-big neck, wide bevel TRC, nickel hardware, stop tail. Fortunately, there isn’t much overlap in the serial numbers between 64 and 65 and more important, if your early 65 335 has all the 64 features, it is as desirable and valuable as a 64 and it doesn’t matter what you call it. It isn’t so much the actual year that matters to most people anyway. It’s getting the features they want and the guitar they can afford and enjoy. But it will always bug me when someone tries to get a few extra bucks for their guitar by fudging the year figuring no one will know because the serial numbers were reused.