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Dating of Vintage Gibson Banjos The dating of vintage Gibson banjos has long been a subject of debate and contention. In contrast to other makers such as C. Martin and Company, Gibson's prewar and wartime numbering system is extremely convoluted and often counterintuitive. Rather than true serial numbers , most prewar Gibson banjos were marked with factory order numbers which were solely intended for in-house use during production and assembly; attempts to date Gibson banjos based on these numbers represent a significant challenge see Gibson banjo serial numbers vs. Since the debut of this site in I had listed the banjos in numerical order by factory order number or serial number , which I now understand does not reflect the instruments' true chronology.
Some earlier specimens from to did not slant the logo, or went without a logo entirely. Specimens built before had a star inlay or crescent in place of a logo.
Jan 25, The Gibson banjo has had a strong legacy with bluegrass musicians. It seems that when you attend a bluegrass festival or convention, mostly what you seen are Gibson banjos or Gibson look a like banjos. There are many Gibson look a like banjos. Many built by very good builders, and some have the Gibson logo and some have the builder's name. Index to Vintage Gibson Banjo Serial Number Information. Here you will find the Pre-War serial numbers divided into 3 groups, starting with serial number in Note: Date ranges listed here are approximate, as the batch numbers were many times used out of sequence. You can tell a lot by noting the actual ship-dates where they are. The Gibson Guitar Corporation manufactures both acoustic and electrical instruments, including banjos. Gibson has made many different styles of banjos, and bluegrass musicians prize Gibson's Mastertone banjos for their rich sound. Gibson banjos carry decals, serial numbers and other physical features that can help you learn more about your banjo.
The script logo continues without the slant. Some flattop guitars of this era started to omit the word "The" from the inlay. By Gibson had dropped the "The" from all of their logos while retaining the script "Gibson. From tothe logo was a thick golden script, known as the banner logo.
The block logo debuted after WWII and remains the face of the company. There were minute changes to which letters were connected in the font between tobut the main logo had the same look.
Gibson stopped dotting the i in their logo on some of their instruments. Most models get a dotted i again inwith the rest following suit from onward.
Aside from the logos, each era of manufacturing included certain identifying traits such as the hardware tuners, knobs, plates, etc.
But not a final verdict. Many older instruments may have reproduction or other non-original parts, including a non-original finish. This makes relying entirely on the physical features of a guitar potentially misleading. The thickness of the headstock, however, is not as vulnerable to modification or replacement.
Before mid, most Gibson headstocks were thinner at the top when looked at from a side profile. Afterheadstocks had uniform thickness. Gibson has historically used two different alpha-numerical formats to catalog its instruments: serial numbers and FONs Factory Order Numbers.
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Instruments will generally have one or both of these numbers stamped or written either inside the body generally the case on earlier models or on the back of the headstock.
These will generally date an instrument earlier than the serial number, as they were typically applied in the early stages of assembly. Some earlier lower-end models had no serial number at all, making the FON the sole numerical identifier in those cases.
A FON usually consisted of a 3- 4- or 5-digit batch number followed by one or two other numbers in most cases. From tothe FON included a letter suffix.
The consistency around this stopped during WWII and resumed in the early s. To complicate matters further, there was sometimes a second letter from to indicating the brand G for Gibson, K for Kalamazoo, W for Recording King and sometimes even a third letter indicating "Electric" the letter E.
The year is indicated by the first letter in any series of letters for these years. Throughout the war and even for some time after, each year had its own quirks around FON batch numbers and letters.
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From toa consistent letter code resumed, with the letter appearing before the batch number. Below is a table of the the highest known number for each production year.
Early Gibson solidbody electrics received a serial stamp on the back of the headstock, with the first number indicating the year of production. The serial number on this Les Paul Junior indicates that it was made in Starting inGibson implemented a new serialization system designed to cover its entire lineup. Examine the Gibson logo on the peghead, the part of the banjo where the tuning pegs attach.
InGibson changed the logo on all their instruments from script lettering to block letters.
Identifying a Gibson Banjo
Any instrument with script lettering was made before and is called a "prewar" model, while block letters indicate a "postwar" model. Look for a Gibson decal on the inside of the wooden rim that forms the body of the banjo.
If your banjo is a Gibson Mastertone, "Gibson Mastertone" is written at the top of the decal. If it isn't a Mastertone, the oval decal will be smaller and will have "The Gibson" written in script, with "Gibson Inc. Kalamazoo Mich.
Dating gibson banjos
Look for the serial number on the back of the peghead. A serial number is an important piece of information in establishing the authenticity of your banjo.
Dating of Vintage Gibson Banjos The dating of vintage Gibson banjos has long been a subject of debate and contention. In contrast to other makers such as C.F. Martin and Company, Gibson's prewar and wartime numbering system is extremely convoluted and often counterintuitive.
Remove the back of your banjo-the resonator-to see the serial number if it isn't on the back of the peghead. Loosen the screws attaching the back to the banjo. The screws are large enough that you can do this with your fingers, and a screwdriver won't be necessary.
You may see the serial number stamped into the wooden rim of the banjo's body or written inside the resonator in chalk. Check that the configuration of the serial number is right for the time period.