Headstock Mystery

Discussion in 'Gibson SG' started by Bjvona, Dec 1, 2020.

  1. Bjvona

    Bjvona New Member

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    Hi, I'm new here, but came across these forums while researching my SG. What a wealth of info and enthusiasm I've found here! \
    I bought my SG at Apple Music in Portland, OR in 1988 used. Etched in the foil shielding in the cavity was (is) the name of the previous owner with 1984 (I of of course added my name and 1988). My impression has always been that it was older than 1984, but not probably not a lot (maybe 1980 - 81). The one definitive thing I've learned about it here is that it has the Schaller "harmonica" bridge. The weird thing is that the back of the headstock is black and has a diamond mother of pearl inlay. There is no serial number or made in USA to be found at all. Any ideas?
    Most of the electronics are not original. The neck pickup may be the only original part of the electronics. The tuners are the ones that came with it when I bought it, but I don't think they're original (they've cracked the headstock).
    Any ideas? What else should I look for? 20201201_102745.jpg 20201201_102814.jpg
     
  2. everdying

    everdying Well-Known Member

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    best guess is that is a 76/77, as those yrs the serials were on a decal...so maybe it got rubbed off or whatever :p

    [​IMG]
     
  3. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    1976-77 SG Standards had bound necks.
    This one looks more like a 1973-74 because of the unbound neck.

    Thinking since the switches were added, maybe someone had the serial number sanded off and the diamond inlay added to mark it in such a way that it could be identified if stolen.

    I've seen where someone carved their name on the inside of one of the horns before.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
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  4. Bjvona

    Bjvona New Member

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    Right on, great info, thank you. I posted in the 70s SG appreciation thread about it too and received a 73/74 response based on the lack of binding and the spacing between the bridge and bridge pickup.
    The headstock came that way when I bought it. The bridge pickup had already been replaced. I added the switches myself (a phase switch and a coil split) in the early nineties (I was 16 with a guitar and a soldering iron, I couldn’t be stopped).
     
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  5. everdying

    everdying Well-Known Member

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    my first thought was a '74, but those had bound rosewood boards...only the ebony ones were unbound...
    i cant tell from the pic, but the board looks abit light so i guessed it's rosewood...
     
  6. cerebral gasket

    cerebral gasket Well-Known Member

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    Could be ebony that is either dusty or hasn't been oiled in a while.
     
  7. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Unbound Ebony continued into 1974. It was about midway through that year when the bound Rosewood returned.
     
  8. everdying

    everdying Well-Known Member

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    i have a 75 with unbound ebony board.
     
  9. Bjvona

    Bjvona New Member

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    Thanks for the expertise! Sounds like a bit of consensus on 73/74? I am surprised as I had assumed it to be 1980ish. Also very cool because it turns out my Fender Twin Reverb is also from 73
    Any other ideas on the back of the headstock? Covering a repair perhaps?
     
  10. everdying

    everdying Well-Known Member

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    maybe a pic of the whole back would help...
     
  11. Bjvona

    Bjvona New Member

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    I'll have to snap a couple more pics, but here's a couple more i have for now. 20201201_102756.jpg 20201201_102804.jpg
     
  12. papagayo

    papagayo Well-Known Member

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    This guitar is a real Norlin SG, don' t worry.
     
  13. Musicmasterfuzz

    Musicmasterfuzz New Member

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    I have a 1976 SG with unbound ebony fretboard.
     
  14. gball

    gball Well-Known Member

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    Could be covering a repair. TBH, I've also seen things like this done to eliminate the S/N on stolen guitars. Not trying to say that's what is going on her but it's a possibility since there isn't any outward damage anywhere else. Def a legit early '70's SG and very, very cool.
     
  15. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    What makes you think it's a '75? What are the pot codes?

    I highly doubt that, unless it was custom ordered. The bound rosewood fretboard returned by mid 1974.

    This 1975 has a bound RW board and one of the unique 99-prefix serial numbers that pinpoint it to 1975:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Further, every verifiable 1976 I have ever found had a bound RW board. Here's another example with a unique serial dating it precisely to 1976:

    https://www.creamcitymusic.com/vintage-1976-gibson-sg-standard-electric-guitar-cherry-finish/

    You may also notice that the TRC has wide spacing between the "S-G", while yours does not. Only the earliest "SG" branded TRCs that appeared in 1974 had that tighter spacing. Their use was sporadic, with some being blank as above, until they settled on the wider spaced "S-G" by 1976.

    What are your pot codes?
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2020
  16. everdying

    everdying Well-Known Member

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    i did not say there was no bound rosewood, i just said mine has unbound ebony.
    the john bulli book also mentions that in 74 and 75 a limited number of unbound ebony were produced.

    my pot codes puts it at the last week of Dec 1974, which would put it in stores sometime early '75.

    here's one which the seller says is Jan 31st 1975...but he's replaced the harmonica with a tom...everything else apart from the bigsby looks the same as mine...even the serial number shares the first 4 digits with mine...
    https://www.catawiki.com/l/32302607...by-1975-usa-import-solid-body-guitar-usa-1975

    as for the 99 serials, i'm guessing those only appeared mid-75 onwards, since we know it takes about 6 months or more from carve to shop...
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2020
  17. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Bulli's book has a lot of incorrect info, particularly for the 1970s. He was probably mislead (as most are) by the fact that the 1975 catalog depicted and described Ebony as the fretboard material, but was likely prepared in late 1974 (just like the 1973 catalog, which shows 1972 models). In fact, the 1976 catalog was just the exact same thing re-printed with a few new models added in. Gibson's catalogs are sadly a poor source for specific info. The 1968 catalog still shows the SG with a small pickguard!

    Also Bulli is wrong about it being a limited number. The fact that they were displayed and spec'd in the catalog as having Ebony fretboards proves it was not a limited run, but standard specification at the time.

    Well, I take your word on your pot codes, so I guess this can only mean that the Rosewood/Bound SGs I've seen with pots dating as far back as early-74 must have just been older pots being put into 1975 bodies, because it's unlikely that they would switch back and forth rapidly between Ebony and RW. Gibson's production style was always to use up all of the old parts before changing something. It's also not uncommon for pretty old pots to show up in a guitar, as much as 3 or even 4 years later in some cases.

    To your link, I've seen that listing and I'm wondering where the seller got the idea of such a specific date. It's impossible to know down to the day, as the pots only give you the week and the serials were useless back then. I wouldn't be surprised if he thinks the serial starting with a 5 means it's a '75 and somehow the other digits gave him January 31st. Or he misinterpreted the pot codes somehow? We can't read the pot codes from his pic, so we can't actually draw any reliable conclusions from it.

    As for the serial numbers, they still used the old format sporadically through 1976 or so (though it's pretty uncommon by '76). So while not every 1975 SG has a 99 prefix, every SG with a 99 prefix is a 1975.
     
  18. everdying

    everdying Well-Known Member

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    guess the best is to call mine a late '74 / early '75...

    anyway, since documentation on SGs are a little sketchy...we can always refer to the LPs / other gibsons...
    those too have spillover '74 into '75 with serials of 5xxxxx, 6xxxxx, 8xxxxx.
     
  19. Musicmasterfuzz

    Musicmasterfuzz New Member

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    My 1976 is a rare black one (for this year) and has an unbound ebony fretboard, original Grover milkbottle tuners, Bill Lawrence Tarbacks "Super Humbuckers" and chainsaw case. The serial# starts with 00 which is specific of 1976 Gibsons and the pot codes are:
    - volume pots: 1377621 and xx-x28
    - tone pots: 13776xx and 70-035
    (xxx are numbers hidden by the welding.)

    And as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, here are the pics:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  20. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Well now this is an enigma. The serial starting with 00 may or may not suggest it's a 1976. The vast majority of guitars using the year-specific prefixes from '75-'77 had them printed onto an oval shaped decal like the '75 I posted pictures of earlier, not stamped into the headstock like yours. So I would have leaned toward it being a coincidence that yours starts with two 0s if not for the pot codes and the fact that I've seen at least one '75 with an old style serial like yours that starts with "99". However, that one is also 8 digits like the decal serials. I can't tell, is yours 8 digits or 6?

    Knowing that Gibson does not keep old bodies lying around, there's no way a leftover '74 body was just found and assembled with '76 parts.

    Here's what I think explains it; Ebony (the finish) was not offered at any point in the 1970s on an SG Standard. Meaning this had to have been a custom order. That would explain the Ebony fretboard, as an upgrade to make it a little more like a Custom, or just because the customer really appreciated the smooth texture of Ebony fretboards.

    In fact, I happen to have saved pictures of a custom ordered SG, also from 1976, with a Standard body and Custom neck. Quite the neat thing:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I'm curious to know, though, if the fretboard is actually unbound or possibly has black binding that hides against the Ebony fretboard and finish. I was surprised to learn that for years, Epiphone was actually binding their G-400s with Rosewood binding, which was almost invisible to the naked eye against the Rosewood fretboard.

    Moving on to the TRC, I was wrong about the spacing, yours is the wider style like a '76 should be. It looked tighter from the smaller picture. The Grovers were not uncommon back then, and it seems entirely random whether Gibson chose to fit any SG between '72 and '79 with Schallers or Grovers. Schallers are generally more common.

    Regardless, that is one cool-ass SG you've got there.
     
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