Headstock Mystery

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

  1. Musicmasterfuzz

    Musicmasterfuzz New Member

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    Yes it has an 8 digits serial# and the black colour is absolutely factory, not a repaint over a cherry SG.
    Definitely no black binding, the ebony fretboard is exactly the same as the one on my 1974, the only difference being the '76 having slightly wider and flatter jumbo frets than the '74.
    As you say it possibly was a custom order but I can't say more as I'm not the first owner, not even the second one, as I bought it second hand in a guitar shop in the UK.
    And yes it's a cool guitar, it plays like a dream and weighs a nice 7 Lb 5 Oz.
    My '74 is 10 Oz heavier... but it has a Bigsby... and sounds even better.
     
  2. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Okay, definitely 1976 then, if it's 8 digits.
     
  3. Musicmasterfuzz

    Musicmasterfuzz New Member

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    Yes indeed, 8 digits 001492xx .
    00 for 1976
    149 for Standard
    2xx production #
     
  4. jk67SG

    jk67SG Member

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    Maybe... but a lot of things would have to line up correctly for this to be true.
    First of all, it depends on what you mean by 'early '75.
    Then, remember that the pot codes are the date when the pots are manufactured. After manufacture, they have to be put in CTS's inventory, picked from inventory (which already may have older inventory on the shelf) to fill orders, boxed up for shipping, get shipped to the closest terminal, get transferred to a delivery truck and be delivered, get checked in at shipping and receiving at Gibson, get unboxed and placed into stock (which likely already had older pots in the parts bins) ...and remember, there was no Amazon next day delivery; get picked for installation, be installed in the guitar along with the rest of the electronics, have any additional finishing done to the guitar (not knowing the order of the steps that the guitar was built, one can only guess that at this point the guitar may not have had any number of things installed including the bridge, string stop, tuning machines, strings, knobs, etc, and that the nut might not have been finished; at any rate, it's highly unlikely that the guitars were completely finished with the exception of dropping the pots in and closing up the control cavity, and it could have been weeks to maybe a month or more before the guitar those pots got put in the guitar, the guitar got finished, the final setup was done and tested, the guitar was packaged for delivery, boxed up and shipped to a dealer (again, not by Amazon).
    So while what you're hypothesizing is technically possible, all of the planets would have to line up at the same time for that to happen, if you mean is January or February when you say 'in stores sometime early '75'.
     
  5. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore New Member

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    My cherry SG Standard (I bought it new in London in 1979) is numbered 625665 (apparently 1975) and has pots manufactured week 40 of 1976.
     

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  6. Demon Dave

    Demon Dave Active Member

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    This is started to be my new dream guitar
     
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  7. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    As I understand it, everything after the first two digits was a production number, and they just left enough room for how many they expected to produce (which resulted in some weird examples when they exceeded that). Standards can be anywhere between 148,800–153,200 from what I've seen/heard.
     
  8. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Serial numbers were kind of all over the place around '75-'76 as they were starting to overlap with previous years again and Gibson would jump around to different solutions. I would say a serial in the 600,000s would be perfectly possible for 1976, and the pots can never be newer than the serial number anyway. Yours doesn't have knob pointers, which went away mid-'76, and the wider spaced font on the TRC which started late '75, so that corroborates as well. I can't tell from that picture, but the font looks like the squared style they went back to again in '77, so I'd feel comfortable calling it an early '77. Surprising they were still using the old 6-digit system that late, but this was a time of upheaval for them in terms of serialization, so there are a lot of outliers.
     
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  9. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    While pots can have a long lead time before installation, they can also have a remarkably short one. It's not impossible for a pot to be produced, shipped and installed within a matter of weeks. Generally, Gibson seems to have bought smaller batches of pots and gone through them pretty fast. The longest lead time I see without being an outlier is a year. So the window is big, indeed. On that person's guitar, I believe the pots were a result of a very short lead time because it still has an Ebony fretboard.
     
  10. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore New Member

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    Excellent info. Here's the logo.
     

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  11. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Yep, that's the squared style, although I misspoke, I forgot it started showing up again sporadically in 1975. So late '76 or early '77.
     
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  12. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore New Member

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    Excellent. Thank you for this. May I ask when the number 625665 would have been stamped on the neck? I wonder why they'd put an old numbering system on when they'd already moved on to the new one? I'd fully accept and agree with thanks, that the guitar is "late '76 or early 1977". Would it perhaps have been started in 1975 (or early 1976), set aside and then completed at a later time?
     
  13. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    That's a good question. The best theory I can come up with is that because the new serial system they started using in 1975 was a decal which had to be printed ahead of time (meaning they had to approximate how many of each model they would produce), they ended up often producing more guitars than they had serial number decals. This is why you'll sometimes see decals with the model name cut off and the production number outside the expected range for that model; because they ran out and just grabbed one for another model, cutting off the incorrect name. For the same reason, I could see them stamping a serial with the old 6-digit format. However, it's also true that you'd see the new 8-digit format stamped into the headstock sometimes (although this would be the most rare of the three styles). So, without having worked at Gibson back then or knowing anyone who did, I can only speculate and recognize that it was a time of upheaval in terms of serialization, so there will inevitably be incongruities. Heck, even in normal times you get weird stuff from Gibson back then because they had an attitude of not letting things go to waste and improvising solutions if needed to keep the assembly line moving. For example, employees have said that if, for example, a Special was routed for humbuckers by accident, then it was just sent out labeled as a Special but with the bonus of humbuckers. Meaning that if they made a mistake, it was always to the customer's benefit. They wouldn't sell that guitar as a Standard because it would still lack the crown inlay and a few other things. Just to give you an idea of their "make it work" attitude. They weren't going to grind production to a halt because they ran out of serial number decals.

    ... which is why we know for sure that Gibson did not set aside entire completed bodies. It would make no sense from a manufacturing efficiency standpoint to warehouse old bodies while waiting for parts. You always keep a frequently replenished reserve of parts instead so that a body should never have to wait in the first place. And parts take up less warehouse space than bodies.

    That's also why the myth of the first reintroduced 1968 Les Pauls using leftover parts from 1960 is nonsense. Why would they sit on perfectly good blanks of Maple or Mahogany for 8 years when they built other guitars out of those woods? Why would they save a bunch of PAFs when they continued putting them in SGs and ES-335s for years afterward? No, even with model-specific parts Gibson would be sure to use up all of their old parts before moving to a new design. That's why the SG Deluxe slowly transitioned back to the Standard as they finished off the old parts.

    Anyway, back on topic, I will say yours is the latest I've ever seen a 6-digit serial used. But the pots don't lie, at least in that the guitar cannot possibly be any older than the pots. Bodies are always moving down the assembly line, whereas pots get dumped in a bin and sometimes new batches dumped on top of them, so if anything you'll find pots that are as much as 4 years older than the guitar they were installed in. But the pots have to have been made by CTS and shipped to Gibson before they can meet the body as it rolls down the line, so they can only be older than the body/serial.

    Credit for much of this info goes to this poster at MLP: https://www.mylespaul.com/threads/norlin-id-1976-gibson-serial-numbers.342164/
     
  14. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore New Member

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    It all makes sense. The shortage of decals, the ready availability of the stamper, and carry on regardless when you have an over-abundance of ready instruments. After all those years, it's good to know how my guitar "came about". Happy too, that I have a Mark 1 Chainsaw case.

    Thank you again for all your help.
     

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  15. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Beautiful guitar, BTW. A lot of SGs from those years had their Cherry finishes fade to brown but yours is still very vibrant. Also, I'm not as knowledgeable about cases but I think the chainsaws didn't come out until around 1977 so that also would corroborate if I'm correct.
     
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  16. arcticsg

    arcticsg Well-Known Member

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    Great idea!! ...can’t wait to do all mine too :thumb:
     
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  17. Musicmasterfuzz

    Musicmasterfuzz New Member

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    My '76 SG came with a chainsaw case. Original?
     
  18. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Most likely. Like I said, I'm not an expert on cases but I've heard they came out around that time.
     
  19. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore New Member

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    Thought I'd update you on the research. I've since found a guy who bought a cherry SG Standard from the same shop in London as me, a year prior in 1978. He's kept his in great condition. It's EXACTLY the same as mine, with the same "week 40 of 1976" pots, and a six-figure stamped number that is 6257** (mine is 625665). Further proof that Gibson were doing what you said they were.

    Thanks again.

    Brian
    SG BM.jpg SG MB.jpg
     
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  20. PermissionToLand

    PermissionToLand Well-Known Member

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    Small world! Enjoy that beautiful cherry SG!
     
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