Dating a USA Gibson

Identifying Gibson instruments by serial number alone can be difficult. See our Gibson Serial Number page to get started.

To get a clearer picture use a combination of the serial number, model designation, the factory order number and features that are particular to a specific time that changes may have occurred in instrument design (i.e. logo design change, headstock volutes, etc).

Gibson’s F O N System

In addition to the serial number information, Gibson also used Factory Order Numbers (F O N) to track batches of instruments being produced at the time. In the earlier years at Gibson, guitars were normally built in batches of 40 instruments. Gibson’s Factory Order Numbers were an internal coding that followed the group of instruments through the factory. Thus, the older Gibson guitars may have a serial number and a F O N. The F O N may indicate the year, batch number, and the ranking (order of production within the batch of 40).

This system is useful in helping to date and authenticate instruments. There are three separate groupings of numbers that have been identified and are used for their accuracy. The numbers are usually stamped or written on the instrument’s back and seen through the lower F hole or round soundhole, or maybe impressed on the back of the headstock.

Gibson Hollow Body Prefix and Suffix Model Codes

A genuine hollow body Gibson will also have the appropriate Prefix or Suffix for the model normally on a sticker inside the cavity.

ES – Electric Spanish
T – Thinline
D Double – 2 Pickups
C Cutaway or Cherry Finish
3/4 – 3/4 side and short scale
SV – Stereo and Veritone wiring option

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