1976 Les Paul Build Location

SonOfMI

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I’m looking for a 1976 Gibson Les Paul that was built in the Kalamazoo Michigan factory. This is a personal thing for myself as I was also born in 1976 in Michigan. Previously unaware of this specific forum I did my own research. I talked with different Gibson people none of whom could tell me how to identify a ‘76 LP made in Kzoo vs one made in Nashville. They referred me to Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville. Talking to him, Nashville was not tooled up enough to build Les Pauls in 1976 so every 1976 LP is “Made In Michigan”. Reading through stuff here, it throws my research a curve. Someone Gibson says knows what he’s talking about says Nashville didn’t have all the tools to make LP in 1976. But on here, some dude I don’t know who didn’t say what research he did and didn’t note any sources says a long tenon is Kalamazoo made. But this dude doesn’t say when that starts. So really...if Nashville doesn’t have the tools needed they can’t make a long or short tenon. Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Can someone who knows 1976 Les Pauls and how to identify them with their build location help me?
 

ARandall

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That tenon info is completely wrong. In 75 both factories moved to the short tenon construction. Kalamazoo used up old parts first, meaning the shift wasn't immediate. But that is not relevant to 1976.
And Nashville was well and truly into the swing of things in 76 - they were 'tooling up' in 74 for a 75 production rollout.
Even then, the 'long' tenon vanished in 69 sometime. Kalamazoo was using a transition tenon from then on (which did come into the neck pickup cavity but stopped at the edge).

This supposed expert seems to have every detail wrong really.....disregard everything.

I honestly don't think you would have any hope of telling by any main construction detail or serial number decal detail.
The only way I think makes a difference is perhaps the spacing of the dots on the 12th fret binding/indicators. I cannot remember the precise indicator of the Kalamazoo version. Maybe someone can post comparative pics.
 

mudface

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The Les Paul Pro,.... the Les Paul Deluxe,.... and the Les Paul Custom,... and the LP Standard were all in production at the Nashville plant in 1976,....

Kalamazoo were still in production till 1983-84....... there is a lot of models shared production at both plants. It wasn't until after mid 1977 when the serial numbers gave any indication at which plant they were made..

You would have to go earlier than 1974 to find Kalamazoo made only LPs.

To be honest i have never got the birthday-made guitar thing........ i guess it makes it easier to know how old it is. :dunno:
 
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XpensiveWino

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@SonOfMI firstly, welcome to the forum. You've come to right place. There's a lot of knowledge around this part of the forum. I am not one of the experts, but I do love Norlin era Les Pauls.

In general, you'll find that there's very few hard and true truths from the era you're speaking of. Check out some of the expert opinions from @ARandall @mudface @HardCore Troubadour @DarrellV and many others who know their stuff.

I get your pain. Here's a thread to an oddball '75 or '76 Kalamazoo (maybe??) made LP Deluxe. https://www.mylespaul.com/threads/what-can-you-tell-me-about-this-one-deluxe-cherry-sunburst.342441/page-3

The link isn't to show off some guitar I used to own. There's a lot of knowledge shared on that thread, but also a lot of the madness in this era explained, and illustrated via my old guitar.

Enjoy the madness, I hope it helps in finding the guitar you're after.
 

HardCore Troubadour

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If you can find a 76 with the made in USA printed vertically on the headstock or large side dots= KM production.

If you can find a LP with original pots dating to 1976 with a STAMPED 6 digit serial number= KM production.

I might think of another vague charistic later and f I do, will post, but those are the most common.

Other than that, it is a crapshoot.........

most of the info you received before posting here is wrong......
 

DarrellV

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Good info above, OP..

I can understand if you are wondering why you should take our word for anything over some folks you talked to in real life..

I just want to assure you that unlike the folks in real life, in here we are held to a different standard.

In here anything we post gets peer reviewed by everyone..... BS quickly gets sorted out..

We compare notes on everything, and any new info that isn't already widely known, needs to be documented with photos or a link to the reference..

The era you are looking in is affectionately called the 'Norlin' era by way of who was in charge of Gibson at the time.

Bear in mind, as others have said, this was a crazy and very inconsistent time in Gibson building history. Some of the things they did on some, but not on others, defy explanation.

2 plants were running, Kalamazoo was on borrowed time and likely using up a lot of scrap parts and leftovers..adding to the inconsistency.



Hardcore gave you a couple good pointers to look for... there isn't a lot.

Furthermore, this was well before the internet. Published documentation on this era is very scarce.

So between us we have pieced together a timeline and the features of the day from the hundreds of owners in here, that seems to fit the facts of what we see on the ones we own.

:laugh2:

 

mudface

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LOL!! And I learned from you, so what does that say for me?? :rofl:




(Think carefully before you answer....) :squint:
A "Hack Apprentice"...... another year or two a "Journeyman Hack",..... and with some notarized paperwork and proof of quality of skill,..... a "Certified Hack"....... with a plaque and documentation.
:rofl:

:p
 

DarrellV

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A "Hack Apprentice"...... another year or two a "Journeyman Hack",..... and with some notarized paperwork and proof of quality of skill,..... a "Certified Hack"....... with a plaque and documentation.
:rofl:

:p
:applause::lol::rofl:

Sign me up!
 

SonOfMI

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Thanks for the info. I wasn’t sure how active this place was and didn’t expect much if anything useful. It turns out there’s more for me to sift through.

I don’t know if it’s possible for an outsider to understand why I’m after what I’m searching for. It’s more of the Made in Michigan thing than birthday thing. I may end up accepting something from a different year than 1976 as long as the guitar has some way to verify it was made in Kzoo. Michigan has a long and proud manufacturing history. I had 3 generations of family that worked for Ford on my Dad’s side. Over on my Mother’s side there were 4 consecutive generations that worked for Chrysler. You guessed it, I’m from Detroit. My family impressed high quality and pride of work in me - for what we did as a family and for the work others did. As long as it was good stuff and moreso if it was from Michigan.

I had a thing for Reverend guitars and owned a couple of them. Not only were they made in Michigan, they were made in my backyard where I was born and grew up. A few years ago I saw a Reverend hanging in Guitar Center that I picked up to check out. The back of the headstock was stamped made in Korea. I put it back and after some research, I found out they outsourced most of their manufacturing awhile ago. The Reverends I owned were made in Detroit but I ended up losing affinity for them and sold them.

I’ve mostly liked slabs. Explorer, V, owned several SG guitars. I own several ESP and ESP LTD Eclipse guitars. The modern Les Paul. More pleasant neck carve, modern body cuts, more modern pickups. I've enjoyed playing them for over 20 years.

Last year I bought a new Gibson Les Paul Standard after playing it at a guitar show. In the current Gibson models it would fit in the Les Paul Modern category. Asymmetrical neck, weight relief, BurstBucker Pros, etc. After playing that for awhile and really liking that guitar, I ended up spending some time out in LA. Have you ever checked out the Hollywood Guitar Center? I did. I lost count of the number of times I went in there just to play some of their wine red pancake Les Pauls. I bought and sold some other guitars in the meantime, but about a year after those hours playing the pancake Les Pauls with laminated necks, I'm here. If I'm going to buy an older guitar like that, I might as well make it count and have it be one that was made where I'm from. While I'm at it, might as well look for one that was made the year I was born.

My wife is tired of hearing about this, so I had to blab it out here. Its starting to sound like if I stick to my guns this is going to be quite the little adventure. Maybe I'll go to a 1978 and just look for the last three serial digits less than 500. Maybe I'll just go back to the mid-60's. Those Wallace guitars are interesting in that they are made from reclaimed wood from my old backyard, but I've never really liked Teles. So maybe I'll just end up buying a new Heritage and be done with it. Who knows how it'll work out, but I have time to do some digging around. In the meantime, if you've read this far, mind if I post some pics of what I've found and ask for verification? I can date pots. But I'm not sure if I can tell a stamped vs sticker serial or if I'd know large dot side markers vs small ones. I wasn't able to find any help via Google on the side dots or stamped vs sticker serials.
 

Uncle Vinnie

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Welcome aboard. You still in Michigan? I'm in Manistee.
 

ARandall

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Before 75 and after 77 gives you an easy tell as to the manufacture location......choose the former timeframe and there was no Nashville plant, and after 77 has the 8 digit ser# with the batch number range showing its origin.

I wanted a 70's Custom.......but my 'going all out' was to find one that played well and sounded killer, and the precise year be damned (even though 72 is my birth year). And I guess that is what you have to solve for yourself.......what is the biggest priority here.
 

rogue3

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Thanks for the info. I wasn’t sure how active this place was and didn’t expect much if anything useful. It turns out there’s more for me to sift through.

I don’t know if it’s possible for an outsider to understand why I’m after what I’m searching for. It’s more of the Made in Michigan thing than birthday thing. I may end up accepting something from a different year than 1976 as long as the guitar has some way to verify it was made in Kzoo. Michigan has a long and proud manufacturing history. I had 3 generations of family that worked for Ford on my Dad’s side. Over on my Mother’s side there were 4 consecutive generations that worked for Chrysler. You guessed it, I’m from Detroit. My family impressed high quality and pride of work in me - for what we did as a family and for the work others did. As long as it was good stuff and moreso if it was from Michigan.

I had a thing for Reverend guitars and owned a couple of them. Not only were they made in Michigan, they were made in my backyard where I was born and grew up. A few years ago I saw a Reverend hanging in Guitar Center that I picked up to check out. The back of the headstock was stamped made in Korea. I put it back and after some research, I found out they outsourced most of their manufacturing awhile ago. The Reverends I owned were made in Detroit but I ended up losing affinity for them and sold them.

I’ve mostly liked slabs. Explorer, V, owned several SG guitars. I own several ESP and ESP LTD Eclipse guitars. The modern Les Paul. More pleasant neck carve, modern body cuts, more modern pickups. I've enjoyed playing them for over 20 years.

Last year I bought a new Gibson Les Paul Standard after playing it at a guitar show. In the current Gibson models it would fit in the Les Paul Modern category. Asymmetrical neck, weight relief, BurstBucker Pros, etc. After playing that for awhile and really liking that guitar, I ended up spending some time out in LA. Have you ever checked out the Hollywood Guitar Center? I did. I lost count of the number of times I went in there just to play some of their wine red pancake Les Pauls. I bought and sold some other guitars in the meantime, but about a year after those hours playing the pancake Les Pauls with laminated necks, I'm here. If I'm going to buy an older guitar like that, I might as well make it count and have it be one that was made where I'm from. While I'm at it, might as well look for one that was made the year I was born.

My wife is tired of hearing about this, so I had to blab it out here. Its starting to sound like if I stick to my guns this is going to be quite the little adventure. Maybe I'll go to a 1978 and just look for the last three serial digits less than 500. Maybe I'll just go back to the mid-60's. Those Wallace guitars are interesting in that they are made from reclaimed wood from my old backyard, but I've never really liked Teles. So maybe I'll just end up buying a new Heritage and be done with it. Who knows how it'll work out, but I have time to do some digging around. In the meantime, if you've read this far, mind if I post some pics of what I've found and ask for verification? I can date pots. But I'm not sure if I can tell a stamped vs sticker serial or if I'd know large dot side markers vs small ones. I wasn't able to find any help via Google on the side dots or stamped vs sticker serials.
My '76 Tobacco Standard had a decal for a serial number. i verified the build location with that decal serial number,it stuck in my mind at the time, it was a *new* Nashville Les Paul.
It had the worst flat and wide frets,ever. No height on those suckers at all.Never,ever seen them on a gibby again. I never weighed it,but it was certainly above 11lbs.Sustain for *days*,lol. 3-piece maple neck .

Bright as bright could be. Its why i sold it. Funny thing,i traded my first lester (cherry burst,3 piece hog neck Deluxe> Kalamazoo made) for that standard.I didn't know a thing in those days.I just fell for the Tobacco burst because my favorite local player was playing one.Mistake.
 
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moreles

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I ensuring MIM (in this case, Made in Michigan) is the main thing, follow A Randall's guidance and avoid the transitional years. That means letting go of the birth date thing, but surely that's far less consequential than getting a guitar from home.
 

SonOfMI

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Welcome aboard. You still in Michigan? I'm in Manistee.
No. We moved to Atlanta GA about a decade ago. Better job prospects, more job prospects, better economy, better weather, miss the hell out of the people and the Red Wings though.

I'm still looking and have a lead on one that might meet the criteria Hardcore gave earlier. We'll see. I'm waiting on the dude to send some better pictures. With the holidays and rehabing my hip I've got my hands full. It says a lot that I've only ran across one possibility online since I posted this.
 




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