FAQ: Norlin History

Eric

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Wasn't called Ecuadorian Company Ltd. it was called Cervezas Nacionales del Ecuador, and it's to date the main beer producer of Ecuador and most of Latin America.

(I'm from and live in Ecuador and my family's had stock of what now is called Cervecería Nacional del Ecuador for a long time).
now that's awesome :laugh2:
 

honeyburstpaul

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Good stuff! Pancake body did start during '69 (I saw your "?") - during '69, you had some mix and match of 1/3 piece necks and 1/pancake bodies (mine is 3pc neck 1pc body).

Long tenon in '68, Trans tenon in early '69.
What do you mean by pancake body?
 

Ace Warslave

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ok..now this gets rather confusing my ebony custom date stamped as 963###.and it has a 3 peice mapel neck pot code suggest that it is a 74..13774#..and of course it doesnt have the dot over the i..:hmm::hmm:
 

dwagar

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ok..now this gets rather confusing my ebony custom date stamped as 963###.and it has a 3 peice mapel neck pot code suggest that it is a 74..13774#..and of course it doesnt have the dot over the i..:hmm::hmm:
that is confusing. According to Gibson, a 900000 serial should be 70-72.

Keeping in mind nothing does really change on Jan 1st, maybe some 74s were made with maple necks, and it's possible pots were used somewhat later (74 dated pots used in 75)
To make it more confusing, someone on here mentioned that Gibson actually produced 20th Anniversary models well into '75. And lots of 74s don't have the 20th Ann inlay.
 

SingeMonkey

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I found it difficult to get good info on my '83 Deluxe. But then I found the catalogue from that year, which explains a lot.



There was a clear attempt to return to "vintage" specs: 17 degree headstock, mahogany neck, no volute, a small headstock, and a 3 piece top. The '83 Standards and Deluxes appear to be the same, barring the electronics.

I get the impression there was a major change in '83 that you don't hear talked about much.

Also, if they weight-relieved my Deluxe, they did a p%ss-poor job. It's a brick.
 

Boleskinehouse

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Weight relieving started in '83, but like anything from the Norlin years, there was probably not a strict cut-off date. Anyway yes, '83 is when the Standard got all the changes that basically remained unchanged until '02. With the exception of logo style and the number of top pieces.. That sort of thing.
 

John Vasco

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You've missed out that pick-up covers were embossed with the name 'Gibson' for a time in the early '70s.
 

dave294

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please excuse my ignorance but i have a question.
ive heard these pancake body les pauls are not as good as others. is this true?
and do they go for less than regular les paul standards? how much would a norlin era lp standard in decent condition(couple of scratches and dings) go for(in the us)?

thanks
 

dwagar

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Dave, I'd rather you moved a question like this out of the stickied history thread if you don't mind.
 

Executorg

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And what with "Made in USA" stamp on 77-79 LPC?
I don't saw it.



 

svarnas

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On Dec 19, 1969 Ecuadorian Company Ltd (ECL) bought controlling interest in Chicago Musical Instruments (CMI) which owned Gibson. The new company was named Norlin. Gibson was Norlin's last musical company asset to be sold off, in January 1986.

Changes timeline (note: changes don't happen on Jan 1st, there are always variants):
PRE-NORLIN
- 1965 - headstock angle changes, chrome replaces nickel hardware, brazillian is no more.
- 1968 - re-release of the Les Paul, GT with P90s and Black Custom. Long tenon. Wide binding.
- 1969 - wide headstock, wide binding, 3pc neck, pancake body, trans tenon. Deluxe introduced to use up the mini hums left over from sending Epiphone offshore.

NORLIN
- 1970 - volute, Made In USA stamp, confusing serial numbers start.
- 1974 - (?) Standards reintroduced, 'white' Customs, 20th Anniversary Customs (the first anniv issue from a guitar mfg).
- 1975 - necks change to maple, short tenon introduced, Nashville plant starts building LPs in conjunction with Kalamazoo. Serial number changes to decal.
- 1977 - end of pancake body. Decal serials still used, also the start of the modern 8 digit serial numbers.
- 1981 - end of volute
- 1983 - start of weight relief holes
- 1984 - final production at Kalamazoo in June
- 1985 (?) - end of 3 pc neck

Please add changes and corrections, and I'll edit this thread as we go

The volutes got really enlarged in '77-'78. Also, '79-'80 Les Pauls tended to have a slightly sharper and slightly shallower cutaway.
 

FLICKOFLASH

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On Dec 19, 1969 Ecuadorian Company Ltd (ECL) bought controlling interest in Chicago Musical Instruments (CMI) which owned Gibson. The new company was named Norlin. Gibson was Norlin's last musical company asset to be sold off, in January 1986.

Changes timeline (note: changes don't happen on Jan 1st, there are always variants):
PRE-NORLIN
- 1965 - headstock angle changes, chrome replaces nickel hardware, brazillian is no more.
- 1968 - re-release of the Les Paul, GT with P90s and Black Custom. Long tenon. Wide binding.
- 1969 - wide headstock, wide binding, 3pc neck, pancake body, trans tenon. Deluxe introduced to use up the mini hums left over from sending Epiphone offshore.

NORLIN
- 1970 - volute, Made In USA stamp, confusing serial numbers start.
- 1974 - (?) Standards reintroduced, 'white' Customs, 20th Anniversary Customs (the first anniv issue from a guitar mfg).
- 1975 - necks change to maple, short tenon introduced, Nashville plant starts building LPs in conjunction with Kalamazoo. Serial number changes to decal.
- 1977 - end of pancake body. Decal serials still used, also the start of the modern 8 digit serial numbers.
- 1981 - end of volute
- 1983 - start of weight relief holes
- 1984 - final production at Kalamazoo in June
- 1985 (?) - end of 3 pc neck

Please add changes and corrections, and I'll edit this thread as we go
In 1969 Gibson parent Chicago Musical Instruments was taken over by a South American brewing conglomerate, E.C.L., which changed its name to Norlin Inc. (for ECL president Norton Stevens and CMI president Maurice Berlin). This began an era widely perceived as being characterized by corporate mismanagement and decreasing product quality similar to Fender's period under CBS ownership.

Between 1974 and 1984 production of Gibson guitars was shifted from Kalamazoo to Nashville, Tennessee. Early Nashville-built guitars suffered from both inexperienced workers, and climate-control problems in the humid South. The Kalamazoo plant was kept going for a few years as a custom-instrument shop, but was closed in 1984.[8] The Gibson Guitar Corp. was within three months of going out of business before it was bought by Henry E. Juszkiewicz, David H. Berryman, and Gary A. Zebrowski in January 1986.[9] The survival and success of Gibson today is largely attributed to this change in ownership. Currently, Juszkiewicz stands as CEO and Berryman as president of the company.
 

David P.

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By 1981 - End of volute, do you mean that was the last year they had them, or it was the first year they didn't? I would love a 1981 Les Paul Custom someday, since that's the year I was born. :D
 

dodger916

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By 1981 - End of volute, do you mean that was the last year they had them, or it was the first year they didn't? I would love a 1981 Les Paul Custom someday, since that's the year I was born. :D
Both my 81's have volutes.
 

SoK66

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Just wanted to jump in on this thread to add a bit of info from my experiences dealing with CMI & Norlin in the late 60s / early 70s. The use of multi-piece necks & bodies was the result of Norlin's notorious cost cutting regime. It was much less expensive for them to buy smaller wood stocks, widths, etc., than to source larger blanks with less imperfections, from which one-piece necks & bodies could be produced. This was true even adding in the labor and processes for the lamination steps. WRT the Les Pauls, one has to bear in mind that the SG was the volume model at the time. Norlin came up with the idea of simply laminating together SG sized blanks for the bodies, because the laminating process for the maple tops was already in place.

I learned all this from a friend who would later became President of Gibson, Bruce Bolen. We in retail complained a LOT about all this, because the guitars were becoming very cheap looking, and some were outright dogs. Discerning customers were starting to complain, and anyone who had access to real '50s era Gibsons could see the problems easily. Many of us were heavily into the "used" business, which of course would later become known as the "vintage" business, and we could put the instruments from the golden era side by side with the Norlins. Norlin management brushed aside any suggestion the instruments were anything but top drawer, and of course the rest was history.

Now, my favorite story from that era. In '71 I bought a 1960 Sunburst from its original owner for $425. Fearing it might be stolen from our house I locked it up in the display case at our store with a "not for sale" sign on it, only taking it out for special gigs, etc. Around the same time a buddy in need of funds sold me his virtually new cherry sunburst Les Paul Custom. It had all the Norlin "warts", mismatched 3 piece laminated top, 3-piece neck, pancake body, volute, "made in USA" stamp. It was even a "second"! I had my luthier replace the "fretless blunder" frets with medium jumbos and I had a player. To a man my bandmates all thought the Norlin sounded better than the '60 burst. Go figure.....
 

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