FAQ: Norlin History

Ace Warslave

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One of the books i have for iding gibsons serial numbers was saying,

that in early 1973 they were having troble sourcing good grade mahogny..

which possibly explains my 70s 900000s with 3 piece maple neck norlin...:hmm:
 

dwagar

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Don't look down on a 3 pc neck guitar. Historically, Gibson used one piece necks for the cheaper guitars, multi piece for the high end guitars.

Here's a pretty neck, a Super 400 (pic stolen from Elderly)

 

siempreyo

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buy a gibson les paul 78 'custom a few days ago and would help me know what kind of body she has, she has neck is three piece maple and three pickups
 

Ace Warslave

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buy a gibson les paul 78 'custom a few days ago and would help me know what kind of body she has, she has neck is three piece maple and three pickups
Lots of good people on here but some nice pics will help..:thumb:
 

parts

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I was selling/Teaching at a Chicago Thomas Organ store in 1965..I was 16..(I got the beginners that year)..CMI and Gibson..mostly Thomas Organs until the world changed..

By 1968 we heard the CMI guys talking about a sale of Thomas Organ..Lowry..Gibson..and Vox rights..

CMI still had some money in the ECL group I think..and even the name..NORLIN..shows that
“Norlin” was named for Norton Stevens, ECL president, and Maurice Berlin, CMI president.
This may be well known here..just never saw it mentioned.. CMI still controlled Gibson for a few years later..so
CMI was the Directing organization until mid 70s..
Any changes done during that time were , I beleive, CMI management reacting to ECL investment concerns..

I did NAMM shows for both CMI (FUN TIMES) and NORLIN (Everyone Nervous).. The quality seemed fine..until I left for another group and finishing college..
By 1971 I was out on the road..and everything seemed distant memory..

CMI was absorbed by NORLIN mid 70s..Probably as investment targets were not achieved..

Probably all common knowledge here..but old guys ramble on..LOL

I own 5 pre 1968 Gibsons..and a 1971 LP cutom..all are excellent and quality instruments..
 

SpencerJ

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I have a 1979 Les Paul Standard that, while I have no doubt of it's authenticity, I suppose I'm curious as to how it came about. From what I understand, by that point, Kalamazoo (which the serial number and various other visual hallmarks indicate as this guitars place of origin) was operating in it's final phase of a "Giant Custom Shop", so I'm curious as to how a Standard passed through there. It has a two piece top, as opposed to the standard 3 of that era, and in case your wondering, it's not a KM model (you can see the indentation of where the original Kluson, as opposed to the Grovers on the KM)

Help?,
Spencer
 

Vincent R.

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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.

................................
- 1975 - necks change to maple, short tenon introduced, Nashville plant starts building LPs in conjunction with Kalamazoo. Serial number changes to decal.
..........
Please a question:
is the short tennon an higher high-quality preferible reliable way than longer tennon ?
By watching the pic into this link i get the feeling the short tennon make the body to stay with much more wood thickness, doesnt it?? While the long tennon way needs to cut much more wood from the body. I like much more the short one! What do you all think about? Thanks a bunch
(BTW Merry Xmas holidays and happy new year! :wave:)
http://www.mylespaul.com/forums/gibson-les-pauls/50210-gibson-les-paul-101-a.html
 

79standard

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I have a 1979 Les Paul Standard that, while I have no doubt of it's authenticity, I suppose I'm curious as to how it came about. From what I understand, by that point, Kalamazoo (which the serial number and various other visual hallmarks indicate as this guitars place of origin) was operating in it's final phase of a "Giant Custom Shop", so I'm curious as to how a Standard passed through there. It has a two piece top, as opposed to the standard 3 of that era, and in case your wondering, it's not a KM model (you can see the indentation of where the original Kluson, as opposed to the Grovers on the KM)

Help?,
Spencer
BUMP :wave:
 

tele0123

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I love my Norlin but it's kinda weird how some of these got out with inconsistent features...such as my 78 Std with non pancake body and no volute or made in the USA stamp.
A solid boat anchor that just rocks ....Oh my acking back :(
 

Progrocker111

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such as my 78 Std with non pancake body and no volute or made in the USA stamp.
A solid boat anchor that just rocks ....Oh my acking back :(
No volute on 78? :shock: Are you sure the the neck wasnt sanded or repaired?

:photos:
 

Kris Ford

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I was selling/Teaching at a Chicago Thomas Organ store in 1965..I was 16..(I got the beginners that year)..CMI and Gibson..mostly Thomas Organs until the world changed..

By 1968 we heard the CMI guys talking about a sale of Thomas Organ..Lowry..Gibson..and Vox rights..

CMI still had some money in the ECL group I think..and even the name..NORLIN..shows that
“Norlin” was named for Norton Stevens, ECL president, and Maurice Berlin, CMI president.
This may be well known here..just never saw it mentioned.. CMI still controlled Gibson for a few years later..so
CMI was the Directing organization until mid 70s..
Any changes done during that time were , I beleive, CMI management reacting to ECL investment concerns..

I did NAMM shows for both CMI (FUN TIMES) and NORLIN (Everyone Nervous).. The quality seemed fine..until I left for another group and finishing college..
By 1971 I was out on the road..and everything seemed distant memory..

CMI was absorbed by NORLIN mid 70s..Probably as investment targets were not achieved..

Probably all common knowledge here..but old guys ramble on..LOL

I own 5 pre 1968 Gibsons..and a 1971 LP cutom..all are excellent and quality instruments..
This post is huge and probably one of the most fact based and intelligent ones on this thread....one thing that needs to be cleared up is that NORLIN wasn't even a word until 1974!!!!!! Obviously not common knowledge if 70-74 if they are called NORLIN. This is simply just incorrect, and this is how misinformation becomes facts on these forums...
Thus, from '70-'74 should state something like "ECL owned CMI" or "Pre-merger period"
Gibson remained under the control of CMI until 1974 when it became a subsidiary of Norlin Musical Instruments. Norlin Musical Instruments was a member of Norlin Industries which was named for ECL president Norton Stevens and CMI president Arnold Berlin.
So yes, CMI still ran the show, even while "owned" by someone else..if you look at brochures from 70-74..still says Gibson, INC. Then by '75, will say NORLIN...
So it's very important for people to know that it was NOT called NORLIN right off the bat.
 

Progrocker111

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Exactly. :)

People often forget too, that all typical "Norlin" features (pancake body, three piece necks, transitional tenon etc.) were incorporated in 1969, not in 70. So they arent Norlin features.

Typical Norlin era features, were for example maple necks, short tenon etc, bigger neck angles etc, simply all what came in 75 and later.
 

1981 LPC

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I stumbled upon interesting posts made on the lespaulforum by member Big Al. New info (to me at least) and since he's not a member I thought I'd copy-paste.

I was in retail and worked at a Gibson dealeras well as an authorised service/repair tech in the span from 75-88. I was not aware of quality issues at that time. Quite the opposite in fact. Gibson sold way more guitars than any previous time, including under McCarty. There was no increase in warranty claim percentages and Gibson quality far exceeded all other USA manufactured brands in those years.

Body sandwich was more costly for Gibson and not a way to cut corners but to reduce waste, as has been explained in the other thread. I was ended by 75/76. Heavy was consumer driven. It was the fashion then.

[...]

Pancake was not a way to use scrap. That is overly simplistic and shows a basic lack of information on the subject. It was a way to reduce waste, a very different distinction.I know. I was there I saw the white wood and saw mill at Gibson Kalamazoo. I talked with several employees and sought out the ones from the 50's. Seymour Duncan and I had lunch with Mr. McCarty. I saw how and why they were built.

Market demands and consumer pressure demanded a heavy Les Paul. Again, I sold them I bought and played them and used them. You think we were all Tom Wittrocks? Look at the old mags from then, very few knew anything about 50's guitars. There wasn't a cork sniffin' army of vintage wannabees freakin' out over long gone specs. Heavy guitars sounded better, that was conventional wisdom at that time. Gibson, Fender, Gretsch and Rickenbacker ALL made solidbody guitars that were in the same weight range.

Alembic, Oasis, Kramer,(w/metal necks!), Rickenbacker, Gibson, Fender, Gretsch and many other smaller manufactures ALL used laminate wood construction in an effort to build BETTER guitars.

The Asian copies (Ibeenhads), which are so well regarded as somehow having higher quality were butcher bock assemblies of scrap wood covered in veneers.

The vast majority wanted new electric solid bodies. Gibson like all manufacturers at that time answered the call. Things were done to improve quality and reduce warranty claims. The only USA company to offer LIFETIME WARRANTY on a solidbody as well as all their guitars.

Three piece necks are stiffer and more stable. Three piece maple was only used on Gibsons top models, It was viewed as a QUALITY spec, even in the late 50's.

One only has to pick up and play a well maintained Norlin era guitar to see, feel and hear the quality.
Flawless finishes, solid hardware and electronics, excellent fit and finish. Yeah, bad quality. They are what they are. What they aren't is a retro cloned 50's guitar, so what? Didn't seem to bother the pro's who used them live and the studio. There is a whole universe of quality that extends beyond 59's, Plexi's and bellbottoms.

Norlin INC was a conglomerate of many companies. Gibson carried them and indeed did not " hemorrage money" another wrong and misleading "fact". Cripes I am so tired of people reinventing history, I lived through and know about, intimately and personaly.
And 70's-80's Les Pauls were constructed from old growth mahogany, I would say older on average than 50's. [...] I did guitar repair in the 70's-80's and was a Gibson Repair Tech. In 78 I along with Jim Lombard and Seymour Duncan flew into Kalamazoo for a 3 day repair seminar. I met many original employees and saw all aspects of the manufacturing of Gibson Guitars.

I spent the better part of a day in the lumber yard (White wood dept I think it was called), picking brains and learning as much as I could from these experts. The mahogany was from Central America, and ONLY old growth Mahogany is harvested. It is wild and found deep in the rain forest. It was not plantation grown. It was the same hard, stiff wood as used in the 50's. Gibson bought the whole log, and mahogany was getting harder to find.

To reduce scrap and waste they used all of it. Three piece necks allowed more wood to be used and produces less waste. Same for sandwich bodies. It allowed more wood to be used with less of the log wasted. It also allowed for more boards to be cut from the logs as they used the same boards for SG's.

In the 50's they used more wood from the upper part of the tree, resulting in lighter wood being used. The heavier, denser lower portions were sold off as PATTERN GRADE Mahogany. I was told that this is very high grade wood. Now using all of the log they ended up with a heavier guitar. The market DEMANDED a heavy solid body guitar because many noticed increased tone and definition with them.

The wood was kiln dried as were the 50's. The wood was same species. The wood was from the same area. The wood was the same quality, but heavier and denser.

[...]

Too the best of my knowledge the wood was the same through the 80's. As C.A. Mahogany was getting harder to find, it also seems that the trees of proper size and age had more mineral content as well as density for increased weight. Still I have found a few non weight relieved 80's lester in the 9-10lb range. Not too bad.
 

Kris Ford

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I believe Big Al is a member here too..regardless, what he has to say speaks volumes. Far more truth based than some idiot who's never even owned or played Gibsons from this era spouting off with unfounded biases..I never even knew the Norlin era was so terrible until the Internet...
 

CaptSouth

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My 1980 Cherry LP born on 6/4/1980 plays very well and never had an issue with quality.
 

Mats A

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What does it mean that they got wider bindings in 1969? Was it all around the guitar?
 

Chris B.

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Just piping in to say I had a 1981/9182 LP Std from that era. It was probably the best guitar I ever owned. So, ya. No issues here with Norlin era Gibbies.

Unfortunately, I had to sell it along the way to pay rent. :(
 




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