FAQ: Norlin identification 1970-1975

dwagar

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From Gibson:
From 1970-1975 the method of serializing instruments at Gibson became even more random. All numbers
were impressed into the wood and a six digit number assigned, though no particular order was given and
some instruments had a letter prefix. The orange labels inside hollow bodied instruments was discontinued
in 1970 and were replaced by white and orange rectangle labels on the acoustics, and small black, purple
and white rectangle labels were placed on electric models.

In 1970, the words "MADE IN USA" was impressed into the back of instrument headstocks (though a few
instruments from the 1950s also had MADE IN USA impressed into their headstocks as well).

1970, 1971, and 1972 100000s, 600000s, 700000s, 900000s
1973 ...........................000001s, 100000s, 200000s, 800000s and a few “A” + 6 digit numbers
1974 and 1975 ...........100000s, 200000s, 300000s, 400000s,500000s, 600000s, 800000s
and a few A-B-C-D-E-F + 6 digit numbers
During the period from 1975-1977 Gibson used a transfer that had eight digit numbers, the first two
indicate the year, 99=1975, 00=1976 and 06=1977, the following six digits are in the 100000 to 200000
range. MADE IN USA were also included on the transfer and some models had LIMITED EDITION also
applied. A few bolt on neck instruments had a date ink stamped on the heel area.

In 1977, Gibson first introduced the serialization method that is in practice today. This updated system
utilizes an impressed eight digit numbering scheme that covers both serializing and dating functions.


As you can see, the serial number series repeats in some years.

Pot codes are the best - look for 137yyww where yy=Year and ww=Week, eg 1377415 is the 15th week of 1974.

Other things to note:
- through 1974 necks were mahogany, in 1975 they changed to maple. Check under your truss rod cover.
- through 1974 they used a trans tenon (see the FAQ tenon thread), in 1975 the short tenon started. BUT, some '75s and even '76s were made with a trans tenon. Pull the neck pickup, you can see the tenon if it's a trans, you cannot see a tenon if it's short.
 

moff40

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I used to have a '76 Deluxe that had a six-digit serial. It also had a maple neck, so there must have been some cross-over.

I remember at the time people telling me back then (late '70s\early '80s) that the 6-digit serials were from the Kalamazoo plant, and the 8-digits were from Nashville. It was probably wrong, but seemed like a good explanation at the time... :)
 

dwagar

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I've never heard of a '76 with a 6 digit serial, there were '75s though.

And I've never thought of it, maybe Nashville never made a 6 digit serial number guitar?

From the Gibson serial number chart:
However, it has come to light recently that the Kalamazoo plant did not directly switch over to the “new” 8
digit serialization method in 1977. When the Nashville Gibson plant was opened in 1974, it was decided
that the bulk of the production of products would be run in the South; the Kalamazoo plant would produce
the higher end (fancier) models in the North. Of course, many of the older guitar builders and craftsmen
were still in Kalamazoo; and if they weren't ready to change how they built guitars, then they may not have
been ready to change how they numbered them! Certain guitar models built in the late 1970s can be used
to demonstrate the old-style 6 digit serial numbers. It is estimated that Gibson's Kalamazoo plant
continued to use the 6 digit serial numbers through 1978 and 1979. So double check the serial numbers
on those 1970s L-5s, Super 400s, and Super 5 BJBs!
 

moff40

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I wonder if I have any documentation lying around about that particular guitar that would show its serial number (like the original bill of sale or the police\insurance papers from when it got stolen). Although, just going on the serial number won't give me a definitive date...

I always called it a '76, though I don't know (or don't remember) what led me to that conclusion. I got it as a Christmas gift from my Dad in '77, so I suppose it could have been a '75. I always thought maple necks began in '76, but I was obviously wrong on that call.
 

dwagar

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yes, maple necks started in '75. That would make the most sense. But you never know with Gibson, lol. Also, back then we weren't as concerned with the year as we are today.
 

zontar

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I believe three of the pots my Les Paul came with are original--one was obviously not--I'll check the codes and see if that can narrow down the year more than the serial number.
 

Grand Pappy

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The pot's in mine checked out as '76 (1377613), but also under the metal plate that the pots are mounted on there are 2 dates, Sept 76 and Oct 76, stamped in ink on the bottom of wood in the control cav. Mine has a 3 pc maple neck. They must have assembled the wood parts in Sept and painted it in Oct.
 

92Classic

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My original 75 Custom has pots that date 5x week of 74, 6 digit serial, volute, trans tenon, t-tops, mahogany 3-piece neck, pancake body, rounded profile neck, fretless wonder frets, ect - about 10 pounds
 

Ziggy Stardust

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My Goldtop has 6 digit serial number.. 3 piece mahogny neck, pancake body and the only pot which I can tell is dated says 137733 or something..
 

huntington76er

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yes, maple necks started in '75. That would make the most sense. But you never know with Gibson, lol. Also, back then we weren't as concerned with the year as we are today.
true, my 75 has a mahogany 3 piece neck. i guess its an early 75? larry
 

dwagar

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yes it should be early then. Trans tenon too?
 

dwagar

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have a peek at the thread FAQ:Tenons.

A trans tenon pokes through into the neck pickup cavity - it's prior to the change to the short tenon. I think all mahogany necks are trans tenons. It's also known as a modified long tenon - same as a long tenon but with the tongue cut off.
 

John Vasco

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Curious thing about my '76 Deluxe. Serial number is 00131595. The only discernable number on one of the pots is 137745(solder blob). So, a '74 pot in a '76 guitar. That's some time gap.
 

Eric

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my custom has a 172*** serial and 2 of the pots are apparently originals, but the pot serial is 70-028 (??)
does that mean that it's a 1970?
the original owner bought it new in 1975
 

dwagar

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that's not the pot code, that's a part number or something, look for a number 137yyww - yy is year, ww is week.
 

Eric

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that's not the pot code, that's a part number or something, look for a number 137yyww - yy is year, ww is week.
do you have any pics of a 70-75 pot with that code pattern?

maybe it's located in other part of the pot?

edit:

found another number under the dirt
apparently says 13773 something
so I assume it's a 73
 

dwagar

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yep, should be. If it was a late 73 pot it could be an early 74. And sitting in the store for a year is reasonable (to the new purchase in 75) But you're in the right zone now. Good thing it still had an original pot.

It should have a mahog neck, trans tenon, possibly stickered TTops, bonus.
 

StangsSwang

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sry its actually a 3 piece neckhello i believe my new guitar is from this era but would like any information on it if possible. i can't see the dates on the pots due to the soldering and a little bit of corrosion unfortunately. it has the pancake body, kluson tuners, neck volute, three piece neck, 3 piece top and a beautiful zero flame cherry sunburst. i could provide the serial number if necessary... just joined this site but is it ever awesome...almost as awesome as my les pauls :)
 

dwagar

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StrangsSwang, welcome. Maybe open a new thread on it and post some pics if you can.
 


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