FAQ: Tenons

dwagar

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2007
Messages
7,828
Reaction score
1,196


Early Norlins (though 1974) had what are referred to as 'transitional tenons' or 'modified long tenons'. A long neck tenon with the tongue portion cut off. I assume trimmed prior to assembly, rather than milled out during assembly. This tenon is visible in the neck pickup cavity.

In 1975, along with the change to maple necks, came the short tenon, aka rocker tenon. Allowing for faster assembly, the neck can be 'rocked' slightly to achieve the correct angle. A short tenon is not visible in the cavity.

With Gibson, dates are not set in stone. I've seen pictures of maple necked '75s and one '76 with trans tenons.

I have a theory (but could be wrong) that Nashville never made a trans tenon Les Paul, that they all came from Kalamazoo.
 

JimmyAce2006

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Sep 18, 2007
Messages
11,204
Reaction score
6,255
Some Norlins that had a trans tenon were routed in the neck pickup cavity for a long tenon. In that case, a small block of wood was placed in the empty space where the tongue of a long tenon would have been. It makes it look like a long tenon. In that situation beware; take a close look at the end of the tongue. If it is not beveled on the end, it is a block of wood, not a long tenon. I have seen people try to sell them as long tenons on ebay in the past; could be an honest mistake, but a costly one.
 

dwagar

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2007
Messages
7,828
Reaction score
1,196
that was early, wasn't it? '68/69?
 

diceman

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2007
Messages
29,930
Reaction score
5,236
Should have been very early '69 when there were trans tenon necks and long tenon routes w/ the blocks. By mid/late '69, the switch to trans tenon should have been complete. I do not believe that there were any trans tenons in '68 - only long.
 

dwagar

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2007
Messages
7,828
Reaction score
1,196
thanks, that matches what I've got in the History thread.
 

icsm

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2009
Messages
170
Reaction score
18
Long tenons existed in the early 69s. I think the guitars that were started in 68 and shipped in 69 (aka early 69s) had long tenons. Trans tenons start mid 69 (i read somewhere Feb 69). Trans tenons are closer to long tenons than they are to short tenons in terms of construction.
 

treatb

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2009
Messages
482
Reaction score
104
whats that big white thing along the truss rod of the short tenon
 

dwagar

V.I.P. Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2007
Messages
7,828
Reaction score
1,196
I assume that's the filler strip - put in after the rod is put in. You don't see it in the other 2 photos as they aren't cut as deep (you can't see the rod)
 

Gregzy

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
116
Reaction score
116
Here's a trans tenon on my late '74/early '75 LPC (Mahogany neck) :



Greg
 

Chris Tramp

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
114
Reaction score
6
What difference if any is there in a short and trans tenon? Does it make the neck more stable and tuning better with a trans Tenon? I take it one of the two are more collectable..
 

moff40

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2008
Messages
4,647
Reaction score
970
What difference if any is there in a short and trans tenon? Does it make the neck more stable and tuning better with a trans Tenon? I take it one of the two are more collectable..
Not collectible in and of itself, but checking the tenon is a good way to verify an approximate age of a guitar. It just so happens that older (pre 1960) LPs are collectible, and all had long tenons. The first couple of years of the re-introduced LP (1969 - 1972-ish) are desirable, (though less collectible and less valuable than the '50s models), and feature a transitional tenon. LPs built after that time are least valuable, and coincidentally, all of those, except Custom Shop VOS models, have short tenons.

Generally speaking, more wood-to-wood contact in the neck joint should result in better vibration transfer from the neck, and in theory, cause better sustain. Therefore it should be that long tenon guitars sustain longest, followed by trans-tenon, and finally the short or "rocker tenon". Notice I said "in theory". It doesn't always hold true in practice... Each guitar is an individual regardless of its construction.
 

Chris Tramp

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
114
Reaction score
6
Not collectible in and of itself, but checking the tenon is a good way to verify an approximate age of a guitar. It just so happens that older (pre 1960) LPs are collectible, and all had long tenons. The first couple of years of the re-introduced LP (1969 - 1972-ish) are desirable, (though less collectible and less valuable than the '50s models), and feature a transitional tenon. LPs built after that time are least valuable, and coincidentally, all of those, except Custom Shop VOS models, have short tenons.

Generally speaking, more wood-to-wood contact in the neck joint should result in better vibration transfer from the neck, and in theory, cause better sustain. Therefore it should be that long tenon guitars sustain longest, followed by trans-tenon, and finally the short or "rocker tenon". Notice I said "in theory". It doesn't always hold true in practice... Each guitar is an individual regardless of its construction.
Thanks for the info! I had read on here and other places that some LP's after '72 still have long or trans tenons? I guess its just a lottery and the only way to find out is to look under the neck pickup?

Im interested in buying a '74 Ivory 20th Anniversary Custom, any idea on wether these have a trans or long tenon? And also, do you know how i can tell if it is made in Kalamazoo? As its a '74 and i read that serial no's from this year are a bit dodgy... How much would you pay for one?

Cheers!
 

moff40

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2008
Messages
4,647
Reaction score
970
Thanks for the info! I had read on here and other places that some LP's after '72 still have long or trans tenons? I guess its just a lottery and the only way to find out is to look under the neck pickup?

Im interested in buying a '74 Ivory 20th Anniversary Custom, any idea on wether these have a trans or long tenon? And also, do you know how i can tell if it is made in Kalamazoo? As its a '74 and i read that serial no's from this year are a bit dodgy... How much would you pay for one?

Cheers!
My guess would be a trans tenon on the '74, though it might be short. IIRC. long tenons went away long before the reintroduction of the LP in late'68/'69. The trans tenon was phased out and was pretty much gone by 1975 (see the original post in this thread). Everything after that (except Custom Shop/VOS) is short tenon, including Customs. Then in about 2005, Customs ceased to be made in the "USA" plant, becoming instead a "Custom Shop" model, and thus got a long tenon again.

As for whether it was made in Kalamazoo or Nashville, I'm not sure. Of course, Kalamazoo was the original, then Norlin opened the Nashville plant. Both plants operated from 1974 until 1984. It's very likely that the '74 was made in Kalamazoo - but don't take my word as gospel....
 

Les Paw

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2009
Messages
1,093
Reaction score
397
Sometimes this info can be misleading or say not totally accurate. I recently purchased a 58 LP custom BB and returned it because it sounded like crap. It had (obviously) a long tenon. I have other guitars with the trans tenons and I tell you they sound A LOT better. I don't know why. Maybe there was another reason for them switching from the long tenon??? I believe the fact that there was no maple top either made a difference as well. I would says it is accurate to say that the tenon length is more important to collectors than true players. As far as sound goes. I don't care if I pay $50,000 for a true vintage guitar, or $1,000 for a beat up Norlin. If it does not sound or play good I don't want it.....
 

moff40

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 19, 2008
Messages
4,647
Reaction score
970
Sometimes this info can be misleading or say not totally accurate. I recently purchased a 58 LP custom BB and returned it because it sounded like crap. It had (obviously) a long tenon. I have other guitars with the trans tenons and I tell you they sound A LOT better. I don't know why. Maybe there was another reason for them switching from the long tenon??? I believe the fact that there was no maple top either made a difference as well. I would says it is accurate to say that the tenon length is more important to collectors than true players. As far as sound goes. I don't care if I pay $50,000 for a true vintage guitar, or $1,000 for a beat up Norlin. If it does not sound or play good I don't want it.....
+1. That's why I said "in theory" :)
 


Latest Threads



Top