How do you identify a pre-historic?

johnny_walker

Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2008
Messages
38
Reaction score
1
I'm looking at a guitar that I was told was a pre-historic reissue but I have a few doubts? How do you tell the difference between a pre-historic and a newer historic?

What are the detailed differences? Tops? Hardware? Construction? Serial numbers?

What's the consensus on these guitars? Good? Better to spend my money on a new R9?
 

houstonTX

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2010
Messages
130
Reaction score
0
maybe call the Gibson 1-800 number with the serial number. their customer service should help.
 

charpchevy

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Messages
12
Reaction score
14
Yes - on the pre-historic reissues. At least for the 90-ish timeframe; I don't know about the older special orders and/or 80's reissues.

 

dangerdog

Senior Member
Joined
May 11, 2008
Messages
2,496
Reaction score
1,716
A Historic will almost always have a long tenon. A pre-historic will not.

There are some that are labeled "historic collection" on the back of the headstock that do not have a long tenon though. I think these are transition pieces...very rare but I doubt more valuable for it...at least not in my experience.

What you want to look for is an early classic parading as a pre-historic.....you can tell these apart by the pot dates, serial numbers and pickup cavity stamps. A classic will not say "reissue" in the pickup cavity.

For example, one of the greatest classics ever, 1993 Classic:






 

delawaregold

_______Artie_______
Super Mod
Joined
Aug 31, 2007
Messages
5,353
Reaction score
8,385


From the outside…not so easy.
Looking in the cavity’s…very easy.
You will find all the “Tells” in the Pickup and Control Cavity.
The first thing to look for is the long neck tenon in the neck
Pickup cavity.
All Custom Shop Historic Reissue Guitars have Long Neck Tenons.


 

SKATTERBRANE

Banned
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
21,435
Reaction score
12,372
I know a lot of Ebayers label their 1980s Standards as preHistorics, when they are just regular production Standards. The inked SN vs. the stamped is the tell in that case.

As for 1990-mid 1993 Classics and the 1991-mid 1993 preHistorics, sometimes you have to look in the pickup cavities to verify which one you have. Even Gibson reassigned them at the factory, and altered the markings in the pickup cavities accordingly. In 1991 the preHistorics took on the more "accurate" features that the Classic introduced in 1990.

The 1983-1990 PreHistorics are very easy to identify without turning a screw.
 

SKATTERBRANE

Banned
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
21,435
Reaction score
12,372
The serial number font is one good way to tell a 1988, 1989 or 1990 Flametop reissue from a R8, R9 or R0 respectively, without turning a screw. Also the pre 1991 preHistorics had screw-in bushing on their tuners vs, push-in for the Historics. The ones that REALLY fool people are the 1996-1998 Custom Shop standards that are built to Historic specs! Before 1999, the Custom Shop guitars did not have the "CS" in their serial number. So they had 6 9xxx. 7 9xxx, and 8 9xxx for the 1996, 1997 and 1998 non Historic Custom Shop Standards. They also made Custom Shop Standards made to USA specs that had the normal YDDDYxxx Serial number style....different animal.

You can see where the same serial number can be used over and over again. 7 9111 could be a 1987 prehistoric, a 1997 Custom shop standard, a 1999 R7 or a 2009 R7. Mix in the Classic SNs and you have another can of worms.

In fact the early 90's Classics and PreHistoric actually shared their SN series. So 1 0988 could be a 1991 Classic and 1 0989 could be a 1991 Flametop reissue.
 

dangerdog

Senior Member
Joined
May 11, 2008
Messages
2,496
Reaction score
1,716


All Custom Shop Historic Reissue Guitars have Long Neck Tenons.

Like I said above, there are very early reissues, that are stamped "Historic Collection" that do not have a long tenon.

I think I have maybe seen two. The one I remember more distinctly was a 57 custom.
 

SKATTERBRANE

Banned
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
21,435
Reaction score
12,372
Yes, the "Historic Collection" came out in 1991. The 1993 and very early 1994 Historic Les Pauls had this decal also. As far as preHistorics go, (without the long tenon) the Custom was the only Les Paul that had that Decal, other iconic Gibsons were included, Super 400, Flying V, Explorer, and so on.

The early 80s' and the early 90's were VERY dynamic and confusing times at Gibson, and very difficult to deliniate.

In 1991, when the "Historic Collection" was born, the Les Paul Flametop RI became the 1959 Flametop RI or the 1960 Flametop RI, but I have yet to see any of those with the "Historic Collection" decal. EVERY 1993 long tenoned R7 or R9 Historic I have ever seen had either the "Historic Collection" decal or "Custom Shop" decal. These were phased out in very early 1994 due to customer complaints. (not historically accurate, how ironic!)
 

LeftyF2003

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2010
Messages
7,901
Reaction score
9,559
My 90 pre-historic is not stamped "REISSUE" in the pickup cavity, but Gibson confirmed it over the phone. Best most sure way to tell is call Gibson with the serial #.
 

SKATTERBRANE

Banned
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
21,435
Reaction score
12,372
Sometimes seen on 1993 and early 1994 Historics:



More commonly seen on 1993 and early 1994 Historic R7s and R9s, and also seen on Les Paul Custom preHistorics (and other Gibson non-Les Paul models):





Stamp on a 1991-early 93 preHistoric Les Paul 1960 Flametop RI:



Started life as a Les Paul Classic Plus, changed to a 1960 Flametop RI AT THE FACTORY:

 

SKATTERBRANE

Banned
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
21,435
Reaction score
12,372
My 90 pre-historic is not stamped "REISSUE" in the pickup cavity, but Gibson confirmed it over the phone. Best most sure way to tell is call Gibson with the serial #.
It is less likely to see that stamp on 1983-1990 reissues than it would be on 1991-mid 1993 Reissues. Or rather, I should say, from 1991-mid 1993 MOST reissues had that stamp, from 1983-1990, it was more hit or miss, because they did not have to differentiate between a Reissue and a Classic, and in 1990 the Reissue was still not upgraded to the Classic specs.
 

dangerdog

Senior Member
Joined
May 11, 2008
Messages
2,496
Reaction score
1,716
Sometimes seen on 1993 and early 1994 Historics:



More commonly seen on 1993 and early 1994 Historic R7s and R9s, and also seen on Les Paul Custom preHistorics (and other Gibson non-Les Paul models):





Stamp on a 1991-early 93 preHistoric Les Paul 1960 Flametop RI:



Started life as a Les Paul Classic Plus, changed to a 1960 Flametop RI AT THE FACTORY:

I actually still have emails between you (Rod) me and Roger at Gibson about a '93 R7 without the long tenon.
 




Top