Kalamazoo vs Nashville plant

mudface

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So, slightly off topic but curious as I am.. how does Memphis fit in now, qualitywise?
Any opinions on that?

Love silverburst btw
The Memphis plant was primarily for ES and acoustic models...... the facility was sold (2018) during the bankruptcy of Gibson.

Production was moved to the Nashville facility.
 

Reflect_ion

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Ive owned several 70s kalamzoo and nashville LP standards and customs and have played many more. By late 70s the variance in neck/horn shape or build quality is same as with any guitar. Soundwise those t-tops are extremely consistent so sound the same.
I sold all but a ‘79 nashville custom because had a decently full neck, weighs a mere 9.5lbs, and sounds/plays as good as any...also has trad horn shape.
BTW, the bodies of that period are actually slightly shorter than traditional LP dimensions.
So no real consensus then on the "Kalamazoo kept the original shape and Nashville introduced the sharp horn from '78 till '82"?

Also, I'd think the short bodies would imply the sharp horn and vice versa, no?
 

radiomatts

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Yeah,...for $8k he can pay the shipping,.... if it was completely mint and hadn't yellowed with all it's original parts and kissed by 1980s Bo Derek's ass it still wouldn't be worth $8000..... Pass.
You had me at Bo Derek.
 

mudface

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Were the Kalamazoo made in the 80s Les Pauls also pancake bodies?
No...., the pancake body construction ended in mid 1977 at both plants.... as did the decal serial numbers.
 

mudface

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I remember @DarrellV had a red standard with the sharp horn. What plant is yours man?
@DarrellV has been MIA since September 3rd...... though I believe his CAR Standard was of Nashville origin. Short body.... though I need to check about the cutaway horn....

47488416-DA6B-4EA2-AA47-A36051BA4162.jpeg


Yup ...... sharp horn.
 
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Bob Womack

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Alrighty, I'm going to pull out my research one more time and paint a rather large bullseye on my back.

I bought a used Les Paul Standard in 1977 in Knoxville, TN. I had been saving for one for three years. There were brand new Les Pauls hanging on the rack and used ones as well. You could see the difference between the older ones and the newer ones. The older ones had sunbursts on back, neck, sides, and back of headstocks. The new ones had natural backs and necks. The old ones had three piece mahogany necks. The new ones had three-piece maple necks. The old ones had ABR-1 bridges and the new ones had a different (Nashville) bridge. The old ones had plastic jackplates. The new ones had chrome-plated metal plates. The old Standards had trussrod covers with "Standard" in a tiny script. The new ones had a bold "Standard" emblazoned on the cover. The old ones sported Kluson tuners, the new ones Grovers. The old ones had almost no volute and the new ones had a larger one. Until 1976 there was no mention of any 1970s "Standard" model in the Gibson catalog. See below for more.

I could only afford a used one but I bought one and I still have it. The differences spurred me to start researching this business. The first book I got was Tom and Mary Evans' Guitars. This book was published in 1977 and thus its research and photos dated from 1976 and before. Between page 368 and 387 the book showed Les Paul production operations at the Nashville plant. Page 387 shows a group of LPs hanging up and there are clearly maple neck LPs with clear finish. There is also one with a sunburst neck but solid body and sides.

Next I got a copy of Bacon & Day's The Gibson Les Paul Book. They said construction of the Nashville plant started in 1974 and it opened in 1975 and began to train the work force. They mentioned the abortive attempt to establish production of the Mark Series acoustics while they were also starting up production of electric guitars there. However, they said nothing of the Standards built in Kalamazoo in the early '70s except a listing of one (1) built there in 1975. They stated that as of 1976 all normal-line LPs were built at Nashville and only special case custom shop models were built in Kalamazoo. The normal line LPs were Deluxe, Standard, and Custom models. That tells you when normal production shifted. They also place the last LP Deluxe produced in K-Zoo as being made in 1974. However, in the back of the book, Bacon & Day are pretty mixed up on their serials and locations of production.

Where does the info on 1973-1974 LP Standard production come from? From a history of the Memphis Dealer Strings and Things LPs. It seems that once Gibson was persuaded to restart production of the LP in the '60s, they couldn't figure out what LP people wanted. In the fifties the specification changed every year. So in the late '60s Gibson started with a gold top with P-90s. The crowd said, "No! We want a normal one, with humbuckers." Gibson had a pile of mini-himbuckers left over from the acquisition of Epiphone so they stuck them in the LPs and called it the Deluxe. The people said, "No! We want the full-sized humbuckers like the Standard LP had!" So in 1973, Gibson allowed dealers to custom order LPs with their current pickup, the Pat. No. pickup (called a "T-Top" for a "T" molded into the bobbin top). Between 1973 and 1974, 2217 of these were built in Kalamazoo, including the last one in 1975. However, some dealers said, "The finish and top carve are all wrong." Strings and Things in Memphis convinced Gibson to sell them LPs with nothing but clearcoat. Strings and things took off the hardware, recut the headstocks and top carve, refinished and reassembled them and sold them as their own special edition. There were only a couple hundred of those made.

All of this poop is to let you know that the break point for production was 1976. From then on, all normal-line guitars, Deluxes, Standards, and Customs, came from Nashville. Fancy custom shop models like The Les Paul and The LP Artisan were still built in Kalamazoo is extremely small numbers. Anyone on the street, including me, could see a difference between the two locations of production. Oh, and by the way, the nornal-line early-70s Kalamazoo LPs had six-digit serial numbers. The numbers were all over the map like Gibson was trying to fit them in between the serials of other productions, but six digits.

All the best, and I've got my asbestos on.

Bob
 

Fred_Garvin

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I have to say one of the best LPs I ever played was an early Heritage once owned by Derek St Holmes. One of the heaviest, too.
 

mudface

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Alrighty, I'm going to pull out my research one more time and paint a rather large bullseye on my back.

I bought a used Les Paul Standard in 1977 in Knoxville, TN. I had been saving for one for three years. There were brand new Les Pauls hanging on the rack and used ones as well. You could see the difference between the older ones and the newer ones. The older ones had sunbursts on back, neck, sides, and back of headstocks. The new ones had natural backs and necks. The old ones had three piece mahogany necks. The new ones had three-piece maple necks. The old ones had ABR-1 bridges and the new ones had a different (Nashville) bridge. The old ones had plastic jackplates. The new ones had chrome-plated metal plates. The old Standards had trussrod covers with "Standard" in a tiny script. The new ones had a bold "Standard" emblazoned on the cover. The old ones sported Kluson tuners, the new ones Grovers. The old ones had almost no volute and the new ones had a larger one. Until 1976 there was no mention of any 1970s "Standard" model in the Gibson catalog. See below for more.

I could only afford a used one but I bought one and I still have it. The differences spurred me to start researching this business. The first book I got was Tom and Mary Evans' Guitars. This book was published in 1977 and thus its research and photos dated from 1976 and before. Between page 368 and 387 the book showed Les Paul production operations at the Nashville plant. Page 387 shows a group of LPs hanging up and there are clearly maple neck LPs with clear finish. There is also one with a sunburst neck but solid body and sides.

Next I got a copy of Bacon & Day's The Gibson Les Paul Book. They said construction of the Nashville plant started in 1974 and it opened in 1975 and began to train the work force. They mentioned the abortive attempt to establish production of the Mark Series acoustics while they were also starting up production of electric guitars there. However, they said nothing of the Standards built in Kalamazoo in the early '70s except a listing of one (1) built there in 1975. They stated that as of 1976 all normal-line LPs were built at Nashville and only special case custom shop models were built in Kalamazoo. The normal line LPs were Deluxe, Standard, and Custom models. That tells you when normal production shifted. They also place the last LP Deluxe produced in K-Zoo as being made in 1974. However, in the back of the book, Bacon & Day are pretty mixed up on their serials and locations of production.

Where does the info on 1973-1974 LP Standard production come from? From a history of the Memphis Dealer Strings and Things LPs. It seems that once Gibson was persuaded to restart production of the LP in the '60s, they couldn't figure out what LP people wanted. In the fifties the specification changed every year. So in the late '60s Gibson started with a gold top with P-90s. The crowd said, "No! We want a normal one, with humbuckers." Gibson had a pile of mini-himbuckers left over from the acquisition of Epiphone so they stuck them in the LPs and called it the Deluxe. The people said, "No! We want the full-sized humbuckers like the Standard LP had!" So in 1973, Gibson allowed dealers to custom order LPs with their current pickup, the Pat. No. pickup (called a "T-Top" for a "T" molded into the bobbin top). Between 1973 and 1974, 2217 of these were built in Kalamazoo, including the last one in 1975. However, some dealers said, "The finish and top carve are all wrong." Strings and Things in Memphis convinced Gibson to sell them LPs with nothing but clearcoat. Strings and things took off the hardware, recut the headstocks and top carve, refinished and reassembled them and sold them as their own special edition. There were only a couple hundred of those made.

All of this poop is to let you know that the break point for production was 1976. From then on, all normal-line guitars, Deluxes, Standards, and Customs, came from Nashville. Fancy custom shop models like The Les Paul and The LP Artisan were still built in Kalamazoo is extremely small numbers. Anyone on the street, including me, could see a difference between the two locations of production. Oh, and by the way, the nornal-line early-70s Kalamazoo LPs had six-digit serial numbers. The numbers were all over the map like Gibson was trying to fit them in between the serials of other productions, but six digits.

All the best, and I've got my asbestos on.

Bob
Yeah.... but there was always a full size humbucker Les Paul since the model was reintroduced in 1968..... it was the Custom. It sold quite well.
 

manchild

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So no real consensus then on the "Kalamazoo kept the original shape and Nashville introduced the sharp horn from '78 till '82"?

Also, I'd think the short bodies would imply the sharp horn and vice versa, no?
Ive never researched production numbers but overwhelming majority of LPs ive seen from that period are nashville made so it would at least give the appearance of KM being more accurate. For example, not saying they dont exist, but good luck finding a KM made silverburst, ive never seen one, and have seen variety of horn shapes on those.
 

manchild

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I shouldve been more specific...i meant in terms of sharpness, the depth of the cutaway looks to be consistent. Starting to wonder if shallow cutaway depth naturally leads to a sharper horn.
 
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HardCore Troubadour

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To say that Kalamazoo went to all "specialty" or "custom shop" work after 1976 in incorrect.....

did they do some of those specialty guitars? Yes, so did Nashville.

Did they also do regular production line guitars?

Absolutely.....and continued to up until 1984.

I have a 1975 Deluxe that was made in KM, so that shoots the theory that they ended in 74 in the head, also.
 

HardCore Troubadour

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features...all 1974 KM features, but the pots date to early 1975.....The perfect example of why we use so many points of reference. By the features, it was made before the beginning of the changes (early 1975), but the pot dates are early/mid 1975 so you have no choice but to call it a 1975, if you are being honest, in a for sale situation.

Nashville was NOT making Deluxe's in 1974.

Nashville's first mass output guitar was The Pro Deluxe and they were suspect at the beginning (see if you can find a 75), and then they smoothed out and settled in around early 1976 from what I can tell.

That went on for a while before they settled in and started with other models.

pretty simple, if you have a 1975 Les Paul Deluxe and it has a Hog neck...betting money is that it was made in KM. :wave:

Now we MIGHT could discuss 1975 LPD's with maple necks and someone put up a Nashville argument, and I might see a loose basis for it, but my bet would be if you own a 1975 LPD, period.........

well, you know. :fingersx:
 
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Bob Womack

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To say that Kalamazoo went to all "specialty" or "custom shop" work after 1976 in incorrect.....

did they do some of those specialty guitars? Yes, so did Nashville.

Did they also do regular production line guitars?

Absolutely.....and continued to up until 1984.

I have a 1975 Deluxe that was made in KM, so that shoots the theory that they ended in 74 in the head, also.
I based my statement around Bacon & Day who based theirs around the shipping ledgers. Of course, record-keeping was really poor at that time. There's no doubt that a guitar with original '75 pots was made in '75, however, it could have been counted in the '74 shipping totals for all we know. However, the line guitars, the Deluxes, Standards, and Customs, did all came out of Nashville as of '76.

I think you are correct that the mahogany neck is a prime indicator that an LP was made in K-Zoo.

All the best,

Bob
 


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