Vintage Guitar Info Blog

Gibson Transition year of 1964

Around the middle of  1964  major changes occurred. The info below is very useful for dating a Gibson guitar in cases where serial numbers were repeated or unclear.

1. Neck width at the Nut was reduced from 1 11/16 inches to 1 9/16 inches (you will see cases of 1 10/16 inches during this transition year.

2. Most Hardware moved from Nickel plated to Chrome, this included bridges, tuners and tailpieces.

3. Most serial numbers moved from 5 digits to 6 digits.

4.  Kluson Tuners were stamped with 2 lines down the back instead of one line down the center of the back with the words Kluson Deluxe.

5. By 1965 the Stud Tailpiece on the Gibson Es-335, Es-345 and ES-355 were removed and replaced with a Trapeze tailpiece.

There is more information here on the our Guitar identification Page.



Fender Bass break down 1951 to 1969


1951 Fender Precision Bass

The Precision bass was the first production run solid body bass released by Fender in late 1951.  The bass was equipped with a one piece maple fretted neck and one single coil pickup. The production color was Blonde. There are two bridge saddles, and the strings are loaded through  back of the body. The body is made of Ash. 

1954 – 1955

1954 and 1955 Precision Bass

Contours are added to the front and back of the body in 1954 , the body edges are more rounded. The bridge saddles are changed to steel. A sunbrust two tone color was introduced in 1955 and a white pickguard in mid 1954. The serial number was moved from the bridge to the 4 bolt plate on the back of the body.

Fender Stratocaster Headstock Logos thru the years in Pictures

Very helpful to verify the Logo on a Stratocater is original and correct for the era of the body.

1954 – 1964 “Spaghetti Logo” Gold Lettering, thin black outline. No Patent numbers until 1961
1962 – mid 1964 Logo Gold Lettering with 3 Patent numbers, 1961 has two Patent Numbers
1964 – Mid 1968 Modern Script “Transition Logo” Gold Lettering
1969 – 1983 CBS bold Back logo

Gibson Headstock Logos thru the years in Pictures

Very Helpful in Dating a Vintage Guitar when Serial number not present or unclear.

Original Slanted Logo “The Gibson” Logo
Late 1920’s not slanted The Gibson Logo
Mid 1930’s thin Gibson Logo
Late 1930’s Thicker Gibson Logo
Slanted mid 1940’s Gibson Logo
Late 1940’s “i” touches the “G” on “Modern” non cursive/script Gibson Logo
Modern Gibson Logo open “b” and “o”
Late 1960’s Gibson Logo around 1969 with no dot over the “i”
Early 1970’s block shaped no dot over the “i” closed “b” and “o” gibson logo

Gibson Factory Order Numbers

Gibson used Factory Order Numbers (FON) on some of their guitars from about 1908 to 1961. Many times you will see both a factory order number and serial number. The FON was stamped for each batch in production and each instrument in the batch during the early stages of the build.

The FON can be very helpful dating the instrument as that might be the only marking. They can also be used together with the serial number to more precisely date the instrument.

Gibson used four different patterns of FON’s through out the years.

FON: 1908-1923
The first FON’s are usually ink-stamped on the neck block inside the body and have of a three to five digit number with no suffix

Alphabetical FON: 1935-1942
A for 1935
B for 1936, and so on
This method stopped around 1942 .

FON after WW II: 1949-1952
After WW II FON’s were hit or miss and not very good for dating or not present on the guitar. When present they were rubber stamped on neck block or on back of the headstock with numbers from 100 to 9999.

Alpha FON: 1952-1961
Around 1952 Gibson went back to the a first letter pattern
The first letter used in
1952 was Z
Y in 1953, etc.
Then lastly Q in 1961 which is very rare to see.

Sell Your Vintage Guitar Tips

I’m starting this blog to give you some tips on how to sell your vintage guitar. To start this off I’m going to list some red flags you need to be aware of when contacting potential buyers. Much more to come..

  1. The biggest red flag is that buyer will not share any useful information about your vintage guitar, like when made, type of hardware and other details useful for you to sell your guitar.
  2. Buyer says “Send me your guitar and I’ll examine it”. Run. Yes please send me all your gold and silver too and you pay for all shipping and insurance and I will get back with you…
  3. Buyer say’s “I really don’t care, I have too many guitars”. Very funny, we all have too many guitars and another one will just get in my way!
  4. Buyer slow to respond and when they do, keeps asking nit picky questions to slow the process down. Usually in this case the buyer is trying to presell your guitar.
  5. You will hear this over and over again, “I need to see it to tell you value”. Run. This is nonsense, with the maker, year made, model, condition and a brief history and description of the guitar over the phone any knowledgeable dealer should be able to give you a pretty close estimate of value.
  6. Buyer low on funds and needs you to wait for a several weeks.
  7. The Buyer sounds not well informed about the vintage guitar market and has to ask someone else.

1968 – 1969 Red, Black and Brown Gibson J-45 and B-25

1968 -69 were dark years for Gibson and the Norlin Corporation buy out began. Gibson needed revenue and to use up old parts. Less than perfect tops used to make the J-45 and B-25 were sprayed a solid color of red or black and a few brown . A white screwed down pickguard was used. Many of the instruments were 4 piece tops and marked seconds. Late in 1968 the bridge was reversed with the belly facing down , and the Gibson logo on the pickguard was removed.  There is more  Gibson Acoustic Flattop Model Information here.

Pickguards on Vintage Fender Telecasters

The first Pickguards on the Telecaster were one ply black. The earliest ones were a fiber material then later made of bakelite with 5 holes for screws. In Late 1954 the single ply white pickguard was introduced.

The Telecaster Custom was introduced in 1959 and had a 3 ply white/black/white celluloid pickguard with 5 screw holes. This is also used on custom color Telecasters.  The single ply white pickguard remains standard equipment on the blonde Telecaster.

In mid 1959 all the telecaster pickguards have 8 screw holes.

In mid late 1963 all the telecaster models have the 3 ply white/black/white pickguard, the celluloid “Green Guard” is dropped after 1964 and replaced with plastic.


Tips to aid in Dating a Vintage Gretsch Guitar

Gretsch Serial numbers can be confusing an unclear at times. Here are some helpful ways to date them from unique features of the era.

Fingerboad inlays:
The Half moon sometimes referred to as thumbprint or Neo-Classical appeared in 1957.  These came on the higher end Gretsches. So if you see a Gretsch with these inlays you know it was made in 1957 or later.

Headstock Logo:
The slanted script logo was used pre 1950.  In 1954 the T roof logo (long top line over the T in Gretsch) was used until around 1981.

The Zero fret was used on all Chet Atkins Models starting in 1959, then in 1962 it was used on most all the other models like the 6120, Monkees . So Zero fret indicates post 1958.

Name Plates:
Metal name plates that were engraved started being used around 1958 and appeared on the White Falcon, Nashville (1966), White Penquin (1959). In 1965 it appeared on the Tennessean. Earlier models had no name plate so this is a good dating method when serial numbers are unclear.

Fake F holes on some models:
In 1957 Gretsch used simulated F-holes on the Country Gentleman, then in 1962 the F-holes are just painted on the guitar.

Padded Back:
The Padded Back was fazed in around 1962, and is a normal stock feature on the White Falcon, 6120, and 6122 and Country Club models.

You can look up vintage Gretsch Serial Numbers here.

Martin Flat top Guitar Model and size

Martin guitars have a two part designation the body size a hyphen then the model located up inside the guitar on the block where the neck and body meet.

The model designations are  15, 17, 18, 21, 28, 35 and 45.

Models 15, 17, 18 post 1917 are Mahogany back and sides.  The 15 and 17 has a mahogany top. The 18 style’s top is made of spruce.

Models 21, 28, 35 and 45 are rosewood back and sides with a spruce top.

The size designation at widest point (lower bout) measurement is as follows:

Size          Width
2            12 inches
1            12 3/4 inches
0            13.5 inches
00          14 inches
000        15 inches
D           15 5/8 inches

Here is a link to my Martin Photo Gallery showing different Models and sizes.