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Gibson Black beauty Custom shop date

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HI Guys,


I recently acquired a Gibson Les Paul Black Beauty Custom Shop Lefty. I´m afraid after checking the information available online I´m still struggling to identify the year in which it was built.

The previous owner believes it is a 1972 one... Any chance any of you could confirm?

Serial number is 203854, no letters. It´s on the back of the headstock, above the "Made in USA".


Any help would be appreciated! :)




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Hi, Ramiro, and welcome to the forum.


Gibson serial numbers from the early '70s are notoriously difficult to date with 100% accuracy.


I've checked in two reference books. One gives a period of "1973-'75" for that serial number and the other says "1975". The closed b and o of Gibson are correct for this timeframe as is the 'Made in USA' stamp. One source says that for '72 there should be a dot above the i but things were famously changeable at this period.


From MY sources it would seem to date from 1974/75 but I'm pretty sure others citing different source-books will come up with alternatives!


If, as is quite possible, the guitar still has it's original potentiometers it would be worthwhile checking these out against the relevant dating system. Gibson would have had a stock of pots ready for installation and the code (which gives week and year of manufacture) will give a date before which the guitar could not have been made. If, as seems reasonable, we guess that the pots were used within, say, six months after it was made it indicates a rough period of manufacture of the instrument.

Type your pot code into the appropriate box in this link;



Small point but to be slightly more accurate; it's a Les Paul Custom but not from the Custom Shop.


Have fun with her!



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So, bit more data... I did open the back to check the pots and the only number I could clearly read is "1377421".

And this is what I got:


Potentiometer Info

This potentiometer was made by

CTS Corporation (Chicago Telephone Supply)

in the 21st week of 1974


This means that (given this is an original part) this is the earliest possible date your guitar (speaker) was made.


So, I guess the mystery is solved? :)


Thanks a lot for your help!



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