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Is there some place where a serial number will not only identify the year, but also the EXACT name, as well as the name of the color that Gibson uses?

 

I see a lot of guitars out there for sale and the whole Standard, Vintage, Honeyburst, Sunburst, Tobaccoburst, Cherrburst, all seem to be used quite haphazardly?

 

In short, how can I determine the EXACT words to use when selling a Gibson acoustic?

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I've never known the serial number of a Gibson acoustic to give any more info than the date the body and neck were mated (note I didn't say that was when the guitar was completed), where it was made, and the sequential unit number (what number it was "that day").

 

If you're looking to sell a guitar and you don't know exactly what the finish might be called, for example, I would just leave it generic and let the photos speak for themselves. That way people will be less likely to be pedantic.

 

And they can be pedantic.

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It is Gibson's model numbers that give all that detail. However, it is almost useless to the customer or even retailers. It is a code for the company to lay out all the features of a particular model. Gibson doesn't even have any internal consistency with them. Here is the model number for a new J45 Standard:

 

AC4518VSNH

 

I'm guessing...

 

AC = Acoustic

45 = Model

18 = you got me... "style"?

VS = Vintage Sunburst

N = nickle tuners?

H = hard shell case?

 

And I used to sell these and I still couldn't figure them out.

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It is Gibson's model numbers that give all that detail. However, it is almost useless to the customer or even retailers. It is a code for the company to lay out all the features of a particular model. Gibson doesn't even have any internal consistency with them. Here is the model number for a new J45 Standard:

 

AC4518VSNH

 

I'm guessing...

 

AC = Acoustic

45 = Model

18 = you got me... "style"?

VS = Vintage Sunburst

N = nickle tuners?

H = hard shell case?

 

And I used to sell these and I still couldn't figure them out.

 

NH= Nickle Hardware. The case is separate and the designation for the J-45's cases is C-192

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NH= Nickle Hardware. The case is separate and the designation for the J-45's cases is C-192

 

Cool. Is there a place where all these codes are listed?

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Cool. Is there a place where all these codes are listed?

 

Nope...The codes are for internal use. Gibson has no ides why you would want to know.

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Nope...The codes are for internal use. Gibson has no ides why you would want to know.

 

Having sold Gibson acoustics for a couple of years, as a salesman, I always wanted to figure out what the codes meant as they were in our POS system and staring at "AC4PABNH" on a text-only screen doesn't give you the mental image of the guitar you are looking for. Whereas, if it is a Taylor 814ce I know immediately that is is an 800 series; meaning, spruce top and rosewood b/s in a Grand Auditorium body shape with a cutaway and electronics.

 

Plus, customers were always asking "What does 'AC4PABNH' mean?" and I hated saying "I have no f'ing clue!"

 

Plus, Plus, when looking at a stack of boxed acoustics, finding the J45 Standard Sunburst was a real challenge.

Edited by drathbun
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Over they years I've collected examples of these Gibson model numbers and codes. So, for those interested, I'm listing what I have collected below, decoded correctly for the most part - if you find something that needs correcting, please let me know. In 2014 Gibson started adding the year of manufacture to some of the model numbers it creates. I have a similar collection of model numbers and codes for the electric division - so I posted that too. And remember - Gibson is consistently inconsistent, so changes WILL occur in usage and form. B)

 

Formula - T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 FF HW Hand - T1=TypeOfGuitar, T2=YearOfManufacture, T3=MoreTypeInfo, T4=MoreTypeInfo, T5=MoreTypeInfo, FF=Finish, HW=Hardware, Hand=1(right)or2(left). T2-T5 appear only if needed.

 

In 1985 Gibson stopped labeling seconds, but some model numbers still end in 1. I think Gibson reassigned the number for the hand - 1=RH, 2=LH, and in Acoustic division: 3=RH with pick up, and 4=LH with pick up.

 

ACOUSTIC DIVISION -

 

These codes and model numbers have been used by Montana since the start. It's broken up into four parts. Well, five parts now because in 2014 Gibson start sticking in two digits for the year of manufacture.

 

Type (appears at the beginning of the model number) -

RS Round Shoulder J-45 type

SS Square Shoulder Hummingbird type

SJ Super Jumbo type

J8 J-180 Jumbo type

LS L-series small body type

AS Acoustic electric

AC Acoustic (no pickup)

 

Year of manufacture (code added to some model numbers in 2014):

14 - 2014

15 - 2015

16 - 2016

17 - 2017

18 - 2018

19 - 2019

 

Finish -

AT Antique Walnut (Natural finished top, Dark walnut stained back & sides)

AN Antique Natural (light toner added)

VS Vintage Sunburst ( Tobacco Burst) The new marketer has renamed this one the "sunset burst". Sigh....

CH Cherry (Dove red)

VCS Vintage Cherry Sunburst

HCS Heritage Cherry Sunburst (real hummingbird)

AE Antique Ebony (Black)Light toner for gold looking binding

EB Black (No Toner)(ebony)

TB Triburst

 

Hardware -

NH - Nickel Hardware

CH - Chrome Hardware

GH - Gold Hardware

 

Hand -

1=Right handed

2=Left handed

3=Right handed with pick up

4=Left handed with pick up

 

Recent Example: AC4518VSNH

AC45 - Acoustic (no pickup) J-45

18 - Manufactured 2018

VS - Vintage Sunburst

NH - Nickel hardware

 

ie: RS45TBNH1

RS45 - Round Shoulder J-45

TB - Tri-Burst finish

NH - Nickel hardware

1 - right handed

 

ie: RSSVVSNH1

RSSV - Round Shoulder Southern jumbo true Vintage

VS - Vintage Sunburst

NH - Nickel Hardware

1 - right handed

 

ie: SSHBHCSNH1

SSHB - Square shoulder Hummingbird

HCS - Heritage cherry sunburst

NH - Nickel Hardware

1 - right handed

 

ie: SSHCFMGH1

SSH - Square Shoulder Hummingbird

C - heritage Cherry burst

FM - Figured Mahogany

GH - Gold Hardware

1 - right handed

 

There are times when the number at the end of the hardware code is in reference to a lefty. This is usually a number 4. So a GH4 would be a gold hardware lefty.

If there is a number 3 at the end it is usually a guitar with a pick-up. Since they put pick-ups on most of their guitars now that number is no longer used.

A normally electric acoustic will be designated with a AS. The J-160E would be an AS16VSNH1.

 

From 1990 to 1995 all of the acoustic guitars were coded with a AC (acoustic) then the model number so a J-200 would be a AC20ANGH1

The acoustic electric guitars were noted- AS. AS16VSNH1 would have been a J-160-E.

1997 they made a change to different line designations. For example the J-200 was put into the "Historic Line". The code was HL20ANGH1.

1999 they made a big change in the price list and seperated the guitars into 5 lines they were:

 

J-200 Super Jumbo Line. They were designated SJ

J-45 Round Shoulder Line. They were designated RS

Hummingbird Square Shoulder Line. They were designated SS

J-180 Jumbo Line. They were J8

L-series Small Body Line They were LS

 

In 1993 they had a Starburst Studio and it was coded ASSFANGH1 Of course this guitar became the @ss fang.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

ELECTRIC DIVISION -

 

Model number and code examples:

 

LPS6GTNH1 = LP(Les Paul) S(Standard) 6(6o's neck) GT(Gold Top) NH(Nickel Hardware) 1 (Not b stock or a 2nd - In 1985 Gibson stopped labeling seconds, but model numbers still end in 1.

I think Gibson reassigned the number for the hand - 1=RH, 2=LH, and in Acoustic division: 3=RH with pick up, and 4=LH with pick up.

 

LPSTWCCH1 = LP(Les Paul) ST(STudio) WC(Worn Cherry) CH(Chrome Hardware) 1(signifies that it is not b stock or a 2nd)

 

LPPCHBGH1 = LP(Les Paul) P(Premium or Plus - figured top) CHB(Cherry Heritage Burst, 2 or 3 letters for the finish) GH(Gold Hardware)

 

LPTDMSVCH1 = LP(Les Paul) TD(TraDitional) M(Mahogany top) S(Satin Vintage sunburst) CH(Chrome Hardware)

 

LPTDSZSHCH1 = LP(Les Paul) TD(TraDitional) S(1960) Z(Zebra coil pups) SH(Satin Honeyburst) CH(Chrome Hardware)

 

LPNSTDPTSCH1 = LP(Les Paul) N(Nashville) STD(STandarD) P(Plus) TS(Tea Burst) CH(Chrome Hardware)

 

LPNTDCBCH1 = LP(Les Paul) N(New) TD(TraDitional) CB (Chicago Blue) CH(Chrome Hardware)

 

*LPSCADBCH1 = LPS(Les Paul Standard) CA(Compund radius, Asymmetrical neck) DB(Desert Burst) CH(Chrome Hardware)

 

LPDCROCH1 - LP(Les Paul) DC(Double Cut) RO (ROot beer) CH(Chrome Hardware)

 

LPTLBNH1 - LP(Les Paul) T(Traditional) LB(Light Burst) NH(Nickel Hardware)

 

LPTP25FD9CF1 - LP(Les Paul) TP2(Traditional Pro 2) 5(50s neck) FD(Faded? Desert burst) 9(?) CF(Chrome Floyd rose)

 

LPSTDHSCHLH1 - LP(Les Paul) STD(STandarD) HS(Heritage cherry Sunburst) CH(Chrome Hardware) LH(Left Handed)

 

LPSFHBNH1 - Les Paul Standard Faded Honey Burst Nickel Hardware 1

 

LPJ-PBCH1 - Les Paul Junior Pelham Blue Chrome Hardware 1

 

~ For ES - "DT" Translation:

 

ESDSTBKCH1 - ES335 D (Dot) S (Satin) TB (TransBlack) CH (Chrome Hardware) 1 (right handed)

 

ESDP14CHNH1 - ES (Electric Spanish guitar series) D (Dot markers) P (Plain/Painted top) 14 (model year since 2014) CH (Cherry Heritage) NH (Nickel Hardware) 1 (right handed)

 

ESDP16GTNH1 - ES (Electric Spanish guitar series) DP (Dual Pickups) 16 (model year since 2014) GT (Gold Top) NH (Nickel Hardware) 1 (right handed)

 

DT = Dot (vs. block markers) per Gibson C/S as in ESDT

TD = Thinline Dual pups . . . . . . . . . . as in ESTD (or for an LP, TD = TraDitional)

 

T = Figured Top (don't know how Gibson derived that nomenclature) vs. P = Plain/Painted Top (??)

 

DT = Dot, Figured Top (??)

 

DP = Dual Pickups

 

DP = Dot, Plain/Painted Top (??)

 

.

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Where would one find the model number?

If it is only on the wannanty card and you are buying a used guitar, then you might be outta luck?

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Fabulous information BK! Thank you so much. So I'm interpreting my Hummingbird 12's code as follows:

 

ACHB12HSNH

 

AC = Acoustic (no pickup)

HB = Hummingbird

18 = 2018 (serial number says Feb 3, 2017)

12 = 12 string

HB = Heritage Burst (it is actually Heritage Cherry Burst - but there is no code HB mentioned in your list)

NH = NH (but mine has gold hardware)

Edited by drathbun

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Fabulous information BK! Thank you so much. So I'm interpreting my Hummingbird 12's code as follows:

 

ACHB12HSNH

 

AC = Acoustic (no pickup)

HB = Hummingbird

18 = 2018 (serial number says Feb 3, 2017)

12 = 12 string

HB = Heritage Burst (it is actually Heritage Cherry Burst - but there is no code HB mentioned in your list)

NH = NH (but mine has gold hardware)

 

A bit of a head scratcher Doug. I'm good with your "AC" and "HB". I don't see "18" in the model number you presented - Gibson sometimes adds things and leaves them out, and this one appears to have left out the model year. I'm good with your "12". I'm good with your "HB" - my list is just what I've collected and is incomplete, and Gibson adds/changes codes all the time; also Gibson sometimes uses a two letter code to represent a three word option (Heritage cherry Burst). I'm also good with your "NH", but since your hardware is gold it looks like you've caught a mistake - not too unusual for Gibson. . . Thanks for the "12" and "HB" info, I will update my list. Cheers! . B)

 

.

Edited by BigKahune

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Im not really sure what difference it makes. Its pretty easy to tell a j45 from a j185 or any other for that matter As for the year made. That as well makes no difference

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A bit of a head scratcher Doug. I'm good with your "AC" and "HB". I don't see "18" in the model number you presented - Gibson sometimes adds things and leaves them out, and this one appears to have left out the model year. I'm good with your "12". I'm good with your "HB" - my list is just what I've collected and is incomplete, and Gibson adds/changes codes all the time; also Gibson sometimes uses a two letter code to represent a three word option (Heritage cherry Burst). I'm also good with your "NH", but since your hardware is gold it looks like you've caught a mistake - not too unusual for Gibson. . . Thanks for the "12" and "HB" info, I will update my list. Cheers! . B)

 

.

 

Yeah, my bad. I was looking at a website model number for the Hummingbird 12 string Heritage Cherryburst. Mine is ACHB12HSNH.

 

AC - Acoustic no pickup

HB - Hummingbird

12 - 12 string

HS - Heritage Sunburst

NH - Nickel Hardware

 

I'm guessing the proper model name would be more like ACHB1712HSGH

 

AC

HB

17 - 2017

HS

GH - Gold Hardware

 

Not like it makes any sense or is in any way important. :)

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Well, for some it makes no difference, but in this case it does for the OP. And then there's Gibson's penchant for creating several versions of a certain model, or in the case of the J-45 dozens of versions - it's nice to know exactly what you're looking at and that's what the model number can tell you.

 

Unfortunately, Gibson doesn't usually include the model number on the guitar or the inside label. But, the model number usually does appear at the bottom the Gibson factory's Pre-Pack Checklist which can be found in the case/gig-bag. If have the guitar shipped the model number also appears on the Gibson factory box. So if you're the original purchaser, you should have the model number. That of course assumes the retailer kept the original case mated with the guitar, as well as having lost track of the original paperwork (PPC/COA). Over the years, it's happened to me twice - once no paperwork, and once wrong paperwork. . [rolleyes]

 

.

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Well, for some it makes no difference, but in this case it does for the OP. And then there's Gibson's penchant for creating several versions of a certain model, or in the case of the J-45 dozens of versions - it's nice to know exactly what you're looking at and that's what the model number can tell you.

 

Unfortunately, Gibson doesn't usually include the model number on the guitar or the inside label. But, the model number usually does appear at the bottom the Gibson factory's Pre-Pack Checklist which can be found in the case/gig-bag. If have the guitar shipped the model number also appears on the Gibson factory box. So if you're the original purchaser, you should have the model number. That of course assumes the retailer kept the original case mated with the guitar, as well as having lost track of the original paperwork (PPC/COA). Over the years, it's happened to me twice - once no paperwork, and once wrong paperwork. . [rolleyes]

 

.

 

Yeah, I meant it wasn't that important for me and my guitars. I know a lot of retailers uncase the guitars and don't track the actual case that came with the guitar. That makes me crazy. I was lucky enough to work at a retailer that cared about tracking those things so the customer would get the proper case, documentation and case candy.

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Thanks everyone!

 

But let me try to recircle to my origina question, and rephrase:

 

Suppose you had a used unaltered Gibson acoustic (no documentation papers) and wanted to sell it to someone that was knowledgeable about these things - What would you do to get the info needed to properly/fully/correctly describe this instrument? (year, electronics, shade of burst, standard, TV, walnut, artist, blah, blah, blah).

 

Remember - you have nothing other than the guitar, its headstock stamp, and soundhole sticker info.

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Thanks everyone!

 

But let me try to recircle to my origina question, and rephrase:

 

Suppose you had a used unaltered Gibson acoustic (no documentation papers) and wanted to sell it to someone that was knowledgeable about these things - What would you do to get the info needed to properly/fully/correctly describe this instrument? (year, electronics, shade of burst, standard, TV, walnut, artist, blah, blah, blah).

 

Remember - you have nothing other than the guitar, its headstock stamp, and soundhole sticker info.

 

 

At that point, you need to do some research online, and via resources such as this forum. If it is a modern Gibson, company customer service may be able to supply most of the basic details based on the serial number and your general description of the guitar.

 

If it is someone knowledgeable you are selling to, the serial number, information on the label, and some photographs should enable them to come up with an accurate identification of the guitar.

 

It ain't rocket science in most cases, although labels sometimes lack key information.

 

For example, a few years ago I bought a 2006 (by the serial number) SJ that had some unusual characteristics. The seller believed the guitar was part of a special run for Fuller's Vintage Guitar, but the label did not specifically say that. It simply said "1943 Southern Jumbo", with no further details. I called up Fuller's and talked to the owner, describing the unusual characteristics of the guitar, and he was able to verify the production details and provide additional information.

 

Research on modern Gibsons is generally fairly straightforward. It can be more complex on vintage models.

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