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Gibson L-48 trying to date


Shibooyah
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I’m trying to date my Gibson L-48 I believe it’s somewhere in between 1947 -1959 . It has a natural finish, not the sunburst model. The serial number on the inside only reads “3636”. It does not have any other serial numbers printed, something might have faded away over time. Apparently the peg head number is 4543. I’m no expert at dating these old Guitars and was wondering if someone might have some info for me.  Thanks 

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  • 1 year later...

When Gibson got a pre-1961 guitar in for repairs they stamped a number into the back of the headstock.  Also certain Gibsons did have two numbers - an FON on the neck block or visible through the F-hole and a different serial number designating it an "Artist" model.  While I am not sure when Gibson started doing this, my wife's 1960 J200 has a label with a different number than what appears on the neck block and which designating it an "Artist" model.   As far as I know, however, the Artist serial number was only assigned to high end instruments which the L48 was not.  My wife's guitar, which was sent to Kalamazoo at some point for repairs, has the serial number on the label stamped into the back of the headstock but oddly with the last two digits switched around.  I always assumed it was not a separate number but Gibson just not paying attention   If you suspect the guitar was repaired though one of the things to look for is parts which do not match up.  When Gibson repaired a guitar they did not use repro parts but whatever they happened to be using at the time.  So pickguards, tailpieces, tuners and what have you may not be what was used when the guitar was originally built.   

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2 hours ago, slimt said:

I don’t recall L48s from the mid 40s having any numbers. You usually had to go by the inlay markers and peg head logos to get a approx.  Gruhns hand book is a good source.  So are the folks here.  They are good here.  

As a general rule starting sometime in 1945 and running through 1947 Gibsons often did not have any visible FON stamped in the guitar.  They seem to have returned to the practice in 1948.

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48 minutes ago, zombywoof said:

As a general rule starting sometime in 1945 and running through 1947 Gibsons often did not have any visible FON stamped in the guitar.  They seem to have returned to the practice in 1948.

True enough.   I had a L48 with the trapazoid inlays ,script gold logo. No numbers.  Just had to go by features to give a approx time frame.    

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In the ‘70s, I owned a L-48 that I dated specifically to 1948.  It had to have an identifying number, and iirc a stamp that said L-48.  It had a solid pressed mahogany top with parallel bracing, solid mahogany sides, and a flat & fully braced solid mahogany back (as if parts had been mixed & matched).  I’ve never come across another one like it.

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11 hours ago, slimt said:

True enough.   I had a L48 with the trapazoid inlays ,script gold logo. No numbers.  Just had to go by features to give a approx time frame.    

Those features would sure as heck be an easy way to date that guitar.  Based on what archtop guys tell me, not many L48s matching that description around.  I had an LG2 with no FON.  The 1 3/4" nut and script logo though made 1946 seem like a reasonable build date.

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5 hours ago, zombywoof said:

Those features would sure as heck be an easy way to date that guitar.  Based on what archtop guys tell me, not many L48s matching that description around.  I had an LG2 with no FON.  The 1 3/4" nut and script logo though made 1946 seem like a reasonable build date.

script logo and trap inlays would make it a 46 L50, not an L48.  Here's my '46 L48 w. added p90, repro pg and tuners. once you've seen enough banners it's also quite easy to tell the mid-late 40's burst style compared to the 50s, much more amber vs black and yellows.

https://imgur.com/a/92uzvwQ

 

Edited by cunningham26
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Model: L-48 Acoustic Archtop
Available: 1946 to 1971.
Collectibility Rating: D- (a very basic non-cutaway model).

1946 L-48 introduction specs: 
16" wide, mahogany top (some early models with spruce top), single bound top and back, dot fingerboard inlays (a few early models with trapezoid), silkscreen peghead logo, sunburst finish.
1952 L-48 specs: 
Spruce top, maple back, mahogany sides.
1954 L-48 specs: 
Some with a spruce top and some with a laminated mahogany top.
1957 L-48 specs: 
Laminiated mahogany top and sides, laminated maple back specified in catalog but in reality most had a mahogany back.
L-48 discontinued in 1971.
 
 
I do have L50s and other L48s.  
Edited by slimt
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i dont think it ever dawned on me that L50s had a bound neck and pg- i always thought it was just a matter of dot vs. trap inlays. I stand corrected!

as an aside, it really grinds my gears that people cite guitarhq's collectability range- it's clearly a web 1.0 resource and its assessments are at least 20 years out of date at this point

Edited by cunningham26
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