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Questions about my 1983 CSE Explorer


Sheepdog1969
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In 1984 I purchased a new 1983 Custom Shop Edition Gibson Explorer. To my eyes, it has a "yellow" finish with a black pickguard, a black faced headstock with the Gibson logo inlaid in pearl and the "Custom Shop Edition" label on the back of the headstock above the "Pressed" serial number and directly below the tuning pegs. It has all gold hardware (including gold "soap bar" pickups), inline "gold" knobs with white numbering, a three position selector switch on the "horn" with a white "cap", a rosewood fretboard with pearl dot inlays, and an 8 digit serial number showing it was made on March 10th, 1983 in Nashville, TN.  Although I have not been able to find another one just like it in person or online, I think it is a "Korina", and not a 1983 Heritage, (based on the gold hardware and Custom Shop Edition marking.) It is completely original, and is by far the best playing/sounding (tone/versatility) guitar I have ever played. (Every professional/semi professional guitar player that has played it says the same, and each one wants to buy it from me.). I have spent years trying to determine exactly what it is and what it may be worth, (I currently have it insured at $10,000, which may be too much, but I would rather pay a few dollars more each year in premiums rather than under valuing it.) I have been told that only 500 Explorer Korinas were made between 1981-1984. If true, I assume not all were "Custom Shop Editions", and obviously not all were set up like mine. (I also heard that in 1983, at the Nashville Gibson shop, each Explorer had a unique woman's name carved into the body of the guitar beneath the "neck" pickup. As I have never removed the pickups in mine, I cannot attest to this. If true, I don't know if this was just a 1983 thing in Nashville with the Explorers made there, but I would love to find out the truth.) I would love to post a pick of this guitar here, but import file size is only 500kb. Can anyone help educate me about my guitar and help me separate fact from fiction?? I would love any idea of value for insurance purposes only, as I will never sell it.

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The mini soap bars should be mini humbuckers.    Limba wood as most call it Korina. Were used on the explorers, Flying V,also,  the  moderne in that time frame.    I am pretty sure that year was a special run for those.   I had the V and Moderne at one point in time.  
 

another year for the Explorer was 1976. 

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83 is too soon for Custom Shop, to my recollection.  There were no CS versions of guitars then, they only did them one at a time for people with metric crap tonnes of money.

"Korina" is more myth than anything, and it is nothing more than mahogany by another name.

rct

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16 hours ago, rct said:

83 is too soon for Custom Shop, to my recollection.  There were no CS versions of guitars then, they only did them one at a time for people with metric crap tonnes of money.

"Korina" is more myth than anything, and it is nothing more than mahogany by another name.

rct

I think I read in a post the other day that ‘94 was when the custom shop opened.

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SLIMT - I said "soap bars", (decades ago a lifelong friend and incredible  guitar player said that's what covered humbuckers were called), but they are actually covered humbuckers (not the exposed "dirty fingers" type). Thanks for pointing my "mis-labeling" of them out, as I want to be as correct as possible in my description!

Sgt. Pepper - Technically, you are correct, as Gibson did not have a "Custom Shop" that would have been available to the average Joe in 1983, (that made custom guitars per customer requests and/or specializing in recreating Gibsons played by iconic musicians.) Obviously Gibson does that now. However "Custom Shop Edition" Gibsons, (Note the word "Edition"), were sold prior to the advent of the 1996 "Custom Shop" Joe Perry Les Paul release (and then the 1997 Ace Frehley.).  "Custom Shop Edition" Gibsons were/are stamped/inked on the back of the headstock with Gold, heavily flourished print, that is finely bordered in Black. The words "Custom Shop" are within an arched, fine black outlined "banner", and the word "Edition" is beneath, (in the same font, text size, and color pattern, but straight/flat, not "arched". The "Custom Shop Edition" logo, at least on the 1983 Explorers, meant Gold Hardware, a Pearl inlaid Gibson logo in the headstock, (as opposed to the painted/printed Gibson logo), and Pearl inlays in a Rosewood fretboard. (There may be additional differences that the "Custom Shop Edition" marking indicated for the 1983 Explorer vs. non Custom Shop Edition 1983 Explorers, and there may have been minor variations  {such as pickups, type of Pearl fretboard inlays, etc.} among the 1983 Custom Shop Edition Explorers made).  In general, pre 1996 "Custom Shop Edition" marked Gibsons (all models) had Gold hardware and Pearl inlays.  

The hard to answer questions I have, despite years of digging, seem to hinge on these things:

1. Does the "Custom Shop Edition" marking on a 1983 Explorer definitively indicate that it is a "Korina"?

2. Were all of the 100 1983 "Korina" Explorers, Custom Shop Editions, and marked as such? (not including the 100 1983 "Heritage Explorers" that were "Korina's", but were not labeled "Custom Shop Edition", and that have inked/stamped serial numbers that start with 1 followed by a space and then a three digit number between 1 and 100 instead of the 8 digit "pressed" format.)  If not, how many of those 100 non Heritage Explorer Korina's were not marked with the Custom Shop Edition logo? 

2. Were any 1983 Custom Shop Edition Explorers NOT Korina's, and if so, how many were made that year?

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