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Help Identifying the year of a MIJ Les Paul with no serial number


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Hi guys,


I recently purchased a MIJ Epiphone Les Paul off eBay.

I'd like to try to identify the year this guitar was manufactured, but the seller says there is no serial number.

My first thought was that maybe the serial number was on a sticker that had been removed, but when I posted this on another Les Paul forum, I was told that Epi didn't use stickers on these guitars.


I guess I'm sorta concerned this may be a fake.

I haven't recieved the guitar yet, but here's a link to the auction.




Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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I'd have to say 'not exactly a fake' but not a Japanese Epiphone either. Looks more like a Korean model, a Samick to be exact, from the late eighties. Looks like someone installed a Gibson TRC on it; notice it's only held in place with one screw (since there's no wood under the second screw hole).


Japanese Epis have either a correct Gibson-style headstock or else they have the Elitist-style headstock. They also have two-screw TRCs with two screws installed.

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Thanks for the response guys ...

So, there were Korean models made with the open book headstock?

And is there a way to confirm whether it's a MIJ or Korean model once I get the guitar through maybe date codes or something on the pickups or electronics?


And did Epiphone ever use stickers for their serial numbers on these models?


Obviously a MIJ is nicer than a Korean model, but where does it rank with the other models?

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im sure under that truss rod cover u will find 3 screw holes.


Yeah, I got that ...


So, there were Korean models made with the open book headstock?

Did the Korean Epiphones ever use stickers for their serial numbers?

And where do the Korean models rank amoung the other Epiphones?

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Somehow I recall hearing about the Koreans using stickers for serial numbers in the '80s..


Kinda nice that headstock, but creepy at the same time - like something you could see on an Epiphone turned into a fake Gibson.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Did you get anywhere with this Dino? I have the exact same issue - I bought an Epi LP Custom (black 2 humbucker) back in 1989 - it has the exact same shape headstock as yours, like a slimmer version of the Gibson headstock as a pose to the epiphone "knocked off corners" look. It was from a very reputable dealer so definately not fake - just different to the regular Epi LP shape.


I think that it had a paper serial number on the back but that was lost years ago. I've had it looked at by a local professional guitar tec and he said that these were at the time known as the Epiphone Elite range (before being changed to Elitist) and that shape and the hardware suggest they came from Japan in the mid to late 80's or at least this was the Jap spec but may have been made in Korea before the design was changed. Check your hardware - Gotoh tuners and parts were often used. These Epi LP's were at the top end and fairly pricey - I paid £387 back in '89 for this.


I'm hoping that the serial number may also be listed in the body cavity somewhere so I can find it's true origins. Let me know if you find any info.


Thanks Andy

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Samicks made in the late eighties had that headstock, which looks like a radically tapered Gibson headstock.


'as a pose to'??? I think you want to say as opposed to. =D>


Your tech is incorrect. The Elite range existed in 2002-2003 and was quickly renamed Elitist. Your guitar is from the late eighties so it's no Elite. There's nothing 'Jap' about it, it's 100% Korean. Samick used Gotoh tuners until at least 1994 BTW. These guitars were of better quality though, at least IMO, and they did cost more than Epis cost today.


Unfortunately the chances that there is a duplicate serial in the body somewhere is slim to nil. You may find some markings in the pickup cavities and perhaps something that might give a clue as to the manufacturing date... but I wouldn't hold my breath. You're probably going to have to live with a general 'late eighties to early nineties' date.

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  • 6 months later...

OK guys, I'm a newby (to this forum) here, but instead of posting an entirely new topic I figured I would search for the closest topic already in the archives and it was this one.


I recently saw an Epiphone LP Black Beauty Custom at a 2nd hand store. They have various musical instruments here and they try to get what they can for them.. But this one looks just like the guitar described on this topic:


1)Epiphone headstock with narrowed top

2)Gold plated hardware, Gotoh Tuners

3)Nice build quality

4)White paper tag on back of headstock approx. where you would have a serial number. Serial is 9111311.

5)Another paper tag, probably indicating "made in Korea" or "Made in Japan"--a thinner tag, positioned near the heel of the neck on the back of the body--whatever was written on it was rubbed off, but it was a metal (like foil) type surface.

6)Top of one of the volume pots is cracked, plastic jack plate is slightly cracked but still functional, and the edge of the white plastic nut is cracked but it is still functional.

7)the electronics sound great on this thing..really nice treble response.

8)Other than the mentioned damage the guitar is in great shape, has nice weight to it, and there's lots of fretlife left.


They are asking $500 for it. I think that's a bit steep. What do you think? I thought it may be Japan made because of the build quality and the Gotoh tuners, but I'm reading elsewhere that this indicates an '89 Korean LP Custom and above on this topic mention is made that Gotohs are on the Korean Epiphones from this period.


Also it comes with the original case, a case that looks like at least 80s or older. Marked Epiphone and some other stuff under that (I forgot, like Orville Gibson Company or something) and it has a red lining, and a cutout for the cutaway, and flip latches more similar to a 70s Japanese case than the more recently double-latched cases with the hump on the top. This case has a flat top. red hairy stuff lining.


What would be a great deal for this guitar? Sorry, can't get pictures.. Not until after I decide whether to purchase it.


BTW Thanks for running such a great forum for Epiphone guitars.. #-o

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