Gibson Melody Maker, Harmony H22 bass, Vox Ultrasonic
1969 Gibson Melody Maker guitarHarmony H22 bassVox Ultrasonic guitar, with built-in effects
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Vintage guitar parts for sale

Vintage guitars for sale

Vintage Gibson guitars

Gibson guitars, Gibson bass, Gibson amplifiers, Gibson catalogues

Gibson ES300
Late 1940s Gibson ES300
The Gibson plant at 225 Parsons Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan
The old Gibson plant at 225 Parsons Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan, now home of Heritage guitars
Gibson guitar information on this site is sorted into categories:
Gibson amplifiers
Gibson bass guitars
Gibson guitar catalogues
Gibson electric acoustic guitars
Gibson solid-body guitars
Gibson thinline guitars

Vintage Gibson

Vintage Gibson guitars are very special indeed, and they are held in very high regard by serious players and vintage guitar collectors alike. Especially the guitars made in the main Gibson plant, 225 Parsons Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan. The very best of these guitars were made in the 1950s and 1960s; often referred to as the CMI (Chicago Musical Instruments) period. These Gibsons are the epitomy of quality. The best guitars were hand-built. Tops were carved and tap-tuned, a job requiring great skill and experience, and the pieces were assembled and finished by skilled craftsmen, with incredible attention to detail. But even the entry-level Gibson guitars were a step above the majority of guitars available at the time; both in terms of workmanship and components.

But this was a time of big change in the guitar market. Gibson specialised in expensive electric acoustics; guitars like the L5-CES, ES-5, and ES-175, all large hollow-body guitars with superb clean tones for jazz soloing. Gibson endorsees were 'serious' musicians; often guitar virtuosos, in the jazz, pop or bluegrass genres. They would be accompanied by an upright bass, and a drummer using brushes. But the advent of rock 'n' roll changed everything. The necessary increase in volume rendered the jazz box obsolete and heralded the rise in popularity of the semi-acoustic and the solid-body.

Jack Bruce basses his sound on Gibson
Jack Bruce basses his sound on Gibson

Gibson rock guitars

In this time, and under the stewardship of Ted McCarty, Gibson introduced the majority of the iconic models that it is famous for today. The Les Paul in 1952, the ES335, Flying V and Explorer in 1958, the Melody Maker in 1959, the SG in 1961, and the Firebird in 1963. Despite being superb instruments, many of these were too far ahead of their time, and were commercial failures until re-issued years later. Only 98 Flying V guitars were shipped between 1958 and 1959, and only 22 Explorers. The low-production numbers of these models guarantees their desireability to vintage guitar collectors, and if offered for sale could fetch a five or six figure sum, depending on the state of the market.

Gibson went from strength to strength in the early 1960s, selling guitars quicker than they had time to build them. 1965 was their peak year, selling over 83000 instruments.

But by the late 1960s, the American guitar industry was in trouble. Companies were folding and changing hands, and Gibson was no exception. Norlin took charge in December 1969, and immediately introduced numerous new models.

Keith Richards with the Gibson Les Paul Custom, from the 1975 Gibson catalogue
Keith Richards with the Gibson Les Paul Custom, from the 1975 Gibson Les Paul catalogue

The Norlin period

This period is not held in as high regard as the earlier CMI period, and it is true, Gibson produced a lot of low-priced guitars at this time, but the finest instruments are every bit as good as older versions. Guitars like the Citation, L-5S, and Crest are as good as anything Gibson ever built. In 1974 Gibson opened a new plant in Nashville, and some guitar output was moved there. The Nashville plant, especially early on, was unable to compete in terms of quality with Kalamazoo, and some of the seventies bad reputation may have been due to this.

This is the decade Gibson moved away from mahogany, in favour of other woods. The archetypal Gibson solid body sound was rich and dark; it had been produced by Gibson humbuckers, a mahogany body and a glued in mahogany neck. But there was a recognition that a wider tonal range would be greatly appreciated by the guitar buying public. In the early 1970s, electronics wizard Bill Lawrence designed a number of new guitars for Gibson: the L-6S, Marauder, S-1, Grabber bass and Ripper bass; all used maple and or alder, and many were natural-finished giving a distinctly different look to preceding models. They were electronically experimental, using a number of different techniques to achieve greater tonal palettes, from very simple ideas like a moveable pickup, to more in depth multi-position varitone switches.

Gibson RD Standard bass
The Gibson RD Standard bass, circa 1978

The use of maple continued later in the decade, with the RD series; one of the last instruments to be made entirely at the Kalamazoo plant. But at this time, even necks on a lot of traditionally all-mahogany instruments went maple, for example 70s Les Pauls, SGs and 335s. The RD was a colaboration between Gibson and Moog; again an attempt to increase tonal range but this time by creating an active instrument with built-in Moog expansion and compression circuitry.

The Gibson Victory series was again all maple with state-of-the-art electronics, this time by Tim Shaw, but still aimed at expanding the range of sounds available from a Gibson. They were passive, save the Artist bass, and even that had a switchable passive mode. These guitars were designed at Kalamazoo, and a few early examples were built there, before production of this line moved to Nashville, at the end of 1981.

Finally in 1984 the Kalamazoo plant closed, and all electric guitar production moved to Nashville. In January 1986 Gibson was sold to it's current owners.

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1966 Selmer guitar catalogue
1966 Selmer guitar catalogue The 1965/1966 Selmer guitar catalogue contained guitars by a number of different makers imported for the UK market, the most numerous being German-made Hofner electrics, acoustics and basses. There is also a fairly large Gibson section, but it by no means contains all instruments produced under that brand at the time. Other instruments featured include guitars and basses by Hagstrom and Futurama, and Brazilian acoustic guitars by Giannini. 44 pages, with UK pricing in guineas.
1980 Gibson Sonex-180 Owners Manual
1981 Gibson Sonex pre-owners manual The Gibson Sonex series pre-owners 'manual' was produced for circulation in early summer 1981, along with nine other manuals representing different segments available from Gibson at that time. Rather than a manual in the conventional sense, it is actually a mini folder with three loose-leaf inserts with catalogue-style image and description, one each for the 180 Deluxe, 180 Custom, and a new model, the Sonex Artist. The Sonex-180 Standard was not included, having been dropped from the Gibson line earlier in 1981.
1980 Gibson Sonex-180 Owners Manual
1980 Gibson Sonex-180 owners manual Gibson Sonex series owners manual - 16 pages of information for the care and operation of the Gibson Sonex guitar: pickups, electronics, controls, coil tap, tune-o-matic bridge, tailpiece and stringing. Pertains to the Sonex-180 Deluxe, Standard and Custom models.
1982 Gibson Sonex-180 Deluxe
1982 Gibson Sonex-180 Deluxe (candy apple red finish) A closer look at a 1982 Gibson Sonex-180 Deluxe solid body electric, in Candy Apple Red finish. The Sonex series consisted of four models altogether, all made with the same 'multiphonic' bodies, but varying hardware. The bodies had a maple core, enclosed in a material called resonwood, for "extraordinary sustain and harmonic reproduction". The Deluxe was the most basic model with reasonable pickups and hardware, but they were good looking guitars, affordable, solid, and with the Gibson logo on the headstock.
1964 Gibson EB0
1964 Gibson EB0 bass (cherry finish) The EB series evolved throughout the period of production, with (mostly) minor hardware and construction changes occurring every couple years. 1964 basses are typified by their mix of early features: wide, but slightly shallower neck, non-intonatable bridge, 'small' control cavity cover and nickel-plated hardware; most obviously the pickup cover (previously black bakelite - compare with a 1962 EB0, later chrome-plated - see this 1966 EB0)

Vintage Gibson guitars for sale

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US ebay listings

Free Shipping!!! 2015 Gibson Custom Historic Select 1958 Les Paul Reissue New

Current price: $7903.00
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Gibson CUSTOM SHOP ’13 Historic Collection 1959 Les Paul Standard Gloss

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Gibson Memphis Limited Run 1961 ES-335TD (Vintage Natural) w/Hardcase

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Free Shipping!!! Gibson Custom Shop 1956 Les Paul Reissue Heavily-Aged New

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GIBSON J-50 1959 dignity of vintage w / Hardcase Freeshipping !!

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Gibson Custom Shop Historic Collection 1959 Les Paul Reissue 2014 VOS Used

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13 Gibson 1958 Les Paul Standard reissue LPR8 Sunrise Tea Burst HAND-PICKED AAA

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1960s Gibson Deluxe set guitar tuner keys # D-169400 new open box new never used

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2003 Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop 1959 Reissue with Brazilian Rosewood Fret board

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1970s Gibson P-90 Soapbar pickup; fully functional & original windings; FreeShip

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UK ebay listings

Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop 1958 Reissue VOS R8

Current price: £1460.00
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Time left: 14h 33m

Current price: £14999.00

Time left: 11h 49m
Vintage Gibson L-50 1956

Current price: £800.00

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Rare 1963 Gibson Les Paul Junior (SG body), excellent condition, OHSC

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Gibson Les Paul 2003 with Verfied Brazilian Fretboard,1959 re issue

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Vintage Unused, Genuine Gibson A and D Electric Bass Guitar Strings – 1970s NOS

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Gibson 345 (1964) Beautiful Old Vintage USA Guitar - May Part Ex? Great History!

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Fender stratocaster Custom Shop 1969 Closet Classic / Relic - Gibson Strings

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2014 Gibson 1958 Les Paul Sunrise FLAMETOP Reissue VOS R8 Historic r9 1959 58 59

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German ebay listings


Current price: €945.00
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Gibson Les Paul Special 1960 Double Cut - Custom Shop - TV White

Current price: €2100.00
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Time left: 29d 6h 10m
1959 Gibson LG-1 Akustikgitarre Acoustic Vintage Lg-2 LG1 J45

Current price: €3500.00
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Time left: 29d 10h 52m
Gibson Les Paul Standard 1959 CC #4 Sandy Collectors Choice Custom Shop

Current price: €6350.00
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Time left: 5d 10h 43m
Gibson Es 335 TD , 50Th Anniversary 1963

Current price: €3199.00
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Gibson SG "Les Paul Custom" 1961 org. Gitarre von Casey Jones Gitarristen

Current price: €7900.00
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There are 3 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
joe chaisson Comment left 3rd March 2012 09:09:59
i have a 1980 les paul gold top standard and i would like to know what it would be worth?
Lio Comment left 8th November 2013 09:09:16
I have a old Gibson L 3. The lable inside is not very clear but I think it has patented Feb 1st March 30, '06 also number 535/??. It was made in Kalamasoo Mich. The body is in perfect condition with all original parts. The turtle hand guard is so brittle and falling apart is the only part that is not good. The rest of the guitar has no scratch or wear. It has its original hard case in great condition. Just wondering about the price. I want to sell it. This was a gift I received from my late father-in-law. five years ago. I certainly need the money so I am trying to sell it. I will greatly appreciate your help. Thanks.
Jamie Moore Comment left 10th February 2014 05:05:32
This is great BUT no mention of Gibson Howard Roberts Custom. Would you have any info about how much one is worth or where to find out how much it's worth? Single pick-up, oval sound hole, great condition circa 1975 with Gibson hard shell case. Can you help??

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