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The majority of the instruments profiled on this site were produced by the brands to the left (click for more), although there is also some limited content on the following guitars and amps
Ampeg, Baldwin, Dan Armstrong, Futurama, G&L, Goya, Hayman, Ibanez, Marshall, Musicman, Ovation, Peavey, Rickenbacker, Selmer, Silvertone, Supro and Yamaha, WEM

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1972 Gibson showcase brochures
1972 Gibson showcase brochuresIn 1972 Gibson produced a series of 'Guitar of the Month' brochures, each dedicated to one of their high end models, the Les Paul Recording guitar, L5-CES, ES-175D, Super 400-CES, ES-355TD-SV and Byrdland. Each brochure was a single sheet folded into four panels, with details of the instruments themselves, their features, musical purpose, and a little history behind the development of each guitar. Only the Les Paul Recording was a new model; the others were all well established in the Gibson line. Follow the link to see scans and further information on these leaflets and other Gibson guitar catalogues from the CMI and Norlin periods.
1966 Kalamazoo KB-1 bass
Kalamazoo KB-1 bass Gibson assembled these 30 1/2" scale Kalamazoo KB-1 basses in their electronics plant in Kalamazoo, MI - separate from the main Gibson plant. They used the same components and hardware as on the Gibson EB bass series; but with a pre-painted masonite body and a bolt-on maple neck; a very different construction to Gibson's usual output. Initially the KB bass had a Mustang-shaped body (see the 1966 Kalamazoo KB-1, left), which was soon redesigned with the classic SG shape (see the 1967 Kalamazoo KB-1, right). Have a listen to sound clips of this bass here.
Older updates here

Vintage Gibson guitars
Gibson guitar, 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 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 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 had been produced by Gibson humbuckers, a mahogany body and a glued in mahogany neck. 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. The use of maple continued later in the decade with the RD and Victory series. But even necks on a lot of traditionally all-mahogany instruments went maple: 70s Les Pauls, SGs and 335s often have maple necks.

One of the last series of instruments to be made entirely at the Kalamazoo plant was the RD series. This was a colaboration between Gibson and Moog, to create an active instrument with built-in Moog electronics.

Gibson RD Standard bass
The Gibson RD Standard bass

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



Vintage Gibson guitars for sale

Back to the GIBSON INDEX | comment


US ebay listings

VINTAGE 1964 GIBSON SG JR GUITAR PELHAM BLUE REFINISH! grlc1192

Current price: $1840.00
buy it now
Time left: 8m
Gibson 1965 ES-175, Great Condition, All Original

Current price: $3799.99
buy it now
Time left: 6h 20m
1962 Gibson SG Special Custom Color

Current price: $2850.00
buy it now
Time left: 6h 21m
1961 Gibson Maestro 30 Stereo Tube Amp (GA-78 RV) - OUTSTANDING - ALL ORIGINAL!!

Current price: $2499.99
buy it now
Time left: 6h 38m
1959 Gibson ES-125T with Original Lifton / Geib Case

Current price: $1285.00
buy it now
Time left: 7h 28m
Gibson Custom Shop Burstbucker 1 & 2 pickups from new VOS 1959 Reissue Les Paul

Current price: $137.50
buy it now
Time left: 7h 50m
CTS potentiometers and Bumble Bee caps from Gibson Custom 1959 Reissue Les Paul

Current price: $40.00
buy it now
Time left: 8h
1960 Gibson LG0 Guitar and Case

Current price: $1000.00
buy it now
Time left: 8h 10m
See more results on eBay here


UK ebay listings

1961 Gibson Maestro 30 Stereo Tube Amp (GA-78 RV) - OUTSTANDING - ALL ORIGINAL!!

Current price: £1487.29
buy it now
Time left: 6h 38m
Kluson Green Key tuners from Gibson Custom Shop VOS 1959 Reissue Les Paul

Current price: £6.91
buy it now
Time left: 8h 14m
Gibson Historic 1959 Pickguard Creme Guitar Parts Les Paul R8 R9 Reissue 59 1958

Current price: £23.79
buy it now
Time left: 9h 32m
Gibson Les Paul 1960 Reissue, Red Tiger, Pre Owned, 2009

Current price: £3499.00
buy it now
Time left: 9h 38m
Gibson Les Paul 1959 Reissue Custom Historic, Tobacco Sunburst, Pre Owned, 2006

Current price: £3499.00
buy it now
Time left: 9h 38m
Gibson Les Paul 1959 Reissue Aged, Washed Cherry, Pre Owned, 2011

Current price: £4999.00
buy it now
Time left: 9h 38m
Gibson Les Paul 1959 Reissue Custom Historic, Cherry Sunburst, Pre Owned, 2005

Current price: £3799.00
buy it now
Time left: 9h 38m
gibson les paul collectors choice #8 bernie marsden beast 1959 custom shop r9

Current price: £4950.00
buy it now
Time left: 10h 11m
See more results on eBay here

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?
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??
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.

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