Hagstrom eight-string bass, Vox Cheetah semi acoustic guitar with built in effects, Gibson EB3 bass
Hagstrom H-8 eight-string bassVox CheetahGibson EB3
Home | Guitar Model Info | Catalogue Scans | Forum | Other Stuff | Search     

pick a brand

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

Or try the site search

Trying to find the value of your guitar?
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.

Latest site updates - Gibson

Other updates here

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

Back to the GIBSON INDEX | comment

US ebay listings

1966 Gibson es-125 Vintage Free shipping

Current price: $2000.00
buy it now
Time left: 1d 4h 5m
Vintage 1966 Gibson EB-0 Electric Bass Guitar

Current price: $2000.00
buy it now
Time left: 5d 23h 14m
Vintage 1963 Gibson Titan V Power Plus guitar amplifier Mint Condition 100% orig

Current price: $2000.00
buy it now
Time left: 11d 2h 31m

Current price: $2000.00
buy it now
Time left: 11d 4h 8m
1967-70 Gibson J-160

Current price: $2000.00
buy it now
Time left: 11d 19h 42m
1972 Gibson Les Paul Custom Guitar

Current price: $2000.00
buy it now
Time left: 20d 1h 18m
Superb Vintage 1965 Gibson LG-1 Acoustic Guitar Mint Condition W/Org. Case

Current price: $1999.99
buy it now
Time left: 6d 20m
Vintage Gibson Les Paul Deluxe (c.1970s)

Current price: $1999.99
buy it now
Time left: 12d 23h 37m
1966 Epiphone Sorrento Vintage Electric Guitar Model E452TD Royal Olive Gibson

Current price: $1999.99
buy it now
Time left: 16d 16h 57m
1970s Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Goldtop Electric Guitar w/Case

Current price: $1999.99
buy it now
Time left: 18d 1h 45m
See more results on eBay here

UK ebay listings


Current price: £1623.77
buy it now
Time left: 1d 9h 9m
OMG! Rare Gibson Brazilian Rosewood 1959 Reissue R9 2003 Les Paul Collector

Current price: £5259.18
buy it now
Time left: 1d 23h 37m
2007 GIBSON FLYING V 1968 Reissue Electric Guitar White NEW & ORIGINAL Hard Case

Current price: £433.88
buy it now
Time left: 7d 8h 22m
Gibson Les Paul Standard Cherry-Burst R9 1959 REISSUE ALL DOCUMENTATION INCUDED

Current price: £1809.00
buy it now
Time left: 3h 46m
GIBSON LG-3 ! GIBSON LG-3 ! 1962 GIBSON LG-3 ! Ruff Playable Condition, HSC!

Current price: £137.07
buy it now
Time left: 8d 11h 40m
Gibson SG 1961 Reissue

Current price: £410.00
buy it now
Time left: 7d 15h 27m
A pair of Gold plated machine heads from a 1970's Gibson Les Paul Custom

Current price: £3.20
buy it now
Time left: 2d 23h 22m
Gibson B-25 Acoustic Guitar 1966-1969 B25N Natural + WolfPak Case 053999

Current price: £599.99
buy it now
Time left: 4d 1h 15m
1972 Vintage GIBSON SG with original case and paperwork LOVELY GUITAR proper one

Current price: £385.00
buy it now
Time left: 3d 18h
Gibson Guitar Tripik Plectrum (1970's)

Current price: £0.99
buy it now
Time left: 4d 2h 32m
See more results on eBay here

German ebay listings

GIBSON HUMMINGBIRD 1960s An Montana inkl. Koffer Akustik Gitarre custom shop

Current price: €903.00
buy it now
Time left: 4d 3h 7m
rare vintage e gitarre single coil gibson melody maker circa 1965 with case

Current price: €223.00
buy it now
Time left: 2d 13h 40m

Current price: €3250.00
buy it now
Time left: 8m
Gibson Hummingbird 1960 VCS LTD

Current price: €1399.00
buy it now
Time left: 1d 22h 27m
Gibson LG-0 // LG0 // 1964 // Vintage Akustikgitarre in sehr gutem Zustand

Current price: €899.00
buy it now
Time left: 3d 25m
Gibson SG Lefthand mit Bigsby Baujahr 1973 Vintage

Current price: €3500.00
buy it now
Time left: 5d 19h 56m
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?
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??

Comment on this article

All comments are moderated. Name and email details are required.

Email address
Your comments

Anti-spam question - to catch web robots

How many legs does a duck have?