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Gibson S-1 Guitar

Solid body Gibson electric guitar

PART 1 description and chronology | PART 2 features | PART 3 controls

The June 1975 Gibson price listThe Gibson S-1 was first announced in the June 1975 price list

In the 1970s Norlin-owned Gibson dabbled in some new approaches to guitar building. Some ideas were truly inovative (such as the circuitry in the RD Artist guitar and bass) whilst others were just new to Gibson. Guitar manufacturers in the USA were having problems. The oil-crisis, Viet Nam War, cheap imports from the far east and deep recession were all taking their toll. All the big American guitar companies were losing sales to new cheaper competitors; production costs had to be reduced for certain entry level instruments. Techniques that had long been resisted, such as the use of bolt-on necks, scratchplate mounted controls, and the use of woods such as alder and maple, were finally acceptable. After all Fender had now been using them for close on two decades, and were doing very well.

In late 1974 Gibson launched the Marauder M-1 guitar and Grabber G-1 bass. They were alder bodied with a bolt-on maple neck. Nothing like the solid mahogany set necked SGs, Les Pauls and EB basses that were Gibsons solid-body mainstays.

Sales were good in 1975, and a further two models in the same veign were unveiled; the S-1 guitar and companion G-3 Grabber bass. The interesting thing about these instruments were the pickup configurations designed by Bill Lawrence, who was working at Gibson at the time. The S-1 had three single coil pickups, more akin to a Fender Stratocaster than anything ever produced by Gibson previously and a four-way switch that "allows you to form your own humbucking or non-humbucking combinations". The G-1 and M-1 had initially been alder bodied and this was changed to maple soon afterwards. It is unclear whether any alder-bodied S-1 instruments were manufactured, though quite possible. They were certainly produced with a maple body, and eventually mahogany was also (optionally) available as a body material too.

Gibson S-1 chronology
  • 1975 Launched mid 1975. Finishes: Natural Satin ($399), Ebony ($449), Sunburst ($479)[1]. Total sales 1064[2]
  • 1976 New finish - Natural Maple Gloss. Maple fingerboard, unlike rosewood used on all other finishes. Prices: Natural Satin ($439), Ebony ($479), Maple Gloss ($479), Sunburst ($509)[3]
  • 1977 Prices: Natural Satin ($499), Ebony, Maple Gloss, Sunburst ($539)[4]
  • 1978 This was the peak year for the S-1. Maple fingerboards became standard, electronics redesigned [2], bodies optionally mahogany. New finishes were Natural Mahogany, Wine Red and Walnut. The Natural Satin finish was now identical to the Natural Maple Gloss finish, so that name was dropped. It cost $519, and all other finishes were $559. [6] Total sales were 1158. Not great for a peak year.[2]
  • 1979 Maple bodied S-1s were listed as an option as late as June 1979[7], however the final appearance of the S-1 in Gibson literature in late September '79 lists only one wood/finish combination; mahogany body, maple neck and a Satin Walnut finish. $459[8].

1) Gibson pricelist 20/6/1975
2) Gibson Shipment Totals 1937-79 by Larry Meiners
3) Gibson pricelist 1/6/1976
4) Gibson pricelist 1/1/1977
5) Gibson Adventures in Archives November 1997
6) Gibson pricelist 15/5/1978
7) Gibson pricelist 1/6/1979
8) Gibson pricelist 30/9/1979

1978 Gibson S-1
Gibson S-1 guitars in Ebony and Tobacco Sunburst finishes

The Gibson S-1 stayed in the Gibson line throughout the 1970s, with production ending in 1979, a few guitars of left-over parts still being shipped perhaps into the 1980s. Gibson continued creating guitars to compete with Fender's Stratocaster (in vain, admittedly), the next being the rather fine Victory MVX guitar, which, arguably, was a far superior guitar than the Fender, yet still never broke through in terms of sales.

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UK ebay listings

Gibson 1976 S-1 Electric Guitar (All Original)

Current price: £600.00
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Time left: 7d 29m
1976 Gibson S-1 Marauder electric guitar vintage Norlin BLACK bill lawrence

Current price: £555.99
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1976 Gibson Bridge & Tailpiece wStuds For SG L6S & S1 Marauder Germany Harmonica

Current price: £117.87
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1978 Gibson Protector Hardshell Case Chainsaw Flightcase For Les Paul S1 SG USA

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Vintage 1970s Gibson S1 G3 Grabber Bass Guitar Pickup Bill Lawrence BuckandaHalf

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Vintage 1970s Gibson G3 Grabber S1 Victory Neck Plate Flower Design and Screws

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1961 Gibson PAF M-69 Pickup Rings Mounting Srews 1962 1950's 1960's 0218S1

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1975 Gibson CTS Potentiometer Set of 2- Volume & Tone For Les Paul S1 SG L6s USA

Current price: £58.93
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1970s Gibson Knob Set of 3 Speed Knobs and 1 Pointer Rotary For L6-S EB3 S1 1975

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GIBSON Pickup for RD Standard, Grabber G3 Bass, S1 Guitar

Current price: £49.12
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vintage Gibson 1970's NICKEL bushings for Kluson tuners Les Paul S1 SG Marauder

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German ebay listings


Current price: €38.50
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Time left: 15d 11h 36m
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There are 6 comments on this article so far. Add your comment
Robert Comment left 9th January 2013 20:08:09
Hello, I have a Gibson all maple S-1 that I got in 1977. I bought it at the music store so I'm the original owner. I have since changed all the hardware to suit my taste of playing. I still have all the original hardware. I cannot seem to find the value of it anywhere, the serial number is 00175934. From what I gather it was made in Kalamazoo in Jan of 75 and it was the 934th guitar for that run. Am I correct? And can you help me to put a price on it? Thanks for your time and help.
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 9th January 2013 20:08:55
Hi Robert, I assume your serial number is a decal? These decal 8 digit serial numbers were used between 1975 and 1977, and do not use the same system as the 8 digit stamped serials that followed them. On your S1, the first two digits 00 tell us the year; 1976 in this case. The following six digits have no information encoded within them. 934 means nothing whatsoever i'm afraid, although it would have meant something on a later guitar. However you are correct in saying your guitar was produced at the Gibson Kalamazoo plant. Value will be mid to high $xxx depending on the usual criteria of condition and completeness.
Rob Keefe Comment left 13th January 2013 14:02:50
Hey thanks for the info and the help! I appreciate you taking the time to answer. Regards, Rob
Frank Comment left 23rd July 2013 18:06:47
hi, I bought an S1 back in 78 or 79(?). I have not played it in 20 years or more. I have it stored at my family's home in the US. I don't have the serial number but it is a "natural" walnut(?) body / maple neck. It looks very similar to the one seen here in top picture but mine is lighter in color. Can you give me any idea what the value might be? I would say it is "good" condition with no major damage. I understand it is hard to say sight unseen so any "ballpark" figures would be ok. Thanks
JOE W Comment left 23rd March 2014 12:12:45
I cant find any info on my Gibson S-1 serial # 01550710 Can you help? Its a solid body walnut finish blk scratch pad light oke fret board Sure wish i could get some data on it. Thanks J.W
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 25th March 2014 22:10:11
Good condition S-1s are typically going anywhere between $450-$800 at the moment (2014) - they come up surprisingly infrequently (despite not being especially rare) which prevents the stability in price you see in more abundant 70s Gibsons.

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