Gibson 'Specials' Pre-Owners Manual, first announced in June 1981. The catalog format of 1981, was very different to the plush, full-colour 'book' of the 1980 Gibson catalog. It consisted of a series of mini-folders each containing separate inserts describing various models in that segment. Each insert was printed in black and white, with an image of the guitar on one side, and body and neck specifications on the reverse.
Naturally this format would be significantly less-expensive to produce than a full-colour book, and had the advantage that models could be added or removed as necessary. In the case of the 'Specials' this was pretty useful, as all of the guitars included here were in some way of limited availability - including numerous older models on their way to deletion.
This folder contains 24 inserts in total: 19 guitars and five bass guitars.
But what actually constituted a 'Special'? As the inner cover states "You will find the unusual, the brand-new, and the bargain within this folder". It describes models designated as Specials as those fitting at least one of four categories: limited production, test marketing, modification of an existing design, or a close out model.
In truth (at least as far as the inserts in this catalog are concerned), the first three categories are effectively the same - i.e. limited edition test models, with short production runs. These included the ES-335 Heritage, "The Explorer", "The V", Firebird II and Flying V bass. Although by the end of 1981 the ES-335 Heritage would be renamed the ES-335 Dot, and become a regular model, none of these other limited edition guitar remained in the line beyond 1982. The other 19 inserts feature close out models; guitars officially deleted and no longer included in price lists, but still available to dealers in small numbers and at a reduced price. But in some cases these were available in new finishes, not seen during the pre-close out production phase, for example the Cherry Red Marauder or the Silverburst L-6S.
There were ten 8 3/4" x 4" folders in total, each covering one instrument segment. The other segments were:
Initially a Chet Atkins series folder was also announced, however the Atkins CE was placed in the acoustic segment folder. The Gibson Specials pre-owners manual was the largest of them all, with 24 inserts, of mostly solid body guitars and basses.
This is (among) the first Gibson publicity material to mention the new Norlin Nashville address, replacing the older Lincolnwood, Illinois.
The Gibson Specials folder featured the following guitars, in no particular order. Click on the images for full size versions, or click on the model names below for more about each instrument
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