Gibson 'Specials' Pre-Owners Manual, announced in June 1981. The catalogue format of 1981, was very different to the plush, full-colour 'book' of 1980, consisting of a series of ten 8 3/4" x 4" mini-folders, each featuring one instrument segment. The other segments were: Custom series (9 inserts), Les Paul series (7 inserts), Banjo (4 inserts), Thinline (8 inserts), Sonex (3 inserts), Acoustic (6 inserts), Victory bass (2 inserts), Solid Body (6 inserts), Victory MV (2 inserts). 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.
Each insert details one specific model, with an image on one side and body and neck specifications on the reverse.
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.
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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