Dating a gibson
Copyright © 1995, 1996 Dan Beimborn and Maxwell Mc Cullough This page was authored by Dan Beimborn and originally appeared on the Mandolin Pages web site, now revised as the Mandolin Archive, a vintage gibson mandolin guide.In the spring of 1997 Dan decided to liquidate the Mandolin Pages and distribute them in various locations on the web.The most generally trustworthy vintage Gibsons fall into the 1900-1930 years, when the instrument was popular and many were produced. Get a general impression from the instrument how "played in" it is...
The important breakdowns are: 1900-1910 Orville Gibson labels, "pineapple" shaped tailpiece cover 1910-1920 Fixed bridge models, the biggest production years 1921-1925 Adjustable bridges, truss rods other Loar-Hart innovations 1925-1935 Varnish finish changes to a shinier lacquer topcoat.
Compare a "Broken in" Gibson from the same period (1900-1907; 1908-1920) for a fairly accurate estimate of how the instrument will eventually sound.
For the period of 1921 onward, try to get a near exact analogue because there are so many differences. They are not really bad in and of themselves, but they do indicate how much an instrument has been played.
Also, with a dental mirror and flashlight, you should be able to see a different factory number up on the block where the neck meets the body inside the instrument.
The label will probably have yellowed somewhat with age, but a nice new-looking piece of whitish-grey speckled paper with crisp, clear writing does not indicate a forgery - that's what they were like when brand new!