Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 76

COLUMN Q&A With George Gruhn

GIBSON FONS AND
INK-STAMPS

centralized database for information like
tracking the whereabouts of specific instruments. An ad in Vintage Guitar might
help, along with notices in a variety of
online forums.

And an Opaque Sunburst Strat

I

have a lefty '62 Strat that I bought
in 1968. The finish is sunburst, but
opaque. Is it possible it's original? I've
had different opinions on this and would
like to get one from someone I trust. - Jay
Rutherford

which time, rather than strip and refinish the
body they may have opted to simply replace
the body, which would have cost them less
than stripping and refinishing the original
body under warranty.

I do not recall encountering an original
opaque Fender sunburst finish done prior
to the purchase of the company by CBS
in 1965. In the late '60s through the early
'70s, quite a few Fender guitars were done
with opaque sunburst applied over a white
base coat with brushed-on/simulated grain
pattern. Since you bought this guitar used
in '68, it's reasonable to assume it had been
refinished before you acquired it.
Another possibility is that it could have
been sent back to Fender under warranty, at

I once had a '77 Les Paul Custom made
by Gibson in conjunction with Guitar
Trader, of New Jersey. Through bad luck
and choices, I sold it. Do you have any
suggestions as to how I may track its
whereabouts? - Stan Jankowski

Gibson and other major American manufacturers have produced vast quantities of
custom-order instruments over the years.
While many may be unique items, collectively they are not especially rare. While there
are collectors who pay premium prices for a
rare variations of
highly desirable
models, instruments ordered
by customers
who have quirky
tastes may not
appeal to the majority of mainstream players,
a nd a re of ten
of spec u lat ive
va lue and difficult to evaluate.
In some cases,
ex treme rarit y
is an indication
that nobody else
wanted one like
it, so no others
were made.
Guitar Trader
was one of the
earliest dealers to
order relatively
accurate copies
of late-'50s Les
Paul Standards.
These limitedrun instruments
are sought-after,
but there is no

VINTAGE GUITAR

76

March 2017

I recently purchased a beautiful '64
Gibson ES-125TCD and noticed that,
unlike my other vintage Gibsons, it does
not have an orange oval sticker under the
bass f hole. It does have an ink stamp
"ES-125 TCD." Did this model not receive
such stickers, did it perhaps fall off, or
was it removed? - Jeff Appleman

Your guitar did not have a label from
the factory. During a period beginning
in the early 1930s and lasting until 1968,
Gibson did not apply a paper label to its
less-expensive models. Specifically, f lattops below the Country-Western model,
archtops below the L-4, and semi-hollows
below the ES-335TD. Instead, they were
ink-stamped with a model designation
(post-war) and factory work-order number
(FON). Prior to that point, all Gibson
guitars and mandolins were given a paper label with the guarantee and model
identification.
With rare exception, these early labels
also carry the serial number. Conversely,
almost every Gibson instrument built
between 1903 and '61 has a FON stamped
somewhere on the instrument. Among
the exceptions are the solidbody electrics
of 1952 and early '53, which have no FON
or serial number. For guitars with round
or oval soundholes, FONs are in the form
of an ink-stamped number on the neck
block, while those with f holes have it on
the interior of the back and are visible
through one of the holes.
Beginning in '61, all Gibson instruments
received a serial number and the use of
FONs was discontinued.
This column addresses questions about features
and model changes on stringed instruments,
information on manufacturers, driving forces in the
marketplace, the effects of technology on music,
and any other related subject. Questions can be
sent to vguitar@vintageguitar.com with "Gruhn
Q&A" in the subject line.
George Gruhn has been part of the Nashville music
scene for more than 30 years. He moved to Nashville
in 1969 after getting his Bachelor's Degree from the
University of Chicago and doing graduate work at
Duke University and the University of Tennessee in
Knoxville. In 1970, he established Gruhn Guitars,
Inc., one of the largest dealers of vintage and used
instruments in the world.


http://wdmusic.com/kluson http://www.vintageguitar.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 3
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 4
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 5
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 6
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 7
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 8
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 9
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - Contents
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 11
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 12
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 13
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 14
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 15
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Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - 18
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Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - IBC
Vintage Guitar - March 2017 - Open - BC
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