Dating custom shop les pauls
The author has received emails from people around the world with unusual LPs from the early-’80s that don’t correspond to a particular model in any catalog at that time, many having ’59 reissue type features.
Some (not all) Kalamazoo-made pre-reissues have the familiar Gibson eight-digit serial number (YDDDYSSS, where “Y” is the year, “DDD” is the day of the year from 001-365, and “SSS” is the production sequence number for the day) inside their control cavity in addition to a reissue-style (Y XXXX format) serial number on the back of the headstock.
Because authentic Guitar Trader Les Pauls always have this eight-digit number in the control cavity, many collectors incorrectly assume that any Kalamazoo-made reissue from that timeframe with this number in the control cavity is a Guitar Trader.
The Guitar Trader model pictured is a 1980 one-off, with a pearloid plaque on the back of the headstock with the number 001, along with a Kalamazoo eight-digit serial number, Gibson tuners similar to those used on Deluxes at the time, narrow ’59-style binding in the cutaway, ’59-style knobs, narrower headstock, large tortoiseshell side dot markers and a Nashville bridge. Folklore has it that this guitar was built by luthiers remaining in Kalamazoo shortly after the plant officially closed.
Some of the guitars advertised as Strings and Things models have different serial number formats, one-piece necks vs.
three-piece necks, different bridges, narrow or wide binding in the cutaway, etc.
The author of this article does not own a Strings and Things model because, in hunting for one, there does not appear to be any single set of definitive specifications or identifying features to authenticate a Strings and Things Les Paul.
The Les Paul KM model was made in the Kalamazoo plant in 1979, supposedly at the request of a southern sales district, according to one account (this history is refuted by another account).
The guitar was intended be a sunburst Les Paul that more closely approximated ’59 Standard specs.
There are a few examples with one-piece necks and ebony fretboards, which indicates that Elite necks were used during parts shortages. The truss rod cover is inscribed with “Heritage Series Standard 80 Elite.” The two examples shown are at opposite ends of the weight scale, one being 9 pounds, 3 ounces, the other being 10 pounds, 8 ounces.
3.) The Heritage Series Award has a plaque on the back of the headstock with a number from 1 through approximately 50 (approximately 50 of these guitars were made for dealers who sold a lot of Heritage models), cherry sunburst, ebony board, flame top, and gold hardware.