76-77 Thunderbird "second" dating the number

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dagrev, Dec 16, 2013.


  1. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I've got a 1976/77 Gibson T-bird that has "second" stamped on it. There are not enough numbers for 76, 77, etc. There are only 6 numbers and they are stamped on the back of the headstock just under "second." (Stamped as in like the '60s versions. the 70's version had a label under the finish not a stamped number.) The pots date to early '77, the pickguard is a '76.

    I'm wondering if there is any way to date a weird serial number like that. Anyone have any reasonably founded ideas on getting info on such an odd number? Dating that number shows up as a 1967, which it is not.

    I've emailed Gibson, but don't expect to get much of an answer.

    Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. BassCliff

    BassCliff

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    Hi,

    This website had a serial number decoder for my '78 Gibson RD Artist. A quick perusal did not turn up a decoder for the Thunderbird but it does have some other clues for dating your bass like logo style, body style, etc.

    http://www.flyguitars.com/gibson/bass/Thunderbird.php


    Thank you for your indulgence,

    BassCliff
     
  3. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Thanks for the reply. I've seen this and tried guitardater but the odd number on this seems to stump everything and be hard to nail down. Possibly someone with info on seconds and their numbers would know what they mean, if anything.
     
  4. BassCliff

    BassCliff

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    Hi,

    I know a guy who knows a guy. ;)

    If you like, PM the ser# to me I will ask around.


    Thank you for your indulgence,

    BassCliff
     
  5. Register to disable this ad
  6. T-Bird

    T-Bird

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    Location:
    Finland (Northern Europe)
    Hi.

    I'm sure that the Gibson experts know better, but didn't the bicentennial Firebird and Thunderbird use a different serial number system than the rest of the flock?

    For the life of me I can't remember whether there was anything odd with my -76 Firebird SN though.

    Regards
    Sam
     
  7. TBird1958

    TBird1958 As a matter of fact....I am your Queen!

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle Washington
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups
    I don't at what point in '77 Gibson started stamping S/N's but they definately did - I have two '77's, one decalled the other stamped. My '76 is decalled. The odd part is 6 digits, it sounds like you're familiar with Gibsons 8 digit date codes, I'm interested to hear how this turns out!
     
  8. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Kentucky
    From what I've read from a book on Gibson's in '74 they moved most manufacturing to Nashville and using the transfer. Most or many of the old craftsmen stayed in MI and didn't care or like switching to the new number system, so some from MI had the old 6 digit system.

    My thing is the numbers are not in the tearlier place but at the tip of the headstock and the number doesn't show up as a 76 or but as a 67. So I'm wondering if for seconds they didn't even use a normal number that fits the existing plan.

    As said above, possibly the '76s had a number all their own, I don't know.

    Thanks for the input!
     
  9. BassCliff

    BassCliff

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    Hi Mr. dagrev,

    My friend passed along this information...

    So the serial number on that bass is the second time it's been used on a Gibson guitar. Depending on when Gibson started re-using those serial numbers, that is probably the year your bass was manufactured, '76 or '77, I would guess.

    I'll see what else I can find out. Sorry I don't have a definite date.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    BassCliff
     
  10. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    boston, ma
    I thought the "second" stamp signified factory second?
     
  11. TBird1958

    TBird1958 As a matter of fact....I am your Queen!

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle Washington
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups
    I'm pretty sure by '77 that bass was produced in Kalamazoo, one of my '77s is stamped in the same position, definately from MI. You're probably right about the 6 digit being used on seconds. Pics? ;)
     
  12. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Thanks for the info.

    Cliff- I'm not certain all of it is correct. The reusing SN is true. But I know Gibson had "second" and often another mark to indicate a "second" with some kind of flaw. These were sold to employees or some dealers at a lower cost. So it would be odd to put second on something that was not a flawed second and then possibly hurt the instruments value.

    Thank you very much for your time and your friend's time. Anything else you turn up will be appreciated.
     
  13. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Kentucky
    So yours is stamped at the very tip end of the headstock to where the bass has to be vertical (like an upright) to read it? Not the typical horizontal, more open area along the back of the keys?

    I understand some of the older workers kept using the older way of marking them. So this is ringing true.

    I can't get a link to work for a pic. Maybe later.
     
  14. BassCliff

    BassCliff

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    Hi,

    My guy is still investigating. Yes, I'm also curious as to how Gibson would differentiate the "factory seconds" (flawed) units from the "re-used serial number" seconds.

    This particular "friend of a friend" is pretty knowledgeable. He knew what year my RD Artist was manufactured just from the routing for the electronics cavity.

    Gibson probably does not keep extensive and detailed records of this kind of information. So it may have to come from a well-healed collector or a personal archive of documentation. I don't know if that would be available online. But it's a fun little mystery to investigate. :)

    Pictures might help! [​IMG]


    Thank you for your indulgence,

    BassCliff
     
  15. TBird1958

    TBird1958 As a matter of fact....I am your Queen!

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle Washington
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist Mike Lull T Bass pickups

    Yes, mine is stamped on the tip and vertical, interestingly it also has a straight script logo truss rod cover, I've never seen another Thunderbird with one like this.....
    Post refin! It was a trashed out black.
    [​IMG]
     
  16. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Kentucky
  17. BassCliff

    BassCliff

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    Hi,

    Thanks for the picture. There is still no definitive word as to when/where your bass was manufactured. I don't think my friends can offer any more information.

    Have you gone through these resources?

    http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Support/SerialNumberSearch/Default.aspx

    http://home.provide.net/~cfh/gibson.html

    http://www.gibson.com/en-us/Lifestyle/ProductSpotlight/GearAndInstruments/Gibson Serial Numbers/

    It seems the 6 digit serial number was an odd duck. You find a lot more information about the 8 and 9 digit numbers.


    Thank you for your indulgence,

    BassCliff
     
  18. BassCliff

    BassCliff

    Joined:
    May 17, 2012
    Location:
    So. Cal.
    Hi,

    This is the picture of the serial number stamp that Mr. dagrev sent me.

    [​IMG]

    It's in the standard location. I'm not sure what other information we can glean from this. There is mention of a book, Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars that might be helpful. But I don't have a copy. NOTE: If you have an Amazon account you can login and reference most of the book online. I perused the book online but didn't find any mention of the "SECOND" stamp. There were a few references to the 6 digit serial number, the '76 Thunderbird and other Thunderbird models.

    Does yours have an eagle logo?


    Thank you for your indulgence,

    BassCliff
     
  19. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I haven't checked those links, but will do so.

    Yes, it has the correct Eagle logo with the 76 just below the stars on the chest of the bird.

    The reputable vintage dealer I got it from believes it is a really odd bass because of the serial number. He wonders if the body was a very early second that was likely set aside and put together and sold early in '77. (The 00 at the beginning of the SN # indicates 76, and the rest was likely left off due to it being a second and/or not finished at the time.) It seemed so unusual that it was what intrigued him. And the fact that it was the best looking Polaris White he had ever seen.

    White is the rarest of the finishes, with 136 ever made from 77-79. In fact there is no record of a white one made/shipped in 1976. So this does seem to be an odd duck. As a result there may never be a definitive answer.

    Thanks for all the help and suggestions!
     
  20. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    boston, ma
    Could it have been a factory refinish and thus the "second" stamp and inconsistency with serial numbers/shipping figures? Or were "second" instruments dropped from shipping figures since they were sold at discount?
     
  21. dagrev

    dagrev Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2006
    Location:
    Kentucky
    With what I can see see from a small chip area and the cavities there's no indication it was ever painted over. Not to say it wasn't, just nothing to my eye indicating it.

    It could be a second because of two small dark spots in the rosewood. Possibly small "knots" in the wood. They don't look like a real blemishes, but they are slightly noticeable.
     

Share This Page