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Questions on Vintage Gibsons and Vintage Epiphones answered by Mat Koehler

MikeSlub

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For those that have been following, Mat Koehler, VP of Product for Gibson Brands, Inc. has been faithfully answering questions in the Historic Pub for a long time, 92 pages worth! He needs a rest, and asks that you direct questions on Historic and USA Division to the Gibson Customer Service team. He'd like to answer questions here on vintage Gibsons. Even though this pub is focused on 1952-1960 Les Pauls, he'll attempt to also answer questions on all Gibsons and Epiphones made up to 1979. Please, no requests for pages from the shipping ledgers, no authentication requests, etc. Thanks Mat, for your willingness to keep helping our members with their questions on the LPF! (y)
 
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fernieite

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Jan 3, 2010
Messages
620
Hey, Mat. First of all, thanks for all of your contributions to the forum! That was a ton of work in the Historic section...

I know years ago we could get the shipping date from the Gibson Shipping ledgers, but lately that hasn't been the case. Do you think that could start up again?

I'd sure like to find out when my '64 or early '65 ES-345 was shipped from Kalamazoo! Thanks a lot.
 

MikeSlub

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Messages
15,268
Hey, Mat. First of all, thanks for all of your contributions to the forum! That was a ton of work in the Historic section...

I know years ago we could get the shipping date from the Gibson Shipping ledgers, but lately that hasn't been the case. Do you think that could start up again?

I'd sure like to find out when my '64 or early '65 ES-345 was shipped from Kalamazoo! Thanks a lot.
I’ll reply on Mat’s behalf. I’ve seen the shipping ledgers when I visited Gibson. Someone has to manually go through them page by page to find specific guitars and serial numbers. Gibson is inundated these requests and simply doesn’t have the manpower to do this.
 

jb_abides

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Apr 6, 2005
Messages
5,710
I’ll reply on Mat’s behalf. I’ve seen the shipping ledgers when I visited Gibson. Someone has to manually go through them page by page to find specific guitars and serial numbers. Gibson is inundated these requests and simply doesn’t have the manpower to do this.

Advanced applications can take care of much work post-scanning and with lowered costs, so Gibson IT could leverage OCR/character recognition, advanced records/data management, databasing of large imagery with pattern recognition/imagery analytics, and AI to start to organize its Archives in an accessible way that can be searched and queried. Which is not to say they should make the entire corpus public but selectively publish certain types information for customers, and then have powerful tools for Customer Service representative to access the Lion's Share. Maybe a pipe dream, but it could happen!

Would certainly go hand in glove with an online made-to-measure configurator... :unsure:

@matkoehler - a member here @Restive recently took possession of the lefty Stroup Burst. Perhaps something to chat about and scan, seeing as Macca keeps his busy!

At this point in the game, I don't have any truly vintage Gibsons per definition... bummer. I've got a 65 SG Junior. And a vintage Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, but that's another matter.
 

S. Weiger

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Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
1,877
This thread is so cool. Thanks Mat & Mike for making this happen. 🤠(y)

A question, though answered in the past with suggestions from LPF members but to my knowledge, never answered by Gibson themselves.
As you probably know, there are many sad examples of unfortunate buyers being ripped off for hundreds thousands $$ by unscrupulous ppl building convincing "replicas" (fakes) of old Gibsons, especially the 1958-59 Burst.

Why doesn't Gibson do more to pursue legal actions against builders/sellers of fake Gibsons?

I know the fakesters probably read along, so I understand if you hesitate to give the 'official' reason in public..
 

MikeSlub

Administrator
Joined
Jul 15, 2001
Messages
15,268
Advanced applications can take care of much work post-scanning and with lowered costs, so Gibson IT could leverage OCR/character recognition, advanced records/data management, databasing of large imagery with pattern recognition/imagery analytics, and AI to start to organize its Archives in an accessible way that can be searched and queried. Which is not to say they should make the entire corpus public but selectively publish certain types information for customers, and then have powerful tools for Customer Service representative to access the Lion's Share. Maybe a pipe dream, but it could happen!

Would certainly go hand in glove with an online made-to-measure configurator... :unsure:

@matkoehler - a member here @Restive recently took possession of the lefty Stroup Burst. Perhaps something to chat about and scan, seeing as Macca keeps his busy!

At this point in the game, I don't have any truly vintage Gibsons per definition... bummer. I've got a 65 SG Junior. And a vintage Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, but that's another matter.
It isn't a primary business of Gibson to scan ledgers and use advanced data management to provide these pages to us. Maybe if they decided this was a business opportunity they would do it, but there would have to be a fee so they could recoup their cost. I doubt whether it's a priority.
 

matkoehler

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
539
For those that have been following, Mat Koehler, VP of Product for Gibson Brands, Inc. has been faithfully answering questions in the Historic Pub for a long time, 92 pages worth! He needs a rest, and asks that you direct questions on Historic and USA Division to the Gibson Customer Service team. He'd like to answer questions here on vintage Gibsons. Even though this pub is focused on 1952-1960 Les Pauls, he'll attempt to also answer questions on all Gibsons and Epiphones made up to 1979. Please, no requests for pages from the shipping ledgers, no authentication requests, etc. Thanks Mat, for your willingness to keep helping our members with their questions on the LPF! (y)
Thank you Mike! Let’s dive into Gibson history and its mysteries. Epiphone too, why not. I may post unprompted as well — I love this stuff and would love to spark further discussion. You can expect answers informed by facts and supported by archival evidence in some cases :).
 
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matkoehler

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
539
Hey, Mat. First of all, thanks for all of your contributions to the forum! That was a ton of work in the Historic section...

I know years ago we could get the shipping date from the Gibson Shipping ledgers, but lately that hasn't been the case. Do you think that could start up again?

I'd sure like to find out when my '64 or early '65 ES-345 was shipped from Kalamazoo! Thanks a lot.
I think it will start up again but the ledgers haven’t been onsite in some time — they were getting digitized. To the other posts — yes it can be a pain to find a given guitar and sometimes it’s akin to a needle in a haystack. Even with digitization, OCR technology is still pretty shaky, so not having the best luck but I expect the technology to continue to improve.

Personally I have a lot of friends in the industry who ask me for ledger lookups as well, but I have started to honor requests only when authenticity is called into question. Wish I could do more but again when technology improves a bit we may be able to offer a dedicated service for ledger lookups.
 

matkoehler

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Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
539
@matkoehler - a member here @Restive recently took possession of the lefty Stroup Burst. Perhaps something to chat about and scan, seeing as Macca keeps his busy!

At this point in the game, I don't have any truly vintage Gibsons per definition... bummer. I've got a 65 SG Junior. And a vintage Gretsch Chet Atkins Country Gentleman, but that's another matter.
We do have scans of the other Macca’s lefty burst — John McEnroe’s former burst with the center seam weirdness. It looked pretty good when we had it (outside of that center seam) but this was years ago. Early 60 if I remember right.

Anyway, this is not a thread for owners of vintage Gibsons. Let’s make it a thread about Gibson historical questions!
 
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matkoehler

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Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
539
This thread is so cool. Thanks Mat & Mike for making this happen. 🤠(y)

A question, though answered in the past with suggestions from LPF members but to my knowledge, never answered by Gibson themselves.
As you probably know, there are many sad examples of unfortunate buyers being ripped off for hundreds thousands $$ by unscrupulous ppl building convincing "replicas" (fakes) of old Gibsons, especially the 1958-59 Burst.

Why doesn't Gibson do more to pursue legal actions against builders/sellers of fake Gibsons?

I know the fakesters probably read along, so I understand if you hesitate to give the 'official' reason in public..
This is a fair question but we do have a team dedicated to going after forgeries and fraudulent items. It’s pervasive and seems to be getting worse, and sellers are finding more and more ways to avoid detection or legal liability. Ultimately whoever is buying that junk is not making a good investment and insulting the amazing craftspeople that we employ in the process.
 

metropolis

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Sep 14, 2018
Messages
447
Even with digitization, OCR technology is still pretty shaky, so not having the best luck but I expect the technology to continue to improve.
I could foresee one of the tech giants (like Google who I am closest to through work) jumping at the chance to partner with Gibson and 'unlock the mysteries of the sacred ledgers'. Would be great PR and their AI technologies are getting better by the day.
 

83Custom

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2006
Messages
23
Mat: How often are you contacted about never-before-seen 50s bursts that people have discovered their older relatives had? There must be some out there that suddenly just get rediscovered (for lack of a better term).

Are there any 50s bursts that artists have that you’d like to see in person but haven’t? I know someone with one who about ten years ago contacted Gibson who apparently showed no interest (according to him).
 

Frutiger

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Oct 17, 2007
Messages
739
Oh this is great! So I have a couple of questions Mat (It's Rob as in Robs_Vintage_Guitars on Instagram).

First, with your access to the ledgers, have you any idea how many custom order/colour guitars are still out there waiting to be found? You helped me with my 1961 factory cream LP Special I'm restoring (it's currently away getting the binding reinstated) and that's a batch a guitars I didn't know existed until you told me. There's also the trade show guitars of which Joe potentially has the Copper Iridescent one. I've seen more factory black guitars over the last couple of years than the whole of the last 20. How much more of these types of things are out there, do you have any idea? It seems that more and more crazy stuff keeps turning up!

Secondly (and apologies this is very geeky) with custom-colour knobs on steel guitars (and on Joe's Copper LP) how are they done? I presume they a standard clear plastic knob that's then painted a specific colour but do you have any idea if were they sprayed in batches or painted by hand? Like I said, this is minutiae geek squad stuff but I've been wondering about it!
 

matkoehler

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Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
539
Mat: How often are you contacted about never-before-seen 50s bursts that people have discovered their older relatives had? There must be some out there that suddenly just get rediscovered (for lack of a better term).

Are there any 50s bursts that artists have that you’d like to see in person but haven’t? I know someone with one who about ten years ago contacted Gibson who apparently showed no interest (according to him).
It's rare but it definitely happens. Most recently a couple years ago -- serial number 9-1225. South African family. We educated them on what they had and they chose to sell through Vintage & Rare in the UK.

And yes absolutely -- it was just mentioned earlier but I would love to check out Paul McCartney's early '60. I have been very fortunate to be able to spend up close and personal time with a lot of bursts owned by my musical heroes...the Macca burst is one of the few left on the list. Thanks for the questions!
 

matkoehler

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
539
Oh this is great! So I have a couple of questions Mat (It's Rob as in Robs_Vintage_Guitars on Instagram).

First, with your access to the ledgers, have you any idea how many custom order/colour guitars are still out there waiting to be found? You helped me with my 1961 factory cream LP Special I'm restoring (it's currently away getting the binding reinstated) and that's a batch a guitars I didn't know existed until you told me. There's also the trade show guitars of which Joe potentially has the Copper Iridescent one. I've seen more factory black guitars over the last couple of years than the whole of the last 20. How much more of these types of things are out there, do you have any idea? It seems that more and more crazy stuff keeps turning up!

Secondly (and apologies this is very geeky) with custom-colour knobs on steel guitars (and on Joe's Copper LP) how are they done? I presume they a standard clear plastic knob that's then painted a specific colour but do you have any idea if were they sprayed in batches or painted by hand? Like I said, this is minutiae geek squad stuff but I've been wondering about it!
Hey Rob! Always a pleasure.

I have spent a lot of time with the ledgers. Probably more than anybody only because I have caught many things that correct the record, or the published history. I can tell you that every time I open a book, I see something totally wacky listed...12-string Hummingbirds, Cavern Green ES-335s, Long Scale ES-355s, etc. I feel like I'm pretty familiar with the guitars in major collections and I like to think I've had a finger on the pulse of the oddball Gibson for the last couple decades...but there are far more unique guitars, custom colors included, in the ledgers than what I see represented in the world. They're still out there for sure...or they got refinished in the 70s -- as was the case for one of the five custom color 1955 NAMM Show Les Pauls, sadly.

Regarding knobs -- this is what they look like without gold or black paint! So yes it is possible to paint the undersides to compliment the top color of the guitar. We have done that for a few runs and we have some Custom Shop reissue guitars coming later this year which will use the Beach White knobs (also seen on the Century lap steels). I'll let you speculate what those might be...

1718384777769.png1718385439932.png
 

GreenBurst

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Joined
Mar 5, 2004
Messages
752
Hey Rob! Always a pleasure.

I have spent a lot of time with the ledgers. Probably more than anybody only because I have caught many things that correct the record, or the published history. I can tell you that every time I open a book, I see something totally wacky listed...12-string Hummingbirds, Cavern Green ES-335s, Long Scale ES-355s, etc. I feel like I'm pretty familiar with the guitars in major collections and I like to think I've had a finger on the pulse of the oddball Gibson for the last couple decades...but there are far more unique guitars, custom colors included, in the ledgers than what I see represented in the world. They're still out there for sure...or they got refinished in the 70s -- as was the case for one of the five custom color 1955 NAMM Show Les Pauls, sadly.

Regarding knobs -- this is what they look like without gold or black paint! So yes it is possible to paint the undersides to compliment the top color of the guitar. We have done that for a few runs and we have some Custom Shop reissue guitars coming later this year which will use the Beach White knobs (also seen on the Century lap steels). I'll let you speculate what those might be...

View attachment 26063View attachment 26064
Alright, here's my 'guess'. A custom run of R7s in Bittersweet with Beach White knobs and P90s with color coordinated covers to match the top color. Go with the Modern Gibson headstock logo and it would be a killer limited edition!
 

charliechitlins

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Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
1,133
Hey.
I have a buggered up 71 Deluxe, but I love it; mainly because the neck is very beefy...VERY similar to the necks on my 58 ES175 and 5?ES225.
How common is this?
All the early 70s Deluxes I've seen have small necks.
Thanks in advance.
 

matkoehler

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Joined
Sep 12, 2014
Messages
539
Hey.
I have a buggered up 71 Deluxe, but I love it; mainly because the neck is very beefy...VERY similar to the necks on my 58 ES175 and 5?ES225.
How common is this?
All the early 70s Deluxes I've seen have small necks.
Thanks in advance.
Difficult to answer that one; most I've seen also have smaller necks...I would say not very common! I had a late 1960s Epiphone Al Caiola (which all had wide nuts) with a GIGANTIC neck...like comically baseball bat. Maybe they were Friday afternoon guitars. Hard to say!
 

jb_abides

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Joined
Apr 6, 2005
Messages
5,710
I have a proposed topic [an alliterative one at that]: Leftovers: Legitimacy and Lore.

With stories of leftover 58 Korina models being finished and sold well after the original run as an example, has your time spent in the Archives revealed more about this or other significant models born from 'leftover' neck-body builds and released well after their run?

More details, anything to be specially clarified or debunked?

Any new surprises, etc?

Perhaps there's nothing new on this front, or maybe breaking news... 🍑
 

S. Weiger

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Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
1,877
Hey.
I have a buggered up 71 Deluxe, but I love it; mainly because the neck is very beefy...VERY similar to the necks on my 58 ES175 and 5?ES225.
How common is this?
All the early 70s Deluxes I've seen have small necks.
Thanks in advance.
I once had this 1970 Deluxe, and the neck was certainly fuller than the 1969 and 1972 examples I had.
Somebody once removed the p.u. covers.. a bad move on those mini's. I sourced a pair of chrome covers, but man, did I have a hard time installing them🤯😊

Unfortunately I only have this photo of it:

1970LP-Deluxe1.jpg
 
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