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Where are they now...

KappaHydroxide

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Sep 13, 2021
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Randy, do you have any recollection of the transition of the American Series guitars from Kzoo to Nashville during the fall of 1982? I ask because I have a Special II (photo attached) marked Epiphone but definitely made in Nashville (281st day with a 500+ number and horizontal Made in USA).

The original owner had a heck of a time selling it originally as the accepted lore is that Epi branded ones are Kzoo while Gibson ones are Nashville. I've seen at least two other ones that are similarly Epi labelled but Nashville made so I don't think there's anything weird going on other than a transition (The Nashville ones also omit the small "KM" under the logo).

Was it a parallel transition (both plants making them until Nashville was the last one standing) or a linear one where it basically went from Kzoo to Nashville? I'm guessing somewhat linear as pre-October examples seem to be Epi-branded Kzoo-made while post-October seem Gibson-branded Nashville-made (with the oddballs like mine in the middle). Thanks!

P.S. I have an excellent '79 The Paul initialed by your dad in the control cavity - the walnut builds do have a voice of their own.

20210913_132024.jpg
 

Strings Jr.

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Jan 17, 2016
Messages
570
Randy, do you have any recollection of the transition of the American Series guitars from Kzoo to Nashville during the fall of 1982? I ask because I have a Special II (photo attached) marked Epiphone but definitely made in Nashville (281st day with a 500+ number and horizontal Made in USA).

The original owner had a heck of a time selling it originally as the accepted lore is that Epi branded ones are Kzoo while Gibson ones are Nashville. I've seen at least two other ones that are similarly Epi labelled but Nashville made so I don't think there's anything weird going on other than a transition (The Nashville ones also omit the small "KM" under the logo).

Was it a parallel transition (both plants making them until Nashville was the last one standing) or a linear one where it basically went from Kzoo to Nashville? I'm guessing somewhat linear as pre-October examples seem to be Epi-branded Kzoo-made while post-October seem Gibson-branded Nashville-made (with the oddballs like mine in the middle). Thanks!

P.S. I have an excellent '79 The Paul initialed by your dad in the control cavity - the walnut builds do have a voice of their own.

Hello and welcome to the Forum.

Yes, I do remember them. Actually glad you asked about them. I've never heard anyone else mention them.

I believe they were an easy hand-off from K-Zoo to Nashville since Nashville had already been making SG's for at least three years.

Here is some information I filtered from my records that may help. The first three I built, beginning in October '82, were Epiphone branded. In fact, the first one has the same date code as yours! The rest were all Gibson branded. Also, notice the two I built on 8/15/1983 that have Kalamazoo serial numbers. They were stamped in June and July of '82. Possibly sent to Nashville as whitewood examples, and shipped a year later when they were no longer needed. So there are at least two with K-Zoo serial numbers, Gibson branded, and built in Nashville.
I built a total of 40 Specials, with the last one built in November '86. The "Spec. I" guitars shown here are the only single pickup models I built.

Epi Specials.jpg

Walnut, The Paul guitars are fantastic. I built 342 of them in 1979. If you want me to check your number, send me a PM.
My Dad only put his initials in guitars that were special. That tells me you have a good one.

Thanks for your message!
Randy
 

KappaHydroxide

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Sep 13, 2021
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Amazing information, Randy. Thank you for the thoughtful, detailed reply. I'm fortunate enough to have gotten my hands on some pre-Norlin Gibsons before they skyrocketed, but the Norlin ones are still my favorite between their interesting histories and my own background as a child of the 80s.

So my special is only several numbers off the first one you built! It's amazing to see the overall evolution of the model subtly reflected in your careful records. It's a thrill for me as I'm an ancient historian by trade and it's reminiscent of the records we are able to dig up to piece together the past, like scraps of papyrus from Egypt. I'm pretty sure the pickups are stock as the cavity solder joints look all original and they read in the low 8s DCR like every Spirit I've seen. They have all the traits of a Tim Shaw (magnet, screws, sweet tone very different from a T-Top, whitish oxidation on slugs, etc.) but slightly hotter as the readings show so I've always suspected they were purposefully designed this way despite being advertised generically as 59 reissue humbuckers like other Shaws. Whatever the case, they have no date stamps on the bottom like a post-85 Shaw but everything points to them being factory. The other interesting thing is that I'm pretty sure the body is maple despite ads saying alder or poplar for these early ones.

i'm happy to PM the numbers, which I'll do now. In addition to the special and the late '79 The Paul (both totally stock from what I can tell), I have an early '79 Paul that someone installed creme dirty fingers into the bridge position with a coil split switch like a 335-S (I believe in 1983 as the DF are stamped 82 and someone proudly wrote their name with '83 in the control cavity). I don't think it's your dad's initials in this one and it's been obscured by the proud 83 modifier, but I have a photo below for reference next to the earlier stock The Paul cavity.

Finally, I have an interesting May 1980 cavity-stamped SG Firebrand (127th day serial number) that I think is transitional in its own way (mahogany body despite it still being a Firebrand standard instead of a later deluxe). The original owner swears it's all stock and it looks so despite a TRC that just reads "Standard" (perhaps that day there were no more Firebrand appropriate TRCs?). I bought it thinking Velvet Brick and T-Tops as I'm a huge fan of T-Tops and generally prefer them, but the April stamped neck pickup looks and sounds like a Tim Shaw though people say the earliest ones are June or maybe May. Perhaps it was a more gradual change as parts got used up? The Velvet Brick has a black T-Top bobbin and a creme Shaw bobbin with its extra squared hole, so it seems so! The neck pickup definitely sounds very different from my February and September 1979 neck pickups in my The Pauls, even accounting for body/wood differences.

I also have a '79 GK-55 but that was made in MI, of course, and a different story...thanks again!


Late '79 The Paul
late79.jpg

Early '79 The Paul (with DF bridge mod)
early79.jpg
 

KappaHydroxide

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Sep 13, 2021
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BTW, I chuckled at the "sex goddess" post regarding the employee names in the cavities, but perhaps names were were just better back then? My Special has "Ramona" in the bridge pickup cavity. Where are the Ethels and Berthas...:ROFLMAO:

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allentd

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Feb 26, 2019
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6
I purchased my 1985 Les Paul Standard in 2001 from a music store owner and guitar collector here in NH. After trying out several Les Pauls over the course of a few days I picked the 1985 pictured here because it played and sounded great and I thought the VCS finish was beautiful. Additionally, I couldn't afford much else in the seller’s large collection of Les Pauls.

The background on the guitar, as per the seller, was that one of his store employees had special ordered the guitar from Gibson in 1984. He took delivery in 1985 and after a short while had some money troubles and had to sell the guitar. The collector bought it and put it into storage with the rest of his collection. He told me he liked the flamed top and various other features of the guitar.

Over the years I've tried to learn everything I can about the guitar and even corresponded with Gibson about it. Gibson Customer Service, via e-mail and a telephone call, told me the guitar is the re-issue outfit as listed in their catalogue at the time. A hand-written note in the case also says '59 Reissue. I've never been convinced it is a reissue because it has a standard serial number (80475537), the Gibson logo has a closed b and a closed o, it has a Standard TRC, the knobs are speed knobs, the control cavity plates are brown not black, it has a metal jack plate instead of a plastic one, and has Posi-Lok strap buttons.

The guitar has a couple of features that are found on reissues. It has a thin binding in the cutaway, has a very nice flamed two-piece top, and had the Gibson Deluxe Pearloid tuners.

After reading all of the posts in this thread I have reached a conclusion that satisfies my curiosity. I believe my guitar is a 1985 Les Paul Standard that probably began life in the factory as a re-issue but during an inspection somewhere in the process was determined not to be worthy and was changed to a Standard. Perhaps the guy that ordered it requested these re-issue features but I struggle to believe it.

My apologies for this long post but I've wondered for quite some time about what this guitar might actually be. The posts in this thread have helped considerably in my reaching my conclusions.

Many thanks to Strings Jr. for starting this thread and being so forthcoming with information about the many guitars he built and helped build while at Gibson. If you have any records (like who Dianna is - she wrote her name in my guitar) or opinions related to this guitar it would be nice to know. Also, many thanks to everyone here who has contributed to this trove of valuable information.

For the record, I really like my Les Paul regardless of its history. It is in near perfect condition, plays great, sounds great, and is a piece of artwork that will be appreciated by me and others for many years to come. Pictures follow.

Thanks.

Tom

https://photos.app.goo.gl/1zZ3tJWboad4jAtk9
Any guesses to explain the dark red wire in control cavity? It doesn't go to the pickup switch. I'm guessing to one of the pickups. I'll look later when I have the time to look inside the pickup cavities. Thank you.
 

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allentd

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Feb 26, 2019
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Any guesses to explain the dark red wire in control cavity? It doesn't go to the pickup switch. I'm guessing to one of the pickups. I'll look later when I have the time to look inside the pickup cavities. Thank you.
Nevermind. I believe it's a ground wire to the bridge or stop bar. Thanks.
 

Dallas_80

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Oct 22, 2021
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Hello Randy,
I am new to this forum and just recently joined the Gibson LP Custom family with the tracking down and purchase of a 1979 Silverburst out of Sweden.
I found a "RL" marking under the truss rod cover and i was wondering if you might have this build in your very cool and famous ledger of Gibson art pieces?
Serial no: 70259516

This thread has been awesome to read!

Dallas from Australia
 

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Strings Jr.

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Jan 17, 2016
Messages
570
Hello Randy,
I am new to this forum and just recently joined the Gibson LP Custom family with the tracking down and purchase of a 1979 Silverburst out of Sweden.
I found a "RL" marking under the truss rod cover and i was wondering if you might have this build in your very cool and famous ledger of Gibson art pieces?
Serial no: 70259516

This thread has been awesome to read!

Dallas from Australia
Hello Dallas!
I built 63 Silverbursts in 1979, but I didn't see your number in my records.
The "RL" initials under your TRC actually belong to my brother, Ricky. He worked at Gibson during that time also as a fret filer. That is where they put their initials in order to get credit for their work.
Thanks for checking!!
 

Ivan May

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May 25, 2021
Messages
128
Strings Jr. did you ever get to design any guitars for Joe Perry or Brad Whitford from Aerosmith? They both played a Les Paul although Joe Perry has also played a Gibson ES 335, a Firebird and an SG.
Joe Perry has his own signature Les Paul, and Brad Whitford tried to talk Gibson into making a signature Les Paul, but it never happened.
Tom Hamilton played a Thunderbird bass and a Les Paul bass.

If you ever did meet those guys, tell me about it. I would love to know.
 
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