I'm David Bennett, and I trade guitars on eBay, mainly Gibson Les Pauls. I'm often asked to explain how to determine year of manufacture from a serial number. And I often see Gibson Les Pauls for sale on eBay where the seller has made a mistake in stating the year, or does not know how.
Identifying the year of manufacture of a Gibson Les Paul Standard made after 1977 :-
The serial number is stamped into the wood on the back of the headstock.
The format of the serial number is YDDDYRRR, where YY is the last two digits of the production year, DDD is the day of the year, and RRR shows the factory & number made that day, eg, 90327450 was made on 1st February 1997.
An exception is guitars made in Gibson's centenary year, 1994. In this case, the serial number begins "94".
After about 2008, Gibson added another digit to the serial number. But the same rule applies, that is, take the 1st & 5th digits to give the year.
Please note that the existence of a valid serial number does not guarantee authenticity of the guitar. I've seen many fake Les Pauls on eBay with valid serial numbers. Recognition of fake Les Paul guitars is beyond the scope of this article.
Identifying the year of manufacture of a Gibson Les Paul Classic :-
This model was introduced in 1991 and discontinued in 2007.
The serial number is ink-stamped to the back of the headstock.
From 1991 to 1999, the serial number is of the format Y RRRR, where Y is the last digit of the production year, and RRRR is the number made that year, eg. 5 1234 was made in 1995.
From 2000 to 2007, the serial number is of the format YYRRRR, where YY is the last two digits of the production year, and RRRR is the number made that year, eg. 001234 was made in 2000.
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