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trying to read a Les Paul serial number

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The pots are from 1971.   But the damned serial # is so faint, I am getting a neck ache trying to decipher it.

Seems to be six digits.  Is that probably correct?

First one could be a 0 or an 8 or maybe a 9    There is some roundness to it

The second is impossible to see at all. 

So it could be

first number  0/8/9? 

second number ? 

then 9820

I have tried a UV light and a cell phone flash light.  This is a real bitch.

Thoughts?

Thanks

 

 

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As hokey and cryptic as Gibson's serialization system was in that era, your pot codes tell you more than the six-digit SN. See below ...

If you really really have to know those six digits, the best luck I've had with very hard to read serial numbers is with jeweler's loupe-equipped pawnbrokers.

 

Number Year
000000S 1973
100000S 1970-1975
200000S 1973-1975
300000S 1974-1975
400000S 1974-1975
500000S 1974-1975
600000S 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975
700000S 1970, 1971, 1972
800000S 1973, 1974, 1975
900000S 1970, 1971, 1972
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black light it

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1970-75 Gibson serial numbers are rather annoying, as Jeff explained.

The nitro gets all melty sometimes on them too. I had a 1980 Dean Z that the number was rapidly disappearing from, and that was in 2000. I'm confident wherever that guitar is now, it's totally unreadable.

If you really want to know the number, one thing you may want to try before trudging off to the jeweler or pawn shop is getting a few pics on a digital camera, with and without flash, fairly close and at a few different angles. Blow them up on your computer screen and sometimes magic happens. Sometimes not. Then you're off to the jeweler or pawn shop.

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On 7/17/2019 at 6:26 PM, Tortious said:

one thing you may want to try before trudging off to the jeweler or pawn shop is getting a few pics on a digital camera, with and without flash, fairly close and at a few different angles. Blow them up on your computer screen and sometimes magic happens.

This is what I've always done with hard-to-reads, and it works the vast majority of the time.

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What color is the LP? I had a black SG standard, and damned if I couldn't read the serial number after the first 6 months. Thankfully I had it written down.

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Have you tried rubbing a flat pencil lead on a piece of paper over the number? If there’s any depth to the number that works. Pencil gets graphite on the flat but not on any indentations.

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Posted (edited)

Are you sure it's a '71?  One piece neck?  Small or large volute?  Sandwich body? 

I know the serial number is what you're trying to figure out, but I've owned lots of guitars from that period were more easily identified by the build specs.  Sometimes, you just can't see the numbers.  I agree with the jeweler's piece.

Edited by The Shark

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I have the guitar now.  Could read the serial in oblique light, but not at home now to recall the number other than started w a 9 suggesting 70, 71, or 72 based on my readings.  Small volute from what I can tell (again, looking at photos and researching online - this is my first les Paul) and pots date to 10th week of ‘70.  So, 70, 71, or 72 is my guess. Who cares,  they are the same. FUN to play, I felt like Pete cranking through a Hiwatt the other eve.  Really like these pickups.  I can find sort of a heavy single coil (almost way heavy Strat like) sound in them, and also spans the spectrum to humbucker-esque. But brighter and clearer.  

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