Gibson hand-penciled number 5G4341, visible thru f-hole

murrayatuptowngallermurrayatuptowngaller Holland, MINew wooden guitars
edited June 17 in Archtop Eddy's Corner Posts: 63

I bought a '1950' ES-150 that is a victim of 'guitar organ harvesting'. I knew it was missing parts & had a list of items replaced with aftermarket ones.

I was shocked that the only thing that is original is the body, neck, fingerboard (and presumably the frets). But that's a risk one takes being a 'guitar gambler'.

I have come to understand why people do this to guitars, but am still shaking my head. I have ordered and received reproduction guard/rest, mounting bracket, and a P-90 spacer kit containing three heights.

Since the hardware present cannot be used for age reference, there is only the style of the neck and marking anomaly.

The 'weird' number, handwritten in pencil, visible thru the f-hole opposite the side with guard & controls is 5G4341. I don't see anything that matches that format in published references I can find. The 4341 falls into a number-only format for 1950. The G could be an indicator of Gibson instead of another brand affiliated with them, but the location is not consistent with the marking formats that use a letter for brand. It's also in the wrong location for pre-war ones that had letters A-G (in a different location), and it is absolutely post-war.

It has a no-binding fingerboard with simple dot inlays up to the 15th fret only (20 frets present). I have never found a 1950 ES-150 online with dots. They all have the large inlays that start at the first fret. I just cannot bring myself to call those trapezoids, as others do...I passed 5th-grade geometry! They have straight, flat, top & bottom, but the sides are curved, unlike a trapezoid drawn by anyone with at least a 5th grade education. I'd compare them to Grecian urns, but that doesn't sound familiar in guitars.

All the 1947-1948 ES-150's I see featured online have the dot inlays. Those are also the two years credited with the worst marking effort by Gibson. 1949 might have either dots or the fancier neck, maybe (I think I read one statement to that effect once).

No markings on back of headstock either. I haven't squeezed the guts of a webcam inside yet, just a flashlight & dental mirror. It's unlikely there would be two numbers, anyway.

The gold Gibson headstock marking is the style that appeared in 1947 and later, so that excludes 1946.

I am going to wait until I decide whether to leave the aftermarket P-90 in or use an older one that may need rewinding. Once that is sorted out figuring out where to drill guard/rest holes can happen. No hurry. The guard/rest was described as 1950-52 so I want to stop ruminating about the dots vs. 1950 doubt.

Has anyone ever seen another FON or S/N with this format? I have not personally ever seen a Gibson s/n that wasn't on a paper label, & I'm not sure ES-150 's had labels.

I did not present photos because it's kind of a grave-robber's special at the moment...'after' pics should probably be available in combination showing 'before' photos. Maybe the snickering will not be as deafening then. 🙄

What it actually is has no bearing on its value, but I'd like to know for the sake of knowing with has much confidence as possible. If I add it to homeowner's insurance coverage, saying 'um, I dunno' to year, s/n, etc is annoying. It would feel better to confidently know why it's such a mystery and that I have pursued as many clues as are available.

Thank you



  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    Posts: 1,344

    Hey Murray,

    Looks like a guy in MI had a similar experience about a decade ago (no surprise, since Gibson was a Kalamazoo company!) He had a 9g8251 number. Also, seems dot-inlays would indicate pre-1950, provided the neck/fretboard is original.

    There also appears to be an old forum post here where Michael Bauer weighed in. He's seen a lot of quality guitars. Sadly, the images from both posts are no longer online.

    Maybe you already found these in your search? I might reach out to that Frontier Ruckus guy in the first post and see if he ever got any clarity.

  • murrayatuptowngallermurrayatuptowngaller Holland, MINew wooden guitars
    edited June 20 Posts: 63

    I had loaned out a tiny copy of a Gruhn book I recently got. I thought it had more photos, but maybe I should had paid more for the big people's book.

    I had concluded a bunch of things from web searches, while my book was away and the book confirms my conclusion...bound neck with 'trapezoid' inlays was used 1950-1956. Unbound with dot inlays was 1946-1949. None made 1942-1945. Postwar era began 1946.

    I think the headstock logo info is elsewhere in the book under general info I didn't re-find, but I don't have a question on that.


  • murrayatuptowngallermurrayatuptowngaller Holland, MINew wooden guitars
    Posts: 63

    Thank you, Billy.

  • JasonSJasonS New
    Posts: 61

    Sounds like you've narrowed it down between '47-'49 based on the headstock logo and dot inlays. Gibson wasn't great about numbering in those years. My '46 ES-300 doesn't have a serial number or label at all.

    It shouldn't be a concern for your general homeowner's insurance as a specific year wouldn't matter, your guitars would just be covered under the general belongings coverage.

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