October 2006...A Mystery Solved


We had been wondering what the writing in the front pickup cavity of our Les Paul Classic meant.  Well, an email arrived and solved the mystery for us.  Based on some checking we did, we have no reason to doubt the accuracy of this information.


I was checking out your 91 Classic Les Paul, and can definitely tell you EXACTLY what the writing in the rhythm p/up cavity means.

I worked in whitewood machine/ and quality control from 89-92 at the Gibson plant on Mossman Drive in Nashville. This was in the prehistoric days. The T. Amber is what we wrote for color on these early Classics and on the limited color edition Standards made at the time. Right after these colors were introduced, we got regular ink stamps to mark them. Yours is an early T Amber guitar. Cool fact -- all these guitars were painted by Tom Murphy- he was our painter then.

As to the Jody, this is in my handwriting.  Jody was a temp worker who was assigned to the hand-sanding and stain department and lasted about a week.  This was a guitar that probably needed a ding sweated out or neck filler, etc before it could pass inspection and go to be sealed.  I simply wrote Jody's name in the cavity so that when I went through my repair rack, I returned it to the correct person.  This was important to the sanders as they had to complete a quota.

Thanks and cool site,

Best regards,

And on 17 October, 2006, we received this email:

Hi again,

The date stamp you describe would have been put in the guitar at either one of two stations, and denotes the day the guitar's paint was deemed good to go on to buffing and final assembly (at which point the guitar would be complete and ready to ship in about 3 days).

If the stamp is below the lacquer, it was stamped after scraping and before clear coating (accomplished by hanging the guitars on the paint line and circulating them through the dryer rooms for a few days).  If above the lacquer, it was stamped after having a fix in the finish or resprayed due to minor imperfections.  If there appears a 3rd stamp in the control cavity, on top of the clear, and sometimes with wax residue evident, then it was repaired again after reaching final assembly (sent back to buffing, finishing, etc) and would have had to been inspected again before being cleared to be built out.  This stamp is always in the control cavity. At the time, ANY flaw would kick a guitar into a repair rack.

Keep in mind that at this time Gibson as a unit was making strides towards recouping the reputation lost during the 70's and early eighties, thus QC (quality control) was very picky towards finishing.  Also, we had lost a ton of cash due to warranty repairs on some all gold (Classic LP's and ES295) and classic white (SG Custom, Explorer, 67 V, Firebird V and Thunderbird) guitars. This scared them into being more careful towards all finishes. We repaired any flaws and junked guitars that would have been sold as seconds in earlier years.  Gibson's production QC is not near so critical these days. The Historic stuff is built in a separate facility and QC is taken on by the luthiers and supervisors building the guitars (no outside QC dept) and is quite thorough.

I personally think that the early 90's production guitars are easily, if not some of the best, at least most consistantly good guitars that Gibson has produced to date. I hope this helps, and feel free to post info that pertains to your collection on the site.

Best regards, Mark

By the way -- our Classic has the date stamp under the clear lacquer.

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