Gibson Guitar in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Gibson Guitar General Assembly Room, Kalamazoo Michigan

Gibson, Inc., General Assembly Room, 1936. “One section of the general assembling room.” Photographed by Mamie L. Austin.

Visit the Gibson, Inc. Photo Gallery at the Kalamazoo Public Library for many more photos and a brief history of Gibson in Kalamazoo (includes suggested reading!).

In 1898, Orville Gibson was awarded the patent for an “Improved Mandolin,” using principles that could be applied also to “guitars, mandolas, and lutes.” The invention was that of a back, neck, and ribs structure carved from one piece of wood, with an arched soundboard and slightly hollowed neck … This archtop guitar design, influenced by violin construction, marked the beginning of a significant development in American guitar making.

Read more and see some photos at Guitar by Orville Gibson at the National Music Museum. Also check out History of Gibson from Gibson, Inc. and this page from with information and pics of the Kalamazoo factory.

The Gibson section is just one of over 100 short stories and tours of historic photographs and information about the people, places, events and businesses of Kalamazoo in the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Clarence L. Miller Family Local History Room.

61 thoughts on “Gibson Guitar in Kalamazoo, Michigan

  1. I’m the original owner of a Byrdland A33841 R4285 10. I would like to know as much as I can find out about my guitar. Example; who built it, the date it was finished, the number in sequence of manufactoring, and any other info about it. I still have it and would like to pass it on to my grandson sometime in the future with as much history about it as possible. I bought it in Decatur, Ill. I ordered it new from Harvey Altop Music Store. Whatever assistance you can helpmewith would be deeply appreciated.
    Thanking you in advance.
    Respectfully, Ken Monska


  2. Hello!I´m an owner of a classical guitar Epiphone Style 100,serial number 898636. I would appreciate very much if you would tell me alittle about it´s history and maybe what it´s worth.

    Sincerely Anders


  3. My guitar is es335TD serial # 71669080. I am wondering if you can tell me the wood that it is made of and any other important info relating to my new family member . Thanks Mr. Saks


  4. July 17th at 12:00 pm

    I played a guitar in the orchestra of the RAI (Italian RadioTelevision) from 1963 to 1980.
    My instrument was a guitar called “Gibson Special” but somebody stealled this to me.
    I desire know the birthday of this instrument, of whom I don’t find a photo on nothing book.
    I am an invalid at 100%.
    Can you send to me some catalog of the period about 50’s where there is this instrument.??



  5. Excuse me, can you give me your e-mail address with whom I can send to you a my photo with my instrument…please respond me….


  6. i own a 1963 gibson firebire in frost blue..the guitar is rumuered to be a prototype with some very unusual appointments…could you tell me where to find additional info on this topic??


  7. The Vintage Gibson Guitars really are the best out of all of them. The newer guitars that Gibson makes just does not have the same feel or real smooth sound like the vintage models. I also Prefer the look of the vintage Gibsons over all other gibson body styles.


  8. Greetings from York, Pennsylvania. My grandfather gave me his Gibson Hummingbird that he bought new September 12th 1969 yet im not quite sure of its exact age. The serial number is 500997 which is stamped into the back of the headstock as well as printed inside the soundbox. Also the guitar has a natural finish and everything is original. If you could give me some insight on this instrument it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


  9. Hallo,

    I got a Gibson ES 345 TD with the serial number: 06104363 and wanted to know in which year it was made?

    On the backside of the headstock there is a stamp: “Second”. What doea that mean?

    Where is the normal channel (bypass) of the Varitone?

    Thanks & Greetz from Germany,



    N.B. i have an original 1979 es-345TD, so this may or may not be the same with re-issues.

    The serial number, located at the top back of the neck, should have 8 numbers.

    The LAST 3 numbers is the guitar’s BATCH NUMBER.
    The FIRST and FIFTH numbers are the last two numbers of the year in which it was made.

    The SECOND, THIRD AND FOURTH numbers is the day in the year in which it was produced.

    For instance, my guitars no. is 71729127.
    Therefore, it is batch 127, and was made on the 172nd day of 1979 (june 20).

    This may only help with a certain few guitar owners, it’s probably different with other guitar models and dates.

    Good luck!


  11. I have a Gibson C-1 Classical Guitar with the serial number 157784 made in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Can you tell me how much it is worth and in what year it was made.


    1. According to George Gruhn Gibson used six digit serial numbers in the 100000 range from 1970 to 1975. The C-1 was discontinued in 1970 so with the serial number you have it is most likely a 1970 model. For pricing check for “Sold” prices on eBay not asking price or Buy it Now price. The market for vintage guitars is pretty weak right now so my guess is that a price of a few hundred dollars is what they go for.


  12. I have a Epiphone guitar Frontier 110.
    Made in Epiphone Inc. Kalamazoo Michican
    Unfortunaly the number has faded.
    They gave it to me when we were visiting Nashville TN. in 1992. It was sold on a yard sale. It came along with a case that is blue ( Kind a velvet ).
    On the case is a sticker of the rock group “Uriah Heep”
    They told me that it used to belong to a member of the rock group “Uriah Heep”.
    As far as I know ( but I don’t know much about guitars )it’s an original guitar.
    Now my question is,is it possible to find out if he really belongs to a Uriah Heep member. His name Must be “George” or something. If he does, I will like to bring it back to him.

    Thank you and kind regards Ted.


    1. Hello Ted, If you have not yet found the previous owner you mentioned please let me know if you will consider selling it to me, I have been looking for an old Epiphone Frontier for many years.


  13. I send you a mail from belgium

    hallo, i have a question. I’ve got a gibson violin kalamazoo michigan; serial number V-25-241. do you have more information about this instrument. Year of build etc.
    thank you.


  14. We have a Gibson Les Paul Bass guitar, #117711 gold top.
    I think it is from the seventies. 4string Would like to know the value..Thanks


  15. Hello

    I have a gibson hummingbird that my mom gave me from one of the irish rovers, just curious how old it is and is it worth anything.
    Thank-you for your time and patience

    Serial # 49764


  16. Hi.
    I have a Gibson ES 345 tbc. with the serial number(176745). My father past away and left me this Gitar.
    He told me always tath this gitar wass owned of a fames player. cant you tell me someting over this gitaar.
    And wath is it worth.

    Thank you


  17. My aunt has a violin that has the following information inside.

    A Genuine
    Kalamazoo Violin
    Made by Gibson Inc 39-8
    Gibson Inc, Kalamazoo, Mich

    We are looking for any information that is available on this instrument. It is is very good condition and in a molded hard case with blue velvet lining.


    1. I’m curious what you have discovered – age, value or history. I have the same Gibson violin and markings.
      Regards, Bill


  18. Hi, I have a Gibson accoustic that my dad purchased,
    used, while he was in the Navy in 1952. Not sure what
    style it is. It’s regular size, has the f holes? and
    has the numbers DG-4809 on the neck. This has been
    passed down to me and will be passed along to my
    grandson. Hoping you can help with the make and the
    year made and any interesting history about the style.
    Appreciate your help. Max


  19. I have a Gibson c18 classical guitar built in the 60’s

    at kalamazoo Mich. I need a 6 1/4″ Rosette please tell

    me were I can find one Thank you.


  20. father inlaw has left us an gibson es-355td,(s/n)71178003. can you help us with history and value of this guitar.thanks for your time.stan


  21. i have a es gibson 335 td. the number is 71248086 , over the number is written “second” what means that? I live in Switzerland and I bought this guitar half an year ago. Thank you very much for an answer


  22. I have a Gibson “C-1 Classic” mfg in Kalamazoo in the 50s or 60…I think. I really love it. #157771. Other than the joy it gives me, I wonder what it’s value may be on the open market. It’s in really good shape.


  23. HI.

    i have a Gibson, Inc. Kalamazoo Mich. u.s.a EK-3102, i’m looking for any information that is available on this instrument.

    Thank you.


  24. Hello,

    i have got a (broken) Gibson acoustic guitar, numberd on the pegghead underside: Ek-4398. On the foreside: Kalamazoo.
    Anyone know the year of production and worth?


  25. hi l owen a 1966 gibson dove serial nub 290474 l woule appreciate if you would tell me about s history and maybe what it worth and all so looking for keytuner for it let me know where l could by some


  26. My dad has a gibson L-4-C. He doesn’t know what year it is from. The serial number A-8631. He thinks it is from the early 50’s. But wants to know if it is from 1949. And what it would be worth. My grandpa bought it at a yard sale in 1957 for $15.


  27. i have a gibson es 335td seiral no055726 in good con with gibson staped on pick ups can any one tell me the year of it and value please thank you


  28. I have a gibson kalamazoo.I cannot find any numbers on it anywhere.It was given to me in 1965 by my Grandad.Just wondering do they all have ID #?


  29. My husband Dennis inherited his Great Grandfather’s Mandolin. It does appear to be one of the originals. It says Patented Feb 1, 98, next line March 30, 06, Gibson Mandolin (written in) Style (A-1 written in). Number 24084. Then the Guarantee maybe 25 words and Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.A.

    His mother has had it since the 30’s when it was given to her. He played it many years before this.

    We would like to find out what it is worth. We have had one person contact us to buy it but we don’t know what this type antique is worth. It is in very good shape, the box is old and pretty beat up but the Mandolin looks very good. Gloria


    1. Gloria, the pricing is difficult on these instruments to me (this is just coming from an enthusiast rather than an expert though), Gibson had four models of A mandolins from that time range (A1,A2,A3,A4, the A4 being the most ornate of them). For an A1 mandolin I’ve seen prices from $1000 right up to $8000 and $10000. It’s difficult to say because it depends on not only the condition of the mandolin and/or whether the mandolin is original (as you say yours is in good condition I understand) but also the details of the mandolin. I emphasize details because each one of these mandolins are handcrafted and not one is exactly like the another of that period.

      1898 is the patent number as you said, and 1906 would be your date it was made. I have an A-1 from 1903 that I bought for $1000 and it is in complete rough shape.

      If you are serious in getting the mandolins value George Gruhn is the expert on guitars and mandolins ( he offers appraisals over the internet by photos. Also, here is an example of a 1910 A-4 mandolin being sold at mandolin bros.

      Sounds like you have quite the gem there though, definately get an appraisal before you sell it. A lot of people are not collectors and rather buy and sell these for profit online. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, just that you might feel swindled when you find your mandolin being sold for a couple thousand more than you sold it for.

      I’m a collector and love these instruments, if you would I’d love for you to send me a photo of your mandolin, I might even be able to help further from that (



  30. I have my father-in-law’s Gibson Acustic Guitar with the round hole serial number 39355. It has a oval
    label on the inside. It looks like the style is a L1 or P1 made in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Would like to
    know when it was made and how much it is worth.


  31. Ho una Chitarra Gibson model ES-345 TD; non ho trovato alcun numero di serie..nell’interno c’è scritto oltre al modello..kalamazoo, Michigan..L’ho acquistata usata nel 1977/78…Sapreste dirmi qualcosa di più sull’anno di costruzione e darmi una valutazione…E’ come nuova, non è mai stato sostituito nulla…Grazie


  32. tengo les paul artisan nro serie 71308082.- humbucking 3.- Agradecere informacion fecha de fabricacion.- Se que es nro.lote 082 y año l978.-Me gustaria saber si fue terminada el 30 de enero y la madera que se uso.-Gracias


  33. Hi, i have a kalamazoo guitar which has no serial number and it dates back to pre 1923. it is in its original casing inside the guitar says made in the USA, Michigan. Has all its original features. Can anyone, Anyone help with more information, my grandad played in a band in the U.K. with it in 1923. info would be fabulous.


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