View Full Version : Gibson A40 s/n, dating ?

steve V. johnson
Jan-07-2011, 6:02pm
Hi folks,

I'm looking at a friend's Gibson A40, and I can't find a serial number.

I've found some online references to an orange label inside on the treble side, but there isn't one in this mandolin.

Is there somewhere else I might find a number, or is there another way to
date this one?

It has an unbound rose wood fretboard with dot inlays and _tiny_ bar frets; but it has a truss rod that opens at the headstock and a Gibson decal all alone on the headstock. It's sunburst and single-bound on the body, and appears to be mahogany laminate back and sides.

It has an unbound tortoise-looking pickguard that mounts with an L-bracket to the side and presses onto a post that sticks out of the treble side of the fretboard. The tailpiece is a two-piece stamped one ("clamshell"?) with the sort of scalloped look. The kids say it looks "like a little cloud." :-)

One more question... It has had the buttons removed from the tuners. The tuners seem to work ok, but the plates and posts are rusted. Is it more advisable to replace just the buttons or should he replace the whole set of tuners.

My friend inherited it, and we haven't looked for the value of it, but that's not very important. He wants to get it all happy and play it.

Thanks for your help and information!


Jan-07-2011, 8:42pm
Look on the neck block or for a stamped number in ink somewhere on the inside. It will have a Factory Order Number (FON) but not a serial number.

steve V. johnson
Jan-07-2011, 8:45pm
Oooh, time for the dental mirror and flashlight, eh? Cool, thanks!

Now, what's the relationship of the FON to dating the instrument?



Jan-07-2011, 9:03pm
Steve, this Vintage Guitars web page (http://home.provide.net/~cfh/gibson.html#serial) gives some insight into the sequence of Gibson serial numbers and factory order numbers. Not the ultimate "biblical" authority, but a good source.

steve V. johnson
Jan-07-2011, 9:10pm
Thank you, Allen! I hadn't heard of FONs before. I'm not deep in Gibson lore so, I can't really insist on "biblical" source...
Its inherent Authority might be lost on me anyway. ;-D

Many thanks,

Jan-07-2011, 11:45pm
It sounds like you have a 50's A40. There are no orange labels in those years in lower end Gibson models only the FON which was usually stamped onto the inside of the back as seen through the lower(treble) F hole. Sometimes it does take a flashlight in a dark room to see it as the ink stamped number fads over the years. From that number you can close into a better date.

John Kinn
Jan-10-2011, 12:08pm
What year did they change the tailpiece?

Jan-10-2011, 12:39pm
My A-40 has the orange label, the number stamped inside the neck block, and number etched on the back of the headstock (pretty faded now): 68386. Figure an early 60's.

Jan-10-2011, 2:02pm
Alan, yours would be a 1964. The TP changed around 1959.

Jan-10-2011, 2:26pm
Thanks, Tom. It cost me $325 (no case) in 1978 at Mando Bros.