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1980s Moderne reissues

vintage58

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This question is for anyone here who actually purchased one of these guitars brand-new, when they first came out (circa 1982/83). My question is, do you remember the exact month/year that you bought your Moderne, and do you remember which letter range of serial numbers your guitar belonged to? The serial number format used on these guitars was a letter (from A through H), followed by a space, followed by a three-digit number (with the first digit most likely being a zero).

The reason that I'm asking is that there does not seem to be any particularly precise information on exactly how long these guitars were produced (i.e. from what month/year to what month/year). What is known, is that the first ones—i.e., the "A" series ones—appear to have been produced and shipped in the fall of 1982, and that production of this model occurred solely at Gibson's Kalamazoo factory, which closed its doors in the summer of 1984. Which at least narrows things down, production-wise, to a period of less than two years.

The specific thing I'm interested in figuring out, though, is exactly how early certain letter ranges of Moderne reissues began to appear in guitar stores. I've owned three of these guitars thus far—an "E" series one, an "F" series one, and (most recently) an "H" series one. So I've been wondering, for example, whether the "E" series one is from 1983. Or whether the "H" series one is from 1984, given that that letter obviously falls later in the alphabet. Or were these guitars all produced early on (i.e., in 1982 and 1983) in one large batch, and then discontinued? I do know that sales of the Moderne reissues were not as strong as those of its two Heritage Series counterparts, so it's certainly plausible that production on Moderne reissues ceased before production on the korina Flying V and korina Explorer reissues.

Anyway, I figured it would be worth asking if anyone here might have bought one of these guitars when they first came out, since if a given buyer happened to remember both the month/year that he purchased the guitar in, and the letter range to which his guitar belonged, it would at least establish some kind of reference point. For example, if someone knew unequivocally that he bought an "H" series Moderne in June of 1983, it would at least put a more precise time line on things.
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ajowens

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I'd like to know that too - I've got one of these beasties and it always gets attention!
 

Gibsongt

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I bought a Moderne new from Center Music in CT and it was probably in 1982. The guitar is long gone. I found an old note with a serial number 0176 and 80753532. I am pretty sure that is the serial number...but I am not 100% sure. If I find a receipt, I will let you know.
 

vintage58

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I bought a Moderne new from Center Music in CT and it was probably in 1982. The guitar is long gone. I found an old note with a serial number 0176 and 80753532. I am pretty sure that is the serial number...but I am not 100% sure. If I find a receipt, I will let you know.
Cool, thanks for this info.

I'm wondering whether your guitar was a prototype, since the typical serial-number format for regular "production" Heritage Moderne reissues was "[alphabetical letter from A through H] - [space] - [three-digit number, with first digit most often being a zero]." For example, "D..012" would be a possible serial number.

Multiple prototypes, however, are known to have been produced in August of 1982, and these guitars, as far as I know, possessed specs that were basically identical to the regular production-run guitars, which were still a couple of months away from being produced. Anyway, unlike their production-run counterparts, the prototypes had eight-digit serial numbers (with many having the first digit as an "8"). So, the second of the numbers you cited above—along with your recollection of having (probably) purchased your Moderne in 1982—would be consistent with a prototype.

What color was your guitar?
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Gibsongt

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The Moderne was a natural finish Korina with gold hardware. Same color as a 58 Flying V. I just never bonded with the guitar...although it was pretty cool and sounded great through a 50 watt Marshall.

Around the same time, I purchased a few other Gibsons from Center Music including a 1981? Gibson Les Paul Heritage Award serial number 10, with an engraved pickguard by Les Paul at the factory, (I was told they were the 10th largest custom shop? dealer), a custom shop Gibson Les Paul Spotlight, and a sunburst flametop The Flying V with a flame maple neck. The 2 Les Pauls were exceptional...just like a great Historic, the V was average but cool.

I picked up G.A.S. at an early age.
 

RickN

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I owned one with an 'F' serial number for several years, but I didn't buy it new, so I can't help with your original question. I originally bought it to complete a Korina Trio, along with a V and an Explorer. In stock form, it wasn't inspiring. But once I put in some modern (no pun intended) controls and pickups (Duncan JB in the bridge sounds GREAT in a Korina guitar), it woke up. I had a blast gigging with it - the reaction from a crowd was terrific. It was more comfortable to play than either my Explorer or my V. I sold it a little while back, but it's one of those that I miss.
 

ajowens

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I didn't get mine new but maybe it'd be productive to start a Moderne registry?

Mine is B 089 and I got it in 2002 from GC on Commonwealth Ave in Boston.

4690_1185515958269_1239377338_538566_6560365_n.jpg
 

vintage58

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I didn't get mine new but maybe it'd be productive to start a Moderne registry?

Mine is B 089 and I got it in 2002 from GC on Commonwealth Ave in Boston.
Thanks for the pic and info, that's a great-looking guitar.

Yes, I've thought about starting some kind of Web site devoted to these guitars. Ronald Wood has a Moderne registry of sorts at the end of his recent book about Modernes, he basically has a list of serial numbers for all of the Moderne reissue prototypes and actual production-run guitars that he knew of at the time of publication. I've begun compiling a similar list of my own, to include any Moderne reissues that have newly surfaced, or that were not included in Ronald's book.

Anyway, thanks for the suggestion—perhaps a "Moderne appreciation" Web site will appear soon. Stay tuned.... :)
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ajowens

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Anyway, thanks for the suggestion—perhaps a "Moderne appreciation" Web site will appear soon. Stay tuned.... :)
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I'd definitely be into it - keep me posted! :applaude I wish I got one when they were new, remember I coulda had one for under $700 in 83 or so from one of the shops over on Mass. Ave. This one is a great player - very clean but the finish is starting to get some very fine natural checking, sounds great through the Boogie. I have the original case with the 'Moderne Mystery Guitar' booklet but the original case handle broke like 2 years ago.
 

jin-jin

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I bought mine new in December of 1983, number C 078. It had been hanging in the store for a long time.
 

joe vintage

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There was one hanging in a well known local music shop for YEARS right next to a Mighty Mite flying V that had tarnish on the frets and strings cause it had been there so long....

Both were up high in the top row of guitars - both were still there a good 8-10 years later even remaining thru a move after the store had changed locations....


If I had only knew.....funny how things go......
 

vintage58

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I'd definitely be into it - keep me posted! :applaude
Sure, will do. :)
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I wish I got one when they were new, remember I coulda had one for under $700 in 83 or so from one of the shops over on Mass. Ave. This one is a great player - very clean but the finish is starting to get some very fine natural checking, sounds great through the Boogie. I have the original case with the 'Moderne Mystery Guitar' booklet but the original case handle broke like 2 years ago.
Sounds like a great guitar. For an entire model of guitar, the ones I've come across have disproportionately clean (as you describe yours); I mean, too look at them, a lot of these guitars do not seem to have ever been played that much. But I agree that they do sound great, at least the ones I've played.

Cool, too, that you have the "Mystery Guitar" booklet. One of those just got auctioned on eBay a few weeks ago for about $30.00, and there were a couple of Modernes for sale recently that came with it. The only other stuff I can think of that would make the case accessories for these guitars complete, would be the case key and the warranty card, and there was one in Wales that apparently just sold, that had both. On top of that, it was an Ivory finish one, but the seller was asking a price that I thought was too high.:dang
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vintage58

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I bought mine new in December of 1983, number C 078. It had been hanging in the store for a long time.
Thank you, this is very helpful! :3zone.One additional question: What color was/is your guitar?
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vintage58

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[...] still there a good 8-10 years later even remaining thru a move after the store had changed locations....
Makes sense. I remember when these Moderne reissues first came out, and my recollection is that they weren't exactly too sought-after. As I recall, it was more the heyday of Jacksons and Floyd Rose–equipped Strats....
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jin-jin

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Thank you, this is very helpful! :3zone.One additional question: What color was/is your guitar?
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Antique Natural, still with the original finish today. Inspired by this thread, I got it out and played it tonight. I think if I were to start gigging with it again, I might look into changing the pots. It sounds good, but a little choked. It plays great, I don't think I've had to adjust anything in 20 years or so. It has the tiniest side markers on the fretboard that I've ever seen on a Gibson.

I also looked at the paperwork that came with it, and hand written on the warranty card (presumably by someone at Gibson) was the number "3282" and the date "Wed. Nov. 24". Furthermore, I wrote next to this, "lot #". I don't remember specifically, but I'll bet I asked around what 3282 was and "lot number" was the answer I got. Does that make any sense to anyone out there that knows about such things?
 

vintage58

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Antique Natural, still with the original finish today. Inspired by this thread, I got it out and played it tonight. I think if I were to start gigging with it again, I might look into changing the pots. It sounds good, but a little choked. It plays great, I don't think I've had to adjust anything in 20 years or so. It has the tiniest side markers on the fretboard that I've ever seen on a Gibson.

I also looked at the paperwork that came with it, and hand written on the warranty card (presumably by someone at Gibson) was the number "3282" and the date "Wed. Nov. 24". Furthermore, I wrote next to this, "lot #". I don't remember specifically, but I'll bet I asked around what 3282 was and "lot number" was the answer I got. Does that make any sense to anyone out there that knows about such things?
Thanks for specifying the finish. :salude

Yes, the side dots on these guitars seem to be like a fraction of a millimeter in diameter.

It is too cool that your guitar's documentation includes a specific date! But what is exponentially cooler is that a day of the week was actually given, which pins things down to 1982 (given that November 24th fell on a Wednesday in 1982, and on a Thursday in 1983—and these were the only two calendar years in which production of these guitars could have occurred in November).

Anyway, I would take this date to mean that your guitar was completed on (or perhaps shipped from Gibson on) November 24, 1982. That goes a long way toward putting a more precise time line on things. For example, I think it would then be reasonable to conclude that all "A" and "B" series Modernes (as well as many "C" series Modernes) were completed in 1982—which, to my knowledge, is information for which no real documentation currently exists or remains.

I'm not entirely sure, though, of how (or if) a given Lot No. correlates to a particular date. For whatever it's worth, below is a photo from the guitar shop in Wales that had the near-mint Moderne that I described earlier. The warranty for this guitar—an "E" series Moderne—specifies a Lot No. of 3432, although it does not also include a date:
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gibson_moderne_8.jpg

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ajowens

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Sure, will do. :)
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Sounds like a great guitar. For an entire model of guitar, the ones I've come across have disproportionately clean (as you describe yours); I mean, too look at them, a lot of these guitars do not seem to have ever been played that much. But I agree that they do sound great, at least the ones I've played.

Cool, too, that you have the "Mystery Guitar" booklet. One of those just got auctioned on eBay a few weeks ago for about $30.00, and there were a couple of Modernes for sale recently that came with it. The only other stuff I can think of that would make the case accessories for these guitars complete, would be the case key and the warranty card, and there was one in Wales that apparently just sold, that had both. On top of that, it was an Ivory finish one, but the seller was asking a price that I thought was too high.:dang
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I've never seen a beat-up one yet, but they're so few and far between that I can't say I've seen a lot of them at all! I do have the case key too but no warranty card. As a player, I basically stink :rofl so except for an odd jam I mostly play around the house. I have taken it to a few get togethers though and it gets a lot of attention. It was cool that Billy Gibbons was using one on storytellers, maybe it'll spur some more interest in them!
 

jin-jin

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Thanks vintage58, that does shed quite a bit of light on the production date of the guitar. Looking at the photo of the Welsh Moderne and its paperwork, I bet when I dutifully sent in the warranty card, I was (dare I say) smart enough to note that 3282 (written on the half I kept) was the lot number.

I was inspired to purchase this guitar after I saw Rick Nielsen from Cheap Trick play one. That, and the music store selling the guitar had "make offer" on the price tag. You can see Nielsen with a Moderne in the thread that someone recently started in this forum.

Other notes: I took it apart a little bit last night as well, It has an "A" ink stamped in the treble pickup cavity, and the rythym pickup cavity has hand written "MAE" in it, as well as some ink stamped letters I'm still trying to decipher. The ink stamped letters in the latter cavity were partially obliterated when the routing was done for the "legs" of the pickup. I may try to post some pictures after I talk to my internet provider about why my space on the server dissappeared.

Again, thanks for the info you provided.
 

vintage58

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For those interested, I recently came across another piece of information that helps to more precisely define a time line for the production year of several of the various letter prefixes used in the serial numbers of these 1980s Modernes.

Specifically, there's a 1980s Moderne that was recently listed on Gbase.com that is being offered by a guitar store that still has the guitar its inventory. That is, this guitar was apparently ordered by the store in 1983 and has still never actually been sold. Fortunately, the accompanying pics reveal the guitar's serial number, which is an "F"-series serial number. The most striking piece of information given in the listing, however — and such information hardly ever seems to be recalled clearly by sellers/owners (at least in the case of 1980s Modernes) — concerns the exact date that this store received the guitar from Gibson. The relevant text from the Gbase listing reads as follows:

...........This is a new guitar that we received from Gibson March 2, 1983. The Gibson
...........Moderne has been referred to as the "Holy Grail" for guitars collectors. We found
...........it be a unique forward looking instrument when we ordered it in 1983 and the
...........Moderne still frequently gets second glances.

If this information is accurate, it basically means that all "production" Moderne reissues with "A"- through "E"-prefix serial numbers, as well as many with "F"-prefix serial numbers, were produced prior to March 1983. I realize that to most, this is not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, but hardly any documentation remains concerning the exact range of dates that this series of guitars was produced — so, to me, for a tidbit like this to surface is a bona fide event!

As I understand things, the first batch of 1980s Moderne prototypes was produced around August 1982, and then jin-jin's above reply would seem to indicate that the "A"- and "B"-prefix production versions (as well as many "C"-prefix production instruments) were produced before December 1982. All this info points to a fairly short production run for the bulk of these guitars, basically the last few months of 1982 and the first couple of months of 1983. The only "outliers" would be the "G" and "H" series of instruments. A number of "H"-series Modernes, in particular, seem to be chronologically removed from the rest of the production run and possess a couple of minute specs differences from the other seven letter prefixes. My guess is that many of them were made in 1984; not sure why so many months seem to separate the "F" series and the "H" series. The "H" series also seemed to consist of a disproportionately high number of Ivory finish examples. In contrast, the beginning of the run was largely Antique Natural finish examples, with Ivory not even beginning to appear until (as far as I know) the "E" series.
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plexi69

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Would the production precodes be the same for the V and Explorer? Thanks.
 
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