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earljam
02-28-2015, 05:08 PM
I have what I suspect is a mid-50s Gibson Tenor serial number W522-19. The info I can find about Gibson's derial numbering pertains to their guitars and is pretty confusing on its own. Should I try to date it as if it were a guitar of theirs, or is there somewhere I don't know about that explains Gibson's Ukulele numbering system?

SailingUke
02-28-2015, 07:17 PM
E-mail Gibson customer service, they helped with my tenor information.

earljam
03-01-2015, 03:54 PM
E-mail Gibson customer service, they helped with my tenor information.

Thanks for the help:shaka:!

Tigershark
03-01-2015, 07:43 PM
I think a W code on the factory order number would be 1955. That's true of all Gibson instruments.

Some photos would help confirm.

ukulelekarcsi
03-02-2015, 03:55 AM
True!

The W indicates that production was ordered in 1955 (not necessarily finished that year!).

The 522 was the code of the batch of tenor ukuleles yours belonged to (no real logic to it, it doesn't even mean it was the 522st batch, it was simply the code printed on the next leaf of stationary at hand that week).

And the 19 was the number of your instrument within that batch (which counted usually a multiple of five instruments).

Factory order numbers were never meant for offering an individual and unique code for an instrument with some kind of logic ('serial number') but were meant for internal administration: it made it easy to calculate how much materials and man hours had been invested in a particular production batch. Before WWII they were quite random-like (with repeats of identical FONs on very different instruments, or high numbers predating low numbers). They were often done in pencil or sanded of in the final stages, since they were considered temporary marking. The post-WWII letter prefix (your W) was a change for the better in that, and those FONs were usually stamped in ink as well.

Spann's Guide to Gibson gives a good insight in the way Gibson operated until 1941 (and slightly after), including interviews with former employees. It also has pages and pages of FONs that help dating and identification.

I've got a 1955 Gibson as well, a uke-1.