Big reward offered for missing Gibson ledgers

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A search for missing guitar ledgers has Gibson offering a cash reward worth nearly $60,000.

The company thinks the documents may have never moved from Kalamazoo, where Gibson was founded, to the current headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ry Charters, the owner of Kal-Tone Musical Instruments in Kalamazoo, says the search for the missing guitar ledgers from 1959, 1960 and part of 1958 are from a crucial era for the manufacturer.

“Those were the years that the really valuable Les Paul guitars came out with the sunburst flame maple tops you see on all these album colors,” Charters said.

Mat Koehler, the head of product development for Gibson, says the company is offering a $59,000 cash reward with no questions asked for the ledgers’ safe return.

The books are valuable because they can help authenticate the prized guitars.

“We definitely think there’s tremendous value in recovering these books because there’s itemized entries that show the serial number of each of these extremely valuable instruments. So, just from a collectibility perspective, an authenticity perspective it’s very important. But also this is our history,” Koehler said.

Gibson started moving operations to Nashville, Tennessee in the mid-70s and closed the Kalamazoo plant in 1984. The company thinks the ledgers were lost or taken before the move.

“There’s such a great history and companionship between Kalamazoo and Nashville over Gibson Guitars. So, I think if it’s got to be anywhere, it’s got to be in Kalamazoo,” Koehler said.

The company says there is a crucial gap in its archives that it hopes someone can help fill by returning the ledgers.

“We don’t even have a single production model entry for Les Paul Standard in that range, which makes me think that it’s not a coincidence that those books went missing that someone kept them for that reason,” Koehler said.

Charters, who restores vintage guitars, thinks it is possible the ledgers are in storage somewhere and is hoping someone will find them.

The search to solve the mystery has guitar enthusiasts excited to get to work.

“It will be something fun to do. It will be something in the back of everyone’s minds when they’re at yard sales, looking at storage units,” Charters said.

For more information on the reward, visit the Gibson website.

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