1983 Gibson USA Map

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Very scarce and unusual limited production promotional guitar, fantastic condition and originality

Thumbs down: Divisive looks, minor ergonomics, some may not like the maple neck, non‑original hard shell case

Decree: A very rare leftfield Gibson. Its looks are the main focus here and its shape splits opinion. Not yet highly collectable but likely to become exclusive

Model Description:

The rare early 1980s Gibson USA Map guitar comprises a slab mahogany body in a scroll-sawn representation of the continental USA (regrettably no Alaska or Hawaii).  The original Gibson and identical Epiphone Map guitars were made in America in very small numbers. The story goes that they were produced as limited edition promotional guitars for Gibson dealers and trade shows. The model’s debut coincided with the company’s “American‑Made, World‑Played” advertising campaign, which featured a (prototype?) carved USA map guitar. Early US‑made Epiphone Maps appeared in 1982 with the Gibson logo replacing Epiphone on the headstock in 1983 before production ceased by 1984. Anecdotally, these guitars were among the last to be made by skilled company craftsmen at Gibson’s factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan before the facilities closed and Gibson moved production to Nashville in 1984. Shipping numbers are unknown and, as they were never ‘production’ guitars, it is difficult to estimate how many are in existence. One has to assume that the originals were, and still are, pretty scarce. Most Maps were finished in natural mahogany, although a very small number were finished in striking Stars‑and‑Stripes paintwork. The Map was briefly re‑released in 2001 as a Custom Shop model and again from 2005 as a simpler Korean‑manufactured Epiphone. Despite its unorthodox outline, the Map exhibits very familiar Gibson trappings, although the Schaller integrated bridge/tailpiece is a departure for Gibson (and a good indicator of originality).

Guitar Description:

This cool guitar was imported from the Netherlands to join the CRAVE family. At least I got in before Brexit! Whether you think the Map’s divisive design evokes practical patriotism or is the result of misguided machinations of a company struggling for credibility, it is certainly a remarkable creation. As a purveyor of ‘Cool & Rare American Vintage Electric’ guitars, if any guitar epitomises what CRAVE is all about, this might well be it. Although seemingly unwieldy, it is smaller, lighter, more resonant and better balanced than you might expect. After all, it is still a Gibson, it plays and sounds like a Gibson, and has the features that you would expect from a Gibson. The 1970s‑style maple neck may look incongruous but it is slim and solid, and it is really easy to play. The controls are, I agree, less than ergonomically positioned and it doesn’t sit well on a guitar stand, although it is OK to play seated unlike, say, a Flying V. This 1983 example is in a very good all‑original state (sic!), which is a bonus as many Maps have bits of Maine, Florida or Texas missing! It also has a thin satin nitro finish, long before it became fashionable. The case is unoriginal but good and it has a very rare owner’s manual. In conclusion the USA Map is a cool and rare vintage instrument as well as a stylistic statement and an esoteric talking point. Vintage market prices vary and perceived value is probably more dependent on whether you appreciate its distinctive characteristics (or not) – needless to say, it’s probably not one for investors looking to make a quick buck. Time to get the funk on and play,’ One Nation Under A Groove’.


  • Solid 3‑piece mahogany/maple/mahogany slab body in the shape of the ‘lower 48’ USA in a natural nitrocellulose satin finish
  • Maple 3‑piece set neck
  • Unbound rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets and pearl dot markers
  • Original Gibson branded Schaller tuners
  • Unbound headstock with pearl logo and ‘crown’ inlay
  • Nut width 111/16
  • Scale length 24¾” (629mm)
  • Original chrome plated hardware
  • Original Tim Shaw PAF humbucking pickups
  • Original Schaller 455 integrated bridge and tailpiece
  • Original switch, knobs, strap buttons and jack socket
  • Weight 7.7lb (3.5kg)
  • Non-original hard shell case
  • Original owner’s manual


  • Fallece Elyse Steinman (Raging Slab)


The Gibson USA Map only portrays the mainland lower 48 states. The states of Alaska and Hawaii are not part of the guitar’s design.

Detail Gallery:

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