Guitar Serial Numbers: Their Importance In Dating Your Guitar

By Monica | Guitar

Jun 25
guitar serial numbers

Not all guitars today have the same manufacturing date. It is an obvious fact, but I have to emphasize to ensure that you won't confuse one guitar model from the other. Guitar brands themselves even rank or categorize their units based on the date that they were manufactured or released in the market.

Of course, it is quite difficult to assume the year or era of production of an instrument. Without a specific guide or information, guessing is the only best thing that we can do. Fortunately, there's a way out of this dilemma, and that is through the use of guitar serial numbers.

If there's a need for you to research the manufacturing year of a certain guitar, such as Fender or Gibson, you need to look at their serial numbers. This is the only foolproof method that you can utilize to track down the specifics of your rig without missing any details at all.


Important Things To Keep In Mind

The reason why learning the manufacturing date of a certain guitar is to ascertain their value. You see, the value of an instrument can be determined through their age. Relic guitars, for example, are priced way higher than newer models. Well, it is not that you are going to use them in your performances. However, they can do well as a collector piece or something similar like that.

Another thing that you have to keep in mind is the modular characteristic of a guitar, especially if you are dealing with Fender guitars. Similar to Henry Ford, the production of Fender guitars were optimized by maximizing efficiency. Specifically, this means that their guitars are produced in factories. It is quite different from those luthiers who take time in making one instrument.

Because most of the guitars today are produced en masse, it is already quite difficult to monitor the date of each of their parts. The presence of pickups and bolt-on necks have guaranteed a quick manufacturing process. However, these components may have been created in different years. Therefore, it is safe to say that determining the guitar's manufacturing date is quite a complex process.

Fortunately, you can always take all the indicators in the equation. You can take the serial number of the guitar and combine it with the dates that have been inscribed on the body and the neck.

Checking the Features and Changes

When tracking the manufacturing date of a guitar, the first thing that you should do is to determine its era. You can do this by looking at the components of your rig. If you are not familiar or well-versed with guitars, this can become a difficult process. After all, discerning the history of your instrument will never become an easy feat.

You can escape from this predicament by looking at some guides. There are various online retailers out there that provide information on the guitars and rigs that they are selling. In there, you might get a good glimpse to the records of your very own guitar. Eventually, they will also help you in searching the guitar model that you have.

If possible, you can also look for the history of a particular series. For instance, I have seen some sites out there that provide a rich history of Stratocaster. It is a popular guitar model right now as it is being used by professionals and hobbyists alike. If your guitar belongs to this category, you might want to hit up the geek in you to start a comprehensive research.

Hardware Dates

Many guitar manufacturers out there have placed dates on the necks and bodies of their instruments. I can site Fender as a good reference for this. Their workers would typically write or print the manufacturing date of their guitars on the area where the necks and bodies meet.

The dates here will eventually tell you the specific dates of when the parts were produced. However, these figures will never tell you the exact date when was the instrument was fully assembled.

These markings are not present in the surface of the guitar. Most, they are hidden in the interior parts. Therefore, you need to remove the neck of your guitar so that you can see these dates. If you cannot do this task by yourself, I recommend that you should take your guitar to your nearest local guitar luthier or technician.

Guitar Serial Numbers


Despite being static and given figures, the serial numbers are not always correct when it comes to dating a guitar. There's a good explanation for this. When a guitar is produced commercially, the serial numbers that are used on the guitar can go overlapping. Again, this is due to their modular production.

However, it is still an accepted fact that using serial numbers and combining them with the dates that are found on the guitar is the best way you can identify the original manufacturing dates.

Furthermore, I have to remind you that every guitar brand has their very own way of scheming their serial numbers. You can never say that all the manufacturers out there create serial numbers through a uniform basis. That would cause a lot of confusion, right. Therefore, you can't say that Fender guitars have similar serial number patterns to Gibson or Epiphone.


A guitar serial number can be used to track the date of a particular guitar. Although some players may not find this information important, you can still gain value over it, especially if you are a collector or you are a guitar seller. After all, you can establish the price of a particular guitar by just knowing their dates.

Also, let me inform you that some reputable guitar manufacturers out there provide a database for their guitars. They have online sites where you can input the serial number of your guitar. Once there, they will enable you to see the exact manufacturing date and model of your instrument.

Did you learn from this guide? If you have some questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below!


About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don't want to drop my zeal--especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!