Dating an ovation guitar by serial number
A number, usually 5 to 7 digits long, follows the letter and helps to further identify the year. Made in Korea Serials (may or may not have letter prefix.There is known overlap between years, and looking at the date on the neck heel should be more accurate. may/may not be Squier)6, 7 or 8 Digits only 1988 - 1996 "E" serials from Young Chang or Sung-Eum plants: E1 6 Digits in Silver 1987 - 1988 E2 6 Digits in Silver 1988 - 1989 E0 6 Digits in Black 1989 - 1990 E1 6 Digits in Black 1991 - 1992 E2 6 Digits in Black 1992 - 1993 E3 6 Digits in Black 1993 - 1994 "S" serials from Samick plant: S9 6 Digits 1989 - 1990 S0 6 Digits 1990 - 1991 S1 6 Digits 1991 - 1992 S2 6 Digits 1992 - 1993 S3 6 Digits 1993 - 1994 "CN" (Cort) and "VN" (Sungham) factory serials: CN0 or VN0 5 Digits 1990 - 1991 CN1 or VN1 5 Digits 1991 - 1992 CN2 or VN2 5 Digits 1992 - 1993 CN3 or VN3 5 Digits 1993 - 1994 CN4 or VN4 5 Digits 1994 - 1995 CN5 or VN5 5 Digits 1995 - 1996 CN6 or VN6 5 Digits 1996 - 1997 "KC" 1997 and up Cort factory serial numbers: KC97 6 Digits 1997 - 1998 KC97 7 Digits 1997 - 1998 KC97 8 Digits 1997 - 1998 KC98 6 Digits 1998 - 1999 KC99 6 Digits 1999 - 2000 KC00 6 Digits 2000 - 2001 KC01 6 Digits 2001 - 2002 KC02 6 Digits 2002 - 2003 KC03 6 Digits 2003 - 2004 KC04 6 Digits 2004 - 2005 KC05 6 Digits 2005 - 2006 KC06 6 Digits 2006 - 2007 KC07 6 Digits 2007 - 2008 KC08 6 Digits 2008 - 2009 KC09 6 Digits 2009 - 2010 KC10 6 Digits 2010 - 2011 KC11 6 Digits 2011 - 2012 KC12 6 Digits 2012 - 2013 KC13 6 Digits 2013 - 2014 Made in Indonesia Serials IC08 6 digits 2008-2009IC09 6 digits 2008-2009ICF09 6 digits 2009-2010IC10 6 digits 2009-2010ICF10 6 digits 2010-2011ICF11 6 digits 2011-2012Special cases For Fender acoustics, please see this page on the Fender website: https://support.fender.com/hc/en-us/articles/214343883-How-can-I-find-out-when-my-acoustic-instrument-was-manufactured-NUMBER DESCRIPTIONC(XXXXXX) Collectors Series up to 1965CA(XXXXX) Gold Strat 1981, 82 and 83CB(XXXXX) Precision Bass Special and Gold Jazz Bass 1981-82CC(XXXXX) Walnut Strat 1981-82-83CD or CO(XXXXX) Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982CE(XXXXX) Precision Bass Special from 1981, Black and Gold Tele from 1981-82CN, R or V US Custom Shop (may also include CZ)D(XXXXXX) Jazz Bass 1981-82DN(XXXXXX) American Deluxe Series, 1998-99DZ 6 or 7 digits American Deluxe Series 2000 to present EJ(XXXXX) Eric Johnson Signature Stratocasters EE(XXXXXX) Some US made instruments from the mid to late '80s made for export to Europe had an EE prefix FN(XXXXXX) US made guitars and basses made for export G(XXXXXX) "THE STRAT" 1980-83GO(XXXXX) Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982, Gold Strat 1982-83H, I or K(XXXXXXX) USA guitars for export stamped USA on heel, serial on headstock, 1989-90.This is partially due to their production methods, which often involved using parts throughout different models and years, so that tracing the year of one part may not accurately indicate the production year of the instrument.If you're not averse to removing the neck on a guitar, Fender often wrote a date on the heel of the neck, as well as a date in the neck pocket.They were made by Terada and usually have an Orange Epiphone label.Y = Year of manufacture C = Model code PPP = Production number Model Codes (C)1 = NVJ2 = EMPEROR3 = RIVIERA4 = SHERATON5 = CASINO6 = Limited Edition7 = EB-28 = ES-930J9 = EMPEROR-JExample: 34123 = 1993 / SHERATON / unit 123Example: 38123 = 1993 / ES-930J / unit 1231971 - 1987The Aria Epiphone Japan models that were made by Matsumoku from the early 1970s and ending before 1987 do not have a reliable serial numbering system but can be approximately dated using their Epiphone label colors.1971-1975 - Blue label - Early models say "Union Made"1976-1979 - Tan or white "Lincolnwood" label with Norlin logo1980-1987 - Brown Label with splotched pattern Fender (Back to top of page) Fender is notorious for being a little tricky.Pre-1994 productions also frequently omit the factory letter codes and appeared as all digits, e.g.
T(XXXXXX) Tribute Series (check neck heel)V 4,5,6 digits Vintage Series (check neck heel)XN(XXXXX) FRS and Telecaster '52 (XN prefix may not appear on instrument) (XXX) OF 500 35TH Anniversary Strat from 1989-1990(XXXX) STAMPED ON BRIDGE PLATE U. '52 Vintage Telecaster 1982-1988 (Check neck date for exact year)(XXXXX) STAMPED ON BRIDGE PLATE U. '52 Vintage Telecaster 1988-present (Check neck date for exact year) G&L (Back to top of page) It seems there is no sure-fire way to get the year on a G&L.Tribute serial number formats are: YYMXXXX or YMMXXXX (e.g., 0123456 - Made In Japan Tribute Models only)YYMMXXXX (e.g., 01234567 - Made In Korea Tribute Models only)YYMMXXXXX (e.g., 012345678 - Made In Indonesia Tribute Models only)LYYMMXXXX (e.g., L01234567 - Made In China Tribute Models only)The website has a G&L registry where you can see what other G&L owners have recorded about specific models they own. registry_id=1) Gibson (Back to top of page) Early Gibson models can be identified by either a Factory Order Number (FON) or a serial number.