Properly Dating a Fender Bass

Did you know that the parts inside your vintage electric guitar will likely have manufacturing date codes? These parts, if original, are one date point that vintage guitar shops will use to help date your vintage Fender or Gibson guitar. Both guitar players and guitar collectors will often search for guitars starting with a year or a time period to find their dream guitar. If you’re looking to find the value of your vintage Fender or Gibson guitar, it’s important to start by find the year your guitar was made. Potentiometer codes can often help inform that finding and add another data point in assigning value. Fender used at least four different serializing schemes from to Gibson used countless schemes and also reused numbers at least three times within the span of 20 years! The best way to assign a year of manufacture to a guitar is to date each part individually then see how the guitar as a whole lines up to established dates. The potentiometers, or variable resistors that are turned to vary the volume or tone, have codes on the back that indicate the week and year they were manufactured.

Reading pot codes

Copyright Kit Rae. The pots are what the knobs are mounted to, essentally manually adjustable resisitors that control the voltage across a circuit. The codes were created by the Electronic Industries Association EIA in s to identify the product source and date of manufacture. The first string of numbers is usually the part number, or sometimes the pot value.

In the second string of numbers, the first three numbers are a code identifying the manufacturer.

I have found that with “House Brand” guitars such as Silvertone, sometimes pot-​code dating is a good way to zero in on date of manufacture.

If the serial number of an electric guitar is missing or is no longer readable, you can also find the approximate age of the guitar on the basis of the potentiometers. On the potentiometer is a code that gives information about the manufacturer and the year and week when it is made. EIA code. Where to find the code Stamped or punched you can see a six- or seven-digit EIA code on the back or side of the potentiometer. The potentiometers pots on the guitar offer a oppotunity to find the production date by a EIA Electronics Industry Association code.

Assuming that the pots are original and have not been replaced, the production year of the guitar can be determined approximately. The EIA code on pots indicates the manufacturer and date when they are made. It is an approach because of course there is a time between the manufacture date of the potentiometer and its installation on the guitar.

Also for lesser known brands without a serial number, this is a method to determine the approximate production date of a guitar. Often the EIA code cannot be read by the solder on the potentiometer. If you have experience with soldering, you can remove the solder where necessary with a solder sucker or even better with desoldering braid. If you have no experience or confidence, have someone do it for you. Leo Fender.


Ever since Fender started making basses in , they dated certain parts and components to give a general idea of when the instrument was produced. Then there are pickup and potentiometer date codes, serial numbers, and even bridge stamps and pickguard codes in some cases. So how do you properly determine the year of production?

They just grabbed whatever part or component was ready and put the instrument together to fill an order as fast as possible. The general rule of thumb is that a bass is as old as its newest part, or at least its latest dated part.

I will also mention briefly pot-codes as a resource (numbers on the internal potentiometers of the guitar). These can definitely be useful in cases.

Fender Tube amp codes: – look for a 2 letter code stamped on the tube chart inside the back of the amp – the first letter is the year, and the second letter is the month. An amp stamped NA would have been made in Jan. Here is a list of the first letter showing the year of manufacture. These codes have nothing to do with the serial number that is stamped on the right rear of the chassis – Those numbers are posted below. These codes are for amps with the serial number beginning with a letter:.

EIA numbers taken from the transformers may help you to determine the date of production on amps that fall between the different dating schemes. These numbers always begin with “”, and are followed by three or four digits in various combinations. If three digits are present, the first digit would refer to the year i. If four digits are present, the first two digits refer to the year i. The last two digits would refer to the week of the year i. An example would be: EIA would mean the 21st week of All Fender amplifiers, manufactured after include a date code on the amplifier.

This code is located on the “QA” Quality Assurance sticker, which may be found on the back of the amp chassis.

Potentiometer Codes On Gibson Bass Guitars

I pulled this information from Google’s cache of the site. If anyone feels this page should be taken down, please feel free to contact me. Ampegs can be divided into six distinct groups for dating purposes: pre, to mid, early to , to , to , and post Each group uses a unique serialization scheme that can be used to assist in dating the amps, but in many cases, it is the features and characteristics of the amps that determine the year of manufacture. Electronic Industries Association EIA codes can also be very useful for giving clues as to an amp’s age.

These codes can be found on speakers, transformers, pots, capacitors, and multi-section electrolytic “can” caps.

The second set of numbers is the date code. In this case, = , 41st week​. Newer pots are now stamped with CTS, but older pots will be stamped with.

Early electric versions of Hofner models can be roughly dated by some of the components used. In particular, the rectangular and oval consoles were fitted with ‘Preh’ brand volume control potentiometers – “pots”, which carry a manufacture date in code on them. S imply undo the small screws holding the panel on, and lift it out of the body. It may be useful to have a cloth to lay it on, to protect the finish of the guitar. T his is the underside of one of the ‘Preh’ brand pots – the code is stamped into the brown fibreboard base.

The first part, K is simply the resistance value of the component, and has no relevance for dating. The numbers following are the ones to note. Quite simply, it is a composite of the number of the week in which the component was made, and the last digit of the year in question: week , plus year ending. The code can therefore be either two or three numbers: ’90’ would be the 9th week of , ” the 10th week, and so on.

So, in this case, ” means the 34th week of – somewhere towards the end of August. Interestingly, the other pot is dated ”, which at three weeks later, is mid-September The guitar carries a body date of 30 September , so we can therefore obtain a good idea of when it was assembled.

1963-1966 Magnatone Custom Series Dating

If you’ve been reading articles about dating a vintage guitar, you may well have come across mention of pot codes, and the concept of using pot codes to date your guitar. The pots, or potentiometers to give their full name, are the variable resistors that control volume and tone. Better quality pots are often stamped with a number of codes; typically part numbers, date of production, manufacturers codes and resistance values.

Many pots don’t carry all of this information, but the better quality guitars produced in America regularly do. So where are these codes?

The pots in one of my pedals looks – nobel I would assume that the pedal was from the 15th week of .right? Any help would be good.

Gibson bass guitars Part descriptions for Gibson bass guitars Potentiometers. Just like the basses themselves, the potentiometers the volume and tone dials have certain codes stamped into them that can provide useful information. These are an invaluable tool for dating vintage Gibson Instruments. The Gibson serial number system can be very difficult to interpret to say the least – whilst the pot codes had a simple system in which the date of manufacture was encoded into the numbers stamped into the casing.

Usually on the back, as shown in the picture here, or sometimes on the side. CTS codes are in the format year-week. So in the example pictured would indicate a CTS pot, manufactured in the 19th week of Gibson did use pots by other manufacturers, but less often – one such manufacturer is Centralab, code , which appears on a lot of early 60s guitar pots.

Dating A ’70s Les Paul

So you need to figure out the year of production for your Fender guitar or bass. You’re not alone. Fenders rank as the most frequently bought and sold instruments on Reverb , and finding a precise date of manufacture can be key to determining the value and specifics of an instrument.

In particular, the rectangular and oval consoles were fitted with ‘Preh’ brand volume control potentiometers – “pots”, which carry a manufacture date in code on.

Seriously though, the best way to date a vintage SG is not through the serial number, but rather by the potentiometer codes and other features it has. Only in did Gibson switch to a more reliable serial number system which can be trusted as a dating tool. Even then, you want to have a rough idea of when it was made based on the features first, because they have used several different serial number formats through the years.

It is important to remember that no one feature is the absolute determinant factor in dating, but rather the totality of all features taken into consideration. It is not normal for any other vintage SG to have remarkably low frets. If this is the case, the guitar needs a re-fret. Beware sellers passing off worn out frets as a “Fretless Wonder”.

How to Date Fender and Gibson guitars with potentiometer codes

Since I primarily collect amps by Fender, and guitars by Gibson, Fender, Martin, National, Epiphone, Gretsch and Rickenbacker, I really can’t help them with these other less popular brands. As you have probably noticed, there is plenty of information here to help date the brands that I am interested in. But where does that leave everyone else? Well I’m not one to leave you out in the informational cold, so here’s something that I use quite often in dating amplifiers and electric guitars.

It’s called the “source-date code”, and it can help determine the approximate age of an electric instrument by the date its components were manufactured. Source-Date Codes On American made vintage gear, the pots and speakers provide an excellent opportunity to date a piece of equipment by referencing their “source-date code”.

› Gibson pot codes dating.

With guitars in mind, dating if the last two digits of the source-date code are greater than 52, you’re not looking at the source-date code! Also it’s worth mentioning:. Stackpole for example converted from three to four digit date codes in late. On 3 digit date codes, you date to “guess” the decade guitars the pot or speaker.

Codes this isn’t too difficult. Date used by Fender. Codes pots on the left and right are Stackpole pots manufacture. Note the different position of the markings, even on pots from the same maker. The source-date code on a speaker. In this case, the speaker is made by Rola in the 9th week of. The decade, though not here shown by the source-date pot, was easily determined because this particular amp was only made during the s.

Note pot font guitars of guitars source-date code number always seems to be the same, for all speaker manufacturers. Same thing here. Jensen speaker made in the 41st guitars of.

The Key to Media’s Hidden Codes – Ben Beaton

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