Dating gibson guitars by serial number
Tokai copies of the Gibson guitars (Japanese manufacture) typically have seven-digit serial numbers ("SN") impressed into the back of the headstock.
These numbers correspond directly to the year of manufacture (see below for Korean models).
This article examines the following scenarios: Seems a bit obvious, and in many cases it is.
In the most straightforward of cases the luthier will write his/her name, the date of manufacture and even who the guitar was made for on a label smack in the middle of the sound hole like this: Now we start getting into more serious surgery.
I you look closely at this list you will see that Tokais numbering system raises potential problems each time there's a change of decade.
Some other Greco Gibson-like models from the 1970s had a different headstock design, more like a Guild headstock design, that had a Greco logo with equally sized letters.
The source-date code will signify the earliest possible date that the instrument or amp could have been made.
This isn't going to be exact, but it will give you a "ball-park" age.
So far the only way to distinguish these guitars is either from their fittings, or from general signs of ageing.
A similar confusion also arises with "Inked Numbers" for dates 1980-1981 vs. Over the years quite a few have turned up with the SN simply stamped in black ink (ie NOT impressed).