Dating fender amps by serial number
Other things to look for include chasses placed in cabinets from a different year, “doctored” tube charts, non-original control plates (usually reproductions) on silverface amps, original transformer bell ends (they have correct date codes, of course) on non-original transformers, and non-original knobs (either repro or silverface knobs on blackface amps).unusual things can be found such as the empty “Pulse Adjust” hole on the rear of early ’60 brown amps, the “middle” volume control, use of tweed style grill cloth, strange non-documented transitional circuits, and changes in tolex color including the super-rare cream colored “brown” tolex that is found on some late ’60 amps. Given that people may refer to this information seeking specific production quantities of amps they are curious about, it should be pointed out that the serial numbers apply to chassis types, and not specifically to amplifier models.
and these changes are often disclosed and of a non-malicious nature.
Click on the links here to jump directly to the serial number style that matches your instrument: In the early years, Fender serial numbers schemes were specific to the model.
There's A Brief History of the Stratocaster Part I and Part II that follows the evolution of the most popular Fender guitar of all.
If you have one enjoy it, they are ok amps when they work!
Our Buyer’s guide to vintage Fender amps explains in detail how you can date your amp by looking at serial numbers, tube charts, transformer codes, speaker codes, Fender logo, etc.
The Japanese-made Fenders do have some slight serial number differences (typically a "J" serial number prefix). I believe this was a mistake on Fender's part using the same prefix for both U. Below are some examples of letter prefixes used in recent serial number schemes.