Fender super reverb dating
If you have absolutely no idea whether your Gretsch is old or new, a good place to start is the model number. The bulk of vintage Gretsch specimens were manufactured in the original factory in New York, with a decade of Arkansas production during the '70s. This refers to the corporate ownership changes the company experienced over time. Gretsch is family owned, growing to major distribution.
This will give you an approximate idea of the era during which your guitar was manufactured. Gretsch is unique in that it started as a family company, was bought out and later taken back by the family, only to be bought a second time. This was the original Golden Age for Gretsch, particularly the late '50 and early '60s, when they enjoyed the endorsement of Chet Atkins and George Harrison. Gretsch is bought by Baldwin as a second choice after failing to buy Fender. Gretsch (great grandson of the founder) buys back the company. Model ranges expand and quality improves even further, with standard models produced in Japan and budget models produced in China, Korea or Indonesia.
This era saw the transition from hand-written penciled serial numbers to official labels in 1949, though the numbering system remained the same.
In general, a higher number means the guitar was produced later in the year or transitioned into the range for the overlapping year. This era continued the same sequential numbering scheme.Getting the correct year is one thing, but getting the story behind a guitar is the fun part.The guide for that is much simpler: be nice, ask questions, offer whiskey. Early 1900s - 1970: New York City 1970 - 1979: Booneville, Arkansas 1979 - 1981: Various locations including Mexico. 1989 - present: Japan (Terada factory) 1995 - present: US (Custom & Masterbuilt Series) 2000 - present: China and Korea (Electromatic & Synchromatic Series) .On most modern (post-1989) Gretsch guitars, you'll find it on the back of the headstock.Some models from 1962 - late '60s also had serial numbers on the top of the headstock or on the model plate, but for most vintage specimens you'll be looking for a label, either visible through the F-hole on hollow bodies or in a control cavity for solid bodies (in which case you'll need some tools).
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When Baldwin took over, serials became date-coded from 1967 - 1981.