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How to Decipher Epiphone Guitar Serial Numbers

Updated January 24, 2019

Learning how to decipher Epiphone serial numbers can help you find out the month and year that your guitar was made. Epiphone is a sub-brand of Gibson guitars and offers the same designs as Gibson guitars at a more affordable price. Most guitars have serial numbers to identify the date and year of manufacture, and Epiphone serial numbers also include a factory code that can help you determine where your guitar was made. Look on the back of the headstock, which houses the machine heads, to find your serial number.

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  1. Look at the first letter on the serial number to determine where your guitar was made. The first letter or two letters are referred to as the "Factory ID Code," and you can use this to identify the factory that produced the guitar. However, some guitars do not include a "Factory ID Code." An "I," "U," "S" or "R" identifies the guitar as having been made in Korea. If only one letter is at the beginning of the serial number, and it's an "F," "J" or "T," it identifies your guitar as having been made in Japan. If the first two letters are "SI," then your guitar was made in the Samick factory in Indonesia. If the serial number starts with "EE," "EA," "DW," "SJ," "MC," "Z" or "BW," then your guitar was made in China.

  2. Locate the one- or two-digit number directly after the "Factory ID Code" to find the year your guitar was made. If your serial number has eight or nine digits, it likely has a two-digit year code. For example, if your guitar has "94" directly after the "Factory ID Code," then your guitar was made in 1994. Some guitars made in the '90s only have one digit for the year code. If the guitar's serial number has eight digits, look for a letter directly after the year digits. If there is a letter following the year digits, then the year is displayed in a two-digit format. Eight-digit numerical codes following the factory code have a one-digit year code and are from the 1990s.

  3. Look for the two-digit codes to determine the month in which your guitar was made. If the guitar has a nine-digit code, the two numbers following the year code identify the month. For example, if the guitar's serial number starts "Z0411," then you know that the guitar was made in China, in 2004 and the month code "11" refers to November. If your serial number has eight digits and there is a letter after the year code, this can be used to identify the month. For example, "A" is January, "B" is February, and so on.

  4. Check the number directly after the "Factory ID Code" on six-digit serial numbers. Use this number to determine the year your guitar was made. Only Elite or Elitist models have six-digit serial numbers, and these only were produced between the years 2000 and 2009. The number is a single digit and identifies the year between those two dates. For example, a "4" refers to 2004.

  5. Use the automated serial number decoder on the Guitar Dater Project website if you don't want to manually decode the serial number. Type the serial number into the field at the top of the screen, and click on "Submit" to find the information.

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About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.

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