This makes things a little more interesting and difficult in playing the "dating game." And yet there is another variable to contend with as it appears that models that share chassis may also share the same serialization scheme.For instance, the Bandmaster Reverb and Super Reverb share the same chassis, and the Twin Reverb, Quad Reverb, Dual Showman Reverb, Vibrosonic Reverb, and Super Six all share the same chassis.Dating Fender Tube Amps by Serial Number, Part I by Greg Gagliano Copyright 1997, 20th Century Guitar Magazine. Well, we'll get to good parts, but first a little background information is in order.After reading Teagle and Sprung's excellent Fender amp book, I took them up on their challenge that maybe someday someone will compile enough serial numbers so that Fender amps can be dated that way. I contacted several Fenders collectors and dealers who were kind enough to supply me with data.We just don't have enough data to make any definitive conclusions yet. The author and his partners would like to thank those people who have sent us Fender amp information, especially James Werner, Tim Pershing, Gregg Hopkins at Vintage Amp Restoration, Jim Strahm and Matt Kesler at Midwestern Musical Co., and Tim Nelson at Mass Street Music.We will be writing articles in the future with more fun factoids (yes, there's more! Also thanks to the many dealers at the various guitar shows that we visit for allowing us to make notes about the amps at their booths.These 1965 codes begin with the letter "O." The code for the year 1966 is "P." However, someone in the factory apparently forgot to switch the stamper from "O" to "P" in January 1966.
Now, we obviously haven't looked at every amp made in January 1966 so this isn't set in stone.The 4x10 Bassman used the prefix "BM" while the piggyback Bassman used the prefix "BP." The reverb units have the prefix "R." In addition, the tweed Super, Pro and Bandmaster sometimes have the prefix "S" in the serial number.The blackface and silverface amps (late 1963 to 1980) generally have serial numbers begin with the prefix "A." However, it appears that these were not used sequentially across all models.The biggest tip off would be the control panels which brings us to interesting factoid #2.After CBS bought Fender in January 1965, there were still plenty of control panels for various models that were in stock.Likewise, the brown/blonde Tremolux, Concert, Vibrasonic, Twin, Pro, Super, Vibrolux, Showman, Dual Showman, and Bandmaster used a sequential numbering independent of model, but as with Fender guitars, these were not used consecutively. The 1956 to 1963 Champ, Harvard, Princeton, Deluxe; the 1956 to 1960 Vibrolux, the 1956 to 1964 Bassman, and all the tube reverb units have their own serialization scheme.The Champ has a "C" prefix, the Harvard an "H" prefix, the Princeton a "P" prefix, the Vibrolux a "F" prefix, and the Deluxe a "D" prefix.Preliminary results show that we're on the right track.Here's a couple of examples using the tweed Deluxe (model 5E3) and the Super Reverb/Bandmaster Reverb. Model Year D05108 Deluxe 1958 D05160 Deluxe 1958 D06528 Deluxe 1958 D07036 Deluxe 1959 D07115 Deluxe 1959 D07418 Deluxe 1959 D08325 Deluxe 1959 D08913 Deluxe 1959 D09014 Deluxe 1959 D09338 Deluxe 1960 D09399 Deluxe 1960 D09524 Deluxe 1960 A27769 Super Reverb 1967 A27796 Super Reverb 1967 A29591 Super Reverb 1968 A31057 Super Reverb 1968 A31079 Bandmaster Reverb 1968 A32839 Super Reverb 1968 A32841 Super Reverb 1968 A34448 Super Reverb 1968 A37667 Super Reverb 1969 A37949 Bandmaster Reverb 1969 A40130 Bandmaster Reverb 1969 A41569 Super Reverb 1969 So, with the knowledge gained thus far, we feel that Fender tube amps can be dated by serial number.These say "Fender Electric Instruments." Depending on the model the use of these pre-CBS panels have been observed on amps as late as August 1965, except for Champs and Vibro Champs which had foil stickers on the back the chassis.Fender must have had a million of these labels printed up since they appear on Champs and Vibro Champs well into 1966.