Dating vintage fender amps by serial number
Starting in July 1969, Marshall starting using official serial codes.They were initially broken down into three parts: the model code, the serial production number and the date code.
It's also one more piece of evidence to pair with the serial number to corroborate the actual year.If the speakers in your Marshall cabinet or combo are original, they can provide another piece of evidence when determining the date of manufacture.As many cabinets did not have official serial numbers before 1992, this can be especially helpful in dating earlier specimens.For example, the number S/A 8481 E tells us that this is 50W amp (S/A) made in 1973 (E), production number 8481.From January 1984 to September 1992, the three-part coding was used by Marshall but the date code letter was moved from the end to the middle. This would indicate a 100W Super Lead (SL/A) built in 1989 (X), production number 10059.Often these specimens produced between October 1962 and December 1964 had an offset chassis.
Look for original black levant covering, a gray grille and the old block-style Marshall logo.
Before we begin, a few caveats: The best approach is to cross-reference the serial number with known features for the model during different eras and the personal account of previous owners.
Getting the correct year is one thing, but getting the story behind an amp is the fun part.
Amps from this era still have the block-style Marshall logo and a centered chassis.
The model codes below should help you identify which model you have, while the characteristics described for each year should help with dating.
We recently wrote an article detailing that rich history (which you can read here), but for those simply looking to figure out how old their Marshall amp is, we offer this shortcut.