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Dating fender tube amps serial number

A 1957 tweed Vibrolux was reported with a tube chart printed with circuit “5E3” (tweed Deluxe) instead of the correct 5F11 (see photo).

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There are some exceptions and some overlap, but the general idea is this: Tweeds (early 50’s to very early 60s), Browns (1960 – 1962), Blondes (1962 – 1963), Blackface (1963 – 1967), and Silverface (1967 – 1981).Although his job was somewhat limited, his recollections provided some really fascinating insights to how the amps were built.For instance, he confirmed our assumption that the amp chassis were put into stock after being stamped with serial numbers and that the chassis were pulled from the stock bins randomly (just as with Fender guitar neck plates).They used a code like this: 606 – 645 The date is in the last three digits, after the 606 – .The first of the three digits tells us the last digit of the year (unfortunately not decade specific) and the last two numbers tell us the week.Since several models can share one chassis type (for example, the early brown 5G7 Bandmaster, 5G5 Pro and 5G12 Concert), this kind of interpretation is inaccurate.

Instead, there were approximately 2000 of these chasses produced, which then ended up as one of the three models in question.

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.

Looking at serial numbers next to the ’60 5G5 brown Pro Amp for example, we see numbers ranging from 00001 to 02000, suggesting that there are 2000 of these amplifiers made in ’60.

In the above example, the transformer was made in either 1966 or 1976, week 45.

Now if it’s a blackface amp, it’s a safe bet that 6 means 1966. This code can be found on the power transformer, output transformer, choke, and reverb transformer.

These are marked with EIA code “606” which is the company number for Schumacher.