Dating guitar amps
Could Fender make so many PRIIs, considering they were making the other 13 amp types in the range at the same time?Then Soren in Denmark started showing serial numbers on his excellent Super Champ website (which is no longer on the web) - some of those numbers fell in between some of 'my' PRII numbers.According to Tom Wheeler's excellent book about the Stratocaster, it may be that they had no factory after December 1984!So (example) the last few hundred Super Champs seem to have date codes from 1984 but there's anecdotal evidence that they were assembled in nearby Brea, CA in 1986.Advertisers and politicians make decisions based on smaller percentages!
Then I became aware of the amazing work Greg Gagliano had been doing since the 1990s - the summary of his latest results are here - and that his research didn't take in the Rivera-era, or anything later. However for this range of amps at least, I reckon it's not just a policy of withholding company-confidential information. It's no criticism of Fender to suggest that they were too busy making great amps to keep records just so some amateur could use them thirty years later.It represents fourteen years of hobby time, so if you quote it elsewhere, I'd appreciate a link and/or a name-check, either as "Stratopastor" or under my real name.All these amps have serial numbers beginning F2, F3 or F4 followed by another 5 digits. However Fender couldn't maintain that system for long, and there are no F5 or F6 amps.A little light Googling revealed serial numbers for a few other amps in the range - they seemed all mixed up together.Then the terrible truth dawned on me: they WERE all mixed up; Fender had decided to change their 35-year-old system of serial numbering so that, starting in 1982, every amp had a unique number.Subtract one from the other and I'll have a rough-cut figure for how many were made. PRII owners were kind enough to start sending their serial numbers in.I was puzzled to see how some of them were separated by over 100,000.Fender never replied, and the magazine showed polite disinterest.So, with my dreams of being A Published Author in shreds, I might as well make what I've got available to folks.If you've got one of the 14 amp models in this range you can get a rough idea of its date-of-manufacture from these tables.For the batches labelled "date codes needed", I haven't got any loudspeaker or transformer date codes, or (gold dust) the 4-digit inkstamp on the metal chassis, which is usually only visible when out of the wooden cab.