How To Identify The Manufacture Date Of a Gretsch Guitar

The Definitive Guide To Gretsch Serial Numbers

Gretsch is widely known as one of the most popular original guitar manufacturers in the United States. Many people own a vintage guitar without having any idea of its history of value. When it comes to determining the worth of your Gretsch guitar or finding a deal, half the battle is finding an accurate date of manufacture. This guide from your USA guitar buyer can help you identify the date of manufacture by locating and understanding the serial number.

Gretsch Guitar

How To Find The Serial Number On Your Gretsch Guitar

If you want to find the serial number on your Gretsch, look at the headstock, which is where you’ll find it on most models manufactured after 1989. Some models from the 1960s also have their serial numbers printed on the headstock. On more vintage models, you’ll find the serial number on a label that can be seen through the F hole on a hollow-bodied instrument or in a control cavity on a solid-bodied instrument. If your Gretsch is solid-bodied, you’ll probably need some tools to locate the model plate. Guitars made before 1949 will not have a label, but will instead have their serial numbers written inside the instrument in pencil.

Early Gretsch serial numbers from 1939-1966 are sequential. When the company was sold in 1967, serial numbers were coded with the date.

Gretsch serial numbers were sequential (a la Martin) from 1939 – 1966. When Baldwin took over, serials became date-coded from 1967 – 1981.

This key from your USA guitar buyer can help you determine the probable age of your Gretsch guitar based on the serial number:

  • Three digits are written in pencil inside the guitar that may be very faint: 1939-1945
  • Four digits are written in pencil or on a label: 1945-1954
  • Five sequential digits between 13000 and 84000, written on a label or headstock: 1954-1965
  • Five to six date-coded digits, probably on the headstock: 1966-1972
  • Five or six digits, with the first one or two digits hyphenated, usually located on the headstock: 1972-1981
  • Nine digits, with the last three hyphenated, on the headstock: 1989-2002
  • Two letters followed by eight digits, located on the headstock: 2002-present

Your USA guitar buyer is ready to help you locate the serial number and interpret the era in which it was manufactured. Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions!

Examples Of Gretsch Manufacture Dates & Serial Numbers

The first serial numbers were written in pencil inside the guitar’s body. Because of their pre-1945 age, many of these serials are faded, difficult to read, or gone completely. If you can see only three numbers that are difficult to read, you can feel fairly confident that you have one of the earliest Gretsch models.

  • 1939-1945: 001-999 (handwritten)
  • 1945-1947: 1000-20xx (on a label)
  • 1948-1949: 20xx-30xx
  • 1950: 30xx-40xx
  • 1951: 40xx-50xx
  • 1952: 50xx-70xx
  • 1953: 70xx-90xx
  • 1954: 90xx-130xx

Beginning in 1954, serial numbers have an increasing number of digits. As the number of Gretsch guitars grew, the serial numbers went higher as well. Note that in 1957, nearly 1000 serial number labels were misplaced. They were discovered and used in 1965. This can make determining your guitar’s year of manufacture confusing unless you can identify the different features of the 1965 models.

  • 1955: 130xx-180xx
  • 1956: 180xx-210xx
  • 1957: 210xx-260xx (may also be a 1965 model)
  • 1958: 260xx-300xx
  • 1959: 300xx-340xx
  • 1960: 340xx-390xx
  • 1961: 390xx-450xx
  • 1962: 451xx-530xx
  • 1963: 530xx-630xx
  • 1964: 630xx-770xx
  • 1965: 770xx-840xx


Generally speaking, Gibson guitars are not as rare as other brands, but they are still quite collectible. That’s because their quality craftsmanship and powerful sound stand out a lot. 

Moreover, Gibson has been producing guitars for more than a century and their instruments have been used by many iconic musicians in the world. Whether you want to sell a vintage Gibson guitar or a modern one, they are definitely worth the price!

Keep in mind that Gibson has had numerous instruments sell incredibly high at auction. Undoubtedly, one of the most well-known electric guitars ever produced is the 1959 Les Gibson Paul Standard. This model can be sold for more than $100,000 when it’s in perfect condition! 

These are only a few facts. Any USA guitar buyer is always excited to acquire Gibson guitars because of their uniqueness and historical value.


Guitars from this era are easier to identify because they have a hyphen or space after the first two digits, with the meaning of the numbers staying the same.


Serial numbers in this era describe the year, month, model number, and information about its order of production. The first digits indicate the year (99 refers to 1999). The following digit(s) indicates the month of manufacture. (11 refers to November). The following three digits indicate the model number. The numbers after the hyphen indicate the instrument’s number of products for the model, not the month.

2002 – Present Day

Modern Gretsch numbers have a two-letter prefix that indicates the location of its manufacture, followed by a two-digit month and a four-digit production number of that factory that year.

Understand Your Gretsch Guitar With The Experts At Joe’s Vintage Guitars

Are you thinking about selling your vintage guitar or simply wondering what it’s worth? Contact Joe’s Vintage Guitars to schedule your free appraisal! Our experts are passionate about vintage instruments and ready to help you understand details about your guitar. We pay top dollar for vintage guitars and other instruments. Contact us today to learn more about our appraisal, guitar buying, and sales services!

Written by Joe Dampt

“Driven by a love for classic tunes, I specialize in buying, selling, and appraising vintage guitars, bringing music and history together.”