Dating fender tweed cases
Although the dates derived using the charts below will likely be a good approximation, they should not be considered exact.All Fender amplifiers manufactured from 1990 to the present include a date code, printed on the quality assurance (QA) sticker on the back of the amp chassis.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.In the table below, for example, a “JE” date code indicates a production date of May 1960.In general, Fender amps that don’t have rubber-stamped tube sticker date codes have EIA numbers on their transformers that might enable determination of the production date.
If three digits are present, the first digit refers to the year (i.e., a “7” would mean 1967).
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.
If you are unable to determine the approximate production year of your amplifier using the above charts, there are other means of dating Fender amps.
Several excellent books are available that contain reliable and invaluable information on the history of Fender amplifiers. To use these books most effectively, you’ll need to get the date codes from the speaker frames and potentiometers, and as much other detailed information as you can find about the specs and features of your amp.