If you’ve been reading articles about dating a vintage guitar, you may well have come across mention of pot codes, and the concept of using pot codes to date your guitar. The pots, or potentiometers to give their full name, are the variable resistors that control volume and tone. Better quality pots are often stamped with a number of codes; typically part numbers, date of production, manufacturers codes and resistance values. Many pots don’t carry all of this information, but the better quality guitars produced in America regularly do. So where are these codes? Normally they are stamped or inked onto the back or sides of the pot.
How to Date Fender and Gibson guitars with potentiometer codes
If the serial number of an electric guitar is missing or is no longer readable, you can also find the approximate age of the guitar on the basis of the potentiometers. On the potentiometer is a code that gives information about the manufacturer and the year and week when it is made. EIA code. Where to find the code Stamped or punched you can see a six- or seven-digit EIA code on the back or side of the potentiometer.
The potentiometers pots on the guitar offer a oppotunity to find the production date by a EIA Electronics Industry Association code. Assuming that the pots are original and have not been replaced, the production year of the guitar can be determined approximately.
When dating an instrument by the ‘pot code,’ keep two things in mind: The potentiometers must be original to the piece (new solder, or a date code that is off by ten.
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Reading pot codes
Zachary R. Fjestad is a freelance writer who specializes in guitars and amplifiers including the history behind them and their current value. Fjestad has been evaluating and appraising guitars for over 20 years. For more information, email Zachary at zacharyfjestad hotmail. Guitars Bass Amps Pedals Players.
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Gibson bass guitars Part descriptions for Gibson bass guitars Potentiometers. Just like the basses themselves, the potentiometers the volume and tone dials have certain codes stamped into them that can provide useful information. These are an invaluable tool for dating vintage Gibson Instruments. The Gibson serial number system can be very difficult to interpret to say the least – whilst the pot codes had a simple system in which the date of manufacture was encoded into the numbers stamped into the casing.
Usually on the back, as shown in the picture here, or sometimes on the side. CTS codes are in the format year-week. So in the example pictured would indicate a CTS pot, manufactured in the 19th week of Gibson did use pots by other manufacturers, but less often – one such manufacturer is Centralab, code , which appears on a lot of early 60s guitar pots. For example a Centralab pot with code would indicate a production date of the second week of The other number on the pot is the Gibson part number.
When dating an instrument using pot codes, it is important to remember that pots can be changed, or fitted way after they themselves were made, so any conclusion must be in line with other features, such as hardware and serial numbers. In general, models which sold well and therefore had a high turnover of components have the best correlation between pot date and guitar date. In these cases all pots are often from the same batch, with identical codes.
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source date codes on any guitar pots before the late s, and no single digit year When dating an instrument by the ‘pot code’, keep two things in mind.
Properly Dating a Fender Bass
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Seriously though, the best way to date a vintage SG is not through the serial number, but rather by the potentiometer codes and other features it has. Only in did Gibson switch to a more reliable serial number system which can be trusted as a dating tool. Even then, you want to have a rough idea of when it was made based on the features first, because they have used several different serial number formats through the years. It is important to remember that no one feature is the absolute determinant factor in dating, but rather the totality of all features taken into consideration.
It is not normal for any other vintage SG to have remarkably low frets. If this is the case, the guitar needs a re-fret. Beware sellers passing off worn out frets as a “Fretless Wonder”. The code on the back of a potentiometer can normally be broken down into three main components: the manufacturer, the year and the week of manufacture.
However, it is important to remember that this date is when the pot was made, which necessarily has to be before the guitar was made. Being produced in large batches, it can be a while before every pot in a batch is installed on a guitar. Generally assume 5—8 weeks between production and installation on a guitar.
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Copyright Kit Rae. The pots are what the knobs are mounted to, essentally manually adjustable resisitors that control the voltage across a circuit. The codes were created by the Electronic Industries Association EIA in s to identify the product source and date of manufacture. The first string of numbers is usually the part number, or sometimes the pot value.
When dating an instrument using pot codes, it is important to remember that pots can be changed, or fitted way after they themselves were made, so any.
Since I primarily collect amps by Fender, and guitars by Gibson, Fender, Martin, National, Epiphone, Gretsch and Rickenbacker, I really can’t help them with these other less popular brands. As you have probably noticed, there is plenty of information here to help date the brands that I am interested in. But where does that leave everyone else?
Well I’m not one to leave you out in the informational cold, so here’s something that I use quite often in dating amplifiers and electric guitars. It’s called the “source-date code”, and it can help determine the approximate age of an electric instrument by the date its components were manufactured. Source-Date Codes On American made vintage gear, the pots and speakers provide an excellent opportunity to date a piece of equipment by referencing their “source-date code”.