The locations of the serial numbers and dates change from model to model and in some cases they have simply been omitted.Also, labeling techniques have changed with Fender owners, slightly adding to the confusion. S.-made Fender guitars and basses from 1950 until today, since they are some of the predominant vintage guitars for sale on Vintageand Another turn is reflected by this extremely rare 1988 Epiphone Spotlight. I too had my doubts when I first laid eyes on this sweetheart hanging in a pawnshop down on South Street in Philly. That’s when I started pawing through the Epiphone paper I’d managed to acquire. Epiphone, of course, had been Gibson’s budget brand ever since they bought their fierce rival in 1957.Like on the telephone commercials with the wizard, the goofball crew and the “puppy,” I can hear you gasp, “What the…” Epiphone Spotlight? Like almost everything I bought back in those days (mid-‘90s), nobody knew what the heck it was. There it was, in a promotional pack from Gibson that my friend Michael Lee Allen had thrown in with one of my catalog orders. Epiphone had become an imported line in 1971, thus beginning a long and complicated peregrination as an offshore product.The fit and finish (high gloss polyurethane) were too good, and besides it was a neck-through. I snatched it right up for a couple bills, of course. But Gibson would periodically revive the American manufacture of Epiphone guitars, including some of the last guitars made in Kalamazoo before the final move to Nashville.Which is a fascinating tale, but doesn’t explain the Spotlight mystery.As common as Epiphones may be these days, the Epi Spotlights both uncommon and uncommonly good!How to date and identify your Fender instruments using serial numbers and production date stamps.
As evidenced by how familiar we all are with the Epiphone Spotlights, they obviously didn’t last long. A good guess is that probably one shipment of necks and bodies were produced. I don’t know if any of the Gibson Nouveaus were ever made, although the introductory literature shows photos of them, so at least a couple prototypes were probably put together before the switch to Epi.
On some Telecaster guitars the serial number is found on the bridge plate between the pickup and the saddles.
From the production of the first solidbody Fender guitars and until 1976, Fender tagged a production date at the butt of the detachable neck of their guitars.
No one likes it when you forget their birthday and neither does your Fender. For most of Fender’s production history they have applied serial numbers and production dates that can help you determine their production date (within a few years’ margin, at least).
Determining the date can also be important from a collector’s perspective, since the pre-1966 vintage Fender guitars are generally considered the most valuable.
Pickups were EMG Selects, serviceable if not exceptional, hooked up one volume and one tone, the latter with a push-pull coil tap pot.