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From about 1949 to 1957 watch for a white rectangular label that reads: The serial number will probably be printed in red, and the model number written in blue or black.The label has a fairly ornate border around it, but the "Gretsch" is usually printed in a plain font.

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These pencilled-in numbers often fade and become illegible, or even disappear.

Lower numbers will always appear on earlier guitars, higher numbers on later guitars.

Remember that 20 guitars will, of course, not begin with a 9.

For example, serial number JT03074463 would break down as: Of those, JT is by far the most common on the pro-line instruments.

However, other Japanese facilities have been used, so it's not particularly unusual to see JD and JF prefixes.

Most Electromatic hollowbodies carry a KS designation, although KP was fairly common prior to about 2007.

CY is usually seen on Electromatic solidbodies such as the Corvette/CVT.

The last four numbers are sequential for the given year (all models combined) and are broken into two categories as follows: So, JT05070014 would be made at the Terada factory in July 2005 and would be the 14th of something special that year (all special models combined).

Unlike the pre-Fender codes, specific models are no longer designated within the serial number.

This sticker, along with the "Made in Korea" sticker, went missing almost immediately — sometimes before the guitar even left the store.

In addition, these guitars followed no known numbering scheme.

If you'd like to learn more about Gretsch serial numbers, we highly recommend Ed Ball's "Gretsch 6120: The History of a Legendary Guitar." Ball is one of the key researchers who have determined the actual dates, years and features Gretsch serial numbers correspond to.