Note: Any guitar with a serial number with the prefix "SI" is Indonesian-made.
Note #2: Guitars with no serial number were produced at many different times. Samick branded models did not start using serials until around 1987. Also, the Indonesian factory did not use serials from it's opening in 1992 until around 2000. However, there were also some Korean Artist Series Strats made around 1995-1996 with no serial numbers, and many Korean-made Japanese Market models had no serial numbers as well.
Electrics (1984 - 1989)
Samick first started using serial numbers on Hondos and other contract brands in 1984 (their home brand models did not use serials until ~1987), using the following format:
Y = Year
M = Month
P = Production Number
Example: 8030768 = 768th guitar made in March of 1988In 1988, occasionally the format was YYMMPPPPP because of high production volume.
Example: 880510504 = 10,504th guitar made in May of 1988Many guitars made around 1985 have a serial number with the format:
120PPPP or 110PPPP
Example: 1201387The significance of this format is unknown. It is commonly found on Mastercaster Series models, among others.
These serial numbers are easily recognized as a white sticker with a black border, usually found on the back of the headstock or the heel of the neck. Being a sticker, many are ripped off or wear off over the years.
If your guitar was built prior to 1984, or has lost its serial number sticker, the only other way to date your guitar is by looking for a date ink-stamped on the side of the original box switch.The format for these dates is (YY/MM/DD).
Another neat way to know your Hondo was built prior to 1984, is that if it has the original Grover Rotomatic tuners, the posts that the buttons are screwed onto will be larger in diameter than Rotomatics made from 1984-on.
Electrics (1990 - 1993)As 1990 approached, the use of one digit for the year presented the issue of repeat serial numbers. Around this time, the serial numbers became a bit unpredictable, as they were figuring out a new system. The "S" prefix also first appeared at this time.
Example: 90080084 = 84th guitar made in August of 1990Another format found around this time (possibly only for international models):
Semi-Hollow models (at this time) use a different format with no month, and the serial is found on the label inside the top f-hole.
Example: 902703 = 2,703rd semi-hollow guitar made in 1990
Bolt-neck models started having the serial number engraved into the neckplate in 1987. They kept the same format, so the decade is determined by the style of neck plate.
(Note: The new design did not appear until May 1990, so any early 1990 year models retain the '80s style plate)
Some lower-end bolt-neck models have blank neckplates with just a serial number engraved, using the format:
At the turn of the millennium, bolt-neck models kept the same format and neckplate style, so these guitars must be dated by their logo style, headstock style and other features.
Electrics (1992 - 2005)
Around 1992 (although some examples have been found with stickers as late as 1993), all set neck models switched to a silk-screened serial number on the back of the headstock with an "S" prefix:
Example: S9207374 = 7,374th (set neck?) guitar made in 1992While contract builds always included the prefix, it wasn't always used on Samick brand guitars.
By the end of 1993, the month (M) returned to the format, and by 1994, the year was shortened to one digit:
Example: S4030482 = 482nd guitar made March 1994Finally, by at least May 1997, the year returned to two digits:
Example: S97040076 = 76th guitar made April 1997In 2006, Korean production of Samick models ended, and all production was moved to the Indonesian factory. New models now follow the same serial number format, but with a prefix of SI (Samick Indonesia).
The Korean factory was bought by a group of workers and now continues to this day under the name SPG, making guitars for Gretsch, Guild and D'Angelico, among others. See below for the serial formats used by SPG.
Acoustics generally followed the format:
SPG (2005 - Present)
Example: KS14070456 = 456th guitar made July 2014On Guild models, the following format is used:
KSGYYPPPPPCurrent SPG-built D'Angelico models use the prefix "US" with the same format. Before mid-2013, they used the "KS" prefix. Very early models still used the "S" prefix and some also used "R" or "R9".
SPG-built Comins models use the prefix "1ES" and the format: