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.
Gretsch began date-coding serial numbers in August 1966.
For example, 27136 should be February (2), 1967 (7) and the 136th instrument made that month. (i.e., 1974 would be 4) Last 3 digits = number of the instrument.
Date-coded serial numbers are typically found stamped on the back or top of the headstock, and "Made in USA" is stamped next to the number starting in June 1967. The next digit = last digit of the year (1966 to 1972: 6,7,8,9,0,1,2).
The remaining digits = number of individual instrument, probably.
The Fender-era 51xx guitars follow the normal Fender numbering scheme.
When Fender took over production in January 2003 the serial number scheme changed again, and Fender-era serial numbers have a two-character originating factory code, followed by year and month, and finally a sequential ordering number.
On hollowbodies, the label is usually visible through the f-hole.
On other models such as solidbodies, it should be inside a control cavity.Unfortunately, correct information can be very difficult to come by.Most online guides (and quite a few print guides) are based on Jay Scott's groundbreaking book "Gretsch: the guitars of the Fred Gretsch Company," which is a fine book, but is nearly two decades old.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.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.