Marshall amplifiers made hard rock possible.
Marshall amplifier serial s made simple
While Fender and Vox amps have their place in moving electrified guitar forward, the creations of Jim Marshall fostered an entirely new sound and allowed guitarists to fill stadiums with it. Marshall amps had such precedent-setting wattage and tone that their history can hardly be separated from the history of rock itself. We recently wrote an article detailing that rich history which you can read herebut for those simply looking to figure out how old their Marshall amp is, we offer this shortcut.
The guide below will help you quickly and clearly date Marshall amps and cabinets, without us waxing poetic about their influence. The best approach is to cross-reference the serial with known features for the model during different eras and the personal of owners.
Getting the correct year is one thing, but getting the story behind an amp is the fun part.
The guide for that is much simpler: be nice, ask questions, offer beer. If you have absolutely no idea whether your Marshall is old or new, a good place to start is the model name or series. This will give you an approximate idea of the era during which your amp was manufactured. It's also one more piece of evidence to pair with the serial to corroborate the actual year.
The first Marshall amps were made in England starting in Production has continued there uninterrupted through today, though some lower-priced models are now made in China, India or Korea, depending on the series. Some amps won't fit into these series like the recent Class 5 Combo or various ature and limited edition modelsso using the serial will be your best Marshall amp dating to hone in on a specific date of manufacture. To find the serial on your Marshall amp, start by looking at the back panel of your amp.
Marshall amps by series
For models made between -the serial will be on the front panel. Keep in mind that no reliable serial information exists for pre Marshall amps, so if your amp doesn't have a matching one of the formats below, it is likely pre and identifiable by features rather than serial. Click on the links here to jump directly to the serial style that matches your instrument:. The earliest Marshall amp models did not have model codes or any official serialization, though some models had a simple sequential four-digit ing system inside the back panel.
These s supposedly started with and progressed from there, starting with at the beginning of Often these specimens produced between October and December had an offset chassis. Look for original black levant covering, a gray grille and the old block-style Marshall logo.
From January to Junemodel codes were used but no known serial s accompanied them. This era saw the advent of Plexiglas panels giving rise to the "Plexi" name and four-digit model s.
Amps from this era still have the block-style Marshall logo and a centered chassis. The model codes below should help you identify which model you have, while the characteristics described for each year should help with dating. Starting in JulyMarshall starting using official serial codes.
They were initially broken down into three parts: the model code, the serial production and the date code. Marshall used letters as a date code to represent year of production.
It's important to note that, prior tothis letter came last. The letter B was skipped, as were the letters I, O and Q since they might be confused for s. Use the model codes and date codes below to determine the model and age of your amp.
From January to Septemberthe three-part coding was used by Marshall but the date code letter was moved from the end to the middle. The same model codes from the section of this article still apply, although the model code "RI" is also seen for reissues.
The information source for great guitar tone
The additional date codes for this era are below. Starting in OctoberMarshall moved away from stamped metal plate serials and began using stickers with a xx-xxxxx-xx format serial and a bar code. Cabinets had serials at this point as well. The sticker-based nine digit scheme lasted through July For example, the serial would tell us that this amp was made in 96productionand it was made during the 34th 34 week of that year.
Starting in AugustMarshall moved to their current serial scheme, which is easier to understand and gives more information than schemes. These current serial s are arranged in a letter-ten digits-letter format A-xxxx-xx-xxxx-A.
These are still found on stickers with a bar code on the back of the amp. For example, a serial of MB would indicate an amp made in England M in during the 38th week of the year, productionset up for use in the United States B. If the speakers in your Marshall cabinet or combo are original, they can provide another piece of evidence when determining the date of manufacture.
As many cabinets did not have official serial s beforethis can be especially helpful in dating earlier specimens. Marshall has always used Celestion speakers standard from the factory, and thankfully, Celestion has been very consistent in coding their speakers.
There have been three coding schemes used by Celestion since Marshall's birth as a company, each using some combination of day, month and year. Using the month and year codes Marshall amp dating, and knowing what order they are in for different eras, you can easily decode a Celestion speaker's age.
Example: In the mid '60s the order was day-month-year, so a code showing 13DL would indicate a speaker made on the 13th of April, The month codes below remained consistent from forward, but there have been several eras of year codes. Check the era below that applies to your speaker. During this four year stretch, Celestion speaker codes followed a day-month-year format.
See the year codes below through The year codes changed after this, so using other pieces of evidence to make sure you have pre speakers is important. If you have a speaker older than this, the year codes move backwards through the alphabet to A, which would be During this era, Celestion speaker codes followed a month-year-day format. The year codes started over, with beginning at A.
Currently, Celestion speaker codes follow a day-month-year format.
Marshall serial s
The year codes started over, with beginning at B, oddly enough. The serial is one part of the puzzle when dating an amp, but cross-checking the originality of the different parts, including tubes, wiring, transformers, knobs, etc. If you're about to put down a hefty sum on a vintage Marshall, we strongly encourage you to consult multiple sources to determine the exact age and originality of the amp.
It should also be noted that there may be some ature models and limited editions Marshall amp dating will vary slightly from the Marshall serial formats described here, but in general, determining the year will be the same. We can hardly express enough how grateful we are for the hard work that the good folks at Vintage Marshall Amps website, Michael Doyle and Nick Bowcott, all of whom have done an immense amount of work to increase the accuracy and availability of information on Marshall amps.
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Learn More. Reverb Articles. Before we begin, a few caveats: Marshall model s look like years.
If your amp says Model on the inside, that does not mean it was made in This is probably the biggest area of confusion when dating Marshall amps. True serial s weren't really used by Marshall until Julyso specimens made prior to that can only be accurately dated to a fuzzy span of several years.
All Marshall amps originally came with Celestion speakers, so in cases where the speakers are original, speaker date codes can be used to date earlier amps. Marshall cabinets didn't officially include serial s until October As a result, dating cabs can be more art than science. Marshall Amps By Series If you have absolutely no idea whether your Marshall is old or new, a good place to start is the model name or series.
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