Dating fender amps by serial number
Champion 800 (green tweed)* 01 to 1000 – 1948-49 Champion 600 5B1 (two tone) 01 to 1300 – 1948-49 1300 to 1700 – 1950 1700 to 5000 – 1951-52 5000 to 5500 – 1953 Champ 5C1, 5D1 (tweed) 5500 to 6600 – 1953 6600 to 8000 – 1954 8000 to 9999 – 1955 Champ 5E1, 5F1 (tweed) C00001 to C00800 – 1955 C00800 to C03100 – 1956 C03100 to C06000 – 1957 C06000 to C08800 – 1958 C08800 to C12500 – 1959 C12500 to C15500 – 1960 C15500 to C16800 – 1961 C17000 to C19000 – 1962 C19000 to C21000 – 1963 C21000 to C23000 – 1964 So we can see that a serial number of C 09556 is pretty close to the lower end for serial numbers for 1959 5F1 tweed Fender Champs.
Remember, your amp is newer than the newest component.The process that went into figuring all of this stuff out over 6 years and countless owners of vintage Fender amps is hands down an amazing story.Electronic components such as transformers, potentiometers, speakers, and some capacitors are often stamped with a date code, which indicates the manufacturer and the manufacturing date.Our Buyer’s guide to vintage Fender amps explains in detail how you can date your amp by looking at serial numbers, tube charts, transformer codes, speaker codes, Fender logo, etc.Lots of different speakers were used in the blackface and silverface era Fender amps.They all had the classic features we're familiar with now: heavy steel chassis, chromed control plates, and heavy pine cases covered with tweed fabric.
Another method of dating a tweed Fender Champ is by serial number.
As you can see from the photo below, the serial number of my amp is C 09556.
Looking at the chart below we can see that there was a pretty consistent numbering scheme for the vintage tweed Fender Champs.
Then Soren in Denmark started showing serial numbers on his excellent Super Champ website, which is no longer on the web - some of those numbers fell in between some of 'my' PRII numbers.
A little light Googling revealed serial numbers for a few other amps in the range - they seemed all mixed up together.
Then I became aware of the amazing work Greg Gagliano had been doing since the 1990s - the summary of his latest results are here - and that his research stopped just before the Rivera-era. However for this range of amps at least, I reckon it's not just a policy of withholding company-confidential information. It's no criticism of Fender to suggest that they were too busy making great amps to keep records just so some amateur can use them thirty years later.