DATING YAMAHA GUITARS BY REFERENCE OF SERIAL NUMBERS

Yamaha employs a convoluted serial number system that can be complex and illogical. Adding to the challenge, a significant portion of the serial numbers repeat every ten years, creating confusion.

Where to find the serial number

Electric guitars typically have their serial numbers stamped or punched on the headstock, while acoustic guitars usually have the serial number written somewhere inside the sound cavity.

Decoding Yamaha serial numbers or referring to the dating system PROVIDED BELOW can help you determine the production year.

DecodER coming soon… see tables

All decoders:

Yamaha history in short

Yamaha is a well-known brand in the world of music instruments, and its history goes back over a century. The company was founded in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha in Hamamatsu, Japan. Initially, the company produced reed organs and pianos, but it later expanded into the production of other instruments, including guitars, drums, and synthesizers.

In 1955, Yamaha began producing guitars, starting with the FG180 model. This acoustic guitar was very popular, and it helped establish Yamaha as a major player in the guitar market. Over the years, Yamaha has produced a wide range of guitar models, including electric guitars such as the SG series and the Pacifica series.

In addition to guitars, Yamaha has also produced a range of other instruments, including drums and percussion instruments. Yamaha’s drum division was established in 1967, and it has since become one of the most popular brands in the world of drumming. Yamaha drums are known for their high-quality craftsmanship, innovative features, and great sound.

Yamaha has also been a major player in the world of electronic keyboards and synthesizers. In 1974, Yamaha introduced the iconic CS-80 synthesizer, which became a favorite of musicians in the 1970s and 1980s. Over the years, Yamaha has continued to produce a wide range of keyboards and synthesizers, including the DX7, which was one of the most popular synthesizers of the 1980s.

In addition to instruments, Yamaha has also produced a range of audio equipment, including mixers, amplifiers, and speakers. Yamaha’s audio equipment is known for its high-quality sound and innovative features.

Today, Yamaha is one of the largest manufacturers of musical instruments in the world, with production facilities located around the globe. The company continues to innovate and produce high-quality instruments that are used by musicians of all levels, from beginners to professionals. Whether you’re looking for a guitar, drum set, keyboard, or audio equipment, Yamaha has a product that will meet your needs.

Serial numbers

Since 2000, the letter system for year and month is applied at all Yamaha plant locations.
The table YEAR AND MONTH CODING SYSTEM explains the meaning of the letters.

YEAR AND MONTH CODING SYSTEM

LETTERYEARMONTH
H1961, 1971, 1981, 1991, 2001, 2011
H    January
I1962, 1972, 1982, 1992, 2002, 2012I    February
J1963, 1973, 1983, 1993, 2003, 2013J    March
K1964, 1974, 1984, 1994, 2004, 2014K    April
L1965, 1975, 1985, 1995, 2005, 2015L    May
M1966, 1976, 1986, 1996, 2006, 2016M   June
N1967, 1977, 1987, 1997, 2007, 2017N    July
O1968, 1978, 1988, 1998, 2008, 2018O    August
P1969, 1979, 1989, 1999, 2009, 2019
P    September
Q1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, 2020X    October
Y    November

Z    December

As you can see in the table, the letter of the year is repeated every decade.

Production Tenryu/Wada Factory, Japan

From 1946 to 1968 a 5-digit sequential system is used. However, there is no indication of the year of production in this system.

A nice and simple 6-digit system is used in the period from 1969 to 1984.
The first two numbers represent the year.
The next two digits represent the month and the last two digits represent the number of the unit (serial number).
For example: 800629
The 29th guitar that was built in June 1980.

In the short period of 1985-1986 a 6-digit serial number has been used but the month is not displayed.
The first 2 numbers are the year.
The last 4 digits are the number of the unit (serial number).
For example: 860123
This stands for the 123th guitar built in 1986.

Production Custom Shop, Japan

In the 1966-1985 period, successive serial numbers from 001 to 1042 were used.
To find the production year, you have to make a rough estimate.
The closer to 001 it is closer to 1966 and the closer to 1042, the closer to 1985.

From 1986-1990 the serial numbers have 1 letter followed by 4 digits.
The letter represents the month and follows the same system for months as the most common system.
(see year and month coding system)
The first number stands for the year.
The last 3 digits represent the number of the unit (serial number).
For example: K8123
This would be a guitar built in April 1988 and the 12th guitar of that day made in the custom shop.
The K is April according to the coding system and the year must be 1987, since this system was only used between 1986 and 1990.

In the period of 1991-1996 one used a 2 letter, 3 digit, then 1 letter system.
The first letter is the year and follows the same coding system.
The second letter is the month and also follows the same coding
system. The 3 numbers represent the unit number, but in this case the unit numbers started with 701 for unclear reasons. So the first unit of the day was not 001, but 701.
The last letter is an unknown internal factory code.

Example KN712J belongs to the 12th guitar produced in July 1994.
KN712J is the 12th guitar built in July, 1994.

In the period of 1997-2003 the same method was applied as for 1991 to 1996 with 2 differences.
There is no more internal factory code at the end, and the unit numbers start at 001 instead of at 701.
For example: HL032
The sample serial number here represents the 32nd guitar built in May 2001.

From 2004 to 2022 a 3 letter, 3 number, 1 letter system is used.
The first 2 letters represent the year in this case. So you get the decade here.
The third letter represents the month according to the coding system.
The 3 digits represent the number of the unit. (serial number)
The last letter is an internal factory code.
For example: QNK026C
This guitar in the sample serial number was the 26th guitar built in April 2007.
The Q stands for a 0 and the N is a 7, which means 07 for 2007.
QNK026C is the 26th guitar built in April, 2007.

Production Yamaha Music Craft, Japan
For the period of 1997-1999 the same system is used as that for “Custom Shop 1991-1996” except that the unit number starts at
501 with the exception of 701.

From 1999-2000.
The first letter is the year. The second letter the month.
The 3 digits are the number of the unit.(serial number)
The unit number starts at 200.
For example: PX267
This was the 67th guitar made in October 1999.

From 2001 to 2022 they uses a system with 3 letters, 3 digits, 1 letter.
The first 2 letters represent the year. The third letter represents the month and the 3 digits are the number of the unit (serial number).
The last letter is an internal factory code
For example: QJH055B
This would be the 55th guitar that was built in January 2003.

Production Kaohsiung, Taiwan
An eight-number system is applied here from 1971-2001 The first digit represents the year. The second and third digits represent
the month. The fourth and fifth numbers represent the day of the month.
The last three digits are the number of the unit (serial number).
Because there is only one digit for the year, there are duplicates with this system because it repeats itself every decade.
For example: 60708077
This example serial number was the 77th guitar built on July 8 in 1976, 1986 or 1996.

At the end of 2001, Kaohsiung changed the 8-digit system into a 3-letter 6-number system.
The first 2 letters represent the year. The third letter represents the month. The first 2 digits are the day of the month and the last 4 digits are the number of the unit. (serial number)

YEAR AND MONTH 3 LETTER CODING SYSTEM

LETTERYEARMONTH
H1
H    January
I2I    February
J3J    March
K4K    April
L5L    May
M6M   June
N7N    July
O8O    August
P9
P    September
Q0X    October
Y    November

Z    December

For example: QNJ220071
The sample serial number is the 71th built guitar on March 22, 2007.

Around 1971 Yamaha moved the production of acoustic guitars from Japan to Taiwan. Parts and materials from the factory in Japan were also shipped to the new factory. The first Taiwanese productions had both Japanese-made parts and new Taiwan-made ones.

Sometimes it can happen that you find two different serial numbers inside the body. 1 inside the body under the sound hole and 1 on the neck block.
The number above the neck block is Taiwanese and valid serial number for the guitar. The neck block is a part that was already made in Japan, so this is not the correct serial number for the guitar.

Production YMMI (Yamaha Music Manufacturing Indonesia), Indonesia

In the period of 1990-1996 an eight-digit serial number was used in this factory.
The first digit is the year. The 2nd and 3rd digit are the month.
The 4th and 5th digits are the day of the month and the last 3 digits are the number of the unit. (Serial number)
For example: 40707142
This is the 142th guitar from this factory built on July 7, 1994.

From 1997-1999 the same system is applied here as for 1990-1996, except that there are now 9 digits. The last 4 (instead of 3) is the number of the unit. (Serial number)

In 2000 the system changes from 9 to 10 digits. The first 2 digits represents now the year, the rest is the same coding method.

From 2001 to 2022 YMMI changed its coding to a 3-letter, 6-number system in 2001.
The first 2 letters represent the year. The third letter represents the month. The first 2 digits are the day of the month and the last
4 digits are the unit number. (serial number)
For example: HKP220234
This is the 234th guitar built on September 22, 2014.

Dating Yamaha Pickups

The older models have a number on the back of the pickup. This is the production date.

However, this date is based on the Japanese Showa calendar, which spans from 1926 to 1989. 25 years must be added to the year on the pickup to determine the date according to the Gregorian calendar. An addition of 88 years applies for the Heisei period (1989-2019).

What applies to potentiometers also applies to the pickups. These were made before the guitar. For the year of construction of the guitar, approximately half a year must be added.

FAQ

  1. How can I tell what year my Yamaha guitar was made?

    Yamaha employs a convoluted serial number system that can be complex and illogical. Adding to the challenge, a significant portion of the serial numbers repeat every ten years, creating confusion. Decoding the serial number of your Yamaha guitar or referring to the dating system can help you determine the production year.

  2. How do I find Yamaha guitar serial number?

    Yamaha electric guitars typically have their serial numbers stamped or punched on the headstock, while Yamaha acoustic guitars usually have the serial number written somewhere inside the sound cavity.