Just like most products in the world, guitars are usually marked with some kind of serial number. These serial numbers have been used for decades to determine when and where different guitars were manufactured. Knowing this can help you properly estimate the age and value of a guitar. Dean Guitars typically have the serial number (and sometimes the manufacturing location) printed on the back of the headstock as shown below:
Unfortunately companies will sometimes change or update the format of their serial numbers. This is especially true for manufacturers (like Dean Guitars) that are bought and sold to different parent companies. This obviously makes it a little more challenging to interpret the serial number. In this article we will break down the different Dean guitar serial number formats, where they come from, and how you can use dean guitar serial numbers to uncover key information about your guitar. For a quick and easy Dean guitars serial number lookup, check out the table below:
US Made (before 1986 or after 1996)
First two digits represent the year
1348975 - Made in the US in 2013
US Made (between 1986 and 1996)
Asia Made (after 2008)
Four digits after the letter(s) represent the year and month
US - Un Sung Korea
Y - Yoojin China E - World Korea
CT - Indonesia
S - Samick, Korea
J - Japan
US12040364 - Made in Un Sung Korea in April 2012 (04/12)
Asia Made (before 2008)
Last update on 2022-05-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Now, similar to most other guitar manufacturers, Dean has two categories of guitars that they offer. You have the more affordable models which are typically made somewhere in Asia, and then you have higher quality and vintage Dean guitars which are (mostly) made in United States. Naturally, the latter come with a more expensive price tag.
How to Spot American Made Dean Guitars
Determining the origin and value of American made Dean guitars is actually quite easy. Every Dean guitar made in United States comes with a seven digit serial number that is printed on the back of the headstock.
The first two numbers in the sequence will tell you the year in which your guitar was produced, while the following numbers represent the serial number of the instrument itself. The exact origin of these guitars is not marked anywhere on the instrument, however you can be sure that if you see a seven digit serial number on the back of a Dean guitar, it was produced in United States.
The exception is that this logic does not apply to any guitars made in the U.S from 1986 to 1996. During this time Dean guitars was bought by Tropical Music, who for whatever reason decided they were too good for logical serial numbers. If you find the serial number for your Dean guitar on the last fret instead of the headstock, you can tell that it was made anywhere from 1986 to 1996, however that is just about all the information you will get out of the serial number. Don’t panic, there are other ways to determine the age and manufacturing location of your instrument which we will cover later in the article.
How to Spot Asian Made Dean Guitars
Now lets talk about Dean’s more affordable line of models that are manufactured outside of the US. If the guitar was made in 2008 or later, the serial number for Asian made Dean guitars will be a bit longer, and will also include one or two letters. The letters will tell you where the guitar was made, and the first four digits will tell you the year and month.
If your guitar was made before 2008, the serial number is essentially useless. They just tell you which batch that guitar is from while the country of origin is usually (sometimes) written underneath.
How to Date Dean Guitars with Useless Serial Numbers
In order to figure out the production year of Tropical Music US Dean guitars or pre-2008 imported Dean guitars, you will need to look at all of the guitars features and elements. This requires an in-depth understanding of the guitar’s hardware and specs, as well as typical Dean guitar manufacturing practices during each year. So there are a few approaches you can take. You can:
- Find an expert at a local guitar shop
- Post screenshots to an online forum and hope some guitar nerd with extensive knowledge helps you out
- Browse the Dean Guitar catalogues and try to find your model
- Contact Dean Guitar’s current customer support
Unfortunately, this is a gray area of sorts for many models. Dean used a variety of hardware, including pickups, on numerous guitars. Sometimes the a same model would feature one set of hardware, while other times it would sport a completely different setup. This is why you need to know exactly what kind of configuration they used for a certain year in order to properly determine the year when these guitars were made.
If you were wondering about Dean guitar serial number, and how to use that information to your advantage, hopefully this short article gave you some useful insight.
Knowing how to read the serial number on these guitars can make a big difference if you’re shopping for a used one. It will allow you to fact check the sellers claims with more certainty.