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The first letter indicates the last digit of the year of production. Tenryu/Wada Factory, Made in Japan, 1985-1986: ######.

Some dealers simply go by the serial number, which you will discover can be far from accurate.

The letter at the beginning represents the month, so J would be March (see chart above). Custom Shop, Made in Japan, 1991-1996: Letter-letter-###-letter, like so: HP213J. 111 is the unit number; and the final letter is an internal code. During 1999, they starting the count each month at 200 rather than 500. Tenryu/Wada Factory, Made in Japan, 1946-1968: #####.

The number following the letter is the year, in this case . Using the charts, we see that H=1991 and P=September. Custom Shop, Made in Japan, 2004-: Letter-letter-letter-###-letter, like so: QLY111C. Yamaha Music Craft, Made in Japan, 1997-1999: Letter-letter-###-letter, like so: ON521J. (See previous entry for Yamaha Music Craft for more on the numbering.) Yamaha Music Craft, Made in Japan, 2001-: Letter-letter-letter-###-letter, like so: QIL123A.

While there have been periods where dramatic changes have occurred, for example: the transition periods between Leo's Fender and the CBS years, as well as the transition between CBS' Fender and the current ownership, generally speaking, most models are feature specific and do not change from year to year.

Serial numbers are also helpful in determining the year of production of a given instrument.

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