Whether it’s a hand-me-down guitar from your grandad’s collection or a hidden find at the thrift store, that guitar will always feel like a steal. It’s too good of an opportunity to let go of, but it has one significant drawback. You don’t always know what guitar you’ve got. You’re lucky if someone knows just by looking at it, but how do you identify a guitar with no markings by yourself?
Guitars are identified based on the maker, model, serial number, and year. This information is physically mentioned on different guitar parts, so you have to look for it. If you can’t find it, you should judge based on the design, wood, hardware, sound, and so on with the advice of a guitar expert.
With recent guitar prices, landing an expensive or vintage model second-hand is like hitting the jackpot. Yet, you also have a chance of getting ahead of yourself or getting scammed. This article will teach you the tried and tested ways to identify your guitar if it doesn’t have apparent markings.
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4 Ways To Recognize an Unmarked Guitar
Similar to cars, for a guitar’s identification, you need to know the brand, the model, and the year it was made.
You can also depend on its design, material, or hardware to get your answer.
1. Look for the Manufacturer’s Logo
The first order of business is finding a company logo for your guitar.
All guitars from authentic companies have manufacturer names written somewhere on the guitar.
They are distinct such as the names Fender or Gibson written on the headstock or the letter K for Kay guitars. You can also find logos inside the guitar.
Make sure you thoroughly search all sides of your guitar.
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2. Search for the Serial Number
Now that you’re positive there’s no logo present, either the logo dropped off/removed or your guitar is a knock-off or DIY built.
The next clue you need to check for is a model name or serial number, written with the logo or practically anywhere on the guitar, so take your time and don’t leave any stone unturned.
Additionally, serial numbers can be written in places difficult to access. For example, old Fender guitars placed serial numbers on the heel of the neck, so you’d have to remove it to see it.
Keep in mind: Serial numbers work for some companies like Martin, but for other companies like Gibson, the serial numbers can be repeated.
3. Look for Distinct Features
If you can’t find any bits of written information from the guitar, you’ll have to get scrappy.
Try to find distinct features, such as the shape, wood, hardware, etc., to match it with another guitar. You can get expert advice or just compare images from Google.
If the comparison doesn’t get you anywhere, then your guitar is probably a dupe or a DIY.
4. Research Deeply if You Get a Clue
In case your guitar matches a picture online, you can search for more about that guitar model. If the features or material it’s made out of matches the given descriptions, that could be your answer.
Before you get too excited, take it to a guitar shop that deals in guitars from that company and ask an expert to take a look. They’ll give you the final thumbs up.
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Additional Approaches To Identify a Guitar
Resources such as books, shops, and websites can help your search. Going into such a deep dive may look confusing, but you can choose what’s accessible.
1. Books & Photographs
Books have a detailed list of guitar companies and their models released according to their years. Some books are dedicated to specific companies or specific types of guitars, whereas others could show you guitar collections through the years.
You can also find some photographs and dated information about vintage models which you won’t learn from people nowadays.
2. Talk to Guitar Experts
As books are harder to get your hands on, you can also go to a trusted guitar shop with a seasoned shopkeeper or guitar enthusiast to guide you.
They’ve got a knack for IDing guitars since they’ve been doing it for so long. But they also have an enormous chunk of experience and technical information you may not find elsewhere.
3. Communicate in Online Forums & Websites
For those who have neither of the options mentioned above, you can turn to websites and forums.
People online can often help you with recognizing what guitar model you have through pictures and videos. You can post them and use the hints they provide. Give Reddit a shot!
If that’s not helping, there are sites such as All Good Guitars with guitar model indexes you can search for.
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Q. Where is the Guitar Serial Number Written?
The serial number for your guitar can be written anywhere. Common places include next to the logo and model, on the back of the headstock, and inside the cavity.
Q. Should a Guitar Have a Logo on it?
All guitars coming from authentic manufacturers have logos placed on them for easy identification. If a guitar is unbranded, the logo may have fallen off, or chances are it’s fake.
Q. How can you Identify an Old Guitar?
Just like you’d ID a modern guitar. You need to look for the same information: maker, model, serial number, and year. Their placement will be different, so search for info on old models.
Identifying an unmarked guitar is a pesky job, but it rewards well. Knowing you’ve got your hands on an impressive guitar is a great feeling, especially if you’ve paid a small price. When trying to ID your own guitars, ensure that you’re being as thorough as possible. And don’t forget to ask for help from the countless enthusiasts online!