Teisco World

Serial Number / Date Chart Project (By Jimmy Noise / Aug 2012)




What is the Teisco Serial Number / Date Chart?


The chart is a list of model numbers going down the page and a list of serial numbers going across the page. Guitar models have their corresponding serial numbers marked on the chart. Above the serial numbers is the estimated production dates for those serial.


What Can the Chart Tell Us?


The chart can provide a lot of information, such as the following; 


            Determine when your Teisco was made based on the serial number;

            Identify what other guitars models were made when your guitar was made;

            Determine how many of each model was made;

            See how often each guitar was made;

            Determine which models are rare and which are common;

            Identify the sequence of when guitars were constructed;

            Estimate the production output of Teisco factory during the serial number era;

            Determine the total number of Teisco guitars that were made during the serial number plate era.


There are some interruptions in the data for some of the above, but the accuracy is probably the best that will ever surface. The chart will be revised and expand as more information is discovered and confirmed.


The chart also gives us a direction on how to start to study each model and a reference between other models.  Hence trends in production techniques and hardware used can be compared. A lot of information on this web site has been discovered from the trends in this chart. 


How the Chart Came Into Existence


The Teisco serial chart was reconstructed from serial numbers off Teisco guitars that have surfaced on the internet since 2007. The numbers were recorded from as many possible sources that could be found.


It all begun with an eBay listing that stated ďThere might have been only 500 Spectrum 5 guitars ever made. Could be as many as 2000. No one really knows.Ē Someone wanted to know really badly. (And at that time they didn't even have a Spectrum 5.) So what if someone recorded every spectrum 5 serial number they could find and see if it linked up?


So the Teisco Serial / Date Chart project was started and several months of research later it became evident that some things did not link up. The numbers were all over the place. From that point it was decided that all serials numbers from all the models needed to be collected. Then perhaps it could finally be determined exactly how many were made. Several searches were done on the internet to determine a complete list of Teisco models. The problem is that a lot of the models did not have any pictures. It was determined that some of the model numbers were not even Teisco models on those original lists. This project took years of research just to determine what was or was not a Teisco, and also, what each model looked like. As time went by, missing models were added and non Teisco models were removed. Hence the most accurate and complete list of Teisco models was developed.


As the Teisco models were being recorded the serial numbers were archived in such a way that they could be recalled later to enter them into the chart. These numbers were slowly all mapped onto the chart. The scale was determined by limitations of excel and a size that could be viewed on the screen, such that any patterns could be observed.  So the guitars were grouped in blocks of 10,000. Then if required, all the guitars in a given block could be viewed in the archived files that were logged. (Note the archived files will not published.)


As the chart started to take shape, patterns started forming very early on. It became very apparent that Teisco was actually very diligent with there serial numbers and model numbers. In fact the serial numbers flowed very consistently and changed the way that Teisco guitars were considered to be built. The original claim,

that Teisco would simply use any parts on hand when building guitars in their factory has now been proven wrong.


The chart clearly showed when models were manufactured in relation to other models. By looking at a group of serial numbers of a model, it was determined how the evolution of the model occurred. (ie The hardware changes etc.)


The information provided from the chart is something that no vintage guitar collector ever thought would be possible to obtain. A large part of the hidden history of Teisco is in that chart. It has enabled us to study and understand what the company produced and what changes happened in its production history. This is information that has been lost for decades. To date, it has provided the most accurate insight into the history of one of the largest guitar manufactures of itís time. This information is more than any other guitar researcher / writer has been able to produce in the last 30 years on Teisco guitars.


Anyway back to that beginning question. Well we have a pretty good idea of many Teisco Spectrum 5ís were made. We want to be very accurate, but we need more serial numbers to narrow the spaces between the serial numbers we have. With time, these gaps will be filled in to such a point that the chart can be recalculated in increments of 1,000 instead of 10,000.  It will then be possible to accurately estimate how many of each model was made. But till then, keep sending in your model and serial numbers. If you have a Teisco, you can help. See Help Re-Discover Teisco.


How Dates Were Linked to the Serial Numbers


The initial unpublished chart was undated and was useful to construct a map of when models were made in relation to each other. It was not able to establish a link between when each guitar was manufactured, based on the serial number.


At first, dates from original owners were recorded when they bought or received a new Teisco guitar. But this seemed inconsistent. Mainly because people forget when they got the guitar and who knows how long it was in a shop before it was sold. There were too many unknowns when working with these dates. But it did provide a good reference point later as these serial numbers needed to be manufactured before these dates. So these became checks points later on.


So then some Bennet Bros catalogues were cross referenced to try and determine when particular models were made and when they were featured in catalogue. Again the chart and this data did not match. Guitars models appeared in catalogues for many years after they were built, due to low sales or over purchasing of certain models. There was not a clear link to production. A lot of these catalogues used stock photos. Hence a slight hardware change may have occurred but the photos in the catalogues stayed the same. This prevented an exact link between actual serial numbers and these catalogues.


Finally one WMI catalogue surfaced and these were very good. Firstly these catalogues were dated with the month they were printed. These were also printed in Japan. So they may have accompanied the guitars in the shipments. These were updated with new hardware changes and the release of new models. By mapping each guitar that was in that catalogue, by the exact hardware and the earliest production run of each featured guitar, gave the possible serial number range at the time of printing the catalogue. By then looking at the first production run of the latest model produced in the catalogue, would be the serial number at the time the catalogue was printed. The catalogue could not have been printed before the latest model was made. This was the fundamental link between the dated catalogue and the serial numbers. Future WMI catalogues were then mapped. The average guitar production was calculated between each issue of each catalogue and was determined to be fairly constant monthly average. Which meant the catalogues and serial numbers corresponded.


The chart dates were then checked against dates provided by owners and other printed catalogues, to ensure that the first batch of any model didnít post date the relevant catalogue. This confirmed the link between the serial numbers and the catalogue dates were very close to accurate.


However, there is one inaccuracy in the dating method. This being the time between when the last guitar was ready to be featured in the catalogue, and when the catalogue was actually printed. There could have been a slight delay for artwork design and actual printing time.  This time is unknown and has been assumed as zero for the moment.


So Where is the Chart?


The chart is about 80% to 90% complete. There has not been a lot of support or information come through on the Help Re-Discover Teisco site, so at this time the chart will not be published.However information from the chart is being used to prepare this web site.


If you wish to help the Teisco serial chart project please visit the Help Re-discover Teisco page. Anyone with a Teisco can help.




Go to Help Re-discover Teisco



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(Last Revised: 4h Nov 2012)