A hyphenated number was embossed on the back of headstock. For example, 3-8094 would be March (3), 1978 (8) and the 94th guitar made that month. The next three digits are the model number, without the 6 at the beginning.
Serial numbers have six numbers, with a three digit suffix. The final numbers are the sequential order of the model made during the lifespan of the model (not that year).
Gretsch began date-coding serial numbers in August 1966.
Date-coded serial numbers are typically found stamped on the back or top of the headstock, and "Made in USA" is stamped next to the number starting in June 1967. The next digit = last digit of the year (1966 to 1972: 6,7,8,9,0,1,2).
Hey Everyone, I'm new here - looks like a great place for discussing all things guitar so hopefully someone will be able to help. All the parts say 'Made in the USA', the humbucker is a Seymour Duncan Trembucker (TB-4), the single coils early Duncan SSL-1's (confirmed on the SD forum), the trem is a Kahler, tuners are valley arts. I found another posting about a guitar which is exactly like mine barring the tremolo: what I have learned Samick bought Valley Arts outright in 1993 and there was an overlap period from 1992-93 with the original valley arts guys.
Stagemaster Deluxe (neck-thru maple necks with basswood wings), and the Double Fat Tele Deluxe (all solid mahogany with set necks), with serial numbers starting with KC for Korean Cort, followed by 2-digit year.
There were also some KV (Korean Saehan(Sunghan)) serial numbers followed by 2-digit year.
The remaining digits = number of individual instrument, probably.
For example, 27136 should be February (2), 1967 (7) and the 136th instrument made that month. (i.e., 1974 would be 4) Last 3 digits = number of the instrument.
The Gretsch-GEAR database exists to get it right: to document the actual serial numbers, to determine once and for all what was built and when, and to harness the collective knowledge of thousands of Gretsch fans to put the pieces together.