Other things to look for include chasses placed in cabinets from a different year, “doctored” tube charts, non-original control plates (usually reproductions) on silverface amps, original transformer bell ends (they have correct date codes, of course) on non-original transformers, and non-original knobs (either repro or silverface knobs on blackface amps).unusual things can be found such as the empty “Pulse Adjust” hole on the rear of early ’60 brown amps, the “middle” volume control, use of tweed style grill cloth, strange non-documented transitional circuits, and changes in tolex color including the super-rare cream colored “brown” tolex that is found on some late ’60 amps. Given that people may refer to this information seeking specific production quantities of amps they are curious about, it should be pointed out that the serial numbers apply to chassis types, and not specifically to amplifier models.
Looking at serial numbers next to the ’60 5G5 brown Pro Amp for example, we see numbers ranging from 00001 to 02000, suggesting that there are 2000 of these amplifiers made in ’60.
A 1957 tweed Vibrolux was reported with a tube chart printed with circuit “5E3” (tweed Deluxe) instead of the correct 5F11 (see photo).
Clearly Fender wasn’t afraid to use incorrect parts when they were in a bind. The 5G12 Concert is the earliest version from very late 1959 and early 1960 so the existence of a tweed example, while extremely rare, is certainly plausible since Fender was making lots of tweed amps during the same time period.
Some things are very obvious such as non-original or reconed speakers, non-original transformers, replaced pots, re-tweed, re-tolex, re-grill, etc.
While doing research on Fender amps in general, and the Champ in particular, I came across the most amazing series of articles by Greg Gagliano on the subject. If you have any interest in vintage Fender tube amps, without question you’ve got to read them all.
I know the Strats switched to having the serial number on metal neck plate after those first few months of production in 1954; I would have to assume that Teles also switched about the same time.
I had a 2004; it did have a "certificate" with the serial number as well, which is a good thing since the guitar also came with an additional 6-saddle vintage bridge (in the case, not installed) that did not have a serial number on it.
I promise the tables will still be there after you finish reading.
Okay, I know you’re all just dying to skip ahead to the serial number tables but try to contain your excitement and read through the article first.