Dating Martin Guitars by Serial Number

So you need to figure out the date of your Martin guitar. It's actually a lot easier than you may think. Unlike the nebulous web of varying schemes and numbering systems used by companies like Gibson over the decades, Martin has employed a single string of serial numbers for a vast majority of its guitars going all the way back to 1898. This means that just using the serial number of your Martin will give a very accurate date of when the guitar left the line.

The Martin serial number sequence starts at 8348 which is how many guitars the firm had estimated it had produced from its inception to when they started the serial sequence at the end of the 19th century. Martin has kept meticulous records of the serial number of last guitar produced each year, so finding the year of production by serial number is as simple as finding the range it falls into the chart below.

Finding the Serial Number on Your Martin

In a vast majority of cases, the serial number on a Martin guitar can be found inside the body near the neck joint. This can be seen by looking through the soundhole on the guitar towards the front of the instrument. It can be a little dark in there, so you may need to use a flashlight (or the glow of smartphone) to read each digit. There are other instances where you may find the serial number of any extant paperwork that came with the instrument.

Here's the breakdown of Martin serial numbers covering over a century of guitar production. Just see where your serial fits in, and you'll have the year:

Last Serial Number Year
8348 1898
8716 1899
9128 1900
9310 1901
9528 1902
9810 1903
9988 1904
10120 1905
10329 1906
10727 1907
10883 1908
11018 1909
11203 1910
11413 1911
11565 1912
11821 1913
12047 1914
12209 1915
12390 1916
12988 1917
13450 1918
14512 1919
15848 1920
16758 1921
17839 1922
19891 1923
22008 1924
24116 1925
28689 1926
34435 1927
37568 1928
40843 1929
45317 1930
49589 1931
52590 1932
55084 1933
58679 1934
61947 1935
65176 1936
68865 1937
71866 1938
74061 1939
76734 1940
80013 1941
83107 1942
86724 1943
90149 1944
93623 1945
98158 1946
103468 1947
108269 1948
112961 1949
117961 1950
122799 1951
128436 1952
134501 1953
141345 1954
147328 1955
153225 1956
Last Serial Number Year
159061 1957
165576 1958
171047 1959
175689 1960
181297 1961
187384 1962
193327 1963
199626 1964
207030 1965
217215 1966
230095 1967
241925 1968
256003 1969
271633 1970
294270 1971
313302 1972
333873 1973
353387 1974
371828 1975
388800 1976
399625 1977
407800 1978
419900 1979
430300 1980
436474 1981
439627 1982
446101 1983
453300 1984
460575 1985
468175 1986
476216 1987
483952 1988
493279 1989
503309 1990
512487 1991
522655 1992
535223 1993
551696 1994
570434 1995
592930 1996
624799 1997
668796 1998
724077 1999
780500 2000
845644 2001
916759 2002
978706 2003
1042558 2004
1115862 2005
1197799 2006
1268091 2007
1337042 2008
1406715 2009
1473461 2010
1555767 2011
1656742 2012
1755536 2013
1857399 2014

Exceptions to the Above

There are a number of exceptions to the above. Most notably, Martin Mandolins from before 1991 use a different sequence than guitars. Additionally, the solidbody electrics like the E18 model from the '70s do not conform to the above. Numbers 900001 to 902908 were used by a short run of Sigma-made Martin models in the early '80s so don't not appear on Martin models.

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