The Goldstar Serial Number Puzzle

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Sigmania

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First off, I have to acknowledge Voidoid56 for showing me how to date pots. It seems he created a monster and began quite a journey for me. His forensic work on Tokais and other MIJ guitars is inspiring.

For me, I think it all began with a six digit serial number Breezy someone was asking to date and Voidoid56 shared how he had dated some guitars with the pots,

55F3BE70-EBEF-4C75-8400-CC6EC9ACAA28.jpeg
Help confirming 1984 Breezysound

and that combined with Peter Mac commenting on when the hyphen or - symbol began, just fed my curiosity.

41FDB0FC-B02E-4418-A7F3-971F7193BCE4.jpeg

But the mystery of that guitar and the tools used to sort it out stuck with me.

As I applied these same tools to other guitars, some common themes emerged and began to fit together.

As a side note, the = sign persists into 1987 at least as a mixed code where it is used with the - sign. Usually = on the body and - on the neck, but I have seen the opposite as well. Always matching numbers. Never two = codes

Mixed Codes = & -


Note: I wanted to reach out with an appeal at the bottom of this post for specific help with the remaining puzzle pieces.


TIMELINE (1981 - 2009)


1981



It is starting to look like there was an alternate serial number system for non reproduction Fender style guitars beginning around 1981.

The serial numbers begin with 1xxxxx

The first one I have seen seems to be Breezys that are non reproduction models with humbicker pickups and trem bridges.


Breezys With Tremolo & Humbuckers 6 Digit Serial 10xxxx

1984/85

It seems hit and miss between 1981 and 1984/85 when it starts being used again and more often on unconventional models with Fender style bodies.

Six Digit Serial Numbers Starting With 11xxxx

5747-8bbc633bfec03317ebe17fbb7ca380ed.jpg



1986

The Fender serial number system apparently ends in the spring of 1986.

Fender Style Serial Numbers Ended When?

And as the Fender system ends a different 6 digit serial number system appears.

It begins with 2xxxxx.

Six Digit Serial Numbers With 2xxxxx

2983-b96c6c3c1cee36b9585a143878bd0bdc.jpg

After logging examples of these 2xxxxx guitars along with the pot dates, I figured out that the first number of the production code is most likely the month as felixcatus and togps had claimed years ago to have gotten directly from Tokai.

Note however that there appear to be times when the neck plates are out of sequence with production, in clusters as though a box of plates was found months later.



1987

Brass ground plate gone before February, maybe January.


1989

After the 2xxxxx system there is possibly a short lived five digit system starting with 1xxxx. Still looking for pot dates to corroborate this.

Five Digit Serial Numbers 1xxxx 1989

f7a96ff208207181432cb058aae00989.jpg



1990

Around 1991 another system begins. A six digit system starting with 01xxxx.

This system goes until after the pots with readable codes are stopped being used in 1991.

The next pots have two black ink lines of text: Made In Japan and pot value.

02AC1CD4-FC50-4406-A6B2-47EA16D50989.jpeg

Many of these 01xxxx guitars are HSS bodies.


Six Digit Serial Numbers Starting With 01xxxx and Mystery HSS SSH Goldstars

1176-56ceb4b74cbe7173b0b3d7372a3883e0.jpg


Gray backed pickups have disappeared by now, and the pickups now used are black backed. Some seem to have black & white lead wires (MKII ?), but the most common ones are lower spec pickups with light gauge red, white & blue wire. These persist into the mid 2000s.

3449-6fd251a1775c8d5abd4d4bd814a0febe.png

Mystery 1990s Single Coil Pickups TOS1K or MKIII ?

Most of the guitars in this period are low spec with inexpensive wiring and pickups as shown above; however, there are some examples of a high spec Goldstar with eboy fretboard and bird's eye maple neck and one piece ash bodies.

341-a314961fdd16b02c3fd1578d01d37b02.jpg

Very Unusual High Spec Goldstar, Custom Build?


1992

After 1991 the pots with dates dry up, so dating Goldstars after this is less of a science and more of an art in piecing together associations.


The Fender Years

It’s my opinion that Tokai began making guitars for Fender at this time and continued to for much longer than most people believe. The facts of the relationship apparently protected by a non discluure agreement.

460071229aa83605def6794fcaeda599.jpg

Tokai Built Fenders

It is notable that at this time the serial numbers and indeed production of ST guitars in Japan virtually ends. We then see low spec models apparently made for Tokai in Korea while Tokai is making Fenders.

2000

There are two more periods where we definitely see some MIJ Tokai ST guitars, but neither have serial numbers.

One "no serial" Tokai period is marked by all caps "MADE IN JAPAN" inked on neck heels apparently around 2004,

All Caps MADE IN JAPAN No Serial Number Guitars

Countersunk holes in the neck pocket disappear during the all caps period.

2066-6f2814c61f0045cd1e9486dd2f79c880.jpg

The other no serial period for MIJ St guitars is marked by the use of ink stamped upper and lower case "Made In Japan" on neck heels around and including 2009.


ddaf91bef3683918984a01b82de76338.png

No Serial Number MIJ Goldstars


2009

At the end of 2009, in October I believe, serial numbers return. This time inked on the neck heel curiously similar to Fenders. They are date based numbers including production year. That continues to this day.

2197-31b2dec40a434d5988eb4bd408cbb11c.png

2009 Goldstars





Appeal

So here is part of why I am sharing this. I would love help in filling in blank spots. I know many of you have logged all sorts of data on these guitars. Would love it if you could share some of what you have gathered to help with this puzzle.


Here is a list:


- Pot dates for six digit serial number 11xxxx guitars.

Six Digit Serial Numbers Starting With 11xxxx 1986 ?

- 1988 pot dates with pot codes.

- Pot dates for 1xxxx guitars.

Five Digit Serial Numbers 1xxxx 1989

- Pot dates for 01xxxx guitars.

Six Digit Serial Numbers Starting With 01xxxx 1991 1992

- Fenders with Tokai features (countersunk holes in the neck pocket, hyphen product codes).


Acknowledgements

I also want to acknowledge bluejeannot for keeping me in line and catching my mistakes and stratman323 over on the Strat forum for his knowledge and dedication to the Goldstar era.
 

Attachments

  • Screen Shot 2023-01-22 at 1.35.34 PM.png
    Screen Shot 2023-01-22 at 1.35.34 PM.png
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Last edited:
First off, I have to acknowledge Voidoid56 for showing me how to date pots. It seems he created a monster and began quite a journey for me. His forensic work on Tokais and other MIJ guitars is inspiring.

For me, I think it all began with a six digit serial number Breezy someone was asking to date and Voidoid56 shared how he had dated some guitars with the pots,

View attachment 3966
Help confirming 1984 Breezysound

and that combined with Peter Mac commenting on when the hyphen or - symbol began, just fed my curiosity.

View attachment 3967

But the mystery of that guitar and the tools used to sort it out stuck with me.

As I applied these same tools to other guitars, some common themes emerged and began to fit together.

As a side note, the = sign persists into 1987 at least as a mixed code where it is used with the - sign. Usually = on the body and - on the neck, but I have seen the opposite as well. Always matching numbers. Never two = codes

Mixed Codes = & -


Note: I wanted to reach out with an appeal at the bottom of this post for specific help with the remaining puzzle pieces.


TIMELINE (1986 - 2009)



1986


The Fender serial number system apparently ends in the spring of 1986.

Fender Style Serial Numbers Ended When?

As the Fender system ends two different 6 digit serial number systems appear.

One system begins with 11xxxx

Six Digit Serial Numbers Starting With 11xxxx 1986 ?

View attachment 6415

The other begins with 2xxxxx.

Six Digit Serial Numbers With 2xxxxx

View attachment 3921

After logging examples of these 2xxxxx guitars along with the pot dates, I figured out that the first number of the production code is most likely the month as felixcatus and togps had claimed years ago to have gotten directly from Tokai.

Note however that there appear to be times when the neck plates are out of sequence with production, in clusters as though a box of plates was found months later.



1987

Brass ground plate gone before February, maybe January.


1989

After the 2xxxxx system there is possibly a short lived five digit system starting with 1xxxx. Still looking for pot dates to corroborate this.

Five Digit Serial Numbers 1xxxx 1989

View attachment 3922



1990

Around 1991 another system begins. A six digit system starting with 01xxxx.

This system goes until after the pots with readable codes are stopped being used in 1991.

The next pots have two black ink lines of text: Made In Japan and pot value.

View attachment 3964

Many of these 01xxxx guitars are HSS bodies.


Six Digit Serial Numbers Starting With 01xxxx and Mystery HSS SSH Goldstars

View attachment 3923


Gray backed pickups have disappeared by now, and the pickups now used are black backed. Some seem to have black & white lead wires (MKII ?), but the most common ones are lower spec pickups with light gauge red, white & blue wire. These persist into the mid 2000s.

View attachment 3924

Mystery 1990s Single Coil Pickups TOS1K or MKIII ?

Most of the guitars in this period are low spec with inexpensive wiring and pickups as shown above; however, there are some examples of a high spec Goldstar with eboy fretboard and bird's eye maple neck and one piece ash bodies.

View attachment 4050

Very Unusual High Spec Goldstar, Custom Build?


1992

After 1991 the pots with dates dry up, so dating Goldstars after this is less of a science and more of an art in piecing together associations.


The Fender Years

It’s my opinion that Tokai began making guitars for Fender at this time and continued to for much longer than most people believe. The facts of the relationship apparently protected by a non discluure agreement.

View attachment 3929

Tokai Built Fenders

It is notable that at this time the serial numbers and indeed production of ST guitars in Japan virtually ends. We then see low spec models apparently made for Tokai in Korea while Tokai is making Fenders.

2000

There are two more periods where we definitely see some MIJ Tokai ST guitars, but neither have serial numbers.

One "no serial" Tokai period is marked by all caps "MADE IN JAPAN" inked on neck heels apparently around 2004,

All Caps MADE IN JAPAN No Serial Number Guitars

Countersunk holes in the neck pocket disappear during the all caps period.

View attachment 3927

The other no serial period for MIJ St guitars is marked by the use of ink stamped upper and lower case "Made In Japan" on neck heels around and including 2009.


View attachment 3926

No Serial Number MIJ Goldstars


2009

At the end of 2009, in October I believe, serial numbers return. This time inked on the neck heel curiously similar to Fenders. They are date based numbers including production year. That continues to this day.

View attachment 3928

2009 Goldstars





Appeal

So here is part of why I am sharing this. I would love help in filling in blank spots. I know many of you have logged all sorts of data on these guitars. Would love it if you could share some of what you have gathered to help with this puzzle.


Here is a list:


- Pot dates for six digit serial number 11xxxx guitars.

Six Digit Serial Numbers Starting With 11xxxx 1986 ?

- 1988 pot dates with pot codes.

- Pot dates for 1xxxx guitars.

Five Digit Serial Numbers 1xxxx 1989

- Pot dates for 01xxxx guitars.

Six Digit Serial Numbers Starting With 01xxxx 1991 1992

- Fenders with Tokai features (countersunk holes in the neck pocket, hyphen product codes).


Acknowledgements

I also want to acknowledge bluejeannot for keeping me in line and catching my mistakes and stratman323 over on the Strat forum for his knowledge and dedication to the Goldstar era.
Good evening , yes i have most probably solved my problem with finding teh year is was build as my Tokai Gold star Sound have indeed a serial number which start with 140xxx , only do my Tokai have a Golden Logo which resemble a 1983 style and i have 2 string trees - see pictures , and thanks for your input .
 

Attachments

  • 1677166215993.jpg
    1677166215993.jpg
    114.4 KB · Views: 0
Good evening , yes i have most probably solved my problem with finding teh year is was build as my Tokai Gold star Sound have indeed a serial number which start with 140xxx , only do my Tokai have a Golden Logo which resemble a 1983 style and i have 2 string trees - see pictures , and thanks for your input .
 

Attachments

  • 1676232414297.jpg
    1676232414297.jpg
    138.4 KB · Views: 0
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