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Through much of the company`s history, Gretsch guitars were numbered sequentially and/or chronologically, so serial numbers (in addition to the features on the guitar) can give a very accurate idea of when the guitar was made.
That said, there are several tricks to successfully dating your Gretsch guitar.
With the advent of labels in the late `40s, the serial number is usually found on the label, which is usually visible through the soundhole on hollowbody models.
Beginning in about 1957 a new label was introduced, which lasted until about 1965.