Do you want to know how to date a Marlin guitar that you own? Sometimes, it is difficult to determine the model and date it was manufactured for old guitars as imprinted guitar serial numbers can be erased naturally with time. If this scenario happens, there are still ways to determine the important details, like the model of the guitar.
So, what are the Marlin guitars? Marlin guitars are specifically sold only in the United Kingdom by British Music Strings Ltd., a known Welsh musical instrument distributor. Originally, Marlin guitars were manufactured in East Germany for a brief period in 1985, before the company Samick contracted it out in 1986.
One of their earliest models, the Slammer, can easily be identified as they have stickers on the back of their headstocks saying “Made in GDR.” In 1986, their guitar model, Sidewinder, was considered the best-selling electric guitar in the United Kingdom and was able to hold to that status until they were overtaken by the Squier, which are made from Korea in 1988.
In 1989, the Marlin brand was bought by Hohner, and then switched production to Cort.
Marlin guitars can be categorized by their model names, the Jasmine for their electric-acoustic guitars, the Sidewinder, Stingray, Loner, State of the Art Series, and the Masterclass for their electric guitars, and KB-24 for their bass guitars.
How To Interpret The Serial Numbers Found In The Marlin Guitars?
Most of the Marlin guitars were manufactured between 1986 and 1988, and this was the time when the company, Samick, was the one who was making their guitars.
From 1984 until 1989, Samick used serial numbers on its contract brands like the Marlin guitars using the following format: YMMPPPP. The letter Y means the year the guitar was manufactured, and the letter MM means the month the guitar was built. For the PPPP, it means the production number, but in 1988, it was changed to PPPPP to accommodate the numbering to the very high volume of production.
For example, if your guitar has a serial number of 8071713, it means that it was built in 1988 because of the first digit, 8. Its production month is July from the second and third digit, 07. Its production number is 1713, which means that it is the 1713th Marlin guitar produced in July 1988. That is how you should interpret the serial numbers in your Marlin guitar.
Another example is if your Marlin guitar has a serial number 7012010, then it means that your guitar was manufactured in 1987, and it also means that it was produced in the month of January because of the second and third digits, 01. Its production number is 2010, which means that it is the 2010th Marlin guitar that was produced in January 1987.
The serial number on a Marlin guitar can be found and is engraved on its neck plate. Just by looking at the guitar’s serial numbers, you can now know how to date a Marlin guitar.
How To Know The Model Of My Marlin Guitar By Date?
It has been a long time since Marlin guitars’ production ended, which is why there can be some difficulty in determining the model of the Marlin guitar you have recently bought. However, there is still hope if you are really curious about the model of your Marlin guitar.
One way to determine the model of your Marlin guitar is to interpret the data found in the stickers located in the neck of the guitar and above the neck plate. Hopefully, the sticker is still there when you buy a Marlin guitar, as you can assume these guitars are already old.
Here’s a PDF on older historical models of Marlin guitars
If the data on the sticker of your Marlin guitar starts with the letter MSC, then it means that it is a Jasmine model. When it begins with either K32 or K34, then it is the Sidewinder model. When the letters start with K36, then it is the Marlin’s standard superstrat model, Stingray. If the letters begin with K38, it is Marlin’s top-of-the-line superstrat model, Loner.
Their State of the Art Series guitars begin with either ML30 or ML70, while if the letters start with MMC11, then it means that it is the Masterclass model. For Marlin’s bass guitars, the letters start with KB24, which means that it is their Sidewinder bass model.
The name of the model of Marlin guitar can be also be seen in the headstock, but there is a possibility of it fading because of age; that is why the sticker can also help you determine the guitar’s model when the model name located in the headstock is already impossible to read due to its fading out.
How To Date The Model Of Your Marlin Guitar By Its Physical Features?
If your Marlin guitar does not have any stickers or the model name in the headstock has already faded due to age, you can still determine its model by looking at its physical features.
You can quickly notice the Jasmine model because it is the only model for Marlin’s electric-acoustic guitar.
For the Sidewinders, the K-32 and K-34 have almost identical features except for their pickups. The K-32 model uses three wax potted ceramic single-coil pickups, while the K-34 model uses two wax potted ceramic single-coil pickups and one double blade humbucker. This difference can help you to identify if your guitar is the K-32 or K-34 model.
For the Stingray, it can be easily distinguishable from the K-34 even though both guitars use two single-coil pickups and a humbucker. The Stingray model uses Floyd Rose tremolo with locking nuts, while the K-34 Sidewinder model uses the standard vintage-style 6-point tremolo.
The Loner model can be easily distinguished from the Stringray model due to its pickups. The Loner model uses two wax potted half-blade ceramic humbuckers and one blade single-coil pickups or also known as the “HSH” pickup setup, while the Stingray models employ an “HSS” pickup setup.
The Masterclass model can easily be distinguishable from other Marlin guitars because of its body shape, as it has a forward offset shape, making it the Marlin’s Spector style model.
All in all, knowing how to date a Marlin guitar will help you as a guitar owner appraise its value, as these guitars are already near the borderline classic age. Although these guitars were known as cheap guitars in the 1980s, they are still great-sounding guitars that you can use for any gigs. Being able to preserve a Marlin guitar is already an excellent investment for you.