Magnatone Guitars!

New for Fall 2013, a complete guide to Magnatone guitars and the stories behind them!

1938-1960 Steel Guitars

1956-1963 Bigsby/Barth Era

1964-1966 Starstream Era


1963-1966 Magnatone Custom Series Dating


This page contains details about the 1963-1966 Magnatone Custom Series amps. For an overview, see Magnatone Custom Series, or for a history of the Magnatone amps from 1947-1977, see The history of the Magnatone brand.

Serial Numbers

Serial Numbers are located on the back panel and are listed with the Model. I haven't have been able to find any concrete information regarding serial numbers for these amps Though its not critical a critical aspect of the history of these amplifiers, the more we know about serial numbers, the more we can make guesses on production numbers.

Early Custom Nuances

Early Custom's were build without the interlock switches, although the interlock was on the schematic inside the amp.

The metal part of the handle had a bare metal finish on early 1963 models, and soon there after they started to paint them black.

Also, the badge plates were different on the very early Customs, eventually they were produced with the large "M" (below right). It is possible that the first models had yet a different plate than the style of the early M7 plate below.

Magnatone Badges

This rather cheesey acrylic badge was used on some Customs. The Why? and What for? are unknowns but it might have been due to re-order supplier issues for the standard emblems during the bankruptcy of 1964-1965. Besides this very early M4, I've seen it used on other early Customs as well as some 1965 Silver Customs.

Date Coding

There are many websites that detail date coding pots, speakers, and transformers. If what follows doesn't provide you with the date code information you need, hit google and you'll likely have your date code issues solved in no time.

Speakers, pots, and transformers all carry a six or seven digit code that contains a three digit EIA manufacturer designation followed by a three or four digit date code. See the table for examples:

itemcode EIA YEAR decoded
transformer 606423 606 (Schumacher) "4"=1964 23rd week of 1964
speaker 465413 465 (Oxford) "4"=1964 13th week of 1964
speaker 789413 789 (McGregor) "4"=1964 13th week of 1964
pot 1376342 137 (CTS) "63"=1963 42nd week of 1963

Common Magnatone suppliers had the following EIA codes: CTS(137), Stackpole(304), Oxford(465), Jensen(220), Oaktron(918), McGregor(789), Woodward-Schumacher(606), and Permoflux(395) which were used up to 1955 or so.

Actual production dates for the amplifier follow the dates of the components by 1 week to 1 year. Transformers and Speakers were ordered in smaller quantities, and pots in very large quantities. This means its not uncommon to find mid 1963 pots along side mid 1964 transformers. Estey simply had a large bin of pots that lasted them a year.




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