Epiphone is one of the widely known guitar manufacturers. Originally an independent brand, Epiphone was bought by Gibson Guitar in 1957. As opposed to a brand such as Fender, whose guitars are either made in America or Mexico, Epiphone's guitars can come from a number of different factories in a variety of countries. For this reason, it is not as easy to know where each guitar comes from or when it was made. Epiphone stamps each guitar with a serial number, however, which when deciphered can tell a guitarist all he needs to know about the guitar.
Locate the serial number on the back of the guitar's headstock (the top of the neck where the strings are attached). The serial number will generally be nine to 10 digits long, with the first being a letter.
Identify the first letter in the serial number. This letter represents in which country the guitar comes from, as well as the company who manufactured it. If the guitar was made in Korea, it will either have an "I," which stands for Saein; a "U," which stands for Unsung; an "S," which stands for Samick; or a "P," which stands for Peerless.
If the guitar was made in China, it will be denoted with a "DW," which stands for DaeWon; an "EA" or "EE," which stand for Gibson's Qingdao factory; an "MC," which stands for Muse; a "SJ" for SaeJung; a "Z," which represents Zaozhuang Saehan; or a "BW," which just stands for China itself.
If the guitar was made in Japan, the letters printed to represent it are either a "F" for FujiGen or a "J" or "T," which stand for Terada. A Japanese-made Epiphone can also have no letter, in which case the serial number would just start with numbers.
If the guitar was made in Indonesia, it will have a "SI," which stands for Samick's Indoesian factory.
Analyze the first two numbers in the serial. These two numbers represent the year the guitar was made. Simply, if the first two numbers are "08," the guitar was made in the year 2008. Similarly, the next two numbers in the serial represent the month in which the guitar was made. If these two numbers are "05," they denote that the guitar was made in the month of May.
Locate the last four or five numbers in the code. These numbers represent the ranking of that guitar in the production process. If the serial number were to end with the digits "5473," it means the guitar was the 5,473rd guitar of that model manufactured.
Putting all of the information together, an example of a Epiphone serial number could be F0508384. Breaking it down, this serial number would mean the guitar was made in FujiGen, Japan in August of 2005, and it was the 384th guitar made in that model.