Determining Date of ManufactureLast updated December 14, 2009
Note: The numbers below are for Hylight and Biacrown Hiwatt amplifiers only! Any serial number that begins with one or more letters was made in the 90s or later, and is not included in this list. Please note also that the speaker cabinet serial numbers used a different progression. Please browse the Registry page for more specific data relating serial numbers to dates.
I have not yet managed to collect enough information on the later models carrying the Hiwatt brand and manufactured by Turntone or Sterling, e.g. the Model 50L. The serial numbers of these newer models often fall within the ranges listed below, but these were manufactured in the mid-80s and later. Turntone started the "L" series of amps in 1985 or so, and these have no manufacturers brand on the serial plate, but say "Made in England."
Amps made by Sterling Imports were made in California, USA, and have that brand name on their serial plate.
Amplifiers with a serial starting with "AB" were made by Audio Brothers in England the 1990s.
Amplifiers with a serial starting with a single letter and bearing a plate which has "HIWATT UK" and LONDON or DONCASTER on it were made starting in the early 2000s by the current Hiwatt manufacturers, Music Ground.
Many of the units made from 1971 to 1984 that were wired by the
crew at Harry Joyce Electronics were often times so marked on the chassis
with a blue, black or red marking pen:
Note that other firms (as well as the crew in-house) did some wiring for Hiwatt at various times throught the company history, because Joyce would only produce a limited amount of chassis each month (20...40; accounts vary).
An important item to remember is that the date that the wiring crew put on the amplifiers was the date that they completed wiring the chassis for Hiwatt, not the date of final manufacture of that unit.
As with dating any other piece of vintage musical equipment, there are discrepencies. The numbers listed below are within a year or so of when the actual date of manufacture occurred. The Hylight/Biacrown transistion numbers are particularly vague, as Biacrown likely used up the existing supply of Hylight plates before ordering their own.
These dates will be revised from time to time as data from the Hiwatt Registry page and other sources accumulates.
(Last revised 11/2009)
Units bearing the Sterling serial plate were manufactured by Sterling Imports at their Modesto, California facility in either late 1984 or 1985 (these serial numbers were not consistent).
* Much of the original research was done by Dave Wild of Wild Guitars, UK. Other information has been obtained by personal accounts from individuals and via the Hiwatt registry. Thanks to all have contributed!
Note that manufacturer date codes stamped onto the original internal parts can be used to positively establish a "not manufactured before" date. The parts were likely manufactured one to twelve months (sometimes longer) before being used to build an amp or fill a speaker cabinet.
These date codes are of the form "YY WW" or "WW YY" where YY is the year and WW is the week of the year (the week is the one <= 52) . Here are some examples (images courtesy of Clayton C.):
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