Depending on the product, the digits of its serial number may identify the product's date and location of manufacture, its model number and other info. Manufacturers follow unique serial number formats and often have different formats for different products.
There is no set format for product serial numbers, so the placement of digits in a serial number and any corresponding meanings are not universal. The user's manual for a product or the parent company's website usually discusses and explains its products' serial numbers.
Vintage guitars, such as Gibson guitars, have up to five serial number formats from four different manufacturers. One format is a nine-digit number. The first and fifth digits are the year, the second, third and fourth digits are the Julian date, the sixth digit is the batch and the last three digits are the rolling production number.
Gibson serialization began in the early 20th century. The last four digits of serial numbers from this era indicate the year of manufacture, but the exact numbers do not necessarily match the year. 1150 means 1903, 10850 means 1911 and 83600 means 1926.
Gibson offers a free guide to its serial numbers at Gibson.com. There are also free online serial number decoders, such as RickenBacker.com. Kyocera's serial number format is 10 digits and alphanumeric. The first three letters indicate the country of manufacture, the market country and any machine identifiers. The following two numbers represent the year and month of manufacture.