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Reading pot codes

How to read pot codes, and using them to date your guitar

If you've been reading articles about dating a vintage guitar, you may well have come across mention of pot codes, and the concept of using pot codes to date your guitar. The pots, or potentiometers to give their full name, are the variable resistors that control volume and tone. Better quality pots are often stamped with a number of codes; typically part numbers, date of production, manufacturers codes and resistance values. Many pots don't carry all of this information, but the better quality guitars produced in America usually do.

So where are these codes? Normally they are stamped or inked onto the back or sides of the pot. So reading them will require opening control cavities, removing scratchplates, or in the case of a semi acoustic, removing the pots entirely. Codes can be faded, worn, obscured by solder and other components, or simply very small. Finding them is not always easy; this is obviously not something for the faint-hearted, but once performed a few times, nowhere near as daunting as it might at first seem. There are many exceptions and variations to the general rules described below, some of which are highlighted in the examples at the end. But read on, dating a vintage guitar with pot codes is sometimes more reliable than dating with serial numbers!

An early 1960s pot from a Gibson guitar. Once decoded, the writing on the back or sides can be very informative in dating your guitar
An early 1960s pot from a Gibson guitar. Once decoded, the writing on the back or sides can be very informative in dating your guitar

Part numbers

Many pots do not have part numbers, but the larger guitar manufacturers did list pots by part number in their spare parts manuals. You can look up Gibson potentiometers by their part number in the Gibson pot index on this site.

Manufacturers codes

There are very many electronic companies worldwide producing potentiometers, but most American vintage guitars of the 20th Century used pots by just a few manufacturers. American pot manufacturers had their own numerical EIA (Electronic Industries Alliance) codes, for example 134 = Centralab, 137 = CTS and 304 = Stackpole. Although many others were used, these are by far the most important, as they were widely used by the likes of Gibson, Fender, Guild and Epiphone. Other worldwide manufacturers just used the company name rather than a code. Some also put a country of production.

Production dates

Production dates regularly appear on potentiometers, though usually encoded to some extent. Each company had it's own dating system, although there was some consensus, particularly in American parts. Other companies from around the world used different systems using letters to denote differing years and months. Sometimes these are simple, sometimes exceptionally complicated (for no useful reason!).

CTS, Centralab, Stackpole

Date codes were usually in three or four digits, one or two digits giving the year (for many US pots one digit refers to the 1950s, two digits to the 1960s), and two giving the week of the year. These often run on from the manufacturer code. For example 1346120 is a Centralab pot (134) produced in the 20th week of 1961. These are some of the simplest codes to read, and it is therefore unsurprising that this system has become standard.


Egen Electric Limited were a British electronics supplier whose pots were widely used in guitars by Vox, Fenton Weill, Hohner and others. They do not use an EIA code, but are easily identifiable, typically having EGEN stamped onto the top of the pot (next to the shaft) and a tape covering the data on the side of the pot. Egen potentiometers have a simple two letter date code in the format MY (although occasionally they used YM). The month code ran A-I (Jan-Dec). The year code may not encompass the entire alphabet (then again it may), but the most relevant section covering British guitar construction (early-mid 1960s) ran H-O (1960-1967). So an Egen date code of 'JK' means October 1963 (J = October, K= 1963).



Morganite pots were commonly fitted to British Vox guitars. Although they do not have an EIA manufacturer code, they are quite distinctive - small (about 3/4" diameter), with a brown plastic back with Morganite in raised lettering. Interestingly, these pots used more than one dating system, sometimes using numerals in the format WWY (typically early 1960s), and sometimes, a letter-based format, similar to the Egen codes above. However these were in the format YM (but, as with the Egen codes, they occasionally switched the letters to a MY format!). The month code differed from Egen, above, in that the letter I was skipped - to prevent confusion with the number 1 - so it ran A-M (Jan-Dec). Year codes for the relevant period ran S-X (1961-1967). Interestingly, some examples even had both a numeric and letter-based codes on the same pot. For example, a pot labelled 'TL 1MΩ LOG 462' had the numeric date code 462 (46th week of 1962 NOT 4th week of 62), and the alphabetical code TL (T = 1962, L= November).


Pot dates can be a useful tool in dating guitars. But remember this is the date that the potentiometer was produced. Pots in an older guitar may have been replaced, and this should be considered, especially if the date suggested does not fit with other features of the guitar. What's more, guitar companies sometimes took a very long time to use the potentiometer in question, and they may be considerably older than the guitar itself. Fender, famously bought huge stocks of pots in 1966, and took almost a decade to use them all. Conversely, guitars were also built, but not wired and shipped immediately, resulting in newer pots in older guitars. This is especially the case for guitars that were only ever shipped in tiny numbers. Pot dates are a useful tool in guitar dating, but should always be used in conjunction with other known factors, such as hardware changes and serial numbers.

Resistance values and taper

Resistance values are normally listed. 250k, 500k and 1 Meg (1000k) being the most common. The taper of a pot describe how the resistance changes with the turning of the pot. The words LIN on a pot means a linear taper; turned half way, the resistance is at approx. 50% of maximum, three quarters of the way at 75% of maximum etc. Pots marked LOG or AT (which stands for audio taper) change logarithmically. As a general rule, volume pots have a logarithmic taper, and tone pots have a linear taper.

Pot Code Examples

1961 Centralab pot as fitted to an early Gibson SG Special
1961 Centralab pot as fitted to an early Gibson SG Special. In this case the codes are stamped in very small font to the side of the pot casing.
1346120 (Centralab pot, 20th week of 1961)
BA811-1053 (Gibson part number 811-1053)
500k (resistance value)
The volume pot of a 1963 Hofner President bass
The volume pot of a 1963 Hofner President bass. These early Hofner pots are made by Preh. The underside includes the resistance value of 250k, and date code of 383 - in this case meaning week 38 of 1963.
The volume pot of a 1959 Hofner Colorama
Another Preh pot, the volume control of a 1959 Hofner Colorama. In this case date code 459 means week 45 of 1959.
1960s Morganite (UK) potentiometer
This early 1960s British pot came from a UK built Vox Shadow. It has the following information on it: UK 500K LIN. This means a resistance value of 500kΩ, a linear taper, and a date code UK (U = 1963, K= October, see above). Morganite pots were produced in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear
Two 1960s Morganite potentiometers
The data on these pots spread a good way around the casing, and can not be seen in one image. The left hand pot has two date codes, the right hand just one. They read: (left) TL 1MΩ LOG 462 (TL = November 1962, 462 = 46th week of 62) and (right) 181 500kΩ LIN (181 = 18th week of 1961)
1960s Egen (UK) potentiometer
Two Egen pots. The Egen brand can be seen stamped into the casing (just) next to the shaft, in the foreground pot. The pot behind has the code '250K LOG AM' - This means a resistance value of 250kΩ, a logarithmic taper, and a date code AM (A = January, M = 1965, see above)
1960s Egen potentiometer
Another Egen brand pot - even without removing it from the guitar scratchplate, the tape covering the data is a dead giveaway of it's origins. The code '250K LOG CM' - This means a resistance value of 250kΩ, a logarithmic taper, and a date code CM (C = March, M = 1965)
1969 CTS pots as fitted to a 1969 Gibson Melody Maker
1969 CTS pots as fitted to a 1969 Gibson Melody Maker
TX1158 (Gibson part number)
500k AT (resistance value, audio taper)
One has a code of 1376902 (CTS pot, 2nd week of 1969), another has 1376852 (CTS pot, 52nd week of 1968)
1971 Stackpole pot as fitted to a Fender telecaster
Stackpole pot as fitted to a 1971 Fender Telecaster. Fender Centralab and CTS pots, but used Stackpole widely in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
032367 (Fender part number)
250K (resistance value)
304-7116 (Stackpole pot, 16th week of 1971)
1973 CTS pot as fitted to a Fender Musicmaster bass
1973 CTS pot as fitted to a Fender Musicmaster bass. Note this is the same part number as the 1971 Stackpole pot above, although now produced by CTS.
032367 (Fender part number, obscured)
250K (resistance value)
1377329 (CTS pot, 29th week of 1973)
1960s Lesa (Italy) potentiometer
Many (Italian) Vox, Hagstrom and Eko guitars used Italian pots. Although some of these have codes that may incorporate a date, deciphering this is currently impossible. This one (from a late 1960s Vox Astro bass) is marked LESA, made in Italy on the back, with 500k 1 22 on the side. Do you have any information on dating Lesa potentiometers? If so please comment
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1977 Vintage Fender Gibson Guitar Potentiometer CTS 250k Broken

1977 Vintage Fender Gibson Guitar Potentiometer CTS 250k Broken

Salina, Kansas, 674**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Pulled from vintage parts collection Broken top... more
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1977 Vintage Fender Gibson Guitar Potentiometer CTS 250k

1977 Vintage Fender Gibson Guitar Potentiometer CTS 250k

Salina, Kansas, 674**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Pulled from vintage parts collection... more
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Vintage 1966 Stratocaster 250K Potentiometer Pot CTS 137 6614

Vintage 1966 Stratocaster 250K Potentiometer Pot CTS 137 6614

Fort Wayne, Indiana, 468**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Vintage 1966 Stratocaster 250K Potentiometer Pot CTS 137 6614... more
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1977 Vintage Fender Gibson Guitar Potentiometer CTS 250k Pot Part

1977 Vintage Fender Gibson Guitar Potentiometer CTS 250k Pot Part



Short shaft , date code 1977, reads Strong on meter, clean pot , Thanks for looking
... more
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Vintage NOS Stackpole 1 meg pot 1966.  Fender tele Jazzmaster  bass never solder

Vintage NOS Stackpole 1 meg pot 1966. Fender tele Jazzmaster bass never solder

Southampton, Massachusetts, 010**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


I'm cleaning out a long closed Western Ma. luthier shops inventory and will be selling a lifetime collection of mostly vintage musical instruments and parts. Today I have a new old stock Stackpole 1 meg solid metal shaft potentiometer from 1966 This has 3 clean lugs, and has never been soldered or used on anything. I believe these were found on 1960's Fender guitars. Such as Telecasters, Telecaster basses, and Jazzmasters. etc. .Please note I am not a vintage guitar expert and I am going ... more
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1979 USA FENDER Guitar POT  Vintage CTS Telecaster P Bass 500k

1979 USA FENDER Guitar POT Vintage CTS Telecaster P Bass 500k



Solid shaft, Normal vintage wear with patina, reads a Strong .544 K on meter, No Ugly solder, Original Vintage Fender part, Thanks for looking!
... more
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1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul LP Potentiometer 500K Volume / Tone USA Pot 1990s

1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul LP Potentiometer 500K Volume / Tone USA Pot 1990s

Jacksonville, Florida, 322**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Up for sale is a 1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul Long Shaft Potentiometer with the Original Capacitor!
Came off a 1995 Gibson Les Paul
VERY GOOD working and cosmetic condition!
BUY IT NOW before somebody else does!
SHIPPING: USA - $9 WORLDWIDE - $19... more
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1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul LP USA Potentiometer 500K Volume / Tone POT 1990s

1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul LP USA Potentiometer 500K Volume / Tone POT 1990s

Jacksonville, Florida, 322**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Up for sale is a 1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul Long Shaft Potentiometer
Pot Reads 137 9503
VERY GOOD working and cosmetic condition!
BUY IT NOW before somebody else does!
SHIPPING: USA - $9 WORLDWIDE - $19... more
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1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul LP Potentiometer 500K Volume / Tone USA Pot 1990s

1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul LP Potentiometer 500K Volume / Tone USA Pot 1990s

Jacksonville, Florida, 322**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Up for sale is a 1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul Long Shaft Potentiometer with the Original Capacitor!
Pot Reads 137 9502
VERY GOOD working and cosmetic condition!
BUY IT NOW before somebody else does!
SHIPPING: USA - $9 WORLDWIDE - $19... more
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1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul LP USA Potentiometer 500K Volume / Tone POT 1990s

1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul LP USA Potentiometer 500K Volume / Tone POT 1990s

Jacksonville, Florida, 322**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


Up for sale is a 1995 Vintage Gibson Les Paul Long Shaft Potentiometer
Pot Reads 137 9503
VERY GOOD working and cosmetic condition!
BUY IT NOW before somebody else does!
SHIPPING: USA - $9 WORLDWIDE - $19... more
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There are 14 comments on this article so far. Add your comment

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KC Comment left 26th January 2023 17:05:53 reply
Your commentswhat does W7189 stamped on the side of of a 1964 CTS pot mean?
John Carson Comment left 14th August 2022 12:12:40 reply
Hi I have recently acquired a custom built guitar, it was built in Europe from a mixture of German (Hofner pickups, schaller toggle switch and European caps) . It has three CTS pots with nylon spindles, the numbers are on the side and they are 1M LN AB K5 CTS impressed on the casing 1M(ohms sign) LN J9 AB ink stamped on casing 10K LN AB M5 CTS impressed on casing, this one also has MADE IN ENGLAND and a circle with two lines stamped on the top. Can anyone help me date then?
kaoru suzuki Comment left 31st March 2022 03:03:30 reply
Thank you for lots of info. I'm new to this. just i got 1976 Fender Telecaster Custom. vintage guitar shop say original pots. but look different from most of photo i see on internet. pots say 28WD250 to all 4 pots. there is no other info. I read some article on strat forum some guy said it believe original 74 strat and has 28WD250 pots. is it common thing to Fender used 28WD250 pots or Not original at all? if anyone knows please let me know please .thank you
Paul Sargent Comment left 22nd May 2020 22:10:52 reply
I am trying to date my Fender Champ lap steel. The serial number is 7029. The pot codes are confusing volume has AUDIO 137-3596 and tone is LIN 150-3595. Any help would sure be appreciated. The tuning head has Fender, Pat. Pending on it.
Timothy Tapio Comment left 11th July 2019 02:02:51 reply
Working on a '65 Super Reverb...some of the pots are extremely noisy, I can probably squirt some DeOx in but don't know how long that would last. AES seems to have all the pots at reasonable prices so even though tough I'll replace all 10. On the component layout diagram it shows the values of the pots, then A, L or RA....hating to assume but might I interpret those as Audio, Linear and Reverse Audio tapers? I haven't measured them yet, have an analog meter in the mail to be delivered tomorrow....I think that would be better than playing with a digital when the numbers would be hopping around since they are dirty. Anyone venture an opinion?
Martyn Comment left 14th August 2017 20:08:24 reply
Hello, I have an old Hofner which could be a model 4572E2. The volume pot needs replacing and I can't as yet, find a direct replacment. The numbers on the side read - 478 250k not sure if the fist 3 digits are the date? Any ideas?
Vintage Guitar and Bass Comment left 15th August 2017 00:12:52 reply
I'd suggest 478 corresponds to week 47 of 1968
Ron Watkins Comment left 11th April 2016 05:05:00 reply
I recently purchased a 1964 Hofner 500/1 with the narrow control panel. The numbers on the pots read 250K 923 Does anyone know what 923 says about the date? I thought the first two numbers signified the week and the last number the year..obviously that couldn't apply here. I thought the "3" indicated the pots were 1963, but can't make sense of the "92". Would appreciate any help. Thanks!
Alex Comment left 11th April 2016 05:05:55 reply
who done the soldering on these pots : what a mess :
carl thomas Comment left 9th May 2015 06:06:56 reply
Hello i have a grestch streamliner guitar . the sticker is gone the pot code is 885p601, any idea what year it is < Thanks, Carl
Joe Comment left 5th December 2014 18:06:22 reply
I've got two pots here from a lap steel harness (bakelite) that has two sets of numbers on the pot. here they are: NM6482 and R9043, both these numbers are on each pot. any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks
vic Comment left 9th November 2014 09:09:29 reply
I was just trying to look up centralab on the net to id this potentiometer and found your site. Looks like i have a #1347228 then a space -1080 space 500k-c1 measures out to 444k ohm pretty sure this isn't for a guitar but maybe a amp?? was going to use this for a jury rig because i do not have a 1mohm on hand.
Dennis LaCour Comment left 27th February 2014 21:09:24 reply
38950 0823 cts Hi can you identify this cts pot code?
Tim Comment left 24th December 2018 02:02:41 reply
Hi, Dennis. The CTS pot is identified by the first three numbers of 137.


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1970 Rose_Morris catalog1970 Rose-Morris catalog, dated April 1970. It featured 6 electric guitars, 32 acoustic guitars, 3 basses and 1 steel guitar. It contains the following instruments, over 20 pages: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3262, 3264, 3265, 3400; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Colorado, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12; Aria 1674, 1675, 1676, 1679, 1680, 1695, 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk; Rose-Morris 15-11, Kansas, Georgian, Florida; Suzuki 1663, 1664, 1665, 3054, 3055, 3060; Tatay 1713, 1714, 1715; Peerless 3052; Steel guitar: Aria 3425

1971 Rose-Morris 'Exciting Electrics Wonderful Westerns' catalog

1971 Rose_Morris catalogThe sixteen-page 1971 Rose-Morris catalog featured electric guitars by Rose-Morris' own brand, Shaftesbury, and budget brand Top Twenty; aswell as acoustics by Eko, Aria, and for the first time Ovation. The catalog contains the following instruments: Electric guitars: Shaftesbury 3261, 3264, 3265, 3400, 3402; Top Twenty 1970; Bass: Shaftesbury 3263, 3266; Top Twenty 1971; Acoustic guitars: Ovation: Balladeer, 12 String, Glen Campbell, Glen Campbell 12 string; Eko Rio Bravo, Rio Bravo 12, Ranger, Ranger Folk, Ranger 12, Colorado, Ranchero, Ranchero 12, Studio 'L'; Rose-Morris Florida; Aria 'John Pearse' Jumbo, 'John Pearse' Folk

1972 Fender Precision bass

1972 Fender PrecisionA detailed look at an early 1970s Fender Precision bass guitar in custom black finish, with rosewood fretboard. 1972 list price, $307.50. The Fender Precision had been shipping since at least very early 1952 - with just one re-design circa 1957. This example, then, shows a model already two decades old, but barely changed since the '57 revamp. Fender got it right first time around, and although there are numerous minor cosmetic differences, the essence of this bass is effectively the same as it was in '52: a simple, single pickup instrument with a GREAT sound. Check out the demo video through an old Ampeg B15. It's no wonder this is the bass that everybody wants!

1967 Vox Stroller

1967 Vox StrollerThe Vox Stroller was the brand's entry level electric solid body guitar, fitted with just one pickup and a fixed tailpiece. Although aimed at student guitarists, it wasn't a terrible instrument, but did lack somewhat in adjustability, having no accessible truss rod and only a floating rosewood bridge. But this example is actually quite an improvement on earlier versions, with a standard 1/4" jack and a solid mahogany body. 1967 price £18 2s. JMI ceased UK guitar production in late '67, and combined with decreasing demand for the Stroller, this surely must be one of the last examples shipped.

1963 Vox Clubman Bass (left handed)

1963 Vox Clubman Bass left handedA nice example of the Vox Clubman II bass, built by JMI in Dartford, Kent in 1963. This is a lightweight bass, short (30") scale and very easy to play. It is an early example, and as such has a thin black scratchplate and side mounted, coaxial output jack. JMI offered left handed examples of their solid body Vox guitars and basses at 10% premium. Production numbers are unclear, but left-handed examples rarely come up for sale

1977 Gibson ES Artist 'prototype'

1977 Gibson ES Artist prototypeNot to be confused with the Gibson ES Artist launched by Gibson in 1979; this ES Artist was an early model designed by the Gibson research and development team in Kalamazoo in 1977, the instruments themselves constructed by Gibson artist Chuck Burge. It was planned for launch as a high end semi acoustic with 335-style construction (central maple block) and innovative circuitry - but was pulled at the last minute, being deemed too expensive. Apparently, several examples were produced with varying specifications, though exactly how many actually left the Kalamazoo plant is unclear. Certainly two guitars were sold to LaVonne Music by Gibson in around 1980. Read more about the development of this guitar, with details from Chuck Burge and the story of it's sale to LaVonne music

1959 Hofner Committee

1959 Hofner CommitteeThe Hofner Committee was a truly beautiful guitar produced in Germany, primarily for the UK market. It was a large bodied (initially 17 1/2") guitar with a carved spruce top, available as an acoustic or electric guitar. By the early sixties the carved top was replaced with a laminate, and although still a very fine guitar, the earlier carved top examples, with frondose headstock (like the example shown here) are far more highly prized amongst musicians and vintage guitar collectors.

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

1965 Gretsch Chet Atkins TennesseanThe Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean, or model 6119 was Gretsch's best selling hollow body of the 1960s. This wonderfully faded example from 1965 was originally Dark Cherry Red, but has turned a mid-orange brown. The original color, however, can be seen underneath the pickup surrounds. 1965 specs: maple body, two-piece neck, Brazilian rosewood fretboard and Hi-Lo 'Tron single coil pickups. Nickel plated Gretsch Bigsby tailpiece.

1965 Gretsch 'For the Spectacular Sound of the Times' guitar and amp catalog

1965 Gretsch catalogThe 1965 Gretsch catalog, or catalog #32, featured 10 hollow body electric guitars, including the newly launched Gretsch Viking; four solid body electrics, including the Astro Jet - making it's only catalog appearance; just one bass, the single pickup PX6070; nine acoustics and 12 tube amplifiers. Pride of place went to the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman that adorned both the front and back covers. 24 pages, six of which are in full color.

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret ends

Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret endsLoose frets are especially problematic in certain old guitars, but are generally very easy to fix. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make with just a few tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little time. Fixing loose frets can eliminate fret buzz, remove sharp fret ends, and greatly improve the tone of any guitar. If your luthier bill will be greater than the value of your guitar, definitely time to have a go yourself!

1966 Hagstrom 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog (Merson USA)

1966 Hagstrom guitar catalogHagstrom guitars were distributed in the mid-1960s United States by Merson of USA. This eight page 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog, printed in two-colors contained six solid body electrics, three solid body basses, two electric acoustic guitars, two electric acoustic basses and five acoustics.

1965 Hofner President

1965 Hofner PresidentThe President was produced by Hofner in Bubenreuth, Germany, specifically for Selmer, who distributed the brand in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other commonwealth nations. The President was a hollow body electric acoustic, available as a full body or thinline, and with blonde or brunette finish. It was a great playing guitar that sold fairly well in the second half of the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s. The example shown here is a full-body depth guitar in blonde - and as a 1965 guitar, one of the last to feature the rounded Venetian cutaway. From late 1965 until 1972, the President sported a sharp Florentine cut. Naturally, such an electric acoustic suggests jazz and blues, but many of the original British Hofner President players were part of the rock 'n roll, skiffle and beat scenes of the late 50s and early 60s.

1963 1964 Fender catalog

Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.