How To Read Dean Guitar Serial Numbers? How Do You Tell Where A Dean Guitar Was Made?

Dean guitars have a long history dating back to the late 1970s when they were founded. Since Dean guitars was founded, they have been bought and sold numerous times. Each time the new owners had a different method of implementing and printing the serial numbers on the guitar.

Depending on which era the guitar is from will make a difference in how to decipher the serial number on the guitar. Here is everything I learned from researching the topic. In case you want to dig deeper for yourself, most of the information I learned came from the Dean guitars forum, found here.

How do you tell which country your Dean Guitar was made in? Dean guitars will have a stamp or sticker, usually on the rear of the headstock, that says, “Made in “, followed by the country they were made in. Dean Guitars made in the USA will have a stamp followed by the serial number. Dean Imports usually will have a sticker.

One caveat to that answer is that Dean guitars produced while under the ownership of Tropical Music will have the serial number printed on the last fret, closest to the pickups.

Another thing to take note of is that over the years certain Dean models have been moved from factory to factory in various other countries for production. As a result, many Dean dealers have not updated or changed the pictures or specifications. (That’s one reason I like Sweetwater. They use the actual image of the guitar. Every time!)

If the dealer’s website says one thing, but the sticker on the guitar says another, believe what the sticker says.


Deciphering Dean Guitar Serial Numbers

Another way to tell where a Dean guitar is made is by looking at the serial number itself.

How do you read Dean guitar serial numbers made in the USA? Dean Guitars manufactured in the USA will have a 6 digit serial number on the back of the headstock. The first 2 digits represent the year and the remaining digits typically represent the production number, although this is not consistent. Dean Guitar serial numbers from 1986 to 1996 have no meaning.

Note: If there are any letters before the serial number, or the serial number does not match this format, then your Dean guitar is an import. See the next section in this article for more information.

Dean guitars was bought Tropical Music from the original owner Dean Zelinsky in 1986. During this period, the serial numbers were printed on the last fret of the fretboard. Tropical Music did not follow the serial number format previously used and did not keep any existing records. 

Tropical music sold Dean guitars to Armadillo Enterprises in 1997, who have remained the owners. Dean guitars returned to using the standard serial number format previously used, although not always consistent with the format. 

Guitars manufactured while Dean Zelinsky owned the company are often referred to as vintage Dean guitars. There was a logbook previously on the Dean guitars website that was taken down in 2011 that logged all the vintage guitars from 1977 to 1983. 

I recommend visiting the Dean Guitar forum for more information on vintage Dean Guitars. One of the forum members took pictures of all the logbooks which he can reference. He has not publicly posted these pictures to my knowledge.

If you have a modern Dean guitar, that is guitars made since 1997, then you can contact the current parent company for more information.

Armadillo Enterprises, Inc.

4924 W Waters Avenue

Tampa, FL 33634

United States

(813) 600-3920 ph

(800) 793-5273 toll-free

(813) 600-3933 fax   

Customer Service

Dean Guitars –

If you have a Dean guitar manufactured during the Tropical Music era, for the most part, you are out of luck. You can try to request more info on the Dean guitars forum, but there just isn’t that much information out there. Tropical music appears to have kept very poor records.

Serial Numbers on Dean Imported Guitars

Dean guitars that were imported from different countries are a whole nother headache. For the most part, the serial numbers are meaningless.

Imported Deans do not have year-coded serial numbers, and would have to be dated through configuration, headstock design, and other design factors. This requires extensive knowledge of their hardware and which year Dean used which hardware. Dean throughout the years has used a variety of hardware, including pickups, tuning knobs, and pots on various guitar years.

There may be some kind of structure to the imports starting in 2008/2009 but there isn’t for anything older. 

Here is what you can decipher from the imported Dean guitars’ serial numbers. The Letter from of the number indicates which factory location the guitar was manufactured at.

Meaning of the Letters before the serial number on Dean Imported guitars:

S = Samick Korea 

E = World Musical Instruments Co Ltd 

US = UnSung Korean 

Y = YooJin China

CT = Indonesia

J = Japan

S – Samick, Korea

Dean guitars made in Samick, Korea is the same plant where Samick guitars are made. (What a surprise!) Dean guitars were only manufactured there while owned by Tropical Music from 1993 to 1996.

E – World Musical Instruments Co Ltd

World Musical Instruments Co Ltd manufactures guitars for a ton of different brands, such as Ibanez, Schecter, and even PRS SE at one point.

The serial numbers on the guitars that from here are meaningless, but at least you’ll know where the guitar came from.

US – UnSung Korea

This is the one that tricks most people. They see the US and think that the guitar was made in the United States. 

These Dean guitars are not made in the USA.

Don’t be fooled. The US obviously stands for UnSung, and they are where a lot of Dean imports are manufactured.

On the bright side, you can clean some information from the serial number. The first two digits are the year the guitar was made. 

UnSung Korea started producing Dean guitars in 2006 and is still producing them.

Y = YooJin China

The first two digits are the year the guitar was made. 

YooJin China started producing Dean guitars in 2006 and is still producing them.

CT = Indonesia

The first two digits are the year the guitar was made. 

J = Japan 

The first two digits are the year the guitar was made. 

There were high-quality Dean Soltero SLs built in Japan. They are built with better parts versus the Soltero SL’s made in Korea.

Czech Republic

There were some Dean guitars made in the Czech Republic in the 1997 to 2000 timeframe. These guitars will typically have a 5 or 6 digit serial number, but not say made in the USA. These guitars are generally well built, and more sought after than the guitars imported from Korea.


Dean guitars produced in the USA between 1977 and 1985, and since 1996, can be dated using the first two digits of their serial numbers. Dean Guitars made between 1986 and 1995 do not have dated serial numbers, and Dean did not keep records. These guitars are hard to date.

Imported Dean guitars are nearly impossible to date before 2006 when most of the international factories started using a dated serial number.

When it comes time to buy a Dean guitar, and you are out shopping for one, being able to read the serial number will really help you out. You will be able to recognize where it was made and in what year it was manufactured if it was made in the USA. 

If it has the serial number on the fretboard, you know if was made between 1986 and 1995.

50 thoughts on “How To Read Dean Guitar Serial Numbers? How Do You Tell Where A Dean Guitar Was Made?”

  1. Im very confused here. I have a Dean acoustic/electric that I don’t know the model of. The serial number sticker on the back of headstock is PATC-CBK

    And inside the sound hole there’s a sticker with PAT0711004 on it. Any thoughts?

    • Does the sticker say “PATC-CBK”, or “PATEC-CBK”? PATEC-CBK is the model number. This guitar is a Performer EA from the Performer series. I believe the first two digits from the serial number “07” indicate the guitar was made in 2007. The “CBK” in the model number indicate that the finish is Classic Black.

      The 2007 Performer EA has a spruce arched top, mahogany body & neck, and rosewood fingerboard with pearl inlays.

  2. I just picked up a Dean Z made in the Czech Republic. I was told it was the same factory that makes Euro Spector Basses and custom violins & violas? Is that true? Are the quality comparable to the Dean custom shop guitars in the U.S.?

    • Hey Clint,

      Dean Guitars were produced in the Czech Republic starting int he late-90’s and were phased out in the early 2000’s after about 4 years or so. These guitars were supposed to be a mid-level guitar, but soon started out-selling the USA made Deans due to their build quality. Once the US sells started dropping, they decided to cut production in the Czech Republic.

      I don’t know exactly which factory Dean guitars were made at, but I do know it was a violin factory and I suspect it is the same place where the Spector EURO series basses are being produced: Strunal Schönbach. They are owned by New Bohemian Electronics (NBE), who also produces their own brand: Jolana. Jolana stopped producing guitars in the late 1980s, but started up again in 2003.

          • Thanx for the info! Just a huge fan of MS and I just found for 400€, which I think is a lot for this guitar. Probably would be good for the exotica model, but can’t find one in a while now!

  3. Hey there. I have a Dean Baby ML with O05111071 serial number. 05 is a manufacture year i guess. But first letter “O”… I don’t even know where this guitar was made. And is it original at all?

    I will be very grateful if someone can help me with this. Thx

  4. Hi, I cant figure out the model of my Dean guitar. I see that it was made in Japan in 2010. Its a black double cut with 2 knobs and a sliding switch. There serial is J10100220. Thank you!!

  5. Hi,
    I have Dean …. no model on a headstock… serial is J15061512. .,. I think that is MAB3 model… what i have!

    • Hey Aleksander,
      I would suggest sending Dean a message through their website. I’m not able to look up guitars based on their serial, but they should be able to look it up.
      Let us know what you find out!

  6. Question for you regarding Czech made Dean Z guitars? I tried to fit my Czech Republic Dean Z into my friends new z case and it wouldn’t fit? Mine was to big? When did the dimensions change?

    • Hey Clint,

      From what I know, the dimensions of the Dean Z never changed. Dean did make the “Z Baby”, which is a 3/4 version of the Z. Dean has also produced certain Artist versions, which may have had slight body size differences. For example, the Dave Mustaine ZERO is a version of the Z with 24 frets and a 25.5″ scale length, compared to the standard Z that has 22 frets and a scale length of 24.75″.

      Also, the Czech guitars were hand made, so there could be small variations due to each guitar being custom.

    • I just aquired a Beautiful Dean Dime Razor and its SN starts with J as well meaning Japan and the 1st 2 numbers on mine are 07 meaning 2007 as far as i understand it although ppl are telling me mines Chineese so im looking to do more research

      • My understanding is that those guitars that start with only “J” were made in China, although I haven’t been able to determine which factory these guitars come from. The Japanese produced guitars start with “JF”, and are produced by FujiGen in Japan.

  7. Dear Sir,

    This is an interesting topic. I have a signed bass, a Dean Jeff Berlin model. It’s signed on upper body in white marker “Jeff Berlin 2001”.

    The serial number is


    It’s is candy apple red with Dean soap bar pick ups, bridge and tuners are unknown. It’s hard to get good information on it. So far pretty much zilch. Can you please comment on it?

    Thank you for your consideration,

    • Hey Daniel,

      I’m not sure I’m going to be much help. I’m not familiar with the D prefix, and the serial number doesn’t indicate which year from what I can tell. Dean Basses produced after 2007 can have their manufacturing date determined by the first two numbers of the serial, so this bass was produced before 2007. Presumptively 2001 based on the markings you described.

      I believe the color is actually metallic red. Does it look like this one on reverb:

      The Jeff Berlin models produced in Korea were the Jeff Berlin Bassic model. Bassic with two “s”, not to be confused the with the USA made Jeff Berlin Basic, one “S”.

      Here is the description from of the 2001 JB Bassic from the Dean website:
      Alder Body
      34″ Scale & 1-9/16″ Nut
      Grover Tuners
      Brushed Chrome Hardware
      Soap Bar Pickups
      Bolt-on 3 Piece Maple Neck
      Rosewood Fingerboard
      Abalone Dot Inlays
      21 Frets
      Colors: Classic Black, Metallic Blue , Metallic Red

      The description lists Grover tuners, so I’m not sure if yours have been changed out or what. Grover tuners are clearly branded. As for the pick-ups and bridge, the lower end models use “look-alikes” that are Dean branded. The bridge is designed to look like a Badass II bridge, and the pick-ups designed to look like the Bartolini soap bar pick-ups.

      There are some guys in the forum that know a lot about Dean basses. More than I do. Check out this thread:

  8. I was hoping you could help me with more information about my DBZ Bolero tigers eye? It is a made in Korea model, S# W40A0609. Any information would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

    • Hey Dave,

      Dean Zelinsky, Jeff Diamant and Terry Martin launched DBZ Guitars in early 2009. Dean left in 2012, and DBZ became Diamond guitars. If the guitar is indeed branded DBZ, it was produced between 2009 and 2012. After that, it would be Diamond branded.

      Back then, tigers eye was called amber tobacco burst.

      The factory would be the same Korean factory that Dean guitars uses; World Musical Instruments Co Ltd. The serial numbers they used don’t really give us any information.

      There’s a similar model available on right now, if you want to compare.

      Hope that helps!

    • Hey, congratulations on the new guitar. From the info you gave, it could very well be legit, but I don’t know for sure.

      The “E” in the serial number lines up with what I know. The E indicates that it was made in Korea, at World Musical Instruments Co Ltd.

      I would suggest sending Dean a message through their website. I don’t work for Dean and I’m not able to look up guitars based on their serial, but they should be able to look it up.

      Let us know what you find out!

  9. hi how u doing, i have a Dimebag Darrell Dime O Flame serial #us 06100849, im trying to find out which wammy bar fits it, i lost the original at a gig, any info would be great, thanks, don…

    • Hey Don,
      If it has the original bridge, it should be a Floyd Rose Special. You can find replacement Tremolo Arms, as Floyd Rose calls them, on Amazon. Here’s one I found, but you’ll need to choose the correct color.

      The whammy bars are available at Guitar Center, Sweet Water, and all the big names, but I like Amazon’s return process in case something like this doesn’t fit correctly.

  10. Hello All,
    I recently bought my first Dean. It is a Neon Green ‘Custom Zone’ (I think)
    The Sn is ‘SP13100318’ – From what you have written, is it 2013 made in Czech?
    Plays fantastic! – Any help is appreciated!

    • I don’t recognize the “wk” prefix to the serial number. Do you have more information about the guitar? Also, you could email Dean and ask them if they have that serial number on file.

  11. Hi I am researching a demonator that has a serial number starting with A its . A08111679
    What country was this on made in and in what year.


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