Boss Serial Number Decoder/Dating

Trying to work out if your Japanese DS-1 is from 1978 or 1985? Looking to sell your 80's CE-2 and want to list it as accurately as possible? Here's our cheat-sheet for understanding your Boss serial number and how some of the systems work! 

Types of serial:

There are THREE main serial number sequences used for Japanese Boss pedals.

#1 - Stamped Batch Code (4-5 Digits).

Located above the switch inside the battery compartment, these codes are stamped directly to the enclosure using black ink (or white ink on darker pedals like the SG-1). The first batch of Boss pedals were made in October, 1977 and featured the code 6300 for the whole month of production. The second month (November, 1977) were labelled 6400, the third (December, 1977) were 6500 and so on. This system continued all the way through to around April, 1981 at 10500 (or sometimes just 0500).

As these were just batch codes and not specific serial numbers, they are not unique to the pedal and you will often see two of the same (or different) pedals with identical numbers. 

For a quick reference, here's where certain years start and finish with this format: 

6300 - 6500 = 1977

6600 - 7700 = 1978

7800 - 8900 = 1979

9000 - 10100 = 1980

10200 - 10500 = 1981

#2 - Stickered Serials (6 Digits)

The second serial number system started around the same time that the batch codes ended. The number moved to a sticker inside the battery compartment (under where the battery would sit) and feature a 6 digit code. The first two digits are the primary modifier in these codes, starting with 02XXXX at January 1981. Like the previous format, the sequence went month by month with 03XXXX being February 1981, 04XXXX being March 1981 and so on. This system can theoretically be used up to 99XXXX (February 1989). 

This system was more complex than the previous batch code system and the last four digits of the serial varied slightly (likely due to there being multiple batches being produced in a single month). The numbers still weren't unique though and you will once again find identical numbers on two different pedals. 

For a quick reference, here's where certain years start and finish with this format: 

02XXXX - 13XXXX = 1981
14XXXX - 25XXXX 
= 1982
= 1983
38XXXX - 49XXXX 
= 1984
= 1985
62XXXX - 73XXXX 
= 1986
74XXXX - 85XXXX 
= 1987
86XXXX - 97XXXX 
= 1988
= 1989

#3 - Sticker Serials (2 Letter, 5 Digit)

The third serial system featured two letters as a prefix to five numbers. The first letter doesn't really matter, it's the second letter and the first number that give the month/year away. XA0XXXX is the first code used which indicates March, 1989 (following on from the previous system) and is followed by XA1XXXX (April, 1989), XA2XXXX (May, 1989) and so on. After XA9XXXX (December, 1989) the letter changes to B and the cycle continues. This serial number can theoretically be used all the way through to the 90's, although Japanese production ended in the mid 90's so it's unlikely you'll see anything with second letter past E for a Japanese pedal.

I believe this is the first true "Serial Number" format with unique numbers for each pedal (rather than monthly batches). 

This serial number format continued for a while longer with Taiwanese pedals until they ran out of letters at Z in 2010.  

The purpose of this article is to help you better understand HOW the serial systems work, rather than using the online decoder found here and being spoon-fed the information (not that there's anything wrong with that!).