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Where things go astray is when the Jem line went to AANJ in 93'.
This is where you start seeing consecutive numbered plates on the remaining regular joint models that no longer indicate year.
I do not know how accurate the system is but the few I've run have worked just fine. Plate serial numbers have nothing to do with headstock serial numbers.
In a case where a guitar has both the true serial number will always be the headstock number.
Plate numbers usually follow the pattern of the first 2 digits denoting year of production followed by a 4 digit number that denotes consecutive production for that model for that year, or consecutive production number for that particular model from the models inception.
In cases where generic non model specific plates are used the 4 digit number is just the consecutive number of that plate which could have made it on possibly 10 different models.
- JEM plates are 6 digit and the first 2 digits is the production year while the last 4 is the consecutive number JEM built from inception. Except for the very first batch of 90' UV plates that began 00, UV plates are also dated by the first 2 numbers. A Universe plate 912787 would denote a production year of 91 and the 2787th Universe built.