There are websites all over the internet that allow you to input a guitar’s serial number and it will tell you where your guitar was made, and when – often right down to the exact date. Unfortunately there’s no such thing for vintage Yamaha’s like the Super Flighter. Part of the problem is solved as we know they were only made in the Nippon Gakki factory in Japan, and there’s only a 3 year span in which they were made. There are however, ways to tell what year your guitar was made.
We think that the serial numbers used are on the same system as the early SGs which can give us a good idea of their age. For details on this check out this post of the JapanAxe forum.
The most reliable way to confirm the age of your Super Flighter is to look at the back of the pickup. You’ll find a number stamped on the back below the guitar’s model number, which will start with a two digit number between 52 and 55. This number identifies the year in the Japanese period of history known as the “Showa” period which spans from December 25th 1926 to January 7th 1989. In this period 1977 (the first year of Super Flighter production) would be year 52, hence the number of the back of the pickup.
There a couple of other interesting differences in different years of production, one of which being some details on the hard case. This can give you a good idea of the guitar’s age simply by looking at the case, should it be included! For the first year of production, 1977, the hard cases were constructed very slightly differently. Although they were the same product code (SFC) and shaped the same, there were a few differences in the first few batches. Externally the only giveaway is the nickel buckles as oppose to the gold finished ones that are on the majority of cases. On the inside of the lid, there are two different methods of padding between the lid and the body of the guitar. On the majority of cases there is a circular area of soft padding beneath the green felt which rests over the bridge and pickups. The other method is found on the older models of case, where there’s simply a block of felt covered wood(?) on the inside of the lid which sits just below the bridge of the guitar. As far as I’m aware, the cases with nickel buckles and the hard padding were only available in 1977, and the newer cases with soft padding and gold buckles were used from 1978 onwards.