DATING FENDER GUITARS BY REFERENCE OF SERIAL NUMBERS

Serial numbers may be useful in determining the year of production of a guitar. But an incomplete registrations and illogical serial numbers is its history often unclear.

Fender's production methods from the early fifties had the effect the numbers may not be consecutive. Also overlap of serial numbers and dates come with regularity.

Where to find the serial number
The serial numbers on the guitar are provided through the years on various places. At the top of the neck plate, at the front or at the back of the head or on the cover plate of the vibrato. (Stratocaster)
Between 1973 and 1981 there were periods that this is not consistently done.

Serial number on the back of the head    Serial number on the bridge    Serial number on the neck

If you want to know the production year of your Fender guitar, you can calculate it with the serial number decoder, or find it in the tables below.

Fender serial number date decoder
Gibson decoder
Martin decoder

Although a serial number is helpful for roughly determining the age of a guitar, this is often not the exact date. Usually, the production date is stamped or written is on the heel of the neck. To read this it is necessary to unscrew the neck from the body.


Neck dates

Most specifications for the Fender guitars are hardly changed. Although there have been periods in which major changes occurred as the acquisition of Fender by CBS, and the transition from CBS Fender to the current owner (Fender Musical Instruments Corporation), most models are in general not changed.

At the Stratocasters from the early fifties the serial numbers were stamped on the back vibrato cover. On some Telecasters at the bridge between the pickup and the saddles.

Patent numbers

Between 1960 and 1977, were added several patent numbers to the models. These became in the head under the Fender logo stamped.
Patent numbers
e.g.
PAT, 2,573,254 2,968,204 3,143,028 2,976,755 DES 187304

2,573,254 for pickup and bridge combination.
2,968,204 for the single coil pickup patent awarded in 1961 under other for Jaguar, Stratocaster, Duosonic.
3,143,028 the patent granted in August 1964 for Fender's adjustable neck construction.
2,976,755 for the split coil pickup design. (Used since 1957 to the Precision Bass)

The DES is the serial number.

Esquires, Broadcasters and Telecasters 1950-1954.
The serial number for these three models can be found at the bridge plate and is used until about early 1954. Fender then switched to a serial numbering on the neck plate for all models.


SERIAL NUMBERS PRODUCTION YEAR
0001 - 0999 1950 - 1952
1000 - 5300 1952 - 1954
Precision Basses 1951-1955.
There is some overlap of serial numbers and dates. Until 1955, the serial number is applied to the bridge plate. Although Fender had already switched in 1954 serialized for all models on the neck plate, is the serial number at some Precison's still affixed to the bridge plate.

SERIAL NUMBERS PRODUCTION YEAR
100 - 400 1951 - 1952
0001 - 0999 1952-1954
1000 - 2000 1953 - 1955




All models

The table below shows the Fender serial numbers as they were used from 1950 to 1964.
The serial numbers in principle chronological, but as already mentioned, as a result of Fender's production, there are a several serial numbers that overlap.
The only way to try to figure out the date is to remove the neck from the body and check the butt end of the heel of the neck. If the date is unreadable, it can also be written on the body under the pickguard or cavity form the pickups.

SERIAL NUMBERS PRODUCTION YEAR
> 6000 1950 - 1954
> 10.000 1954 - 1956
10.000 1955 - 1956
10.000 - 20.000 1957
20.000 - 30.000 1958
30.000 - 40.000 1959
40.000 - 50.000 1960
50.000 - 70.000 1961
60.000 - 90.000 1962
80.000 - 90.000 1963
90.000 - L10.000 1963
L10.000 - L20.000 1963
L20.000 - L50.000 1964

January 1965 Fender was acquired by CBS Corporation.
Although it is not be traced back directly to the serial numbers. CBS continued to make the guitars using the existing tools, parts, and the numbering system. The table below shows the serial numbers as they were used from 1965 to 1976.

Again, there are a several serial numbers that overlap.




 SERIAL NUMBERS PRODUCTION YEAR
L50.000 - L90.000 1965
100.000 1965
100.000 - 200.000 1966 - 1967
200.000 1968
200.000 - 300.000 1969 - 1970
300.000 1971 - 1972
300.000 - 500.000 1973
400.000 - 500.000 1974 - 1975
500.000 - 700.000 1976









The next table shows the most common Fender serial numbers schemes from 1976 to the present.
Here is the S first introduced as a prefix to the serial numbers.
The S stands for the decade of the seventies. The E stands for the decade of the eighties, and was introduced in 1979.

As you can see by the overlap of numbers and years, the reference to the actual date of manufacture is rather vague.

 SERIAL NUMBERS PRODUCTION YEAR
76 + 5 digits
S6 + 5 digits
1976
S7 + 5 digits
S8 + 5 digits
1977
S7 + 5 digits
S8 + 5 digits
S9 + 5 digits
1978
S9 + 5 digits
E0 + 5 digits
1979
S9 + 5 digits
E0 + 5 digits
E1 + 5 digits
1980
S9 + 5 digits
E0 + 5 digits
E1 + 5 digits
1981




In 1982 teh U.S. Vintage Series was introduced with the V as prefix to the serial number.







 SERIAL NUMBERS PRODUCTION YEAR
E1 + 5 digits
E2 + 5 digits
E3 + 5 digits
V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)

1982
(For U.S. Vintage Series, check date on the neck for specific year)
E2 + 5 digits
E3 + 5 digits
V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)

1983
(For U.S. Vintage Series, check date on the neck for specific year)
E3 + 5 digits
E4 + 5 digits
V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)

1984
(For U.S. Vintage Series, check date on the neck for specific year)





In 1985 CBS Fender sold to a group of private investors.

The changeover to the new owners can not deduce the serial numbers, because they continued the numbering at the same way.





 SERIAL NUMBERS PRODUCTION YEAR
E3 + 5 digits
E4 + 5 digits
V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)

1985
(For U.S. Vintage Series, check date on the neck for specific year)
V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters) 1986
(For U.S. Vintage Series, check date on the neck for specific year)
E4 + 5 digits
V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)

1987
(For U.S. Vintage Series, check date on the neck for specific year)
E4 + 5 digits
E8 + 5 digits
V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)

1988
(For U.S. Vintage Series, check date on the neck for specific year)
E8 + 5 digits
E9 + 5 digits
V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)

1989
(For U.S. Vintage Series, check date on the neck for specific year)

















In 1990, the N came as a prefix to the numbers, which stands for the nineties. The numbers and decals are produced far in advance.
Due to a mistake at the factory in 1990 N9 decals (which were intended for use in 1999) applied to a several instruments that were built in that year.
As a result of this mistake, you will be able to get a guitar with a serial number N9 that was built in 1990.


 SERIAL NUMBERS PRODUCTION YEAR
N9 + 5 digits
N0 + 5 digits
V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)
1990
(For U.S. Vintage Series, check date on the neck for specific year)
N1 + 5 or 6 digits
V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)
1991
N1 + 5 or 6 digits
N2 + 5 or 6 digits
V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)
1992
N3 + 5 or 6 digits
V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)
1993
V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters) 1994
N4 + 5 or 6 digits
N5 + 5 or 6 digits
V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)
1995
N6 + 5 or 6 digits
V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)
1996
N6 + 6 or 6 digits
N7 + 5 or 6 digits
V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)
1997
N8 + 5 or 6 digits
V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series)
1998
N9 + 5 or 6 digits
V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecasters)
1999



In 2000 the Z was added for the numbers.
A Z0 prefix dates back to 2000, a Z1 to 2001 etc. The U.S. Deluxe Series have the same standard but with the addition of a D for the Z, eg. DZ1, DZ2 etc.

Also here some overlap of numbers, prefixes and year.


 SERIAL NUMBERS PRODUCTION YEAR
N9 + 5 or 6 digits

 

Z0 + 5 or 6 digits

 

DZ0 + 5 or 6 digits (Am. Deluxe)

 

V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecaster)

2000
Z0 + 5 or 6 digits

 

Z1 + 5 or 6 digits

 

DZ1 + 5 or 6 digits (Am. Deluxe)

 

V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecaster)

2001
Z1 + 5 or 6 digits
Z2 + 5 or 6 digits
DZ2 + 5 or 6 digits (Am. Deluxe)
V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecaster)
2002
Z2 + 5 or 6 digits
Z3 + 5 or 6 digits
DZ3 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe Series)
V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecaster)
2003
Z3 + 5 or 6 digits
Z4 + 5 or 6 digits
DZ4 + 5 or 6 digits (Am. Deluxe)
V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecaster)
XN4 + 4 digits
2004
Z4 + 5 or 6 digits
Z5 + 5 or 6 digits
DZ5 + 5 or 6 digits (Am. Deluxe)
V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series excluded '52 Telecaster)
XN5 + 4 digits
2005



The following serial numbers stay somewhat outside the well-known Fender numbering.

If you have doubts about an odd serial number check the chart below, maybe you can find the number composition here.



SERIENUMMER DESCRIPTION
AMXN + 6 digits California Series electric guitars and basses, '97 en '98
DN + 6 digits American Deluxe serie instruments, '98 en '99
NC(6 digits) Squier Strat Bullets (dating unclear)
FN(6 digits) US-made guitars and basses destined for export.
Some are not exported or sent back.
I(7 digits) A limited number of these I-Series were made in '89 and '90. Made for the export market and have 'Made in USA' stamped on the heel of the neck.
LE(6 digits) Blonde Jazzmasters and Jaguars made in 1994. Sold as a promotional 3 piece set with a Blonde Deluxe Reverb Amp.
CN(6 digits)
VN(6 digits)
Produced in Korea, Fender/Squier guitars. (dating unclear)
CA(5 digits) Gold Strat 1981, '82 and '83
CB(5 digits) Precision Bass Special from 1981, CB(5 digits) Gold Jazz Bass from 1982
CC(5 digits) Walnut Strat 1981, '82 and '83
CE(5 digits) Precision Bass Special from 1981, Black and Gold Telecster from 1981 and 1982
CD(5 digits)
CO(5 digits)
Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982
GO(5 digits) Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982, Gold Strat 1982 and 1983
D(6 digits) Jazz Bass from 1982
SE(6 digits)
SN(6 digits)
SZ(6 digits)
Signature Series Instruments
SE8(5 digits)-'88, SE9(5 digits)-'89
SN0(5 digits)-'90, SN1(5 digits)-'90, SN2(5 digits)-'92, etc.
SZ0(5 digits)-'00, SZ1(5 digits)-'01, SZ2(5 digits)-'02, etc.
3 digits or 500 35th Anniversary Strat from 1989-1990
G(6 digits) "STRAT" from about. 1980, (Gold hardware, 2 position rotary tone switch)
4 digits stamped on bridge plate U.S. '52 Vintage Telecaster 1982-1988 (Check neck for specific year)
5 digits stamped on bridge plate U.S. '52 Vintage Telecaster 1988-present (Check neck for specific year)
T(6 digits) Tribute series instruments
C(6 digits) Collectors Series
XN(5 digits) FSRs and '52 Telecasters