DATING FENDER GUITARS BY REFERENCE OF SERIAL NUMBERS
Fender's production methods from the early 1950s resulted in the serial numbers sometimes not being consecutive.
Repetition and overlapping of serial numbers and years also occur regularly.
Where to find the serial number
The serial numbers have been placed on or in the guitar in different places over the years.
At the top of the neck plate, on the front or at the back of the headstock or on the cover plate of the
vibrato (Stratocasters), or at the end of the heel of the neck.
Between 1973 and 1981 there were periods when this did not happen consistently.
If you want to know the year of manufacture of your Fender guitar, you can decipher it with the serial number decoder, or find it in the tables below.
Fender serial number date decoder (v2.1)
Enter only the serial number. (No type or model) For example: MX12023124 or 4367123
Although a serial number is useful for roughly determining the age of a guitar, this is often not the exact date.
As a result of the overlap between years, Fender serial numbers are also not by definition chronological.
In the past (before 1976) the serial numbers were often randomly assigned.
Most specifications for a particular Fender guitar have hardly changed, if at all.
Although there have been times when major changes have taken place, such as the acquisition of Fender by CBS, and the transition from CBS Fender
to the current owner (Fender Musical Instruments Corporation), most models have generally not changed.
Neck heel date
In order to approximate guitars from before 1976 to the correct year of manufacture, the date or serial number on the neck heel must therefore be inspected.
Usually there is a production date stamped or written on the tip of the heel.
In order to be able to read this, the
neck will have to be screwed off the body.
Until about April 1962, the dates on the neck end were handwritten.
Then switched to stamped dates.
Both the handwritten and the stamped date were usually coded. This code
precedes the date and is a number between 1 and 28 which indicates for which model the neck was made.
Contrary to what some assume, this is not the day date.
At Stratocasters from the early fifties, the serial numbers were stamped on the back of the vibrato cover plate.
On some Telecasters at the bridge between the pick-up and the saddles.
Patent numbers
Various patent numbers were added to the models between 1960 and 1977.
These were stamped in the headstock under the Fender logo.
Example: 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 numbering for these three models can be found on the bridge plate and lasted until the beginning of 1954.
Fender then switched to a serial numbering on the neck plate for all models in that year.
SERIAL NUMBERS
PRODUCTION YEAR
0001 - 0999
1950 - 1952
1000 - 5300
1952 - 1954
Precision Basses 1951-1955
There is some overlap of the serial numbers and dates.
The serial number was applied to the bridge plate until 1955.
Although Fender had already in 1954 switched to be placed the serial number on the headstock
for all models, it was still punched on the bridge plate with some Precison's.
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 are basically chronological, but as already mentioned,
due to Fender's numbering methods, there are a number of serial numbers and years that overlap.
The only way to try to find the date is to remove the neck from the body.
If the year is unreadable, it can also be written on the body under the pickguard
or in the cavity in which the pickups are.
With Fenders from before 1955 you cannot use the serial numbers to determine the exact year of construction.
The first Telecasters and Stratocasters appear to have a separate numbering.
With Telecasters it can happen that a '52er has a higher number than a '53er.
The serial numbers from after 1955 have a logical order.
SERIAL NUMBERS
PRODUCTION YEAR
Until 6000
1950 - 1954
Until 10000
1954 - 1956
10000
1955 - 1956
10000 - 20000
1957
20000 - 30000
1958
30000 - 40000
1959
40000 - 50000
1960
50000 - 70000
1961
60000 - 90000
1962
80000 - 90000
1963
90000 - L10000
1963
In January 1965, Fender was acquired CBS Corporation.
Although that is not directly attributable to the serial numbers.
CBS continued to make the guitars using the available,
Community, parts, and the serial numbering system.
The following table shows the serial numbers as they were used from 1965 to 1976.
Here too there are a number of numbers and years that overlap.
The serial numbers can give a rough indication of the year of construction.
The letter L followed by 6 numbers on the neckplate indicates a guitar from the early sixties.
The large Fender logo
says that the guitar was made after the acquisition by CBS, i.e. from the mid to late 1960s.
SERIAL NUMBERS
PRODUCTION YEAR
L00001 - L19999 (neckplate)
1963
L20000 - L58999 (neckplate)
1964
L59000 - L99999 (neckplate)
1965
100000 - 109999
1965
110000 - 199999
1966
200000 - 209999
1967
210000 - 249999
1968
250000 - 279999
1969
280000 - 299999
1970
300000 - 339999
1971
340000 - 369999
1972
370000 - 499999
1973
500000 - 519999
1973 - 1974
520000 - 579999
1974
580000 - 689999
1975
690000 - 750000
1976
The following table shows the most common Fender serial numbers from 1976 to the present.
Note the introduction of the letter prefix to the serial numbers.
The S stands for the decade of the seventies, an attempt by CBS to identify serial numbers every year of production.
The E stands for the decade of the eighties and was used for the first time in 1979.
But here too there were a number of overlaps and the reference to the correct production date is sometimes 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, the U.S. Vintage Series launched with the V as a prefix for 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 March 1985, CBS Corporation Fender was sold to a group of private investors led by William Schultz.
The company was given the current name; Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.
The transition to the new owners cannot be deduced from the serial numbers, because the numbering remained the same.
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)
To date American Vintage Series with the prefix 'V' serial numbers correctly, the neck of the body must be unscrewed.
The production date is stamped or written on the end of the neck heel.
In 1990, the N came as prefix for the serial numbers, and stands for the nineties.
The numbers and stickers were produced far in advance.
Due to a factory fault, N9 stickers (intended for use in 1999) were affixed in 1990 to a number of instruments built in that year.
As a result, you will come across a number of guitars built in 1990 with an N9 serial number.
The guitars from 1990 have the serial number on the front of the headstock.
Fender moved the serial number to the back of the headstock in 1996.
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
The Z for the digits was added in 2000.
A Z0 prefix dates from 2000, a Z1 from 2001, etc.
The U.S. Deluxe Series have the same standard but with the addition
of a D for the Z, e.g. DZ1, DZ2 etc.
But here too there are overlaps of numbers and years.
SERIAL
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
10 + 7 digits (Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number)
End 2009 - March 2010
US + 8 digits (Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number)
First two digits of the number identify the year of manufacture.
Starting March 2010
The following serial numbers are somewhat outside the familiar Fender numbering.
If in doubt about an odd serial number, check the table below to see if you can find the letter number combination here.
SERIAL
DESCRIPTION
AMXN + 6 digits
California Series electric guitars and basses, '97 and '98 (Made in USA and Mexico)
"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
PREFIX 10 OR US
At the end of 2009 a new 9 digit serial number format was introduced.
This format is prefixed with the number 10 (which stands for the second decade of 2000) followed by
7 digits. In March 2010 this format was again replaced by an 8 digit with the prefix
two letters. The two letters indicate the production location, the first two numbers the production year.
The last numbers are random and provide no further information.
JAPAN
Fender guitars produced in Japan have the serial number on the back of the neck, near the attachment to the body.
In some reissue models it can be found on the headstock or the neck plate. The combination of the text "Made in Japan"
and the serial number was used until 1997.
Fender increased its production in March, 1982 by having the Japan-based company Fuji Gen Gakki also build instruments.
The MIJ (Made In Japan) guitars start with a letter or a few letters indicating the year of manufacture.
This is the same system as the US serial numbers, however these MIJ serial numbers are less reliable.
Because this letter system was used inaccurately, the dating of MIJ guitars is questionable.Because this letter system
was applied inaccurately, the dating of MIJ guitars is doubtful.
In 1997 the sticker "Made in Japan" was replace by "Crafted in Japan".
There are overlaps of "CIJ" (Crafted in Japan) with the "MIJ" models, so pay attention to whether the instrument
is labeled "Made in Japan" or "Crafted in Japan".
SERIAL Made in Japan
PRODUCTION YEAR
JV + 5 digits
1982 - 1984
SQ + 5 digits
1983 - 1984
E + 6 digits
1984 - 1987
A + 6 digits B + 6 digits C + 6 digits
1985 - 1986
F + 6 digits
1986 - 1987
G + 6 digits
1987 - 1988
H + 6 digits
1988 - 1989
I + 6 digits J + 6 digits
1989 - 1990
K + 6 digits
1990 - 1991
L + 6 digits
1991 - 1992
M + 6 digits
1992 - 1993
N + 6 digits O + 6 digits P + 6 digits Q + 6 digits
1993 - 1994
S + 6 digits T + 6 digits
1994 - 1995
U + 6 digits N + 5 digits
1995 - 1996
V + 6 digits
1996 - 1997
SERIAL Crafted in Japan
PRODUCTION YEAR
A + 6 digits
1997 - 1998
O + 6 digits
1997 - 2000
P + 6 digits
1999 - 2002
Q + 6 digits
2002 - 2004
R + 6 digits
2004 - 2005
S + 6 digits
2006 - 2008
T + 6 digits
2007 - 2008
After 2007, the marking was switched back to "Made in Japan".
However, both stickers were used for a few years.
The serial numbers have continued since this cover in the same way as with the "CIJ" system.
MEXICO
In the late 1980s, Fender opened a factory in Ensenada, Mexico where the first instruments were produced in 1990.
The serial number of the Made in Mexico (MIM) Fenders, starting with the letter M and can be found on the headstock.
Some exceptions include special editions and signature models, and the American/Mexican-made California
series whose serial numbers begin with AMXN.
The MIM serial number system is quite simple.
The Mexican Fenders made in the 1990s have the serial number starting with MN followed
by a number indicating the year of the decade.
The M stands for Mexico and the N for nineties.
Guitars made from the 2000s follow the same system, but start with MZ. The Z here indicates the 2000 decade.
And for the 2010s the prefix is MX1.
SERIAL
PRODUCTION YEAR
MN0 + 5 of 6 digits
1990
MN1 + 5 of 6 digits
1991
MN2 + 5 of 6 digits
1992
MN3 + 5 of 6 digits
1993
MN4 + 5 of 6 digits
1994
MN5 + 5 of 6 digits
1995
MN6 + 5 of 6 digits
1996
MN7 + 5 of 6 digits
1997
MN8 + 5 of 6 digits
1998
MN9 + 5 of 6 digits
1999
MZ0 + 5 of 6 digits
2000
MZ1 + 5 of 6 digits
2001
MZ2 + 5 of 6 digits
2002
MZ3 + 5 of 6 digits
2003
MZ4 + 5 of 6 digits
2004
MZ5 + 5 of 6 digits
2005
MZ6 + 5 of 6 digits
2006
MZ7 + 5 of 6 digits
2007
MZ8 + 5 of 6 digits
2008
MZ9 + 5 of 6 digits
2009
MX10 + 6 digits
2010
MX11 + 6 digits
2011
MX12 + 6 digits
2012
MX13 + 6 digits
2013
MX14 + 6 digits
2014
MX15 + 6 digits
2015
MX16 + 6 digits
2016
MX17 + 6 digits
2017
MX18 + 6 digits
2018
MX19 + 6 digits
2019
MX20 + 6 digits
2020
KOREA
There is very little information about the Korean serial number from 1988 to 1992.
Numbers exist both with and without letter prefix.
In addition, the serial numbers were used randomly during this period and correct dating is uncertain.
There is also no much information about the serial numbers from 1993 to 1998.
Some have letter prefix CN or CV.
From 1997 onwards, serial numbers have the prefix KC followed by eight digits, the first two digits of which indicate the year of manufacture.
KC stands for Korean Cor-Tek factory.
SERIAL
PRODUCTION YEAR
6, 7 of 8 digits
1988-1996
CN0 + 5 digits VN0 + 5 digits
1990-1991
CN1 + 5 digits VN1 + 5 digits CN2 + 5 digits
1991-1992
VN2 + 5 digits CN3 + 5 digits
1992-1993
CN1 + 5 digits VN3 + 5 digits CN4 + 5 digits
1993-1994
VN4 + 5 digits CN5 + 5 digits
1994-1995
CN1 + 5 digits VN5 + 5 digits CN6 + 5 digits
1995-1996
VN6 + 5 digits
1996-1997
KC97 + 6, 7 of 8 digits
1997-1998
KC98 + 6 digits
1998-1999
KC99 + 6 digits
1999-2000
KC00 + 6 digits
2000-2001
KC01 + 6 digits
2000-2001
KC02 + 6 digits
2001-2003
KC03 + 6 digits
2003-2004
KC04 + 6 digits
2004-2005
KC05 + 6 digits
2005-2006
KC06 + 6 digits
2006-2007
KC07 + 6 digits
2007-2008
KC08 + 6 digits
2008-2009
KC09 + 6 digits
2009-2010
KC10 + 6 digits
2010-2011
KC11 + 6 digits
2011-2012
KC12 + 6 digits
2012-2013
KC13 + 6 digits
2013-2014
KC14 + 6 digits
2014-2015
Fender Logo
If you cannot find a serial number of the guitar (illegible, worn away), you can approximate the antiquity of a electric or semi-acoustic guitar by means of the potentiometers.
The code on potentiometers gives information about the manufacturer and the year and week when it was made.
See: Dating potentiometers
The used Fender logo can also be an indication of the period in which the guitar was made.
Whether it is an original model or a vintage (the old logos are used there too) depends on your own assessment of the age of the guitar.
spaghetti-logo 1950-1965
transition logo 1960-1967
CBS era logo 1967-
Fender has used 3 different logos for guitars.
The original logo, also called "spaghetti logo", the transition logo and the CBS era logo.
The spaghetti logo was used in the 1950s and is so named for its thin silver letter with a thin black line.
This logo was used in the mid-sixties.
At the end of 1959 a new logo was designed by designer Robert Perine and Leo fender himself.
The logo has bold gold letters with a thicker black border.
The logo was later named transition logo, because it bridged the period between the thin spaghetti logo and the CBS era.
The first guitar to be presented with this new logo was the Jazz Bass in 1960.
All new models were given the new logo from that moment.
In 1967 after the takeover of Fender by CBS, the design remained the same but the letters turned black with a gold-colored border.
Dating Pickups Stratocaster, Telecaster and Precision
Another method of determining the guitar's year of manufacturing is to date the pickups.
The date code consists of 3, 4, 5 or 6 digits. (no letters)
The first or first 2 digits is the code of the Fender employé who wound the coil (winder).
The next digits are the week and the year.
The pickups of Stratocasters, Telecasters and Precisions from the late 1960s to the early 1980s with a date code can be deciphered using the decoder.
Because the pickups were made earlier than the guitar, you have to add about half a year to it for the year of the guitar construction.
The date code only consists of 3, 4, 5 or 6 digits. (no letters) Example: 1489 or 71494
Another way to determine the age of a Fender pickup is to measure its ohmic resistance (impedance).
The impedance values are based on the average measured values of the pickups from the relevant year.
The specifications in the table are courtesy of Seymour Duncan obtained from the data and measurements of numerous remanufactured pickups.