DATING FENDER GUITARS BY REFERENCE OF SERIAL NUMBERS
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 headstock or on the cover plate of the
vibrato (Stratocaster), or at the end of the heel of the neck.
Between 1973 and 1981 there were periods that this is not consistently done.
If you want to know the production year 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 helpful 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 (we are talking about before 1976) the serial numbers were often randomly assigned.
To approximate the correct year of construction before this period (1976) is to also check the dates on the heel of the neck and of the potmeters.
Usually the production date is stamped or written on the heel of the neck.
To read this it is necessary to unscrew the neck from the body.
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, there were added several patent numbers to the models. These became in the headstock under the Fender logo stamped.
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 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 March 1985, CBS Corporation sold Fender to a group of private investors led by William Schultz, where the company get the current name Fender Musical Instruments Corporation.
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)
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 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.
The guitars from 1990 have the serial number on the front of the headstock. Fender moved the serial number to the back 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
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
10 + 7 digits
(Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number)
End 2009 - March 2010
US + 8 digits
First two digits of the number identify the year of manufacture.
(Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number)
Starting March 2010
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
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
If you can not find a serial number (unreadable, worn of),
you can approximate the age of a semi/electric guitar on the basis of the potentiometers.
The code on potentiometers gives information about the manufacturer and the year and week when it is made.
See: Dating potentiometers
The Fender logo that was used can also be an indication from which period the guitar originates.
Whether it is an original model or a vintage (also the old logos are used again) depends on your own estimation 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-colored letter with a thin black line.
This logo was used in the fifties until the mid-sixties.
At the end of 1959 a new logo was designed by designer Robert Perine and Leo fender himself.
The logo has fatter golden 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 branded with this new logo was the Jazz Bass in 1960. All new models
got the new logo from that moment on.
In 1967 after the takeover of Fender by CBS, the design remained the same but the letters became black with one
gold-colored border.