How to Date your Fender Guitar by Serial Number

How Old is My Fender Guitar?

American Stratocaster Guide

I often get asked, how old is my Fender guitar? Most of the time this question can't be answered specifically. The Fender numbers tell the story of the company over the years. Unfortunately, the serial number placement is sporadic and many ID numbers over lap between years and models. In many instances, there is no exact known date for a specific guitar. That is why I decided to write this article. I want to help you understand how to tell the age of your Fender as well as any Fender you see.

Fender like Gibson has been producing guitars for many years. Certain styles and colors have come and gone over the years, but there is no real obvious way to tell how old a Fender is other than the indentification number. Unfortunately, Fender decided not to simply write the date of manufacture on the guitar. They decided that it would be easier to decipher the serial number code than just write the year on the guitar. I say this only joking. Most manufactures don't actually write the production dates on the guitar in plain view. First let's take a look at where to find ID numbers on a Fender guitar.



Where do I find my Fender Serial Number?

Fender Telecaster 1954 Reissue Database

This article is intended to help you date your Fender Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Precision Bass guitars all the way back to the early 1950s. In order to tell how old your Fender is you will have to find the indentification number or neck number. The serial number location has changed a few times of the years. From 1950 to 1954 Fender guitar unique numbers were stamped in the bridge cavity cover plate. From 1954 to 1976 Fender stamped its guitar's serial number on either the top or bottom of the neck plate. Modern Fender production guitars, 1976 to the present, have their ID numbers on the front or back of the headstock near the Fender decal. In 1982 Fender decided to start making reissued vintage guitars. These guitars were replicas of the early 1950 and 1960s era guitars. True to form the reissue guitars have their indentification numbers stamped in the neck plate.

The serial numbers on the outside of the body are not the only way to date a Fender guitar however. Fender also dated the neck when it was manufactured. After the neck was finished, a Fender employee would either stamp or handwrite the date on the end of the guitar neck on its heel. This marking is only visible when the neck is removed from the body because it is covered in the neck pocket. Almost all Fender guitars have a dated neck. Some Fender guitar bodies and pickups also have dates written on them. Few Fender guitars have dates written on the bodies under the pickups, in the routed out cavities, and near the wiring harnesses. Fender only decided to write dates on the bodies for a few years here and there. They never really did that consistently.



What does the date on the neck mean?

Many people think that the date on the heel of their Fender neck is the production date of the guitar. After reviewing the ID number, you might find out that the two corresponding dates don't coincide. Why is this? It all has to do with how Fender produced guitars. Leo Fender was a genius with minimizing the costs of production. Unlike Gibson, Leo found did everything the cheapest and fastest way possible. He made a bolt-on neck, so the neck and the body could be manufactured at the same time. He wired the pickguard with pickups, so all the wiring could be finished before the body was even dry from finishing. That's how the Fender production line worked. The number and date on the neck is simply the date that the neck was finished--not the date that the guitar was completed. Necks could sit for days, weeks, or even months at a time before being matched with a body. After the entire guitar was assembled, the indentification number was stamped in place. Being many months later, the serial number date and the neck date might not match. Remember, these serial and neck numbers were never really intended for historical dating. They were simply internal numbers to help with production.



Fender Serial Number Guide

Now that we have talked about where to find your Fender guitar ID number and what it means, here is the Fender serial number database that I have compiled. It includes most of the Fender serial numbers issued along with the corresponding dates and a short history of Fender Guitars through the years.





1950-1954 Fender Guitar Serial Numbers

When Leo first started putting indentification numbers on his guitars, he segregated them by model. Each models unique numbers started at 1 or a number close to it. That means that there could be a Tele, Strat, and Precision bass with the exact same serial number. He didn't stop doing this until after 1954.





Telecaster - Esquire - Broadcaster - No-caster

Numbers 

Years 

33-860  1950-1952 
0005-0746  1950-1952 
0748-1331  1951-1952 
0161-0470  1951-1952 
2911-5368  1951-1954 

Stratocaster

Numbers 

Years 

0-6000  1954 

P Bass

Numbers 

Years 

161-357  1951 
299-619  1952 
0001-0160  1952 
0161-0470  1951-1952 
0475-0840  1952-1953 
0848-1897  1953-1954 



1954-1963 Fender Guitar Serial Numbers


1962 Pre-CBS Fender P Bass Lookup

At some point in 1954, Fender decided to stop grouping the guitar ID number by model. He started using one sequence of serial numbers for all the guitars coming off of the Fender production lines including Teles, Esquires, Strats, and P-basses. Some of these indentification numbers are still out of sequence, jumbled up, or missing. You may notice that there is a great deal of over lapping numbers in these nine years. The only way to verify an over lapping date is to check the corresponding neck date and body date. This list is a little convoluted because there are so many over lapping serial numbers. The number column represents the general number grouping that Fender and most experts agree on. The low and high columns show the range of indentification numbers that have been positively matched to specific years. As you can see, there is quite a bit of overlap. For some reason during 1955, 1957, and 1958 Fender decided to place zero or a dash in front of ID numbers periodically. Some guitars in these years have them and some don't.

1954-1963 Fender Guitars

Numbers 

Low 

High 

Years 

0001-6999  0001  10146  1954 
7000-8999  3152  10798  1955 
09000-16999  7895  16957  1956 
17000-24999  10604  28522  1957 
25000-33999  022878  51593  1958 
34000-43999  022878  51593  1959 
44000-58999  39993  66626  1960 
59000-70999  55531  77754  1961 
71000-93999  69520  96203  1962 
94000-99999  81977  99924  1963 



Late 1962 - Early 1965 Fender Guitar Serial Numbers




1964 Pre-CBS Fender Strat Check

Toward the end of 1962 Fender's success kept on building. He was nearing his 100,000th guitar. Instead of adding another digit on to his 5-digit ID numbers, Leo decided to add an "L", presumably for his first initial, in front of the serial numbers and start the sequence all over again. This time all the indentification numbers under 10,000 fill the empty digits with zeros. For example, the 989th guitar's ID number would not be L989. It was L00989. Since this change wasn't until the end of 1962, only a few true 1962 Fenders have an "L" serial number.

Late 1962 - Early 1965 Fender Guitars

Numbers 

Low 

High 

Years 

L00001-L19999  L0001  L60330  1963 
L20000-L59999  L08825  L92560  1964 
L60000-L99999  L23537  L99944  1965 



1965-1976 Fender Guitar Serial Numbers




1972 Fender Tele Search

In early 1965, Leo Fender sold Fender Musical Instruments, Inc. to CBS for $13 million. A lot of changes happened to the company as well as the guitars themselves under the new ownership. The indentification number sequences were no exception. CBS came up with a new numbering system to take advantage of the fact that Leo did not use 6-digit ID numbers. CBS continued the sequence Fender started in 1954. These 1965-1976 era guitars are commonly referred to as the F series because of the neck plate design change. The new neck plate only had the Fender F logo stamped in place.

Late 1965 - 1976 Digits

Numbers 

Low 

High 

Years 

100000-119999  100173  158977  1965 
120000-179999  100173  158977  1966 
180000-219999  112172  261343  1967 
220000-251999  156657  263115  1968 
252000-291999  204352  262774  1969 
292000-298999  224160  290835  1970 
290000-344999  278916  304089  1971 
345000-379999  261863  331031  1972 
380000-539999  258495  654030  1973 
540000-599999  316987  602615  1974 
600000-656999  417024  677199  1975 
657000-669999  595121  717257  1976 
670000-799999      1971-1976 



1976-Present USA Fender Guitar Serial Numbers

In 1976, Fender decided to stop stamping ID numbers in guitar parts and started making decals for the guitar peghead or headstock. Along with the new location a new series of serial numbers were instituted. Fender apparently was thinking long term because they developed a serial numbering system with one-letter codes preceding the indentification numbers. The letters referred to the decade that the guitars were produced. Most guitars then had a number following the one-letter code that designated the specific year. For instance, ID number S76823 would be a guitar produced in 1977. In about 1982 Fender started making import guitars from Japan and around 1990 Fender started importing from Mexico. These guitars have a completely different set of serial numbers that I will talk about later in the article. This section only deals with USA made Fender guitars. Here are the decade numbers:

1976-Present USA Fender
serial number One-letter Codes

Letters 

Decades 

1970's 
1980's 
1990's 
2000's 
Fender Stratocaster USA Headstock Serial Number

The new serial number system was a little complicated, but it does make it relatively easy to tell the date of the guitar. Like all Fender's previous systems, they are problems with this one. Fender mass-produced the headstock decal without matching them with the annual production schedules of the guitars--meaning they made more decals for a given year than guitars. See the problem? There were a few years where excess headstock ID number decals were produced and held over to the next year, the some guitars are actually dated with a previous year decal. It wasn't until 1991 that Fender actually got this system straighten out. To get the exact date on guitars made between 1976 and 1991, it is important to cross-reference the dates on the neck written on the heel. Here are a list of dates and codes that overlap years.

1976-Present USA Fender
Overlapping One-letter Codes

Letters 

Decades 

S7  January 1977 - April 1978 
S8  December 1977 - December 1978 
S9  November 1978 - August 1981 
E0  June 1979 - December 1981 
E1  December 1980 - January 1982 
E2  December 1981 - January 1983 
E3  December 1982 - January 1985 
E4  December 1983 - Early 1988 
E8  1988 - 1989 
E9  1989 - 1990 
N9  1990 
N0  1990 - 1991 

Aside from all of the errors and overlapping serial numbers, this system was quite improved from the previous ID number systems. If Fender would have executed the indentification numbers as planned, USA Fender guitars would be numbered as the following without any exceptions. You can use this table to lookup your Fender serial number after 1976.

1976-Present USA Fender Guitars

Numbers 

Years 

760000-799999  1976-1977 
800000-899999  1979-1981 
1000000-8999999  1976-1981 
S100000-S699999  1979-1982 
S700000-S779999  1977 
S740000-S899999  1978 
S810000-S879999  1979 
S880000-S989999  1980 
S950000-S999999  1981 
E000000-E199999  1979-1982 
E110000-E129999  1980-1983 
E200000-E299999  1982 
E300000-E319999  1983 
E320000-E399999  1984-1985 
E400000-E499999  1984-1985, 1987 
E800000-E899999  1988-1989 
E900000-E999999  1989-1990 
N900000-N999999  1990 
N000000-N099999  1990 
N100000-N199999  1991-1992 
N200000-N299999  1992-1993 
N300000-N399999  1993-1994 
N400000-N499999  1994-1995 
N500000-N599999  1995-1996 
N600000-N699999  1996-1997 
N700000-N799999  1997-1998 
N800000-N899999  1998-1999 
N900000-N999999  1999-2000 
Z000000-Z099999  2000-2001 
Z100000-Z199999  2001-2002 
Z200000-Z299999  2002-2003 
Z300000-Z399999  2003-2004 
Z400000-Z499999  2004-2005 
Z500000-Z599999  2005-2006 
Z600000-Z699999  2006-2007 
Z700000-Z799999  2007-2008 
Z800000-Z899999  2008-2009 
Z900000-Z999999  2009-2010 
1000000-1099999  Early 2010 
US1000000-US1099999  Late 2010 
US1100000-US1199999  2011 



Fender Anniversary, Reissue,
Special Edition, and Signature Series

Throughout the years, Fender has run many limited edition, reissue, and custom guitars. All of these guitars' ID numbers do not follow the unique number sequence of the regular production guitars. These guitars usually have a special two to four letter prefix before the serial number. Each prefix is unique to that model guitar. Here is a guide to lookup all of the different types of special Fender guitars with their own serial number pattern.

Fender Anniversary, Reissue, Special Edition, and Signature Guitars

Prefix 

Number of Digits 

Example Serial Number 

Guitar Model 

Years 

25  2500001  25th Anniversary Stratocaster  1979-1980 
AMXN  AMXN000001  California Series  1997-1998 
C000001  Collector's Series  Up until 1965 
CA  CA00001  Stratocaster Gold  1981-1983 
CB  CB00001  Precision Bass Special and Jazz Bass Gold  1981, 1982 
CC  CC00001  Stratocaster Walnut  1981-1983 
CD  CD00001  Precision Bass Special  1982 
CE  CE00001  Precision Bass Special, Black and Gold Telecaster  1981-1983 
CN      See Korean Guitars   
CO  CO00001  Precision Bass Special  1982 
D000001  Jazz Bass  1981-1982 
DN  DN000001  American Deluxe Series  1998-1999 
DZ  1 year digit + 5 or 6  DZ100001  American Deluxe Series  2000-present 
FN  FN000001  USA Guitars made for export  Can't be determined from SN 
G000001  The Strat  1980-1983 
GO  GO00001  Precision Bass Special and Stratocaster Gold  1982, 1982-1983 
I00001  USA guitars for export stamped USA on heel  1989-1990 
LE  LE000001  Blonde Jaguar and Jassmaster sold as set with Blonde Deluxe Reverb Amp  1994 
MN      Mexican Fender Serial Numbers   
NC      See Squire Guitars   
SE  SE000001  Signature Models  1980's - 1st digit designates specific year 
SN  SN000001  Signature Models  1990's - 1st digit designates specific year 
SZ  SZ000001  Signature Models  2000's - 1st digit designates specific year 
T000001  Fender Tribute Series  Check Heel of Neck 
4, 5, or 6  V000001  Vintage Reissue Guitars Except Tele '52  Introduced in 1982 Check Neck for Year 
VN      Korean Fender Serial Numbers   
XN  XN00001  FRS and Telecaster '52  More variations of serials may exist 
XXX of 500  001 of 500  35th Anniversary Stratocaster  1989-1990 
XXXX on Bridgeplate  0001  U.S. '52 Vintage Telecaster Reissue  1982-1988 Check Neck for Year 
XXXXX on Bridgeplate  00001  U.S. '52 Vintage Telecaster Reissue  1988-present Check Neck for Year 
XXXX on Back of Headstock  0001  Custom Order  1987-present Check Neck for Year 



Related Guides

Japanese Fender Serial Numbers

Mexican Fender Serial Numbers

Korean Fender Serial Numbers

Fender Squire and Chinese numbering and dating guides are coming soon.

You can also find more information on the Fender site.





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