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Fender Serial Numbers

Vintage Fender guitar serial number and vintage Fender guitar information at Greg's Guitars.

Fender guitar and bass Serial numbers compiled from many sources including websites,databases, Gruhn, and Duchossoir. It should be clearly stated that Fender serial numbers ARE NOT definitively chronological. That is, there's lots of overlap between years. Basically there was a big bin of serial number plates, and the installers grabbed one, and screwed it to the guitar. They weren't managing the numbers in any way. The point is, don't read too much into Fender serial numbers.

Pre-1977 Fender guitars have a serial number on the bridgeplate or neckplate. Serial numbers are basically chronological, but there is some overlap amoung years. Fender serial numbers were assigned like this: bin with serialized plates/bridges. Assembler reached in and grabbed one (or many). Put them on the instrument(s). As you can see from this over-simplified example, serial number assignment was fairly random. Just keep this in mind. The only truely definitive way to date a pre-CBS fender is to look at all the dates on the instrument (body date, neck date, pot dates). The serial number can only generalized the age of the instrument within a few years.

Fender Serial Numbers, 1950 to Present (Identifying the Year).

    Serial numbers compiled from several sources including myself, Gruhn, and Duchossoir. It should be clearly stated that Fender serial numbers ARE NOT definitively chronological. That is, there's lots of overlap between years. Basically there was a big bin of serial number plates, and the installers grabbed one, and screwed it to the guitar. They weren't managing the numbers in any way. The point is, don't read too much into Fender serial numbers.

    Pre-1977 Fender guitars have a serial number on the bridgeplate or neckplate. Serial numbers are basically chronological, but there is some overlap amoung years. Fender serial numbers were assigned like this: bin with serialized plates/bridges. Assembler reached in and grabbed one (or many). Put them on the instrument(s). As you can see from this over-simplified example, serial number assignment was fairly random. Just keep this in mind. The only truely definitive way to date a pre-CBS fender is to look at all the dates on the instrument (body date, neck date, pot dates). The serial number can only generalized the age of the instrument within a few years.

    Esquires, Broadcasters, Telecasters 1950 to 1954 (number on bridgeplate). This system of serial numbers is unique to these three models until about the early summer of 1954 (when Fender switched to a universal neck plate serial number system for all models):

      Telecaster, Numbers On Bridge Plate
      0001 to 0999 = 1950 to 1952
      1000 to 5300 = 1952 to 1954
    
    Precision Basses 1951 to 1955 (number on bridgeplate). Note there is some overlap. This system of serial numbers is unique to this model until about 1955 (even though Fender went to a universal neckplate serial number system on all instruments in 1954, some old style Precision Bass serialized bridges were still left over and used until 1955.)

      Pbass, Numbers on Bridge Plate
      100  to 400  = 1951 to 1952
      0001 to 0999 = 1952 to 1954
      1000 to 2000 = 1953 to 1955
     

      All Models, summer 1954 to mid 1976
      Serial number on neckplate. In 1957/1958 some serial numbers started with a minus sign ("-"), or had a "0" prefix before the number. Also in 1959/1960 some serial numbers were at the bottom of the neck plate instead of the usual top. Double stamped serial number plates were also produced (number on both front and back of the neck plate) in late 1957 to early 1959. This shows a "double stamped" neck plate, one number with a "-" prefix and stamped on the bottom of the plate, and the other number with a "0" prefix! And yes there is some overlap in serial numbers between years.

      4 to 6 digit Neck Plate Serial Numbers
      This style of neck plate started in 1954. No other letters or markings on the neck plate, except for the rare "-" or "0" prefix, as noted. Used on Telecaster, Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Jazz Bass, Precision bass, Duosonics, Musicmasters, etc. from 1954 and later. Lots of overlap in numbers in adjacent years. Don't read too much into these serial numbers, it's not the best way to date a Fender guitar.

        0001  to 8000  = 1954
        6000  to 10000 = 1955
        9000  to 16000 = 1956
        16000 to 25000 = 1957 (some numbers with a "0" or "-" prefix)
        25000 to 30000 = 1958 (some numbers with a "0" or "-" prefix)
        30000 to 40000 = 1959
        40000 to 58000 = 1960
        55000 to 72000 = 1961
        72000 to 93000 = 1962
        93000 to 99999 = 1963
      
      L-Series (1963 to late 1965)
      Serial number on neckplate preceded with an "L". Considered Pre-CBS (even though CBS bought Fender in January 1965). Sometimes an "L" serial number can be seen on a late 1962 model. Used on Telecaster, Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Jazz Bass, Precision bass and other models. Lots of overlap in numbers from adjacent years. Don't read too much into these serial numbers, it's not the best way to date a Fender guitar.
        L00001 to L20000 = 1963
        L20000 to L55000 = 1964
        L55000 to L99999 = 1965
      
      F-Series (late 1965 to mid-1976)
      Big script "F" on neckplate below serial number. Known as the CBS era.
        100000 to 110000 = late 1965
        110000 to 200000 = 1966
        180000 to 210000 = 1967
        210000 to 250000 = 1968
        250000 to 280000 = 1969
        280000 to 300000 = 1970
        300000 to 330000 = 1971
        330000 to 370000 = 1972
        370000 to 520000 = 1973
        500000 to 580000 = 1974
        580000 to 690000 = 1975
        690000 to 750000 = 1976
      
      Serial Number on Fender Guitar Peghead Decal.
      U.S. made Fenders, starting in mid-1976 has the serial number on the peghead. Note the following number could be off as much as two years. Generally speaking, a "S" prefix equals the 1970's, "E" prefix equals the 1980's, and "N" prefix equals the 1990's. Note "E" and "N" prefix models are sometimes also Japanese-made (see below).
        7600000 ("76" in bold) = 1976-1977
        800000s = 1979-1981
        1000000 to 8000000 = 1976-1981 (7 digits)
      
        S1 to S5 + 5 Digits = 1979-1982
        S6 + 5 digits = 1976 
        S7 + 5 digits = 1977-1978
        S8 + 5 digits = 1977-1978
        S9 + 5 digits = 1978-1981
        E0 + 5 digits = 1979-1981
        E1 + 5 digits = 1980-1981
      
        E1 + 5 digits = 1982
        E2 + 5 digits = 1982-1983
        E3 + 5 digits = 1982-1984
        E4 + 5 digits = 1984-1985, 1987-1988
        E8 + 5 digits = 1988-1989
        E9 + 5 digits = 1988-1990
      
      In March 1985, CBS sold Fender to a group of private investors.
      The serial numbers do not reflect this change - Fender continued to make instruments using existing serial number schemes. The new Fender did not acquire any physical assets of the old company, just the name "Fender". Hence during 1985 to 1987, production of Fender guitars was only done in Japan, while USA Fender created a new factory in California. The Japanese-made Fenders do have some slight serial number differences (typically a "J" serial number prefix).
        N9 + 5 digits = 1990
        N0 + 5 digits = 1990-1991
        N1 + 5 or 6 digits = 1991-1992
        N2 + 5 or 6 digits = 1992-1993
        N3 + 5 or 6 digits = 1993-1994
        N4 + 5 or 6 digits = 1994-1995
        N5 + 5 or 6 digits = 1995-1996
        N6 + 5 or 6 digits = 1996-1997
        N7 + 5 or 6 digits = 1997-1998
        N8 + 5 or 6 digits = 1998-1999
        N9 + 5 or 6 digits = 1999-2000
      
        DZ0 or Z0 + 5/6 digits = 2000
        DZ1 or Z1 + 5/6 digits = 2001
        DZ2 or Z2 + 5/6 digits = 2002
        DZ3 or Z3 + 5/6 digits = 2003
        DZ4 or Z4 + 5/6 digits = 2004
        DZ5 or Z5 + 5/6 digits = 2005
      
      Japanese made Fender Guitar Serial Numbers on Peghead Decal
      Note the lack of S, E, N series. These are reserved for U.S. made Fenders in their corresponding decade. BUT note that the "E" and "N" series does sometimes appear on "made in Japan" models. I believe this was a mistake on Fender's part using the same prefix for both U.S. and Jap-made guitars. In any case, if it says "made in Japan", then it is...
        JV + 5 Digits = 1982 to 1984
        SQ + 5 Digits = 1983 to 1984
         E + 6 Digits = 1984 to 1987
         A + 6 Digits = 1985 to 1986
         B + 6 Digits = 1985 to 1986
         C + 6 Digits = 1985 to 1986
         F + 6 Digits = 1986 to 1987
         G + 6 Digits = 1987 to 1988
         H + 6 Digits = 1988 to 1989
         I + 6 Digits = 1989 to 1990
         J + 6 Digits = 1989 to 1990
         K + 6 Digits = 1990 to 1991
         L + 6 Digits = 1991 to 1992
         M + 6 Digits = 1992 to 1993
         N + 6 Digits = 1993 to 1994
         O + 6 Digits = 1994 to 1995
         P + 6 Digits = 1995 to 1996
      
      Other Fender Guitar Serial Number Schemes.
      Fender has recently (in the last 20 years) introduced LOTS of different serial numbers schemes, depending on the country the Fender was made (USA, Mexico, Japan, Korea, etc). Not all schemes are covered here! Sorry, since I do not collect new Fenders, I don't really keep track of these things. Below are some examples of letter prefixes used in recent serial number schemes.
        V + 4 to 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series) = 1982-1988 (neck date=exact year)  
        V + 5 to 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series) = 1989-present (model dependant)  
        AMXN + 6 DIGITS = California Series electric guitars and basses, '97 and '98 
        DN + 6 DIGITS = American Deluxe series instruments, '98 and '99 
        NC(XXXXXX) = Squier Strat Bullets (dating unclear) 
        FN(XXXXXX) = US made guitars and basses destined for the export market. 
                     Some may have stayed in the U.S or found their way back 
                    (dating unclear) 
        I(XXXXXXX) = Limited number of these "I" series guitars were made in '89/'90.
                     They were made for the export market and have Made in USA 
                     stamped on neck heel. 
        LE(XXXXXX) = Blonde Jazzmasters and Jaguars with Gold hardware made in 1994. 
                     Sold as a promotional 3 piece set with a Blonde Deluxe Reverb Amp 
        CN(XXXXXX) = Korean made Fender/Squier guitars (dating unclear)
        VN(XXXXXX) = Korean made Fender/Squier guitars (dating unclear) 
        CA(XXXXX) = Gold Strat 1981, 82 and 83 
        CB(XXXXX) = Precision Bass Special from 1981, CB(XXXXX) Gold Jazz Bass from 1982 
        CC(XXXXX) = Walnut Strat 1981-82-83 
        CE(XXXXX) = Precision Bass Special from 1981, Black and Gold Tele from 1981-82 
        CD(XXXXX) = Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982
        CO(XXXXX) = Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982 
        GO(XXXXX) = Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982, Gold Strat 1982-83 
        D(XXXXXX) = Jazz Bass from 1982 
        SE8(XXXXX) = Signature Edition Strats (dating unclear, check neck date)
        SE9(XXXXX) = Signature Edition Strats (dating unclear, check neck date)  
        SN0(XXXXX) = Signature Edition Strats 1990
        SN1(XXXXX) = Signature Edition Strats 1990
        SN2(XXXXX) = Signature Edition Strats 1992
        SN3(XXXXX) = Signature Edition Strats 1993   
        3 digits of 500 = 35th Anniversary Strat from 1989-1990  
        G(XXXXXX) = "STRAT" from about 1980, (Gold hardware, 2 pos. rotary tone switch) 
        4 digits stamped on bridge plate = 1952 reissue Telecaster 1982-1988 
          (Check neck date for exact year) 
        5 digits stamped on bridge plate = 1952 reissue Telecaster 1988-present 
          (Check neck date for exact year) 
      

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