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.
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 1954Precision 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 = 1963L-Series (1963 to late 1965)
L00001 to L20000 = 1963 L20000 to L55000 = 1964 L55000 to L99999 = 1965F-Series (late 1965 to mid-1976)
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 = 1976Serial Number on Fender Guitar Peghead Decal.
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 = 1988-1990In March 1985, CBS sold Fender to a group of private investors.
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 = 2005Japanese made Fender Guitar Serial Numbers on Peghead Decal
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 1996Other Fender Guitar 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)