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How can I find out when my American-made instrument was manufactured? How can I find out how old my instrument is?

For most of Fender’s U.S. instrument production history, production dates have been applied to various components.

Most notably, production dates have been penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses, although there were periods when this was not consistently done (1973 to 1981, for example) or simply omitted. Neck-dating can be useful in determining the

Given the modular nature of Fender production techniques, an individual neck may have been produced in a given year, then stored for a period of time before being paired with a body to create a complete guitar, perhaps, for example, in the following year. Therefore, while helpful in determining a

Most specifications for a given Fender instrument model change little (if at all) throughout the lifetime of the model. While there have been periods of dramatic change—such as the transition periods between the Leo Fender years and the CBS years or the transition between the CBS years and the current ownership—most models are generally feature-specific and do not change from year to year.

Serial numbers are also helpful in determining an instrument’s production year. For years, serial numbers have been used in various locations on Fender instruments, such as the top of the neck plate, the front or back of the headstock and the back of the neck near the junction with the body. Serial numbers were stamped on the back vibrato cover plate on early ’50s Stratocaster® guitars, and on the bridge plate between the pickup and the saddles on some Telecaster® guitars.

But once again, due to Fender’s modular production methods and often non-sequential serial numbering (usually overlapping two to four years from the early days of Fender to the mid-1980s), dating by serial number is not always precisely definitive.

The chart below details Fender serial number schemes used from 1950 to 1964. Notice that there is quite a bit of overlap in numbers and years. The only way to try to narrow the date range of your specific instrument is to remove the neck and check the butt end of the neck heel for a production date, which may be stamped or written there (if you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, please refer to an experienced professional guitar tech in your area).

SERIAL NUMBERS | PRODUCTION DATES |

Up to 6,000 | 1950 to 1954 |

Up to 10,000 | 1954 to 1956 |

10,000s | 1955 to 1956 |

10,000s to 20,000s | 1957 |

20,000s to 30,000s | 1958 |

30,000s to 40,000s | 1959 |

40,000s to 50,000s | 1960 |

50,000s to 70,000s | 1961 |

60,000s to 90,000s | 1962 |

80,000s to 90,000s | 1963 |

90,000s up to L10,000s | 1963 |

L10,000s up to L20,000s | 1963 |

L20,000s up to L50,000s | 1964 |

Fender was sold to CBS in January 1965. Serial numbering didn’t change immediately because instruments continued to be made using existing, tooling, parts and serial number schemes. The chart below details Fender serial number schemes used from 1965 to 1976. Notice that there is quite a bit of overlap in numbers and years.

SERIAL NUMBERS | PRODUCTION DATES |

L50,000s up to L90,000s | 1965 |

100,000s | 1965 |

100,000s to 200,000s | 1966 to 1967 |

200,000s | 1968 |

200,000s to 300,000s | 1969 to 1970 |

300,000s | 1971 to 1972 |

300,000s to 500,000s | 1973 |

400,000s to 500,000s | 1974 to 1975 |

500,000s to 700,000s | 1976 |

The charts below detail the most common Fender serial number schemes from 1976 to the present. Once again, there is quite a bit of overlap in numbers and years. The only way to try to narrow the date range of your specific instrument is to remove the neck and check the butt end of the neck heel for a production date, which may be stamped or written there (if you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, please refer to an experienced professional guitar tech in your area). Serial numbers with an “S” prefix denote the 1970s (signifying a CBS attempt to use serial numbers to identify production years); an “E” prefix was introduced in 1979 to denote the 1980s. As seen in the overlap of numbers and years, even these references to actual production dates are rather loose.

SERIAL NUMBERS | PRODUCTION DATES |

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 |

1982 saw the introduction of the U.S. Vintage Series instruments and “V”-prefix serial numbers. The only way to definitively date U.S. instruments with “V”-prefix serial numbers is to remove the neck and check the butt end of the neck heel for a production date, which may be stamped or written there.

SERIAL NUMBERS | PRODUCTION DATES |

EI + 5 digits E2 + 5 digits E3 + 5 digits V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1982 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year) |

E2 + 5 digits E3 + 5 digits V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1983 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year) |

E3 + 5 digits E4 + 5 digits V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1984 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year) |

CBS sold Fender in March 1985. Serial numbering didn’t change because instruments continued to be made using existing tooling, parts and serial number schemes.

SERIAL NUMBERS | PRODUCTION DATES |

E3 + 5 digits E4 + 5 digits V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1985 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year) |

V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) | 1986 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year) |

E4 + 5 digits V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1987 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year) |

E4 + 5 digits E8 + 5 digits V + 4, 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1988 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year) |

E8 + 5 digits E9 + 5 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1989 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year) |

“N”-prefix serial numbers denoting the 1990s were introduced in 1990. The numbers and decals were produced far in advance, and some N9 decals (denoting 1999) were inadvertently affixed to some instruments in 1990. Consequently, some 1990 guitars bear 1999 “N9” serial numbers.

SERIAL NUMBERS | PRODUCTION DATES |

E9 + 5 digits N9 + 5 digits N0 + 5 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1990 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year) |

N0 + 5 digits N1 + 5 or 6 digits V + 5 or 6 v (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1991 |

N1 + 5 or 6 digits N2 + 5 or 6 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1992 |

N2 + 5 or 6 digits N3 + 5 or 6 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1993 |

N3 + 5 or 6 digits N4 + 5 or 6 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1994 |

N4 + 5 or 6 digits N5 + 5 or 6 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1995 |

N5 + 5 or 6 digits N6 + 5 or 6 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1996 |

N6 + 6 or 6 digits N7 + 5 or 6 digits V + 5 or 6 v (U.S. Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1997 |

N7 + 5 or 6 digits N8 + 5 or 6 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series) |
1998 |

N8 + 5 or 6 DIGITS N9 + 5 or 6 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster) |
1999 1999 |

“Z”-prefix serial numbers denoting the new millennium appeared on U.S.-made instruments in 2000. Z0 denotes 2000; Z1 denotes 2001, etc. American Deluxe Series instruments use the same dating convention, but with the addition of a “D” in front of the “Z”; i.e., DZ1, DZ2, etc. As always, there is typically some number prefix overlap and carryover from year to year.

SERIAL NUMBERS | PRODUCTION DATES |

N9 + 5 or 6 digits Z0 + 5 or 6 digits DZ0 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) |
2000 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

Z0 + 5 or 6 digits Z1 + 5 or 6 digits DZ1 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) |
2001 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

Z1 + 5 or 6 digits Z2 + 5 or 6 digits DZ2 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) |
2002 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

Z2 + 5 or 6 digits Z3 + 5 or 6 digits DZ3 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) |
2003 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

Z3 + 5 or 6 digits Z4 + 5 or 6 digits DZ4 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) XN4 + 4 digits |
2004 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

Z4 + 5 or 6 digits Z5 + 5 or 6 digits DZ5 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) XN5 + 4 digits |
2005 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

Z5 + 5 or 6 digits Z6 + 5 or 6 digits DZ6 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) XN6 + 4 digits |
2006 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

Z6 + 5 or 6 digits Z7 + 5 or 6 digits DZ7 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) XN7 + 4 digits |
2007 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

Z7 + 5 or 6 digits Z8 + 5 or 6 digits DZ8 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) XN8 + 4 digits |
2008 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

Z8 + 5 or 6 digits Z9 + 5 or 6 digits DZ9 + 5 or 6 digits (American Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) XN9 + 4 digits |
2009 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

A new serial numbering scheme was adopted toward the end of 2009 using the number “10” as a prefix, followed by a space, followed by seven digits. The “10” prefix was designed to identify the first year of the second decade of the new millennium, and while it appears on the instrument decals, it was not captured in Fender’s operating system. Only the seven-digit suffixes were actually entered into the database. These serial numbers did not identify the country of origin in the body of the number. Instead, the instrument's country of origin appears on the decal on the back of the headstock, near the serial number.

This new numbering scheme was short-lived and was replaced only a few months later by an improved scheme that identifies an instrument’s country of origin and year of manufacture in the body of the serial number.

This new scheme uses the letters “US” as a prefix to designate an instrument made in the United States, followed by an eight-digit number. The first two digits of the number identify the year of manufacture, (10 for 2010, 11 for 2011, etc.). The following six digits are the unit identifier, although it should be noted that these final six numbers are not sequential and do not provide any other identification information about the instrument. This new scheme is now used on the majority of U.S.-made Fender instruments, with exceptions including the American Vintage series and certain special-run instruments.

SERIAL NUMBERS | PRODUCTION DATES |

“10” prefix followed by a space and seven digits (late 2009 through March 2010) US10 + 6 digits (beginning in about March 2010) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) |
2010 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

US11 + 6 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) |
2011 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

US12 + 6 digits V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) |
2012 (for American Vintage series, check neck date for specific year) |

The “odd” serial numbers on the chart below exist somewhat outside the more well-known Fender serial number schemes. If you have what you consider an odd serial number, it might appear here.

NUMBER | DESCRIPTION |

AMXN + 6 digits | California Series electric guitars and basses; 1997 and 1998 |

DN + 6 digits | American Deluxe series instruments; 1998 and 1999 |

NC(XXXXXX) | Squier® Strat Bullets (dating unclear) |

FN(XXXXXX) | U.S.-made guitars and basses destined for export market. Some may have stayed in the U.S. or found their way back (made to Standard Stratocaster specs; dating unclear) |

I(XXXXXXX) | A limited number of these “I” series guitars were made in 1989 and 1990. They were made for the export market and have “Made in USA” stamped on the neck heel. |

LE(XXXXXX) | Blonde Jazzmaster® and Jaguar® guitars with gold hardware made in 1994. Sold as a promotional three-piece set with a Blonde Deluxe Reverb® Amp |

CN(XXXXXX) VN(XXXXXX) |
Korean-made Fender/Squier guitars (dating unclear) |

CA(XXXXX) | Gold Stratocaster; 1981, 1982 and 1983 |

CB(XXXXX) | Precision® Bass Special from 1981, CB(XXXXX) Gold Jazz® Bass from 1982 |

CC(XXXXX) | Walnut Stratocaster; 1981, 1982 and 1983 |

CE(XXXXX) | Precision Bass Special from 1981; Black and Gold Telecaster from 1981-1982 |

CD(XXXXX) CO(XXXXX) |
Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982 |

GO(XXXXX) | Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982, Gold Stratocaster from 1982-1983 |

D(XXXXXX) | Jazz Bass from 1982 |

SE(XXXXXX) |
Signature Series Instruments SE8(XXXXX)-1988, SE9(XXXXX)-1989 SN0(XXXXX)-'90, SN1(XXXXX)-’90, SN2(XXXXX)-’92, etc. SZ0(XXXXX)-2000, SZ1(XXXXX)-2001, SZ2(XXXXX)-2002, etc. |

3 digits of 500 | 35th Anniversary Strat from 1989-1990 |

G(XXXXXX) | “Strat” from about 1980, (Gold hardware, two-position rotary tone switch) |

4 digits stamped on bridge plate | U.S. ’52 Vintage Telecaster 1982-1988 (Check neck date for specific year) |

5 digits stamped on bridge plate | U.S. ’52 Vintage Telecaster 1988-present (Check neck date for specific year) |

T(XXXXXX) | Tribute series instruments |

C(XXXXXX) | Collectors Series |

XN(XXXXX) | FSRs and ’52 Teles |

If you’re unable to identify the approximate production year of your instrument using the above charts, several excellent books are available that contain invaluable and reliable information on the history of Fender instruments. We highly recommend each of them.

They are detailed reference resources with a wealth of information on determining the production years of various instruments and on Fender history in general. Indeed, we use these same books here at Fender when researching historical and date-related issues. You can order these titles through your local Authorized Fender Dealer.

TITLE | PART NUMBER | U.S. MSRP |

50 Years of Fender |
099-5050-000 | $19.99 |

The Fender Stratocaster 40th Anniversary Edition |
099-5000-000 | $14.99 |

The Stratocaster Chronicles |
099-5057-000 | $50.00 |

The Story of the Fender Stratocaster |
099-5017-000 | $19.99 |

Fender—The Sound Heard ’Round The World |
099-5015-000 | $29.95 |

The Fender Telecaster |
099-5005-000 | $14.99 |

The Fender Bass |
099-5004-000 | $9.99 |

The Fender Bass: An Illustrated History |
099-5046-000 | $24.99 |

How the Fender Bass Changed the World |
099-5045-000 | $27.99 |

The Fender Book—2nd Edition |
099-5006-100 | $24.99 |

The Fender Custom Shop Guitar Gallery |
099-5012-000 | $12.99 |

Fender Classic Moments |
099-5013-000 | $24.99 |

The Story of the Fender Stratocaster |
099-5016-000 | $24.95 |

As a manufacturer and distributor of new instruments, Fender has no direct involvement in the used, collector or vintage instruments markets, and is therefore unable to comment or speculate on the current value of such instruments. These markets operate completely independent of the new-instrument market.

If, however, you’re interested in determining a relative value for your instrument(s), we recommend that you contact used or vintage instrument dealers in your area. You might consider referring to

Other resources include the

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