DATING YOUR U.S. MADE FENDER 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. Neckdating can be useful in determining the approximate age of a guitar, but it is certainly not definitive because the neck date simply refers to the date that the individual component was produced, rather than the complete instrument. 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 range of production dates, a neck date is obviously not a precisely definitive reference. 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 featurespecific 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 nonsequential serial numbering (usually overlapping two to four years from the early days of Fender to the mid1980s), dating by serial number is not always precisely definitive. DATING YOUR INSTRUMENTThe 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 5 digits E4 + 5 5 digits V + 4, 5 or 6 5 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 5 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except `52 Telecaster)  1986 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year)  E4 + 5 5 digits V + 4, 5 or 6 5 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except `52 Telecaster)  1987 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year)  E4 + 5 5 digits E8 + 5 5 digits V + 4, 5 or 6 5 digits (U.S. Vintage Series except `52 Telecaster)  1988 (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year)  E8 + 5 5 digits E9 + 5 5 digits V + 5 or 6 5 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 inadvertantly 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 (Am. Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except `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 except `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 except `52 Telecaster)  2002  Z2 + 5 or 6 digits Z3 + 5 or 6 digits DZ3 + 5 or 6 digits (Am. Deluxe) V + 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except `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 except `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 except `52 Telecaster) XN5 + 4 digits  2005 
The "odd" serial numbers on the chart below exist somewhat outside the more wellknown 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 threepiece set with a Blonde Deluxe Reverb® Amp  CN(XXXXXX) VN(XXXXXX)  Koreanmade 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 19811982  CD(XXXXX) CO(XXXXX)  Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982  GO(XXXXX)  Precision Bass Special (Walnut) from 1982, Gold Stratocaster from 19821983  D(XXXXXX)  Jazz Bass from 1982  SE(XXXXXX) SN(XXXXXX) SZ(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 19891990  G(XXXXXX)  "Start" from about 1980, (Gold hardware, twoposition rotary tone switch)  4 digits stamped on bridge plate  U.S. `52 Vintage Telecaster 19821988 (Check neck date for specific year)  5 digits stamped on bridge plate  U.S. `52 Vintage Telecaster 1988present (Check neck date for specific year)  T(XXXXXX)  Tribute series instruments  C(XXXXXX)  Collectors Series  XN(XXXXX)  FSRs and `52 Teles 
