dating of the gospels - Dating a fender stratocaster body

If you have a Fender in your hands, you can use this guide to precisely date your Fender instrument all the way back to 1950.

This information is courtesy Fender.com, republished here for your convenience. instrument production history, production dates have been applied to various components.

Unfortunately, our records are not complete enough to provide precise dating information for many Fender acoustic guitars from the early 1960s through the 1970s and 1980s.

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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.

Hit the jump to see just how old that guitar or bass really is. 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 was produced, rather than the complete instrument.

As seen in the overlap of numbers and years, even these references to actual production dates are rather loose. 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. 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.

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.

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.

When CBS sold Fender to its current owners in 1984 there was a transitional period from 1984 to 1987 with limited Fender USA production resulting in mostly Fender Japan and leftover stock being sold.

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