The Guitar Attic
Fender Serial Numbers and info.
DATING YOUR U.S. MADE FENDER STRINGED INSTRUMENT
For the majority 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. There were periods of time when this was not consistently done, (between 1973 and 1981), and there are certainly other examples of short periods of time, and individual pieces, where the dating was simply omitted. While this neck dating is useful in roughly determining the age of a guitar, it is certainly not definitive. The neck date simply refers to the date that the individual component was produced. Given the modular nature of Fender's production techniques, an individual neck may have been produced in a given year, placed in the manufacturing warehouse and remained in stock for a period of time, and then subsequently paired with a body to create a complete guitar in the following year. So, obviously a neck date, while being helpful in providing a date range of production, it cannot be a definitive reference. Unlike the auto industry which has specific model years for their products, most specifications for a given Fender instrument model, change little if any, through the lifetime of the model. While there have been periods where dramatic changes have occurred, for example: the transition periods between Leo's Fender and the CBS years, as well as the transition between CBS' Fender and the current ownership, generally speaking, most models are feature specific and do not change from year to year.
Serial numbers are also helpful in determining the year of production of a given instrument. Serial numbers have been used in various locations on Fender instruments through the years. They have been placed at the top of the neck plate, on the front of the headstock, on the back of the headstock, and on the back of the neck near where the neck bolts onto the body. They were stamped on the back vibrato cover plate (early '50s Strats), and on the bridge plate between the pickup and the saddles on some Telecasters. But once again, due to the modular nature of Fender's production methods, and the fact that most serial numbers schemes are not sequential and usually overlap from between 2 to 4 years, (from the early days of Fender, through to the mid 1980s), dating by the serial number is not an exact science.
DATING YOUR INSTRUMENT
The following chart details the Fender serial number schemes used from 1950 to 1964. You will notice that there is quite a bit of overlap of numbers and years. The only way to try to narrow the date range of your specific instrument would be to remove the neck and check the butt end of the heel of the neck for a production date, which may be stamped or written there. (If you are not comfortable performing this operation, please use an experienced professional guitar tech in your area).
SERIAL NUMBERS | PRODUCTION DATES |
Up to 6000 | 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 |
In January of 1965, Fender was sold to the CBS Corporation. The serial numbers do not immediately reflect the change, as CBS continued to make instruments using existing, tooling, parts, and serial number schemes. The following chart details the Fender serial number schemes used from 1965 to 1976. You will notice that there is quite a bit of overlap of both 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 following charts detail the most common Fender serial number schemes used from 1976 to the present. You will notice that there is quite a bit of overlap of both numbers and years. The only way to try to narrow the date range of your specific instrument would be to remove the neck and check the butt end of the heel of the neck for a production date, which may be stamped or written there. (If you are not comfortable performing this operation, please use an experienced professional guitar tech in your area). Please note the introduction of the "S" prefix serial numbers. The "S", stood for decade of the 1970s, and began CBS' attempt to use serial numbers to identify the year of production for the piece. The "E", stood for the decade of the 1980s and was, as shown below, introduced in 1979. As you can see by the overlaps of numbers and years, the reference to the actual production date is 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 marked the introduction of the U.S. Vintage Series instruments and the use of the "V" prefix serial numbers. The only way to definitively date the U.S. "V" prefix serial numbered instruments, is to remove the neck, and check the butt end of the heel of the neck 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) |
In March of 1985, the CBS Corporation sold Fender to a group of private investors. The serial numbers do not reflect the change, as Fender continued to make instruments 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) |
With 1990 came the introduction of the "N" prefix serial numbers, which stood for the 1990s. The numbers and decals are produced far in advance, and apparently, some N9 decals, (which were supposed to be used in 1999), were affixed to some instruments in 1990. As a result, you will see some 1990 guitars bearing 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 DIGITS (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 DIGITS (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 |
With the year 2000 came the introduction of the "Z" prefix serial numbers on US made instruments, which stood for the 0 of the new millennium. A Z0 prefix dates to 2000, a Z1 prefix dates to 2001 etcetera. The 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 etcetera. Once again, and as always, there is typically some overlap and carryover of number prefixes 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 (American Deluxe Series) 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 following serial numbers are somewhat outside the more, well known Fender serial number schemes. If you have what you consider to be a somewhat "odd" serial number, please check the following chart to see if you find your serial number configuration here. This chart contains
ODD SERIAL NUMBERS
NUMBER | DESCRIPTION |
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 (Made to Standard Strat specs, dating unclear) |
I(XXXXXXX) | A limited number of these "I" series guitars were made in '89 and '90. They were made for the export market and have Made in USA stamped on the heel of the neck. |
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) 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) 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 |
SE(XXXXXX) SN(XXXXXX) SZ(XXXXXX) |
Signature Series Instruments SE8(XXXXX)-'88, SE9(XXXXX)-'89 SN0(XXXXX)-'90, SN1(XXXXX)-'90, SN2(XXXXX)-'92, etc. SZ0(XXXXX)-'00, SZ1(XXXXX)-'01, SZ2(XXXXX)-'02, etc. |
3 DIGITS OF 500 | 35^{TH} Anniversary Strat from 1989-1990 |
G(XXXXXX) | "STRAT" from about 1980, (Gold hardware, 2 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 |
SERIAL NUMBERS CIRCA | |
JV+ 5 digits | 1982-1984 |
SQ + 5 digits | 1983-1984 |
E + 6 digits | 1984-1987 |
A + 6 digits | 1985-1986 |
B + 6 digits | 1985-1986 |
C + 6 digits | 1985-1986 |
F + 6 digits | 1986-1987 |
G + 6 digits | 1987-1988 |
H + 6 digits | 1988-1989 |
I + 6 digits | 1989-1990 |
J + 6 digits | 1989-1990 |
K + 6 digits | 1990-1991 |
L + 6 digits | 1991-1992 |
M + 6 digits | 1992-1993 |
N + 6 digits | 1993-1994 |
O + 6 digits | 1993-1994 |
P + 6 digits | 1993-1994 |
Q + 6 digits | 1993-1994 |
S + 6 digits | 1994-1995 |
T + 6 digits | 1994-1995 |
U + 6 digits | 1995-1996 |
N + 5 digits | 1995-1996 |
V + 6 digits | 1996-1997 |
Crafted in Japan | A + 6 digits | 1997-1998 |
Crafted in Japan | O + 5 digits | 1997-2000 |
Crafted in Japan | P + 5 digits | 1999-2002 |
Crafted in Japan | Q + 5 digits | 2002-2004 |
Crafted in Japan | R + 5 digits | 2004-2005 |
With the year 2000 came the introduction of the "Z" prefix serial numbers on US made instruments, which stood for the 0 of the new millennium. A Z0 prefix dates to 2000, a Z1 prefix dates to 2001 etcetera. The 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 etcetera. Once again, and as always, there is typically some overlap and carryover of number prefixes 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 (American Deluxe Series) 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 following serial numbers are somewhat outside the more, well known Fender serial number schemes. If you have what you consider to be a somewhat "odd" serial number, please check the following chart to see if you find your serial number configuration here. This chart contains
ODD SERIAL NUMBERS
NUMBER | DESCRIPTION |
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 (Made to Standard Strat specs, dating unclear) |
I(XXXXXXX) | A limited number of these "I" series guitars were made in '89 and '90. They were made for the export market and have Made in USA stamped on the heel of the neck. |
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) 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) 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 |
SE(XXXXXX) SN(XXXXXX) SZ(XXXXXX) |
Signature Series Instruments SE8(XXXXX)-'88, SE9(XXXXX)-'89 SN0(XXXXX)-'90, SN1(XXXXX)-'90, SN2(XXXXX)-'92, etc. SZ0(XXXXX)-'00, SZ1(XXXXX)-'01, SZ2(XXXXX)-'02, etc. |
3 DIGITS OF 500 | 35^{TH} Anniversary Strat from 1989-1990 |
G(XXXXXX) | "STRAT" from about 1980, (Gold hardware, 2 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 |
REFERENCE MATERIALS FOR DATING FENDER INSTRUMENTS
If you are unable to place the approximate year of manufacture of your instrument using the above charts, there are a few great books available, which have invaluable information on the history of Fender instruments. If you have serious interest in learning about the history of Fender instruments, or if you just want to try to establish the year of production of your own axe, we would highly recommend that you pick up one or more of the following books. They are detailed reference resources with a wealth of information for helping to either establish the vintage of your guitar or bass or for just learning more about Fender history in general. These books are the same resources we refer to here at Fender, when trying to research answers to these same history and dating questions.
You may want to consider ordering one or more of the following books through your local Fender Dealer.
BOOKS FROM THE FENDER LIBRARY
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 |
Other Fender
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. Below are some
examples of letter prefixes used in recent serial number schemes.
V : this prefix used for US made "vintage reissue" models, 1982 to present. 25 + 4 digits : 1979 to 1980 Anniversary Stratocaster. AMXN : "AMX" means assembled in Mexico with American parts, "N" is the decade (1990s). MN : "M" means Mexican made, "N" is the decade (1990s). C : this prefix used in 1982. D : this prefix used in late 1981 to early 1982. EE : this prefix was once used by CBS for Exports. Only a few US instruments have this after CBS sale. 1986-1988. GO : this prefix used in the early 1980s. SE : this prefix means a Signature Edition, 1982 to present. 4 digit decal on back of peghead: custom order model 1987 to present.