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Fender telecaster dating

You're not alone. Fenders rank as the most frequently bought and sold instruments on Reverb , and finding a precise date of manufacture can be key to determining the value and specifics of an instrument. The most important thing to keep in mind when dating a Fender is the highly modular nature of the designs. Like Henry Ford, part of Leo Fender's genius was in optimizing the company's production efficiency.

His guitars were built en masse by an entire factory, not a single luthier toiling over one instrument at a time. Features like bolt-on necks and pickups wired into the pickguard all helped the Fender factory churn out guitar after guitar, day after day. This also means that various parts used on a particular guitar may have come from different points in time, so no single number can absolutely define when the instrument was built. Instead, the best approach to dating a Fender is to combine indicators from the design of the instrument, the dates found on the neck and body, along with the serial number.

Once you have the information you need, if you're interested in selling your Fender, you can use Reverb to get it in front of the largest audience of musicians in the world by clicking on this link. Perhaps the best place to start when dating your Fender is to get an approximate idea of the era based on the instrument's design and components. This can be a tall order for someone less versed in guitar history, but we do have some resources here on Reverb to help you out.

For starters, there's the Reverb Price Guide which has thousands of entries with pictures and details on various guitars and other gear. Some browsing around the Fender section of the Price Guide can definitely help you find which model you have. We also have some other blog posts related to Fender that can hopefully be of some help. Similarly, take a look at Behold the Jazzmaster for general timeline of the history of everyone's favorite offset guitar.

Through much of Fender's production history, Fender workers would print or write a production date on both bodies and necks where the two pieces meet. These dates will tell when the original part was manufactured, but are not exact indicators of when the guitar was actually put together and finished. If you're not comfortable removing the neck of a guitar to peek at the date marker, I encourage you to take it to a local tech or luthier.

I will also mention briefly pot-codes as a resource numbers on the internal potentiometers of the guitar. These can definitely be useful in cases where no other numbers exist, but just tell when the pot itself was made. Who knows how long it was waiting in the Fender factory before finding its way into a Tele? Like the body and neck dates, using serial numbers to date a Fender is not a sure bet. At many points in Fender's history, serial number usage overlapped again owing to the modular manner of production.

Below we'll go into detail about the various serial number schemes employed by Fender as far back as There are certainly plenty of exceptions, so again, using serial numbers in conjunction with other dating methods is always the best bet.

Click on the links here to jump directly to the serial number style that matches your instrument:. In the early years, Fender serial numbers schemes were specific to the model. Esquires, Broadcasters and Telecasters shared a serial number sequence, while the landmark Precision Bass had its own system.

In this early period, the serial number can be found on the bridge of the instrument see image. Here are the rough serial number ranges for the early Esquires and Telecasters :. Also, for the first half or so of , the inaugural run of Stratocasters had a distinct number sequence all under number By mid, Fender began using a universal serial number sequence for all its instruments.

At this time, the location of the serial number also shifted from the bridge to the neckplate the metal plate located on back of where the neck meets the body. Here's how the serial numbers break down from to the beginning of , though there are some areas of inconsistency in this era:.

At the very end of and into , Fender changed to a system where serial numbers began with an "L. Here the range of the L-series serial used each year. Some of the earliest ones actually popped up in late as well:. After the CBS purchase of Fender in , the factory switched to a new serial sequence with numbers that continued the same general format used prior to the takeover. These are generally referred to as F series due the large Fender branded F on the neckplates of the era.

This period also saw a switch from the orginal four-bolt neckplate of the '60s to a three-bolt neckplate in just one example of cost-saving costs introduced under CBS. Starting in , Fender transitioned to a new serial number scheme and moved the placement of most serial numbers to the headstock of the instrument. Depending on the era and model, the number can be found on either the front or back of the headstock.

After a short period of overlap with the old system, the post numbers will start with a letter that indicates the decade, followed by a number that indicates the year of that decade. That is why I decided to write this article.

I want to help you understand how to tell the age of your Fender as well as any Fender you see. Fender like Gibson has been producing guitars for many years. Certain styles and colors have come and gone over the years, but there is no real obvious way to tell how old a Fender is other than the identification number. Unfortunately, Fender decided not to simply write the date of manufacture on the guitar. They decided that it would be easier to decipher the serial number code than just write the year on the guitar.

I say this only joking. This article is intended to help you date your Fender Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Precision Bass guitars all the way back to the early s. In order to tell how old your Fender is you will have to find the identification number or neck number. The serial number location has changed a few times of the years. From to Fender guitar unique numbers were stamped in the bridge cavity cover plate. Modern Fender production guitars, to the present, have their ID numbers on the front or back of the headstock near the Fender decal.

In Fender decided to start making reissued vintage guitars. These guitars were replicas of the early and s era guitars. True to form the reissue guitars have their identification numbers stamped in the neck plate. The serial numbers on the outside of the body are not the only way to date a Fender guitar however.

Fender also dated the neck when it was manufactured. After the neck was finished, a Fender employee would either stamp or handwrite the date on the end of the guitar neck on its heel. This marking is only visible when the neck is removed from the body because it is covered in the neck pocket. Almost all Fender guitars have a dated neck. Some Fender guitar bodies and pickups also have dates written on them.

Few Fender guitars have dates written on the bodies under the pickups, in the routed out cavities, and near the wiring harnesses. Fender only decided to write dates on the bodies for a few years here and there. They never really did that consistently. Many people think that the date on the heel of their Fender neck is the production date of the guitar. Why is this? It all has to do with how Fender produced guitars. Leo Fender was a genius with minimizing the costs of production. Unlike Gibson, Leo found did everything the cheapest and fastest way possible.

He made a bolt-on neck, so the neck and the body could be manufactured at the same time. He wired the pickguard with pickups, so all the wiring could be finished before the body was even dry from finishing. The number and date on the neck is simply the date that the neck was finished—not the date that the guitar was completed. Necks could sit for days, weeks, or even months at a time before being matched with a body.

After the entire guitar was assembled, the identification number was stamped in place. Being many months later, the serial number date and the neck date might not match. Remember, these serial and neck numbers were never really intended for historical dating. They were simply internal numbers to help with production. Now that we have talked about where to find your Fender guitar ID number and what it means, here is the Fender serial number database that I have compiled.

It includes most of the Fender serial numbers issued along with the corresponding dates and a short history of Fender Guitars through the years. When Leo first started putting identification numbers on his guitars, he segregated them by model. Each models unique numbers started at 1 or a number close to it. That means that there could be a Tele, Strat, and Precision bass with the exact same serial number.

At some point in , Fender decided to stop grouping the guitar ID number by model. He started using one sequence of serial numbers for all the guitars coming off of the Fender production lines including Teles, Esquires, Strats, and P-basses. Some of these identification numbers are still out of sequence, jumbled up, or missing.

You may notice that there is a great deal of over lapping numbers in these nine years. The only way to verify an over lapping date is to check the corresponding neck date and body date. This list is a little convoluted because there are so many over lapping serial numbers. The number column represents the general number grouping that Fender and most experts agree on.

The low and high columns show the range of identification numbers that have been positively matched to specific years. As you can see, there is quite a bit of overlap. For some reason during , , and Fender decided to place zero or a dash in front of ID numbers periodically. He was nearing his ,th guitar. This time all the identification numbers under 10, fill the empty digits with zeros. It was L A lot of changes happened to the company as well as the guitars themselves under the new ownership.

The identification number sequences were no exception. CBS came up with a new numbering system to take advantage of the fact that Leo did not use 6-digit ID numbers. CBS continued the sequence Fender started in These era guitars are commonly referred to as the F series because of the neck plate design change. The new neck plate only had the Fender F logo stamped in place. In , Fender decided to stop stamping ID numbers in guitar parts and started making decals for the guitar peghead or headstock.

Along with the new location a new series of serial numbers were instituted. Fender apparently was thinking long term because they developed a serial numbering system with one-letter codes preceding the indentification numbers. The letters referred to the decade that the guitars were produced. Most guitars then had a number following the one-letter code that designated the specific year.

For instance, ID number S would be a guitar produced in In about Fender started making import guitars from Japan and around Fender started importing from Mexico. These guitars have a completely different set of serial numbers that I will talk about later in the article.

This section only deals with USA made Fender guitars. Here are the decade numbers:. The new serial number system was a little complicated, but it does make it relatively easy to tell the date of the guitar. Fender mass-produced the headstock decal without matching them with the annual production schedules of the guitars—meaning they made more decals for a given year than guitars.

See the problem? There were a few years where excess headstock ID number decals were produced and held over to the next year, the some guitars are actually dated with a previous year decal. To get the exact date on guitars made between and , it is important to cross-reference the dates on the neck written on the heel. Here are a list of dates and codes that overlap years. Aside from all of the errors and overlapping serial numbers, this system was quite improved from the previous ID number systems.

If Fender would have executed the indentification numbers as planned, USA Fender guitars would be numbered as the following without any exceptions. You can use this table to lookup your Fender serial number after Throughout the years, Fender has run many limited edition, reissue, and custom guitars. These guitars usually have a special two to four letter prefix before the serial number.

Each prefix is unique to that model guitar. Here is a guide to lookup all of the different types of special Fender guitars with their own serial number pattern. Japanese Fender Serial Numbers. Mexican Fender Serial Numbers. Korean Fender Serial Numbers.

You can also find more information on the Fender site. I have a fender stratocaster original custom body with the serial number JC and i cant find the date, could you help me? Period, NO exception. And NO; the instrument had NOT been altered in any way, was in great shape although a bit dirty , and the quality level was impressive.

On the face of the headstock it says original custom body and under Fender it says with synchronized Tremolo. Australian purchased and is in top condition. Can anyone tell me when it was made and or what it might be worth please.

Hi — We are a music shop who also does repairs. We have a Fender Tele a customer has brought in for repair. It has made in the USA on the back of the headstock. On the neck plate it has Fender. One website I went to said it was made in Mexico in But, the customer said her Dad had it at least 30 years ago that she remembers, and she believes well before that.

It has a lovely burl top. It is now back in very good condition. Can a possible date be established for it? Thanks Keith. Can anybody help me with that? Z7 , I understand that the Z stands for being manufactured starting at the year , the first digit, in this case 7, documents that it is built in , followed by the digits of the real serial. So you have the same on your back of the Can you also kindly advise of what you paid for your guitar? Which year was built.

If you take the neck off you should find at the base of the neck by the truss rod adjuster the date stamped there. At least that is how mine is. I have been to several websites including Fender but cannot get the answer. I have a brand new never ever been played, the sticker still covers the whammy Bar insert. My question is, is it American Made, How old is it?

Thanks for your help. Its a USA made in It clearly tells you that on the information listed above. I am looking at similar one, Cant find anything on it. It seems a bit custom, with a black headstock to match the body. It has the Fender amp with it. Can you help me? I have a fender strat… I cannot find, on the search can u help.. Serial number is ICO Ty….

Correct the year. I checked the date of the neck, my Precision Bass was the 30th week of It was not Neck Dating print : ? F plate serial number : Bought it new around early Any idea whats the date?

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Esquires, Broadcasters and Telecasters shared a serial number sequence, while the landmark Precision Bass had its own system. In this early period, the serial number can be found on the bridge of the instrument see image. Here are the rough serial number ranges for the early Esquires and Telecasters :. Also, for the first half or so of , the inaugural run of Stratocasters had a distinct number sequence all under number By mid, Fender began using a universal serial number sequence for all its instruments.

At this time, the location of the serial number also shifted from the bridge to the neckplate the metal plate located on back of where the neck meets the body. Here's how the serial numbers break down from to the beginning of , though there are some areas of inconsistency in this era:. At the very end of and into , Fender changed to a system where serial numbers began with an "L.

Here the range of the L-series serial used each year. Some of the earliest ones actually popped up in late as well:. After the CBS purchase of Fender in , the factory switched to a new serial sequence with numbers that continued the same general format used prior to the takeover.

These are generally referred to as F series due the large Fender branded F on the neckplates of the era. This period also saw a switch from the orginal four-bolt neckplate of the '60s to a three-bolt neckplate in just one example of cost-saving costs introduced under CBS.

Starting in , Fender transitioned to a new serial number scheme and moved the placement of most serial numbers to the headstock of the instrument. Depending on the era and model, the number can be found on either the front or back of the headstock.

After a short period of overlap with the old system, the post numbers will start with a letter that indicates the decade, followed by a number that indicates the year of that decade. In the s, you'll also see serials starting with a DZ which indicates the Deluxe series, but the format is otherwise the same.

For example, a serial number with N4 would be from One starting with Z5 would be from This is particularly pronounced in the transitional period of the mid-'80s, though the system has been pretty much on point since about After , the letter changed to a format starting with US then two digits that tell the year of the current decade. American-made signature series instruments follow a very similar scheme to the above, but use a prefix S before the decade letter.

For example, a Signature Series guitar from would have a serial starting with SN8 followed by five digits. These have serial numbers starting with V and do not strictly correlate to years. The neck dates on these guitars, however, are usually reliable. Fender Japan serial numbers can usually be found on the back of the neck near the neck joint. Though examples also exist with the number on the headstock or the neck-plate in the case of certain early reissue models. Up until , the serial was paired with the words "Made in Japan.

In , Fender expanded operations with a series of instruments produced in Japan by the Fuji Gen Gakki company. Like the US serial numbers, MIJ made in Japan serials start with a letter or pair of letters that indicate the rough year of production. This system, however, is notoriously inconsistent and incomplete, which makes dating by serial number even less reliable for MIJ Fenders. After , Fender Japan switched back to marking Fenders as "Made in Japan" though for a few years instruments with both decals were made.

Serial numbers since this transition have continued the same sequence as the "CIJ" era. Fender opened a factory in Ensenada, Mexico in the late '80s and instruments started coming off the line in The MIM serial number scheme is actually very straight-forward.

For Mexican Fenders made in the s, the serial will start with an MN followed by a number that indicates the year of the decade. Instruments made in the s follow the same form but start with MZ. For the s, the prefix is MX1. For example, a serial number starting with MN2 would be There are a number of exceptions to all these serial number schemes.

As mentioned above, many reissue models use serial numbers that don't really correlate to their age. Additionally, there have been plenty of artist models, limited editions and other rare models that use a unique serial number. Examples include the 35th anniversary series, many of the uniquely finished Strats from the early '80s, as well as various export-specific models which carry a serial number starting with FN.

Certain things like stamped plates, and where and how the guitar was painted can help you figure out when the guitar was made. Unfortunately, since we cannot get an exact date either by looking at the neck or by matching the guitar with a serial number….. There are some guides out there that can help you further investigate. Here are the best ones that seem to be out there.

Wanna take the easiest route? Just go to www. Figuring out how much your fender is worth is surprisingly the easy part. Now, if you want to check your work you can always get a recommendation from an appraiser, and I highly suggest you do this if you think your guitar is worth a lot of money or might be signed by a famous musician or is notable for another reason. These guys are pros. Interested in how much your guitar is worth?

Find out your Guitars Value with these E-guides. Step 1 — Find your Serial Number. Step 2 Match your serial number with the correct date. Start here if your serial number starts with only numbers, no letters. If you have letters in your serial number, skip to Chart number 3. Chart Number 1 — Numbers only no spaces. Up to 6, to Up to 10, to 10,s to 10,s to 20,s 20,s to 30,s 30,s to 40,s 40,s to 50,s 50,s to 70,s 60,s to 90,s 80,s to 90,s ,s ,s to ,s to ,s ,s to ,s to ,s to ,s to ,s ,s to ,s to ,s to ,s Note: Only 4 or 5 digits?

Starts with H, I, or K Serial numbers located on the front of the headstock. Not many of these were made. Chart 4, if your serial number has two letters or more in front of it. Starts with AMXN These guitars are actually American and Mexican. This is the California series.

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In the early years, Fender serial numbers schemes were specific to the model. Esquires, Broadcasters and Telecasters shared a serial number sequence, while the landmark Precision Bass had its own system. In this early period, the serial number can be found on the bridge of the instrument see image. Here are the rough serial number ranges for the early Esquires and Telecasters :.

Also, for the first half or so of , the inaugural run of Stratocasters had a distinct number sequence all under number By mid, Fender began using a universal serial number sequence for all its instruments. At this time, the location of the serial number also shifted from the bridge to the neckplate the metal plate located on back of where the neck meets the body.

Here's how the serial numbers break down from to the beginning of , though there are some areas of inconsistency in this era:. At the very end of and into , Fender changed to a system where serial numbers began with an "L. Here the range of the L-series serial used each year. Some of the earliest ones actually popped up in late as well:. After the CBS purchase of Fender in , the factory switched to a new serial sequence with numbers that continued the same general format used prior to the takeover.

These are generally referred to as F series due the large Fender branded F on the neckplates of the era. This period also saw a switch from the orginal four-bolt neckplate of the '60s to a three-bolt neckplate in just one example of cost-saving costs introduced under CBS.

Starting in , Fender transitioned to a new serial number scheme and moved the placement of most serial numbers to the headstock of the instrument. Depending on the era and model, the number can be found on either the front or back of the headstock. After a short period of overlap with the old system, the post numbers will start with a letter that indicates the decade, followed by a number that indicates the year of that decade. In the s, you'll also see serials starting with a DZ which indicates the Deluxe series, but the format is otherwise the same.

For example, a serial number with N4 would be from One starting with Z5 would be from This is particularly pronounced in the transitional period of the mid-'80s, though the system has been pretty much on point since about After , the letter changed to a format starting with US then two digits that tell the year of the current decade.

American-made signature series instruments follow a very similar scheme to the above, but use a prefix S before the decade letter. For example, a Signature Series guitar from would have a serial starting with SN8 followed by five digits. These have serial numbers starting with V and do not strictly correlate to years. The neck dates on these guitars, however, are usually reliable. Fender Japan serial numbers can usually be found on the back of the neck near the neck joint.

Though examples also exist with the number on the headstock or the neck-plate in the case of certain early reissue models. Up until , the serial was paired with the words "Made in Japan. In , Fender expanded operations with a series of instruments produced in Japan by the Fuji Gen Gakki company. Like the US serial numbers, MIJ made in Japan serials start with a letter or pair of letters that indicate the rough year of production. This system, however, is notoriously inconsistent and incomplete, which makes dating by serial number even less reliable for MIJ Fenders.

After , Fender Japan switched back to marking Fenders as "Made in Japan" though for a few years instruments with both decals were made. Serial numbers since this transition have continued the same sequence as the "CIJ" era. Fender opened a factory in Ensenada, Mexico in the late '80s and instruments started coming off the line in The MIM serial number scheme is actually very straight-forward.

For Mexican Fenders made in the s, the serial will start with an MN followed by a number that indicates the year of the decade. Instruments made in the s follow the same form but start with MZ. For the s, the prefix is MX1. For example, a serial number starting with MN2 would be There are a number of exceptions to all these serial number schemes. As mentioned above, many reissue models use serial numbers that don't really correlate to their age.

Additionally, there have been plenty of artist models, limited editions and other rare models that use a unique serial number. If you have what you consider an odd serial number, it might appear here. Some may have stayed in the U. A limited number of these "H", "I" and "K" series guitars were made in '89 and ' They were made for the export market and have Made in USA stamped on the heel of the neck. Serial numbers are on the front of the headstock. Sold as a promotional 3 piece set with a Blonde Deluxe Reverb Amp.

Also used on many FSRs starting in the s. Some U. 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. 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.

You might consider referring to Vintage Guitar magazine www. You might also consider consulting one or more of the many instrument dealers who offer appraisals of vintage instruments, such as Elderly Instruments www.

Many pawnshops use this book and others like it to establish instrument values. How can I find out when my Japanese-made instrument was manufactured? How can I find out when my Mexican-made instrument was manufactured?

How can I find out when my Korean-made instrument was manufactured? How can I find out when my Indonesian-made instrument was manufactured? How can I find out when my acoustic instrument was manufactured? How can I find out how old my amplifier is? How can I find out how old my instrument is if it uses an odd or non-standard serial numbering scheme What can you tell me about the historical patent markings that appear on some of your products?

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