How to Date your Fender Guitar by Serial Number - Guitar Repair Bench
Hello, I scored the web with no luck about current AV serial numbers. Fender site still report V+5 or 6 numbers, but I keep finding pictures of real. your convenience. Hit the jump to see just how old that guitar or bass really is. The chart below details Fender serial number schemes used from to (For U.S. Vintage Series, check neck date for specific year). It is important to remember that Fender serial numbers are NOT On early '50s Stratocaster guitars serial numbers were stamped on the back.
Markings start to appear again around mid-year. March to Dark blue or red ink stamps below the truss rod adjustment at the neck butt. A new type of neck stamp of six, seven or eight digits was used on some models. The new stamp was usually green ink. Models from this period could have either code system.
A new eight-digit neck stamp was introduced colored either green or red. Again, either stamp can occur on instruments from this era. Again, a neck was stamped with either the new or the old date stamp, but not both. Fender dropped the old style date stamp after March and continued with the new 8-digit code. April to After MarchFender dropped the old style date stamp and continued to use the new style, 8-digit code.
All non-vintage reissue instruments have the serial number printed on the decal on the face of the peghead. The approximate production year can be determined from this more about serial numbers will follow. Sometimes a date is stamped or hand-written on the butt of the neck. Vintage reissue instruments have the date on the butt end of the neck like the originals. How to read the neck stamps The neck stamps on Fenders from to can be most logically translated by reading from right to left.
Starting with the letter B, this is the same neck width code Fender has been using since The following three digits, herecould be a batch or lot number, or i could be the count for how many of this one instrument that was made within the month. Since Fender could probably produce more than of any one type instrument in a month, it is more likely a batch or lot number.
Finally, the first one or two digits of the code tells you which model you are holding; 22 being a Stratocaster. There are some exceptions as you can see in this information provided by Mike Gagliano. A likely explanation is the use of leftover necks, which Fender is known to have done at several occasions. Other exceptions exist as well. For example, a Strat with the neck code B.
Shown below is a three patent number switch and brown center wheel. On the first single pickup Esquires Fender used a different flat looking 3-way switch.
Early style CRL 3-way switch with two patent numbers Switch made of metal and a fiberous brown bakelite type material holding the switch contact that has flat side cuts. This style of switch started with the double pickup Esquire. CRL 3-way switch with three patent numbers and the bakelite with flat side cuts.
Teles and Strats still use the CRL 3-way switch, but the fiberous brown bakelite material that holds the switch contacts is replaced with a less fiberous brown bakelite lighter in color that is cut round like a half moon, instead of having flat sides. The center wheel is still brown bakelite. Teles and Strats still use the CRL 3-way switch with the less fiberous brown bakelite round cut half moon center.
But now the center wheel is white plastic instead of brown bakelite. May or may not have a Diamond logo seen both ways. CRL switches still look basically the same as the previous version, but only one patent number. Definately a Diamond logo during this period. Fender strats use a CRL 5-way switch on many models, which looks the same as the CRL 3-way switch but with two added notches in the switch lever metal.
Fender bought of these in total, and just used them on special Teles and some Strats. Probably less than a handful were shipped to dealers when the supply of 4, CRL switches had run out by mid The quote from Al Petty is, "if you have one of those switches in your Fender, you probably have an employee guitar or it was a guitar for someone special.
Bechtoldt for much of the CRL switch information. A virgin Stratocaster pickup assembly with no broken solder joints, "black bottom" pickups, "cloth" wire, flat box-shaped paper tone cap, rubber pickup springs, flat edge 3-way switch, CTS pots, and an aluminum pickguard shield all attached to a "green" pickguard.
Pickguard Material Black pickguards: This material consisted of a fiberous bakelite, and was about. The fiberous material was added to the bakelite to add strength bakelite is too brittle and would crack at that thickness without it.
Serial number identification and decoding
Finally the black pickguards were clear-coated with clear nitrocellulose lacquer top side only to give them depth and shine. White pickguards single layer: Fender used a single layer white pickguard material made from ABS or vinyl about. This relatively new material for the time was cheap, easy to work with, and somewhat flexible. Note bakelite was never used for white Fender pickguards on any model though many people refer to white pickguards as such; but it's not bakelite.
In this case the single layer thickness increased to. To some degree the effect is not only caused by age and sun, but the "felting" of the black layer below the white layer. This material was used till January when Fender switched to vinyl or ABS for their multilayer pickguards Celluloid was dangerous and very flamable, and shrunk with time causing cracks. Sometimes these pickguards are called "nitrate 'guards" because nitric acid is one of the key ingredients used to make celluloid. The and later white pickguards do yellow a bit with age.
But even aged white 'guards look much different than the older "green" 'guards. In the late s, white Stratocaster pickguards change slightly not sure about other models. Notice the redish material the factory used to angle the neck. This is typical of and Strats. Click here for a picture of the ink stamp on this aluminum pickguard shield used during the s.
From and later, sticky aluminum foil was attached to the bottom of the pickguard, just around the pots and switch. In the 's, this metal shield was much thicker. Note reissue Strats also use these shields. Click here for a comparison of pickguard material used from toand a reissue pickguard.
The two pickup covers on the outside are ABS plastic. The three covers on the insides are "bakelite" actually polystyrene, but collectors refer to it incorrectly as "bakelite". Note how the "bakelite" covers are whiter, and the edges have rounded.
When new, the "bakelite" cover edges were as shape as the ABS covers. But with time, the edges round only on the polystyrene covers.
- American Vintage series serial numbers
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They can even wear to show the black pickup itsef underneath. The top row of knobs are ABS, the bottom row are "bakelite" polystyrene. Notice again how the edges of the "bakelite" knobs wear especially on the volume knoband the ABS edges don't.
Also the "bakelite" knobs are whiter. The original Daka-Ware switch tips used on Broadcasters and Telecasters from to the s. The switch tip on the right is a "top hat" style switch with a patent number though round switch tips can also have these markings. Other Plastic Parts pickup covers, knobs. From to earlythese parts were made from white urea formaldehyde, commonly and incorrectly known as "bakelite" bakelite is actually a trade name for phenol formaldehyde, and is most commonly black or molted brown; for consistency, I will refer to these white pickup covers as "bakelite", though in fact they are not.
How to Date your Fender Guitar by Serial Number
These covers were very brittle and very white. Note early Strat knobs have a different and taller shape than late and later knobs. Since "bakelite" cracked and wore very easily, Fender switched to white ABS parts in early These ABS parts yellowed with age unlike the earlier "bakelite" parts. Click here for a comparison of vintage versus s and later Strat knobs.
But the switch tip for Telecasters was bakelite plastic. These black tips are still available today, with very minor differences. In about this changed to the "top hat" style of selector switch tip. In either case, all original Tele switch tips have some stampings on their bottom side.
All tips about and later say "PAT. Reissue "top hat" tele switch tips have no marks on the bottom. Click here to see the difference. Click here for a comparison of old and new pbass plastic pickup covers.
Serial number identification and decoding - Vintage & Rare Blog
Click here for a picture of the knob style used on Jazzmasters starting in Exceptions to the below data: October to mid All models used Ash as the body wood. Most ash bodies are two or even three pieces, but sometimes a one-piece body was used. Mid to current: All models used Alder as the body wood. The ONLY exception to this is if the model had a "blond" finish. For example, since the stock finish on a Telecaster is "blond" a translucent white colorall blond Telecasters are made of Ash.
If a post Stratocaster was ordered in blond, it too would be Ash. To summarize, if the Fender instrument is later than mid, and was originally not blond in color, the body wood should be Alder! Most alder bodies are 2 to 4 pieces. Alder trees do not grow "big", so multiple pieces were used for Fender guitar bodies.
The number of pieces has little effect on sound or value. Some Mexican made models use Poplar bodies. Starting in mid, Fender sprayed the yellow part of the sunburst. This allowed Fender to be less picky with their choice of Alder, because the sunburst is less transparent. Prior toFender stained the yellow of the sunburst into the wood, instead of spraying it. This saved a spray step when shooting a sunburst finish.
There is a lot more info on Fender finishes here. Fender used nitrocellulose lacquer for all finishes. Film thickness was very thin, especially in the 's.
From the beginning, Fender would hammer nails into the face of the guitar body before painting, under the pickguard areas. Then the body was painted on a "lazy susan".Vintage 1960 Fender Stratocaster - Tech Bench
First the face of the guitar was painted. Then the body was flipped over onto the nails which suspended the freshed painted body faceand the back and sides of the body were painted. The nails were then used to suspend the body while the paint fully dried. After all the paint was sprayed, the nails were removed.
Hence all original pre-CBS Fender bodies will have "nail holes" with no paint in them! There should be three or four nail holes under the pickguard, control plate or bridge plate on every original finish solidbody pre Fender instrument. Interestingly, Tele nail holes were moved in the early s, but are still present. Again, see here for more details.
One nail hole near the neck pocket on a May Fender Stratocaster. Note the "shadow" lack of red created by the nail, as the red was originally sprayed on the body! Fender started using Alder instead of Ash as the main body wood for all models that were not finished in Blond which means the Telecaster stayed Ash.
They did this because it was easier to paint Alder it required less paint steps. All Alder bodies were dipped in a yellow stain, which was the first step in the sunbursting paint process sunburst was Fender's primary color on Alder bodies, hence all Alder bodies were prepped this way, regardless of what color they were actually painted.
This Strat has a neck date of Decemberand still has the "nail holes" under the pickguard. The nails holes were pretty much gone by fall of The position of the nail holes was moved on the Telecaster only. Then were now inside the cavity routes, like in the truss rod rod or neck pocket route, inside the control cavity route, and inside the bridge pickup route. Fender now bolted a "stick" inside the body's neck pocket to the two bass side neck screw holes prior to painting.
The stick allowed the body to be easily held by the painter while spraying paint and drying. This left a visible paint stick shadow inside the neck pocket. Fender used this technique into the s. The nails were still used, but now only for the drying process and were no longer needed during painting.
Still, the "nail holes" will be present with no paint in them! Fender changed how they sprayed a sunburst finish. In early and before, the yellow part of the sunburst was stained into the wood. This meant Fender only had to spray two colors red and brown instead of three.
But in mid, Fender changed to spraying the yellow portion of the sunburst finish. This made the finish less transparent, and allowed Fender to use Alder body wood with minor defects such as mineral stains. The and later sunburst finish colors didn't blend together as nice and don't show much wood grain, and hence are sometimes called a "target 'burst". Also by the fall ofFender no longer hammered nails into the body prior to painting.
They instead used the paint stick to suspend the body while drying. Fender used a "thick skin" polyester finish. Later "thick skin" finishes got really thick in the 's, resembling a bowling ball. But all polyester finishes are very thick and glossy compared to the early lacquer finishes.
Fender also made available Custom Color finishes. A Jaquar in the rare, top-of-the line molded form-fit case. Fender Cases Note that the following case descriptions concerns mostly U. Fenders distributed in other countries were often shipped without cases.
Canada and Europe are perfect examples of this. Until the mid 's, most Canadian imported Fenders were sold with a Canadian case. The interior material of these cases generally will match the descriptions below, but the exteriors will not. The exterior of these cases in the 's didn't have any material on them they were just a brown formicaand didn't have any interior pocket system. The s Fender gig bag, an alternative to the more expensive rectangle hard shell tweed case.
Tweed, brown tolex, white tolex. From to Fender used a guitar-shaped hard case for the Tele and Pbass nicknamed the "thermometer" case, due to it's unique thermometer shape. This case had a brown covering with a brown plush lining. The case had a bulb shape at the peghead. Also available from to the early 's, was a Fender gig bag case.
These cases are soft, foldable bags, and are brown in color. If you couldn't afford a hard case, this was the alternative. From mid to mid, this case changed to the "poodle" case. Still shaped like a guitar, the poodle case had one flat side that did not follow the contours of the guitar this was the side of the case that rested on the ground when the case was set down by the handle.
Though this case looks similar for both the Telecaster and Stratocaster, it was not a Strat won't fit into a Tele poodle case.
The interior was a bright red plush shag. Click here for a picture of the early "thermometer" and "poodle" style Telecaster cases.
In mid, Fender dropped the guitar shaped case in favor of a rectangle shaped case. The first generation rectangle case used in was called the "center pocket tweed" case. The interior center pocket not only allowed cord and pick storage, but also supported the neck of the guitar. These cases were covered in lacquer-coated tweed and had a bright red plush shag lining. From to earlythe next generation of rectangle case was the "side pocket tweed" case.
The same lacquer-coated tweed outside and bright red shag plush lining was used, but the interior pick pocket was moved to the side next to the neck. They also had an interior tag proclaiming the case as a "Koylon" brand case.
These cases also had exterior brown leather ends. In onlythese cases also had an exterior "Fender" logo thick foil sticker which fell off From to mid, the case stayed the same except now the interior was a much shorter burnt orange plush. Also the "Koylon" interior tag is gone.
The exterior thick foil sticker is now no longer used. From mid to the exterior of the Fender case changed. A new material called "Tolex" was now used, in a coffee-with-cream type brown color. Tolex is a rough rubber-like compound that was much more durable than tweed. Brown leather ends stayed the same.
The interior burnt-orange plush used from stayed until about when the interior of the cases changed to a dark orange plush. Also around the center manual latch changed positions from under the case handle, to just outside of the case handle the latch's postion could hurt your knuckles when carrying the case. Click here for a picture of the early square style Fender cases from mid to This picture includes the "center pocket" tweed case, the "side pocket Koylon" tweed case, the "side pocket burnt orange" tweed case, and the style "brown" case with the dark orange interior.
The only case missing from this photo is the to style "brown" case with the lighter colored burnt orange interior. In to earlythe exterior again changed on Fender cases. Now white tolex with black leather ends was the standard. The interior stayed the same dark orange plush. In earlyFender moved to a black tolex case with the same dark orange interior. This type of case was basically used till the end of the 's, with some minor changes mostly the exterior logo. Early to cases have no exterior "Fender" logo.
This logo had two black plastic rivets holding the logo to the case exterior. There was no "tail" under the "Fender" logo. Still used the black tolex case, but now the case exterior has a plastic Fender logo with a "tail" under the "Fender". The logo on the black tolex case changes to have no "tail" and a small "R". Also the white piping around the leather case ends becomes more pronouced. Mid to late s: The logo on the black tolex case changed yet again.
Also the interior of the case got more padding. When Fender started making reissues inthey also reissued the tweed case.
But now the exterior tweed was considerably "hairer", and was not lacquered. Also the interior was not a short dark orange plush, but was now a long, light colored orange shag.