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It is important to remember that Fender serial numbers are NOT conclusively chronological. Back in the day, Fender made their serial number plates in big batches and the assembler simply grabbed a decal or more from the crate and slapped it on the guitar. To get as close as possible to determining the age of your Fender, make sure to check all dates on both body, neck and pots.The locations of the serial numbers and dates change from model to model and in some cases they have simply been omitted.Neck dating can be useful in finding the approximate age of your guitar.Since the neck is only a component of the guitar, it could have been produced a number of years before the actual instrument was assembled, hence the date on the neck is not necessarily the production date of the whole guitar.A example of this is “02033923” found on a Jazz Bass.
Fender was sold to CBS in the first week of January 1965, but already in late 1964 mass production was slowly being introduced, which gradually lowered quality and ultimately collectibility.
Again, a neck was stamped with either the new or the old date stamp, but not both.
The model numbers change yet again (for example, “09”=Stratocaster). April 1973-1980: Fender dropped the old style date stamp after March 1973 and continued with the new 8-digit code.
Below is a list of date formats and how they were marked on the neck-butts: 1950-1954: Hand-written below the truss rod adjustment at the butt end of the neck.
Date format is usually M-D-YY and often features the woodworker’s initials as well.
How to date and identify your Fender instruments using serial numbers and production date stamps.