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In the early to mids Fender realized that labor and shipping costs overseas were being to rise. Stratocaster. Numbers, Years. , DATING YOUR MEXICAN-MADE FENDER INSTRUMENT Fender began Stratocaster and Jimmie Vaughan Stratocaster use an “MSN” serial number prefix.
The Fender numbers tell the story of the company over the years. Unfortunately, the serial number placement is sporadic and many ID numbers over lap between years and models.
Mexican Fender Serial Numbers - Guitar Repair Bench
In many instances, there is no exact known date for a specific guitar. 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. Where do I find my Fender Serial Number? 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. The "notch" that existed on the bass side of the neck pocket was removed. See the picture above.
Fender used "single line" Kluson tuners, that had "Kluson Deluxe" stamped in a single vertical row like and later Klusons ; these are easily identified as "early" Klusons and not and later Klusons because "PAT APPLD" is also stamped below the vertical "Deluxe" marking.
How to Date your Fender Guitar by Serial Number - Guitar Repair Bench
These are also different because they lack the side worm shaft hole for the tuner shaft there is only a side "entrance" hole. Fender used "no line" Kluson tuners exclusively, and were unmarked had no brand name stamped in the tuner back. Also still no side worm shaft hole for the tuner shaft.
There is now a side tuner shaft worm gear hole. Still "no line" style casing had no brand name stamped in the tuner back. Fender used Kluson tuners exclusively on all models. The only variable was the tuner tip. DuoSonics, MusicMasters, Mustangs and other low-end models had white plastic tips, all other models had metal tips. Fender used Kluson tuners, but now the "Kluson Deluxe" was stamped into two vertical lines "Kluson" in one line, "Deluxe" in the other. Note some models such as the Jazzmaster and Jaquar the use of Kluson tuners ended in mid see below.
Fall to late 's: Fender had tuners made for them with a big "F" stamped in the back cover. Tuner buttons were chrome plated plastic. Click here to see the different Fender tuners used from to the s. Click here to see a comparison of vintage versus reissue Kluson tuners. Click here to see a comparison of vintage versus reissue Kluson tuner bushings. Tone Capacitors to Seemingly for this year only, most Stratocasters have a green square "chicklet" style tone cap this may include other models too.
Old style pre Stratocaster bridge. Note the nickel plated saddles with "Fender Pat. Reissue saddles look exactly the same but are stamped "Fender Fender". Also since the pickguard is removed on this Strat, we can see the "nail hole" just above the pickguard screw hole. If this nail hole does not have paint in it as seen herethe finish is probably original.
Old style Telecaster bridges. The bridge at the top is a mid and prior style Tele bridge with brass saddles, and the serial number stamped into the bridge plate reissue vintage Tele bridge plates with serial numbers have a "dot" pressed below the third number in the serial number, so not to be confused with original Tele bridge plates. The picture at the bottom is a mid to style Tele bridge with "smooth" saddles, and no serial number on the bridge plate.
In Fender then switched to "threaded" saddles on the tele bridge not shown. The Stratocaster used the same bridge saddle from toa piece of steal stamped into shape. In the Strat bridge changes to a less expesive saddle made of cast metal. Reissue vintage Strat bridge saddles are also stamped metal. Click here for a picture. Recent "bogus" Strat saddles are now available in which many individuals pass-off as originals. Strat Tremolo Blocks Pickups and Pickup Springs to March Pickup wire is usually a real rich cooper color.
Pickups are dipped in hot wax to eliminate microphonics, and this wax is evident on the entire pickup. March to late 's: Gray bottom pickups would be the rule, but black bottom pickups were used from old stock as late as Starting in the early 's, the top edges of the magnets were no longer rounded. Most gray bottom pickup assemblies have at least one pickup with a hand written date.
By the late 's this changed to an inked stamped date code, much like the date code used on the butt of the neck. Most gray bottom pickups have a deep burgundy colored pickup wire. Wax treament is no longer used in favor of a lacquer dip treatment, which is much harder to see. Pickup screw springs are now actually real cone-shaped springs instead of rubber surgical tubing. Click here for a picture of gray bottom pickups s. Click here for a picture of a November 4, gray bottom pickup date stamp.
Potentiometers Fender used mostly Stackpole brand pots in the 's, and CTS brand pots in the 's. These pots are date coded, and can help verify the authenticity and year of an instrument. The manufacturer code for CTS is or for Stackpoleso this number should be stamped on the pot somewhere. In the 's, YWW date format was used. For example, "" would be a CTS pot made in the 4th week of A code of "" would be a CTS pot made in the 44th week of The Telecaster, Esquire, Precision Bass, etc, because of their metal knob configuration, used "smooth solid shaft" pots.
Guitars with plastic knobs Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, etc. The split shaft pot could be adjusted for variable tension against the inside of its plastic knob, and the knurling stopped the plastic knob from slipping. The Telecaster or Precision bass type metal knobs with the small set screw which was tightened against the pot's solid shaft to hold the knob was better with a solid shaft pot. These small "tallboy" plastic bakelit knobs were implemented on the Strat with solid shaft pots perhaps Fender didn't have any split shaft pots in stock at the time, as the Strat was the first Fender guitar with plastic knobs.
Because of this, many late 's Fenders have pots dated from More info on pots can be found at in the Feature section, by clicking here.
The jack cup on Telecasters changed through the years. Pre jack cups were milled, and have sharper edges and "teeth" to hold it in the body. Later jack cups are pressed steel and have smoother edges and smooth sides. Wiring to Usually the color is black for ground and white for "hot". Starting in sometimes yellow is used instead of white.
Jazzmasters and Jaquars also used other colors like red and blue. PVC plastic shielded wire is used. Black for ground, white for "hot".
An original Stratocaster wiring harness and pickguard. Notice the small metal shielding plate around the pots, and the white single layer pickguard. At the top edge is a early 's three-layer celluliod "mint green" pickguard with it's full-size aluminum shielding plate.
First generation CRL switches from to had two patent numbers. Second generation CRL switch used from to about have three patent numbers. Otherwise the two and three patent number switches look identical. 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. 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.
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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.
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.
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. 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.
- Mexican Fender Serial Numbers
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!
How to Date your Fender Guitar by Serial Number
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". 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.