Fender Guitars Serial Numbers Decoder - GuitarInsite
As with all Fender serial numbers, the Mexican Fender serial numbers are inconsistent and change patterns a few times. The Mexican serial numbers start by. Aug 2, How to date and identify your Fender instruments using serial numbers and production date stamps. No one likes it when you forget their. DATING YOUR USA MADE FENDER ELECTRIC STRINGED Guitar [click here] for your Japanese or Mexican Fender Guitar serial number.
Bass 6to Typical wear on a 's Fender maple fingerboard. Fingerboard Material Maple fingerboard, s: This was the standard neck on all models until when the Jazzmaster was introduced with a rosewood fingerboard; the rest of the Fender models changed to rosewood fingerboards in mid Rosewood fingerboard, "Slab" Brazilianto That is, the bottom of the fingerboard was flat and the board was fairly thick.
A picture of a slab board neck as seen from the "butt" of the neck can be seen in this picture. Also shown is the difference between reissue and original slab board necks. The Musicmaster family also used slab fingerboards usually Indian rosewood for about a year from Sept to Oct Slab fingerboards are also identifiable from the peghead by their "hump" line humps toward the tunersjust above the nut. Rosewood fingerboard, "Veneer", The veneer of rosewood got even thinner by mid Also by the rosewood changed from Brazilian to Indian rosewood.
Veneer fingerboards are also identifiable from the peghead by their "dished" line dishes toward the nutjust above the nut. Different than the s one-piece maple necks. These used an actual slab maple fingerboard glued to the maple neck, and no "skunk stripe" down the back of the neck for the truss rod.
Maple fingerboards, and later: Fender's maple neck changed back to the s style one piece neck with a walnut "skunk stripe" down the back. Rosewood Fingerboards, and later: Starting inFender switched back to the slab rosewood fingerboard style, made from Indian rosewood except on certain recent custom shop models. Fingerboard Dots Black dots: Till the end of Fender used "clay" dots as position markers.
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This material has an off-white opaque color. In very late all models changed to pearl dot position markers. Side markers remained "clay" until spring when these too changed to pearl. Inthe spacing of the two fingerboard dots at fret twelve changed the spacing became closer together. Neck Back Shapes profilesall guitar and bass models. Fender neck shapes have changed through the years too. Fender neck shapes all models have a standard large and chunky "D" profile big "baseball bat" style neck.
Fender necks change to a large and chunky "soft V" profile. This "strong V" neck profile becomes famous, and musicians like Eric Clapton prefer its shape. Some Fender necks produced have a "small strong V", where the neck isn't so big feeling, but still has a very strong "V" shape mostly seen on Musicmasters and Duosonics, and the occassional Strat.
It's back to a conventional "D" neck profile, but not nearly as thick and large as and prior neck profiles. This neck style is used on most reissue Fenders regardless of the year being copied. With the release of rosewood fingerboards on all models in mid, the "D" neck profiles pretty much stay the same throughout the s with only minor variance from year to year for example, necks seem to be a bit chunkier than to necks.
From March toFender marked their necks with an "official" neck width letter at the butt of the neck in front of the date code. All other sizes were available by special order only. Shims were used between a Fender neck and body to adjust the "neck set" of the instrument the "neck set" is the angle of the neck in relationship to the body; if the neck set is too shallow, it needs a shim so the playing action can be lowered with the bridge to a comforable level.
If the neck set is too sharp, the strings can not be raised enough with the bridge to stop string buzz. Fender adjusted the neck set at the factory with a shim. Some Fenders use them, so don't. Click here for a picture of the shim used during the s and s. Neck Bolt Numbers 3 or 4.
In the Telecaster Deluxe from introduction also used the 3 bolt neck plate. In the 4 bolt neck plate came back to the Anniversary strat. By all Stratocaster models were again 4 bolt. And byall Fender models converted back to the 4 bolt neck plate. Peghead String Guides or "String Tree". String guides were used on most models to give the treble strings greater string tension across the nut.
Changed to a "butterfly" string guide. Click here to see the difference between reissue and original Fender "butterfly" string trees. Only pre-October Esquires have no truss rod. Adjusts at the "butt" of the neck by the pickups. Click here to see the difference between vintage and repro Fender truss rod nuts.
Telecaster and Precision Bass keep traditional truss rod system. Fender starts using different truss rod systems, depending on the model. The body routes on a 's Fender Stratocaster. Note the added "shoulder" near the body's edge to accomodate an attachment screw. Also notice the squared off corner pickup routes.
Earlier 's Strat bodies have rounded corner pickup routes. The body routes on a Stratocaster. Note the rounded pickup route corners, compared to the 's pickup routes seen above.
The body routes on Telecasters. In the 's the "notch" was removed from the bass side of the neck pocket. Initially, when the Fender Stratocaster was introduced init had a single layer white pickguard attached with 8 screws. In midFender switches to a multiple layer pickguard with 11 mounting screws. One of the additional screws required a change to the interior body route on the Stratocaster. Now a added "shoulder" was left in the electronic route to accomodate one of the extra pickguard screws.
Starting in the late 's, Fender also changed the shape of the pickup routes on the Strat. Now the corners were more square, instead of being round. The Telecaster body also changed in the 's. 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.
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.
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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.Dating Fender Amps
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.
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. Undercoats were used on guitars for different reason than on automobiles. On cars, a primer undercoat is used to increase the adhesion of the color coat to the metal. It is also used to fill imperfections in the metal. And finally, special primer undercoats are used on metal for rust prevention.
But on wood, none of the above undercoat properties are needed. Imperfections can easily be sanded out with sandpaper. Lacquer already adheres well to wood.
And there is certainly no problem with rust. So why bother with an undercoat on guitars? The reason is purely financial. So if you use the white primer to cover the wood and make the body a consistent white color, you can use about half as much color paint for a uniform top color. This could save a considerable amount of money when painting thousands of guitars. Of course the financial disadvantage to using an undercoat is it takes more time.
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You have another step where you have to let the body dry. So when the production schedule allowed, Fender used an undercoat. When things were rushed, Fender didn't. Fender also used Sunburst or other colors as an undercoat to custom colors. Fender probably had an ample supply of reject Sunburst and custom color finished bodies that had some flaw remember, all these guitars were painted by humans, not machines.
It can be assumed that the majority of custom color finishes over other finishes are probably rejected bodies. Stripping an existing bad finish to apply another is just too much work. So shooting a new custom color over a bad finish would be killing two birds with one stone. Undercoats in the 's were even more inconsistent. Again, sometimes they used them and sometimes they didn't. And the color of undercoat was inconsistent too. Again, usually the pastel colors like Dakota Red and Black often didn't use any undercoat.
And Sunburst is also seen under some 's custom colors. Probably just an easy way to use up those bad Sunburst bodies without stripping them. Some general rules can be said about undercoats used with custom colors during the s. During and some ofFender used a silver metallic undercoat beneath their custom colors. Then duringthat undercoat changed to a white seemingly the same finish used on native blond Telecasters.
Also Desert Sand was also sometimes used as an undercoat. Less production time in changing gun colors, less cost in stocking a unique primer. The Nail Holes and the Paint Stick. To the end ofFender would spray the front of a guitar body first as it laid on top of a turntable. The turntable was a "lazy susan" that allowed the body to be rotated without touching it. After spraying the front, they would flip the body over onto these nail legs, and spray the back and sides.
When done, the body was moved to a drying area and left on its nail legs to dry. When the finish was dry, the nails were removed and the body was rubbed out and polished.
Starting at the end ofFender changed how they held the body when spraying it. Now they used a "stick" that was screwed in the neck pocket in the two bass-side neck pocket screw holes. The stick was a jig that suspended the body and allowed it to be rotated in the spray booth for easy spraying. Because the stick was now used, the area under the stick in the neck pocket does not have any paint. Hence you only see the yellow stain used for the first step in the Sunbursting process under the stick.
But note, the nails were still used even after the stick. Now the nails' sole purpose was to suspend the body while drying. Note prior to the "stick", Fender neck pockets on Sunburst and custom colored bodies are entirely painted. The "stick" in reality was not really a stick at all. Fender actually used inexpensive electrical pipe conduit as the "stick". One end of the pipe was beaten flat with a hammer, and attached to the body.
The other end of the conduit was slide onto a small metal rack also made of conduit sitting on a table in the paint booth. This way the body could be painted "hands free", and rotated on the metal holding rod, or the whole rack could be turned, allowing easy painting of the face, back, and body sides.
Because the "lazy susan" paint method was used till the end ofthe neck pocket should be fully painted because the nail legs where utilized during painting. Starting at the end ofthe neck pocket should have an area on the bass side void of any paint but still stained yellow before painting where the "stick" was attached during painting.
It is very important to note that the nails were still used on Fender bodies, even after the implementation of the "stick". But the nail's sole job now was to provide a way to set the body down to dry, without anything touching the paint.
Fender maintained this technique of using the nails until the end of At this point Fender implemented a "drying tree" to hold bodies as they dried. This approximately six foot high device could hold about 40 bodies while they dried, while using very little physical space. With the implementation of the drying tree, there was no longer a need for nails. There is a picture of the drying tree in A. Another Fender misconception is the "big number stamp" seen on many custom color instruments.
I've seen this on instruments as early asand as late as These large, stamped numbers sometimes denote a guitar as having some factory repair work, usually refinishing.
The reason Fender used this stamp was very simple. Due to the large number of bodies and necks being painted at any one time, they had no way of keeping track of a particular guitar unless they marked it.
This allowed the guitar to be stripped and sanded without losing it's ownership. Then it could be put into the paint production system to be painted as if it was a new guitar.
After the paint process was done, the large deeply stamped numbers would allow Fender to "find" the refinished parts and re-assemble them, and ultimately return them to their owners. InFender used the "ES" code a lot on their custom color instruments. At least forthe ES code was used as some sort of default for custom colored instruments be it Teles, or Strats or Jazz Basses. This two letters "ES" for "Enter Special" seems to denote a special order, at least for Again this is has been seen lots of times on documented original custom color instruments.
I have also seen the "ES" stamp on some sunburst instruments! Perhaps these guitars were special show models, so extra care was taken in their finish. But then there is this question: It may have to do with how many custom colored guitars were being painted at any point in time, and the 2-letter code was applied to avoid confusion. According to interviews with George Fullerton, the idea of standardizing custom colors came about in even though the first color chart wasn't available till Because of this, and colored Fenders are sometimes found in recognizable colors such as Fiesta Red.
But since nothing was "standard" tillyou really can only guess as to what color your 's custom color Fender really is.
And if it's a or earlier Fender, there's really no telling what color your guitar really is. Also note that Fender did not always use Dupont paints for their guitars! The did always use Dupont's color codes and paint chips, but the paint itself came from a variety of sources, and was not always the Dupont brand. This could be another reason why the same color can look different on two different Fender guitars.
What Did Fender Use after Lacquer in ? It was the decision of Bob and another gentlemen at Fender in to change to Aliphatic Urethane Coatings aka "Poly" on the guitars. The decision was strictly a labor thing, but in the process, the decision essentially ruined Fender instruments! What Fender did was seal the body as alwaysand then spray the sunburst colors with lacquer.
Now instead of using lacquer as the clear coat over the sunburst, they just sprayed two coats of AUC. Also the face of the peghead stayed entirely lacquer, even though the rest of the neck was spray with AUC. This happened because the peghead "Fender" decal reacted with AUC. If you are trying to determine if a pre-CBS Fender custom color guitar is original, you should keep the following points in mind. But be aware; all pre-CBS Fenders were made by humans, not machines.
Therefore some guitars will still be original, even if they don't pass all the following specs. But if you're paying top dollar for a non-conformant example, I would think twice especially if you are ever going to sell it again: Check the nail holes.
Are they visible and free of paint? Are there at least three nail holes?
Be aware these nails were inserted by humans with a hammer. So the location of these holes can vary. So if the nail holes can't be found, immediately suspect the originality of that instrument! Check the neck pocket. If beforeit should be fully painted.
If late or later, look for the "paint stick" shadow. Check the solder joints. Are they original looking and not re-soldered? There is no other single thing that is more important than this! Only Jazzmasters and Jaguars can be taken apart without unsoldering them.
Teles and Strat must be unsoldered to be re-painted. So if the solder joints are original on a Strat or Tele, its finish is probably original too! If so, the guitar is a factory refinish, or had some other kind of factory work done. They may or may not be there, but they should be of the types previously mentioned for the era in question. Don't be scared of a custom color over sunburst, or a custom color over another custom color, or both.
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It happened a lot! Check the body wood. Unless the guitar is blond, or made in early or before, the body wood should be Alder. Try and identify the original color. Does the color make sense for the period? For example, Shell pink would be very unlikely but not impossible on a Fender.
Check for a clear coat over the color. How has it effected the original color? Generally speaking, the more yellowed the clear coat, the less desirable the guitar.
This is because most people want the original color, and not some greened-out version.