Dating telecaster serial
Serial numbers with an "S" prefix denote the 1970s (signifying a CBS attempt to use serial numbers to identify production years); an "E" prefix was introduced in 1979 to denote the 1980s. instruments with "V"-prefix serial numbers is to remove the neck and check the butt end of the neck heel for a production date, which may be stamped or written there."N"-prefix serial numbers denoting the 1990s were introduced in 1990.
As seen in the overlap of numbers and years, even these references to actual production dates are rather loose.1982 saw the introduction of the U. Vintage Series instruments and "V"-prefix serial numbers. The numbers and decals were produced far in advance, and some N9 decals (denoting 1999), were inadvertantly affixed to some instruments in 1990. American Deluxe Series instruments use the same dating convention, but with the addition of a "D" in front of the "Z", i.e., DZ1, DZ2, etc.
The following chart details the Fender serial number schemes used from 1950 to 1964.
There is quite a bit of overlap of numbers and years.
The chart below details Fender serial number schemes used from 1965 to 1976.
The charts below detail the most common Fender serial number schemes from 1976 to the present.
Consequently, some 1990 guitars bear 1999 "N9" serial numbers."Z"-prefix serial numbers denoting the new millennium appeared on U. As always, there is typically some number prefix overlap and carryover from year to year.
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Neck dating is useful in determining the age of a guitar, but is not definite.
For years, serial numbers have been used in various locations on Fender instruments, such as the top of the neck plate, the front or back of the headstock and the back of the neck near the junction with the body.
Serial numbers were stamped on the back vibrato cover plate on early `50s Stratocaster® guitars, and on the bridge plate between the pickup and the saddles on some Telecaster® guitars.
So, obviously a neck date, while being helpful in providing a date range of production, cannot be a definitive reference.
While there have been periods where dramatic changes have occurred, for example: the transition periods between Leo's Fender and the CBS years, as well as the transition between CBS' Fender and the current ownership, generally speaking, most models are feature specific and do not change from year to year..