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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.
You might consider referring to magazine ( a great and helpful resource for those who buy, sell and trade vintage instruments.
You might also consider consulting one or more of the many instrument dealers who offer appraisals of vintage instruments, such as Elderly Instruments ( Gruhn Guitars ( Mandolin Bros.
But once again, due to Fender’s modular production methods and often non-sequential serial numbering (usually overlapping two to four years from the early days of Fender to the mid-1980s), dating by serial number is not always precisely definitive.
The chart below details Fender serial number schemes used from 1950 to 1964.
If, however, you’re interested in determining a relative value for your instrument(s), we recommend that you contact used or vintage instrument dealers in your area.
The following six digits are the unit identifier, although it should be noted that these final six numbers are not sequential and do not provide any other identification information about the instrument. S.-made Fender instruments, with exceptions including the American Vintage series and certain special-run instruments.
“10” prefix followed by a space and seven digits (late 2009 through March 2010)US10 6 digits (beginning in about March 2010) V 5 or 6 digits (American Vintage Series except ’52 Telecaster, which uses a five-digit number stamped into the bridge plate) A limited number of these "H", "I" and "K" series guitars were made in '89 and '90.
While there have been periods of dramatic change—such as the transition periods between the Leo Fender years and the CBS years or the transition between the CBS years and the current ownership—most models are generally feature-specific and do not change from year to year.
Serial numbers are also helpful in determining an instrument’s production year.