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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.On some Telecaster guitars the serial number is found on the bridge plate between the pickup and the saddles.From the production of the first solidbody Fender guitars and until 1976, Fender tagged a production date at the butt of the detachable neck of their guitars.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.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.
“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.
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.