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MADE FENDER STRINGED INSTRUMENT For the majority of Fender's U. instrument production history, production dates have been applied to various components.
While this neck dating is useful in roughly determining the age of a guitar, it is certainly not definitive.
With the year 2000 came the introduction of the "Z" prefix serial numbers on US made instruments, which stood for the 0 of the new millennium.
A Z0 prefix dates to 2000, a Z1 prefix dates to 2001 etcetera.
The "S", stood for decade of the 1970s, and began CBS' attempt to use serial numbers to identify the year of production for the piece. "V" prefix serial numbered instruments, is to remove the neck, and check the butt end of the heel of the neck for a production date, which may be stamped or written there.
The "E", stood for the decade of the 1980s and was, as shown below, introduced in 1979. Vintage Series instruments and the use of the "V" prefix serial numbers. In March of 1985, the CBS Corporation sold Fender to a group of private investors.
There were periods of time when this was not consistently done, (between 19), and there are certainly other examples of short periods of time, and individual pieces, where the dating was simply omitted.
Most notably, production dates have been penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses.
The following serial numbers are somewhat outside the more, well known Fender serial number schemes.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.Serial numbers are also helpful in determining the year of production of a given instrument.They were stamped on the back vibrato cover plate (early '50s Strats), and on the bridge plate between the pickup and the saddles on some Telecasters.But once again, due to the modular nature of Fender's production methods, and the fact that most serial numbers schemes are not sequential and usually overlap from between 2 to 4 years, (from the early days of Fender, through to the mid 1980s), dating by the serial number is not an exact science.
This chart contains If you are unable to place the approximate year of manufacture of your instrument using the above charts, there are a few great books available, which have invaluable information on the history of Fender instruments.