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No one likes it when you forget their birthday and neither does your Fender. For most of Fender’s production history they have applied serial numbers and production dates that can help you determine their production date (within a few years’ margin, at least).

Determining the date can also be important from a collector’s perspective, since the pre-1966 vintage Fender guitars are generally considered the most valuable.

Digital records beginning in 1993 show some “CN” and “VN” prefixes on the serial numbers of Korean-made instruments (these numbers almost certainly occur before 1993, but there is no documentation of this).

Serial numbers without letter prefixes have been found dating through 1996; these are six-, seven- and eight-digit serial numbers with the first numeral (or first two numerals in the eight-digit numbers) indicating year of manufacture.

First half of 1959: No markings for a period after a customer complained about an obscenity written on the neck butt. 1966: the model number (the number stamped on the neck before the month) change (for example, “13”=Stratocaster).

Below is a list of date formats and how they were marked on the neck-butts: 1950-1954: Hand-written below the truss rod adjustment at the butt end of the neck.The locations of the serial numbers and dates change from model to model and in some cases they have simply been omitted.Also, labeling techniques have changed with Fender owners, slightly adding to the confusion. S.-made Fender guitars and basses from 1950 until today, since they are some of the predominant vintage guitars for sale on Vintageand Typically the serial number is penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses.Neck dating can be useful in finding the approximate age of your guitar.

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The numbers for each year typically overlap, as there is always a transitional period between successive years and as necks and complete instruments that were made and serial numbered late in any given year were used on instruments assembled and sold in the early months of the subsequent year.

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