That means that there could be a Tele, Strat, and Precision bass with the exact same serial number. At some point in , Fender decided to stop grouping the guitar ID number by model. He started using one sequence of serial numbers for all the guitars coming off of the Fender production lines including Teles, Esquires, Strats, and P-basses. Some of these identification numbers are still out of sequence, jumbled up, or missing.
You may notice that there is a great deal of over lapping numbers in these nine years. The only way to verify an over lapping date is to check the corresponding neck date and body date. This list is a little convoluted because there are so many over lapping serial numbers. The number column represents the general number grouping that Fender and most experts agree on. The low and high columns show the range of identification numbers that have been positively matched to specific years. As you can see, there is quite a bit of overlap.
For some reason during , , and Fender decided to place zero or a dash in front of ID numbers periodically. He was nearing his ,th guitar. This time all the identification numbers under 10, fill the empty digits with zeros. A lot of changes happened to the company as well as the guitars themselves under the new ownership. The identification number sequences were no exception. CBS came up with a new numbering system to take advantage of the fact that Leo did not use 6-digit ID numbers.
CBS continued the sequence Fender started in These era guitars are commonly referred to as the F series because of the neck plate design change. The new neck plate only had the Fender F logo stamped in place. In , Fender decided to stop stamping ID numbers in guitar parts and started making decals for the guitar peghead or headstock. Along with the new location a new series of serial numbers were instituted. Fender apparently was thinking long term because they developed a serial numbering system with one-letter codes preceding the indentification numbers.
The letters referred to the decade that the guitars were produced. Most guitars then had a number following the one-letter code that designated the specific year. For instance, ID number S would be a guitar produced in In about Fender started making import guitars from Japan and around Fender started importing from Mexico.
These guitars have a completely different set of serial numbers that I will talk about later in the article. This section only deals with USA made Fender guitars. Here are the decade numbers:. The new serial number system was a little complicated, but it does make it relatively easy to tell the date of the guitar. Fender mass-produced the headstock decal without matching them with the annual production schedules of the guitars—meaning they made more decals for a given year than guitars.
In , the spacing of the two fingerboard dots at fret twelve changed the spacing became closer together. Neck Back Shapes profiles , all guitar and bass models. Fender neck shapes have changed through the years too. Fender neck shapes all models have a standard large and chunky "D" profile big "baseball bat" style neck. Fender necks change to a large and chunky "soft V" profile. This "strong V" neck profile becomes famous, and musicians like Eric Clapton prefer its shape.
Some Fender necks produced have a "small strong V", where the neck isn't so big feeling, but still has a very strong "V" shape mostly seen on Musicmasters and Duosonics, and the occassional Strat. It's back to a conventional "D" neck profile, but not nearly as thick and large as and prior neck profiles. This neck style is used on most reissue Fenders regardless of the year being copied. With the release of rosewood fingerboards on all models in mid, the "D" neck profiles pretty much stay the same throughout the s with only minor variance from year to year for example, necks seem to be a bit chunkier than to necks.
From March to , Fender marked their necks with an "official" neck width letter at the butt of the neck in front of the date code. All other sizes were available by special order only. Shims were used between a Fender neck and body to adjust the "neck set" of the instrument the "neck set" is the angle of the neck in relationship to the body; if the neck set is too shallow, it needs a shim so the playing action can be lowered with the bridge to a comforable level.
If the neck set is too sharp, the strings can not be raised enough with the bridge to stop string buzz. Fender adjusted the neck set at the factory with a shim. Some Fenders use them, so don't. Click here for a picture of the shim used during the s and s. Neck Bolt Numbers 3 or 4.
How to Date Fender Pickups
In the Telecaster Deluxe from introduction also used the 3 bolt neck plate. In the 4 bolt neck plate came back to the Anniversary strat. By all Stratocaster models were again 4 bolt. And by , all Fender models converted back to the 4 bolt neck plate. Peghead String Guides or "String Tree".
String guides were used on most models to give the treble strings greater string tension across the nut. Changed to a "butterfly" string guide. Click here to see the difference between reissue and original Fender "butterfly" string trees. Only pre-October Esquires have no truss rod. Adjusts at the "butt" of the neck by the pickups. Click here to see the difference between vintage and repro Fender truss rod nuts.
Telecaster and Precision Bass keep traditional truss rod system. Fender starts using different truss rod systems, depending on the model. The body routes on a 's Fender Stratocaster. Note the added "shoulder" near the body's edge to accomodate an attachment screw. Also notice the squared off corner pickup routes. Earlier 's Strat bodies have rounded corner pickup routes. The body routes on a Stratocaster.
Note the rounded pickup route corners, compared to the 's pickup routes seen above. The body routes on Telecasters. In the 's the "notch" was removed from the bass side of the neck pocket. Initially, when the Fender Stratocaster was introduced in , it had a single layer white pickguard attached with 8 screws. In mid , Fender switches to a multiple layer pickguard with 11 mounting screws.
One of the additional screws required a change to the interior body route on the Stratocaster. Now a added "shoulder" was left in the electronic route to accomodate one of the extra pickguard screws. Starting in the late 's, Fender also changed the shape of the pickup routes on the Strat. Now the corners were more square, instead of being round. The Telecaster body also changed in the 's. The "notch" that existed on the bass side of the neck pocket was removed. See the picture above.
Fender used "single line" Kluson tuners, that had "Kluson Deluxe" stamped in a single vertical row like and later Klusons ; these are easily identified as "early" Klusons and not and later Klusons because "PAT APPLD" is also stamped below the vertical "Deluxe" marking. These are also different because they lack the side worm shaft hole for the tuner shaft there is only a side "entrance" hole.
Fender used "no line" Kluson tuners exclusively, and were unmarked had no brand name stamped in the tuner back. Also still no side worm shaft hole for the tuner shaft. There is now a side tuner shaft worm gear hole. Still "no line" style casing had no brand name stamped in the tuner back. Fender used Kluson tuners exclusively on all models. The only variable was the tuner tip. DuoSonics, MusicMasters, Mustangs and other low-end models had white plastic tips, all other models had metal tips. Fender used Kluson tuners, but now the "Kluson Deluxe" was stamped into two vertical lines "Kluson" in one line, "Deluxe" in the other.
Note some models such as the Jazzmaster and Jaquar the use of Kluson tuners ended in mid see below. Fall to late 's: Fender had tuners made for them with a big "F" stamped in the back cover. Tuner buttons were chrome plated plastic. Click here to see the different Fender tuners used from to the s. Click here to see a comparison of vintage versus reissue Kluson tuners. Click here to see a comparison of vintage versus reissue Kluson tuner bushings.
Tone Capacitors to Seemingly for this year only, most Stratocasters have a green square "chicklet" style tone cap this may include other models too. Old style pre Stratocaster bridge.
Note the nickel plated saddles with "Fender Pat. Reissue saddles look exactly the same but are stamped "Fender Fender". Also since the pickguard is removed on this Strat, we can see the "nail hole" just above the pickguard screw hole. If this nail hole does not have paint in it as seen here , the finish is probably original. Old style Telecaster bridges. The bridge at the top is a mid and prior style Tele bridge with brass saddles, and the serial number stamped into the bridge plate reissue vintage Tele bridge plates with serial numbers have a "dot" pressed below the third number in the serial number, so not to be confused with original Tele bridge plates.
The picture at the bottom is a mid to style Tele bridge with "smooth" saddles, and no serial number on the bridge plate. In Fender then switched to "threaded" saddles on the tele bridge not shown. The Stratocaster used the same bridge saddle from to , a piece of steal stamped into shape. In the Strat bridge changes to a less expesive saddle made of cast metal. Reissue vintage Strat bridge saddles are also stamped metal.
Click here for a picture. Recent "bogus" Strat saddles are now available in which many individuals pass-off as originals. Strat Tremolo Blocks Pickups and Pickup Springs to March Pickup wire is usually a real rich cooper color. Pickups are dipped in hot wax to eliminate microphonics, and this wax is evident on the entire pickup. March to late 's: Gray bottom pickups would be the rule, but black bottom pickups were used from old stock as late as Starting in the early 's, the top edges of the magnets were no longer rounded. Most gray bottom pickup assemblies have at least one pickup with a hand written date.
By the late 's this changed to an inked stamped date code, much like the date code used on the butt of the neck. Most gray bottom pickups have a deep burgundy colored pickup wire. Wax treament is no longer used in favor of a lacquer dip treatment, which is much harder to see. Pickup screw springs are now actually real cone-shaped springs instead of rubber surgical tubing. Click here for a picture of gray bottom pickups s.
Click here for a picture of a November 4, gray bottom pickup date stamp. Potentiometers Fender used mostly Stackpole brand pots in the 's, and CTS brand pots in the 's. These pots are date coded, and can help verify the authenticity and year of an instrument. The manufacturer code for CTS is or for Stackpole , so this number should be stamped on the pot somewhere. In the 's, YWW date format was used.
For example, "" would be a CTS pot made in the 4th week of A code of "" would be a CTS pot made in the 44th week of The Telecaster, Esquire, Precision Bass, etc, because of their metal knob configuration, used "smooth solid shaft" pots. Guitars with plastic knobs Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, etc. The split shaft pot could be adjusted for variable tension against the inside of its plastic knob, and the knurling stopped the plastic knob from slipping. The Telecaster or Precision bass type metal knobs with the small set screw which was tightened against the pot's solid shaft to hold the knob was better with a solid shaft pot.
These small "tallboy" plastic bakelit knobs were implemented on the Strat with solid shaft pots perhaps Fender didn't have any split shaft pots in stock at the time, as the Strat was the first Fender guitar with plastic knobs. Because of this, many late 's Fenders have pots dated from More info on pots can be found at in the Feature section, by clicking here. The jack cup on Telecasters changed through the years. Pre jack cups were milled, and have sharper edges and "teeth" to hold it in the body.
Later jack cups are pressed steel and have smoother edges and smooth sides.
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Wiring to Usually the color is black for ground and white for "hot". Starting in sometimes yellow is used instead of white. Jazzmasters and Jaquars also used other colors like red and blue. PVC plastic shielded wire is used. Black for ground, white for "hot". An original Stratocaster wiring harness and pickguard. Notice the small metal shielding plate around the pots, and the white single layer pickguard. At the top edge is a early 's three-layer celluliod "mint green" pickguard with it's full-size aluminum shielding plate. First generation CRL switches from to had two patent numbers.
Second generation CRL switch used from to about have three patent numbers. Otherwise the two and three patent number switches look identical. Shown below is a three patent number switch and brown center wheel. On the first single pickup Esquires Fender used a different flat looking 3-way switch.
Early style CRL 3-way switch with two patent numbers , Switch made of metal and a fiberous brown bakelite type material holding the switch contact that has flat side cuts. This style of switch started with the double pickup Esquire. CRL 3-way switch with three patent numbers and the bakelite with flat side cuts. Teles and Strats still use the CRL 3-way switch, but the fiberous brown bakelite material that holds the switch contacts is replaced with a less fiberous brown bakelite lighter in color that is cut round like a half moon, instead of having flat sides.
The center wheel is still brown bakelite. Teles and Strats still use the CRL 3-way switch with the less fiberous brown bakelite round cut half moon center. But now the center wheel is white plastic instead of brown bakelite. May or may not have a Diamond logo seen both ways.
CRL switches still look basically the same as the previous version, but only one patent number. Definately a Diamond logo during this period. Fender strats use a CRL 5-way switch on many models, which looks the same as the CRL 3-way switch but with two added notches in the switch lever metal.
How to date a Strat Pickup?
Fender bought of these in total, and just used them on special Teles and some Strats. Probably less than a handful were shipped to dealers when the supply of 4, CRL switches had run out by mid The quote from Al Petty is, "if you have one of those switches in your Fender, you probably have an employee guitar or it was a guitar for someone special.
Bechtoldt for much of the CRL switch information. A virgin Stratocaster pickup assembly with no broken solder joints, "black bottom" pickups, "cloth" wire, flat box-shaped paper tone cap, rubber pickup springs, flat edge 3-way switch, CTS pots, and an aluminum pickguard shield all attached to a "green" pickguard. Pickguard Material Black pickguards: This material consisted of a fiberous bakelite, and was about.
The fiberous material was added to the bakelite to add strength bakelite is too brittle and would crack at that thickness without it. Finally the black pickguards were clear-coated with clear nitrocellulose lacquer top side only to give them depth and shine. White pickguards single layer: Fender used a single layer white pickguard material made from ABS or vinyl about. This relatively new material for the time was cheap, easy to work with, and somewhat flexible. Note bakelite was never used for white Fender pickguards on any model though many people refer to white pickguards as such; but it's not bakelite.
In this case the single layer thickness increased to. To some degree the effect is not only caused by age and sun, but the "felting" of the black layer below the white layer. This material was used till January when Fender switched to vinyl or ABS for their multilayer pickguards Celluloid was dangerous and very flamable, and shrunk with time causing cracks. Sometimes these pickguards are called "nitrate 'guards" because nitric acid is one of the key ingredients used to make celluloid. The and later white pickguards do yellow a bit with age. But even aged white 'guards look much different than the older "green" 'guards.
In the late s, white Stratocaster pickguards change slightly not sure about other models. Notice the redish material the factory used to angle the neck. This is typical of and Strats. Click here for a picture of the ink stamp on this aluminum pickguard shield used during the s.
From and later, sticky aluminum foil was attached to the bottom of the pickguard, just around the pots and switch. In the 's, this metal shield was much thicker. Note reissue Strats also use these shields. Click here for a comparison of pickguard material used from to , and a reissue pickguard. The two pickup covers on the outside are ABS plastic.
The three covers on the insides are "bakelite" actually polystyrene, but collectors refer to it incorrectly as "bakelite". Note how the "bakelite" covers are whiter, and the edges have rounded. When new, the "bakelite" cover edges were as shape as the ABS covers.
But with time, the edges round only on the polystyrene covers. They can even wear to show the black pickup itsef underneath. The top row of knobs are ABS, the bottom row are "bakelite" polystyrene. Notice again how the edges of the "bakelite" knobs wear especially on the volume knob , and the ABS edges don't. Also the "bakelite" knobs are whiter. The original Daka-Ware switch tips used on Broadcasters and Telecasters from to the s. The switch tip on the right is a "top hat" style switch with a patent number though round switch tips can also have these markings.
Other Plastic Parts pickup covers, knobs. From to early , these parts were made from white urea formaldehyde, commonly and incorrectly known as "bakelite" bakelite is actually a trade name for phenol formaldehyde, and is most commonly black or molted brown; for consistency, I will refer to these white pickup covers as "bakelite", though in fact they are not.
These covers were very brittle and very white. Note early Strat knobs have a different and taller shape than late and later knobs. Since "bakelite" cracked and wore very easily, Fender switched to white ABS parts in early These ABS parts yellowed with age unlike the earlier "bakelite" parts.
Click here for a comparison of vintage versus s and later Strat knobs. But the switch tip for Telecasters was bakelite plastic. These black tips are still available today, with very minor differences. In about this changed to the "top hat" style of selector switch tip. In either case, all original Tele switch tips have some stampings on their bottom side. All tips about and later say "PAT.
Reissue "top hat" tele switch tips have no marks on the bottom. Click here to see the difference. Click here for a comparison of old and new pbass plastic pickup covers. Click here for a picture of the knob style used on Jazzmasters starting in I hooked up an ohm meter and the output is 5. SeafoamStrat , Sep 13, Strat-Man-Do , Sep 13, That was kind of my idea too, but I wasn't sure if the other numbers meant anything.
I now wonder if this was a neck, mid, or bridge pickup and if this is worth anything if I decide to sell it. Yes,the last number is the year.
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The other two numbers ,going from right to left are the week of the year,the 24th week,which would fall in June and 23, the actual day of that month. So it's June 23, As far as what position the pickup goes in,it's not specific. Fender didn't start doing that stuff until sometime in the s.
Oldboy , Sep 13, It definatly isn't a bridge pup. It could very well have been a middle.