Dating vintage fender stratocaster
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 charts detail the most common Fender serial number schemes used from 1976 to the present.Please note the introduction of the "S" prefix serial numbers.
You will notice that there is quite a bit of overlap of numbers and years.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.The only way to try to narrow the date range of your specific instrument would be 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.(If you are not comfortable performing this operation, please use an experienced professional guitar tech in your area).