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This information is courtesy Fender.com, republished here for your convenience. instrument production history, production dates have been applied to various components.Hit the jump to see just how old that guitar or bass really is. Most notably, production dates have been penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses, although there were periods when this was not consistently done (1973 to 1981, for example) or simply omitted.
It was established in 1890 by Victor Carroll Squier in Battle Creek, Michigan. By 1975, Squier became defunct as a manufacturer and a brand name for strings, as Fender opted to market its strings under the Fender brand name.
Squier Company manufactured strings for violins, banjos, and guitars.
Consequently, some 1990 guitars bear 1999 “N9” serial numbers. American Deluxe Series instruments use the same dating convention, but with the addition of a “D” in front of the “Z”, i.e., DZ1, DZ2, etc.
“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.
Information on Japanese and Mexican-made instruments is included towards the bottom.
If you have a Fender in your hands, you can use this guide to precisely date your Fender instrument all the way back to 1950.
Notice that there is quite a bit of overlap in numbers and years.
The only way to try to narrow the date range of your specific instrument is to remove the neck and check the butt end of the neck heel for a production date, which may be stamped or written there (if you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, please refer to an experienced professional guitar tech in your area). Serial numbering didn’t change immediately because instruments continued to be made using existing, tooling, parts and serial number schemes.
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.
A “KC” prefix was introduced on Korean-made instruments in 1997, designating instrument made in Korea at the Cort factory.