Start Dating vintage fender bass

Dating vintage fender bass

Only the seven-digit suffixes were actually entered into the database.

For years, serial numbers have been used in various locations on Fender instruments, such as the top of the neck plate, the front or back of the headstock and the back of the neck near the junction with the body.

Serial numbers were stamped on the back vibrato cover plate on early ’50s Stratocaster® guitars, and on the bridge plate between the pickup and the saddles on some Telecaster® guitars.

These markets operate completely independent of the new-instrument market.

If, however, you’re interested in determining a relative value for your instrument(s), we recommend that you contact used or vintage instrument dealers in your area.

Serial numbers with an “S” prefix denote the 1970s (signifying a CBS attempt to use serial numbers to identify production years); an “E” prefix was introduced in 1979 to denote the 1980s. Vintage Series instruments and “V”-prefix serial numbers. “N”-prefix serial numbers denoting the 1990s were introduced in 1990.

As seen in the overlap of numbers and years, even these references to actual production dates are rather loose. The numbers and decals were produced far in advance, and some N9 decals (denoting 1999) were inadvertently affixed to some instruments in 1990.

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.

Instead, the instrument's country of origin appears on the decal on the back of the headstock, near the serial number.

This new numbering scheme was short-lived and was replaced only a few months later by an improved scheme that identifies an instrument’s country of origin and year of manufacture in the body of the serial number.

But once again, due to Fender’s modular production methods and often non-sequential serial numbering (usually overlapping two to four years from the early days of Fender to the mid-1980s), dating by serial number is not always precisely definitive.