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This period also saw a switch from the orginal four-bolt neckplate of the '60s to a three-bolt neckplate in just one example of cost-saving costs introduced under CBS.Starting in 1976, Fender transitioned to a new serial number scheme and moved the placement of most serial numbers to the headstock of the instrument.
There are certainly plenty of exceptions, so again, using serial numbers in conjunction with other dating methods is always the best bet.
Click on the links here to jump directly to the serial number style that matches your instrument: In the early years, Fender serial numbers schemes were specific to the model.
Here's how the serial numbers break down from 1954 to the beginning of 1963, though there are some areas of inconsistency in this era: At the very end of 1962 and into 1963, Fender changed to a system where serial numbers began with an "L." According to some accounts, the L was supposed to just be a 1 to mark the cross over into the 100,000 range from the previous scheme, but an L was used by mistake.
Here the range of the L-series serial used each year.
So you need to figure out the year of production for your Fender guitar or bass. Fenders rank as the most frequently bought and sold instruments on Reverb, and finding a precise date of manufacture can be key to determining the value and specifics of an instrument.
The most important thing to keep in mind when dating a Fender is the highly modular nature of the designs.
Who knows how long it was waiting in the Fender factory before finding its way into a Tele?
Like the body and neck dates, using serial numbers to date a Fender is not a sure bet.
This can be a tall order for someone less versed in guitar history, but we do have some resources here on Reverb to help you out.
For starters, there's the Reverb Price Guide which has thousands of entries with pictures and details on various guitars and other gear.
For Fender during the turning point era of the mid-'60s, check out Fender and the CBS Takeover.