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The next table shows the most common Fender serial numbers schemes from 1976 to the present.
Here is the S first introduced as a prefix to the serial numbers. The E stands for the decade of the eighties, and was introduced in 1979.
If the date is unreadable, it can also be written on the body under the pickguard or cavity form the pickups.
3,143,028 the patent granted in August 1964 for Fender's adjustable neck construction. (Used since 1957 to the Precision Bass) The DES is the serial number. The serial number for these three models can be found at the bridge plate and is used until about early 1954. Until 1955, the serial number is applied to the bridge plate.
As you can see by the overlap of numbers and years, the reference to the actual date of manufacture is rather vague.
In 1990, the N came as a prefix to the numbers, which stands for the nineties. Deluxe Series have the same standard but with the addition of a D for the Z, eg. Also here some overlap of numbers, prefixes and year.
Where to find the serial number The serial numbers on the guitar are provided through the years on various places.
At the top of the neck plate, at the front or at the back of the head or on the cover plate of the vibrato.
Your last chance to own a vintage Fender Stratocaster is with the guitars of the late 1970's.