The Fender Stratocaster Serial Numbers

FFender guitar produced before 1977 had a serial number on the bridgeplate or on the neckplate. These serial numbers are hronological, but there are some inconsitencies. Actually, these serial numbers were assigned quite randomly grabbed from the bin by assembler. The only way to determine actual date of the guitar dating before CBS is to look at the dates on each part of the instrument (body, neck, pot dates). Serial numbers from this period can only date the instruments by several years precision, so it's hard to appraise one just by looking at it personally or in photo books.

In years 1957-1958 serial numbers where starting by a "-" sign, or "0" before the number. In 1959-1960 some serial numbers were at the bottom instead of the usual top.

4 to 6 digit Serial Numbers on the Neck plate

Serial NumberYear
0001 to 6000 1954
6000 to 9000 1955
9000 to 16000 1956
16000 to 25000 1957 (some numbers with a "0" or "-" prefix)
25000 to 30000 1958 (some numbers with a "0" or "-" prefix)
30000 to 40000 1959
40000 to 58000 1960
55000 to 72000 1961
72000 to 93000 1962
93000 to 99999 late 1963 to mid 1963

L-Series (late 1962 to late 1965) (serial number on neckplate preceded with an "L"):

Serial NumberYear
L00001 to L20000 late 1962 to late 1963
L20000 to L55000 1964
L55000 to L99999 1965

F-Series (late 1965 to mid-1976) (big script "F" on neckplate below serial number):

Serial NumberYear
100000 to 110000 late 1965
110000 to 200000 1966
180000 to 210000 1967
210000 to 250000 1968
250000 to 280000 1969
280000 to 300000 1970
300000 to 330000 1971
330000 to 370000 1972
370000 to 520000 1973
500000 to 580000 1974
580000 to 690000 1975
690000 to 750000 1976

Serial Number on Peghead Decal. U.S. made Fenders, starting in mid-1976 has the serial number on the peghead. Note the following number could be off as much as two years. Generally speaking, a "S" prefix equals the 1970's, "E" prefix equals the 1980's, and "N" prefix equals the 1990's. Note "E" and "N" prefix models are sometimes also Japanese-made (see below).

Serial NumberYear
7600000 ("76" in bold) 1976-1977
800000s 1979-1981
1000000 to 8000000 1976-1981 (7 digits)
S100000's-S600000's 1979-1982
S700000's to S770000's 1977
S740000's to S800000's 1978
S810000's to S870000's 1979
S880000's to S980000's 1980
S950000's to S990000's 1981
E000000's to E100000's 1979-1982
E200000's 1982
E300000's to E310000's 1983
E320000's to E390000's 1984-1985
E400000's 1984, 1985, 1987
E800000's 1988-1989
E900000's 1989-1990
N900000's 1990
N000000's 1990-1991
N100000's 1991
N200000's 1992
N300000's 1993
N400000's 1994
N500000's 1995
N600000's 1996
N700000's 1997
N800000's 1998
N900000's 1999

Japanese Serial Numbers

Serial NumberYear
JV+ 5 digits 1982-1984
SQ + 5 digits 1983-1984
E + 6 digits 1984-1987
A + 6 digits 1985-1986
B + 6 digits 1985-1986
C + 6 digits 1985-1986
F + 6 digits 1986-1987
G + 6 digits 1987-1988
H + 6 digits 1988-1989
I + 6 digits 1989-1990
J + 6 digits 1989-1990
K + 6 digits 1990-1991
L + 6 digits 1991-1992
M + 6 digits 1992-1993
N + 6 digits 1993-1994
O + 6 digits 1993-1994
P + 6 digits 1993-1994
Q + 6 digits 1993-1994
S + 6 digits 1994-1995
T + 6 digits 1994-1995
U + 6 digits 1995-1996
N + 5 digits 1995-1996
V + 6 digits 1996-1997
Crafted in Japan A + 6 digits 1997-1998
Crafted in Japan O + 5 digits 1997-2000
Crafted in Japan P + 5 digits 1999-2002
Crafted in Japan Q + 5 digits 2002-2004
Crafted in Japan R + 5 digits 2004-2005

Mexican Made Fenders

Serial NumberYear
MN0+ 5 DIGITS 1990-1991
MN1+ 5 DIGITS 1991-1992
MN2+ 5 DIGITS 1992-1993
MN3+ 5 DIGITS 1993-1994
MN4+ 5 DIGITS 1994-1995
MN5+ 5 DIGITS 1995-1996
MN6+ 5 DIGITS 1996-1997
MN7+ 5 DIGITS 1997-1998
MN8+ 5 DIGITS 1998-1999
MN9+ 5 DIGITS 1999-2000
MZ0+ 5 DIGITS 2000-2001
MZ1+ 5 DIGITS 2001-2002
MZ2+ 5 DIGITS 2002-2003
MZ3+ 5 DIGITS 2003-2004
MZ4+ 5 DIGITS 2004-2005
MZ5+ 5 DIGITS 2005-2006