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The table below shows the Fender serial numbers as they were used from 1950 to 1964.The serial numbers in principle chronological, but as already mentioned, as a result of Fender's production, there are a several serial numbers that overlap.At the Stratocasters from the early fifties the serial numbers were stamped on the back vibrato cover.
To read this it is necessary to unscrew the neck from the body.
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.
Fender then switched to a serial numbering on the neck plate for all models. Although Fender had already switched in 1954 serialized for all models on the neck plate, is the serial number at some Precison's still affixed to the bridge plate.
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.
As you can see by the overlap of numbers and years, the reference to the actual date of manufacture is rather vague.