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.
Dating a Fender Guitar by it’s Serial Number can be a little tricky.
The pickups appear to be original 1954 Fenders with a 3-way pickup switch (the 5-way switch didn’t surface until the mid 70’s).
David explained to Guitarist in 1986 how he got his hands on the guitar: ”Eventually Phil (Taylor, David’s long-time guitar technician) wanted to borrow some money to buy a house, so I blackmailed him!
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The Stratocaster was not the first Fender solid-body electric guitar—that honor belongs to the 1950, one-pickup Esquire, which went through several name changes (including a period when the guitar had no name at all) before being labeled the Telecaster in 1951.
But if the date and serial number do correspond, that should give a collector some serious peace of mind.
Most notably, PRODUCTION DATES have been penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses, although there were periods when this was not consistently done (1973 to 1981, for example) or simply omitted.
Neck-dating can be useful in determining the was produced, rather than the complete instrument.
SERIAL NUMBERS are also helpful in determining an instrument’s production year.
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.
But the Strat, as it is known, was the guitar that made the word "Fender" synonymous with "rock 'n' roll." Introduced in 1954, its ash body (alder was used after 1956) was sculpted to fit players like a glove.
Three pickups gave the instrument unprecedented tonal range, as did a tremolo bar that bent the guitar’s strings when pressed.