Is this a 1991 or 1999 American Stratocaster?

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by Nsemest182, Jul 23, 2021.

  1. Nsemest182

    Nsemest182 Strat-Talk Member

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    I’m getting mixed answers on this one. Based on this serial number, string trees, and logo design is this a 1999 or 1991 Stratocaster. I bought this from a legit dealer but when I submitted the serial to Fender customer relations they couldn’t find it it their database?? I included the N, was I not supposed to?
     

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  2. jayoldschool

    jayoldschool Mod Admin Staff Member

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    They used the spaghetti logo in 99 ;-)
     
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  3. Nsemest182

    Nsemest182 Strat-Talk Member

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    So it’s a 1991 ? Or is it a fake? The store sold it as a 1999 (the tag said 1998 with a line crossed through it and they wrote 1999 as if they made a mistake on the year for the tag)

    Aren’t the 1991 strats supposed to be more expensive than the 1999s?
     
  4. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Likely 1990 or a fake with that logo (1991 was N1, it was 1990 when the N9 mistake was made)
    Fender's serial number database is hit and miss, particularly before the mid 2000's

    Pull the neck off and look for dates in the pocket.
    Pull the pickguard and post a shot of the underside and the body cavity routing.
     
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  5. John C

    John C Most Honored Senior Member Silver Member

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    Yep - this is one of those 1991s that wound up with an "N9" number so it won't be in Fender's database (which starts with 1993 instruments).

    As you can see the number is 2 parts - one says "Serlal Number N" and the other is a 6-digit number that starts with a 9. And I think the "Serial Number N" part is attached to the "Fender Stratocaster" part as well. But at any rate what I think happened in 1991 is that Fender finally ran out of the decals with "Serial Number E" before they ran out of the 6-digit numbers that started with "9" so they combined the decals with "Serial Number N", which should have been paired with a run of 6-digit decals that start with a "0" or with a "1" but was instead paired with the remainder of the 6-digit decals that start with a "9" - resulting in serial numbers of "N9" instead of "N0" (the next prefix in line after E9 - which was really used from late 1989 through 1990). By the next time they changed the decals the first part now read "Serial Number N1" and was followed by a 6-digit number that started with a "0".

    1991s are only more expensive for people looking for early American Standards; to me by 1991 they shouldn't be getting that bump as many of them had poplar bodies with alder veneers instead of the solid alder you'll find on earlier and later models.
     
  6. Seinzumtode

    Seinzumtode Strat-Talk Member

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    It's an issue, if Fender cannot find it. But the serial decoder leads to a 1999-2000.

    Although the Made in USA used Spaghetti, the Made in Mexico used blocks...

    But check out the info above!
     
  7. myredstrat

    myredstrat Senior Stratmaster

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    My '99 Lonestar has the spaghetti logo, and a N followed by 7 digits serial number on the back of the headstock
     
  8. John C

    John C Most Honored Senior Member Silver Member

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    Yes - this is a known serial number anomaly, like the S9xxxxx numbers running from 1979-1981, the E3 and E4 being used first by CBS and then recycled by FMIC on American Standards.

    Also as mentioned Fender only has searchable info for guitars going back to 1993 - the story/urban legend I've always heard is that Fender got a new computer system in the factory in 1993; whatever they had before 1993 was either just hard copy or if it was electronic it was not compatible with the 1993 system, so no electronic/searchable records prior to that.
     
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  9. Seinzumtode

    Seinzumtode Strat-Talk Member

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    Great, info - thanks!


    Some one suggested that you check out my question on an early custom shop/masterbuilt/artist relations, I think.

    When you have a moment, care to weigh in? I'd much appreciate it!
     
  10. John C

    John C Most Honored Senior Member Silver Member

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    I did; unfortunately that one is a complete puzzle to me as well.
     
  11. Seinzumtode

    Seinzumtode Strat-Talk Member

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    Right on, thanks though! Glad this thread was tied-up, at least
     
  12. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Online serial number "decoders" other than the manufacturer's site are worthless.
     
  13. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    Pull the neck and pickguard. The date should be in the neck pocket and/or on the neck heel.
     
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  14. Seinzumtode

    Seinzumtode Strat-Talk Member

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    Perhaps. But also may be used by sellers, hence the discrepancy.
     
  15. CB91710

    CB91710 No GAS shortage here Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Exactly.
    And in fairness, the sites *do* provide a disclaimer, but people don't read that. They simply plug the serial number into the java app and take the result as gospel.

    Plug a Fender replacement neck serial number into those sites and it will tell you that it's from Corona or Ensenada and give you the year that matches the first number(s).
    Z12xxxx will ALWAYS return "2012 or 2013 Corona" and MX12xxxx will always return "2012 or 2013 Ensenada"

    The online sites simply load generic information into a spreadsheet and the applet does the lookup.
    Fender has an online searchable database, but it's hit and miss before 2005-2010, and there is virtually nothing on the Asian import models.

    For general ballparking, you aren't going to find better information than what is provided by Fender here:
    https://fendercustomersupport.microsoftcrmportals.com/en-US/knowledgebase/category/?id=CAT-01007
    And even then, there are some errors in that.
    And that is the information that is input into the spreadsheets that the online dating applets reference.

    There are a few fan-supported sites that have anecdotal serial number databases collected from member submissions, and those can fill in the gaps, but these sites are typically for specific models, and only a few have enough data to provide anything statistically meaningful, given the hundreds of thousands of guitars produced every year.

    Again, assuming that yours is not a fake (and I don't see anything that makes me think it is), pull the neck. The date is likely written in pencil, and from the decal, it's likely 1990 or 1991.
     
  16. hrstrat57

    hrstrat57 Strat-Talker

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    That logo ran from 87-93

    Did you pull the neck for pocket and butt end markings?

    Loosen strings a bit capo first fret takes 5 minutes to check.

    I’d love to see pics of the whole guitar. Strongly suspect it’s a 91
     
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