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Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by 66outlaw, Sep 14, 2021.
Thanks again. Happy to be here. Looking forward to learning new things.
Things were wonky with the serial numbers after the FMIC buyout in '85... and really even before, as sales were dropping in the late 70s and there started to be a lot of overlap between years on the S8, S9, E0, E1, E2, and E3 numbers, with the same numbers appearing on models 2-3 years apart.
Very few guitars were built in the US for a year or so, and the original FMIC plan was to make standard production in Japan, and only make vintage reissues here.
There was not a lot in the way of parts and inventory that transferred from Fullerton to Corona, but apparently, serial number decals did. There were apparently no E5 through E7 decals, FMIC started using the E8 decals in 1988, but the E4 stretched into '88 officially, and some claim to have seen them as late as '89.
Then the screwup that put "N9" on 1990 models, rather than "N0"... which was later corrected, so 1990 will carry either N9 or N0, and 1999 is also N9.
"M" was a prefix for Ensenada models, so we had "MN#" and after 2000, Z# and MZ#. In 2011, they transitioned to US and MX, with the full 2-digit year, and they stuck with that after 2019, so I suspect they will remain using that pattern long term.
It's far less confusing. They are also pretty good about rolling the serial numbers to the new year during the late spring, so March/April 2021 could be either US20 or US21, but June is going to be from the noted year.
I love the color ,I guess it’s an acquired taste.
Happy to confirm and I knew just where to go to confirm it. I can even recall when he got that one in the mid '80s. It was one of the nicest playing guitars I've ever had in my hands and it belongs to one of the best guitarists I've ever played with.
Thanks, man. I dig it as well. Really grabbed my attention when I walked in that music store way back when.
Thanks for this detailed history! Good stuff for sure.
Ain't that the truth!!!
Just to add on:
All Teles from 1978 through 1982 carried the S8xxxxx serial numbers - that would be the "regular" Tele along with the Tele Custom and Tele Deluxe until they were discontinued in 1981 (I'm not sure when the Tele Thinline goes away - I think earlier than 1981 but I could be wrong on that)
All Strats from 1979-1981 carried the S9xxxxx serial numbers
You'll only see E0 and E1 on things like the Lead Series and the Bullet Series - and even then they are off because my 1979 Lead II (built in late October 1979 and purchased on Black Friday November 1979) had an E0xxxxx serial number. The only S9xxxxx Leads I have EVER seen were the ones in the photo shoots for catalogs and magazine ads
Strats jump to E2 in 1982; almost all of them are the revised model with the smaller headstock the internet likes to call the "Smith Strats" - but there were some big headstock/3-bolt neck Strats made in the fall of 1982 that have E2xxxxx serial numbers. I never have uncovered why; my best guess is that Fender had to make up some warranty replacement necks so they slapped an "E2" serial number on them.
E3xxxxx are used on the Standard and Elite models that appear around April 1983 (or at least go into production then); but these are poor sellers and they will continue to use the E3xxxxx decals through 1984 on these models - some exceptions of course where a few do get E4xxxxx decals - I'm sure there may be more but I've only seen E4xxxxx decals on the "bowling ball" finish Standard Strats and Teles ("bowling ball" can also be called "swirled" finishes; in fact the guy who did them for Fender would do them for those Ibanez Steve Vai JEM and Universe models from the 1980s/early 1990s).
American Standards will show up with E3xxxxx serial numbers as well as E4xxxxx serial numbers - it seems like there are more Teles with them than Strats though.
American Standard production was started in phases - while Strat production starts in late 1986 they don't get the Teles into the mix until the fall of 1987.
Approximate number runs for American Standards - as always this is Fender so you can only use this as a loose approximation, and "Never Say Never":
E3xxxxx - seem to be gone on Strats by fall 1987
E4xxxxx - seem to run from start of production until mid-1988
E8xxxxx - seem to run from mid-1988 through fall of 1989
E9xxxxx - seem to run from fall of 1989 to late fall of 1990
N9xxxxx - seem to run from late fall 1990 through part of 1991. This mix-up based on how the decals were made back then - Fender serial number decals are always 2 parts; one part says "Serial Number" and has the prefix; the other part is a 6-digit number. So an E9xxxxx number was one decal with "Serial Number E" and the other was a 6-digit number that started with a "9" (i.e. "9xxxxx". Fender ran out of the decals that read "Serial Number E" before they ran out of 6 digit decals that start with "9"; so decals with the prefix "N" were used with 6-digit decals that start with "9" instead of 6-digit decals that start with "0" for a while and then you finally get to the "N0xxxxx" numbers later in 1990
Fender gets different decals starting in 1991 with the "N1xxxxxx" serial numbers; the half of the decal with the letter prefix now reads "Serial Number N1" and is followed by a 6-digit number
Fender doesn't even get remotely close to having a serial number prefix "track" with a calendar year until 1995 or 1996; they managed that through 2009
And when you talk about artist series prior to 1995 - ignore everything written above because the Artist models have their own sequence of serial numbers that start with an "S"; so you get S9xxxxx numbers on 1992 or later instruments.
You can go way way down the rabbit hole on Fender serial numbers.
I'm guessing your 2012 will look like this in another 7 years.
This is my 2005 Clapton Strat in Olympic White. To me it's more of a rich vanilla ice cream color rather than yellow:
Fender knew this years ago!
My Olympic White (I think) guitar is getting there. Definitely more cream color than yellow.
'97 Tele in Vintage White.
LOL... Sure seems that way!
Wow... Thanks for the additional info here. It's cool to learn about the history of the serial numbers, manufacturers, etc. Lots to know for sure!
Somewhere around here I may still have that catalog.
Spent many, many hours looking through that before I bought my '78 Antigua.
1. Looks like you got your answer, but just for kicks, you can email fender the serial number, and someone will get back to you it’s all the specs for that guitar.
Two. Or you can go on the fender website And create an account, where you can register your guitar. I don’t know if it’s officially registering it, but you can put in the serial number, and it will show you a picture of it and the type of guitar, and you can keep track of all the Fenders you own.
Not for that year.
Fender really didn't get their crap together on documenting builds until the late 90s. There are virtually no build-specific records available prior to the mid 90s, and it's hit and miss even into the early 2000s.
Best anyone can likely do is say "Yep, that's an '86-'88 Corona model."
Don’t be too sure.
My 87 OLW has not, by 37 years, turned towards yellow at all. Slightly cream, but not as much as your 2005.
Even not that "cream" as the picture tells. The camera white-balance was affected by the white wall, and also gave the color on the picture a tint og "green". The most true color the body really has is the tone on the upper cut-away of the body.
This guitar will not turn "yellow" at all, cause it was the clear coat on the older OLW´s that turned yellow - not the white paint.
I think this article clears it up - a bit:
On my´79 OLW with aged "yellow" clear coat you can see whiter color where the clear coat is thinner due to wear.
I agree with others that it is probably an aged Vintage White, although I must say that neck has gotten very dark as well - most necks from that era were very pale, so if the neck has darkened that much there is a very outside chance that it could be an aged Olympic White.
Typical late 80's/90's Am Std neck when new:
Some of the best IMHO strats ever made were from the first issues out of the Fullerton plant in that time frame. Check via serial number and see if it was made there. I have one, and I have never found its equal.
Interesting. I would welcome similar analysis to this 1967 Strat I recently purchased which I believe was finished in the 1954 CHRYSLER color desert sand, which was used by Fender in the mid 60s on guitars like Musicmaster and is likely not faded Olympic white or what some call Vintage white. You can see on the first photo with the pick guard removed that the finish is darker and not faded like the exposed body. I downloaded the desert sand color from Chrysler and I think my Strat is in desert sand not white faded. I own a 2002 Custom Shop 59 Red Dog Strat, a black 1987 AVRI 62 Strat reissue [with replaced Virgil ARLO Pickups now costing fifteen hundred dollars] and the vintage 67 beats them all.