Dating your fender stratocaster
Please note the introduction of the "S" prefix serial numbers.
The "S", stood for decade of the 1970s, and began CBS' attempt to use serial numbers to identify the year of production for the piece.
Serial numbers have been used in various locations on Fender instruments through the years.
They have been placed at the top of the neck plate, on the front of the headstock, on the back of the headstock, and on the back of the neck near where the neck bolts onto the body.
All Fender JV models had the serial numbers engraved into either the neck plate or bridge.
A: The serial number of your guitar will begin with one of the above lettering sequences.
Fender Japan usedall of the above lettering sequences for the serial numbering of their guitars and basses over the years, andknowing this first will help you determine the year of manufacture.
The "E", stood for the decade of the 1980s and was, as shown below, introduced in 1979. "V" prefix serial numbered instruments, is to remove the neck and check the butt end of the heel of the neck for a production date, which may be stamped or written there.
As you can see by the overlaps of numbers and years, the reference to the actual production date is rather loose. The numbers and decals are produced far in advance, and apparently, some N9 decals, (which were supposed to be used in 1999), were affixed to some instruments in 1990.
The serial numbers do not immediately reflect the change, as CBS continued to make instruments using existing, tooling, parts, and serial number schemes.