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 Post subject: Telecaster serial numbers - guide?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:56 am 
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Hi - wondering if there is an official fender guide for the serial numbers for the relevant years of the Tele? Thanks .....

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 Post subject: Re: Telecaster serial numbers - guide?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:48 am 
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Lefty - this is the closest thing that Fender has, and it hasn't been updated since about 2005: http://www.fender.com/support/articles/u-s-instruments-product-dating

The best thing is to send a serial number inquiry to Fender's consumer relations team at consumerrelations@fender.com

That article tries to keep up with the known anomalies for serial numbers, but there are always gaps and oddities. Also, it does not have the current serial number system that Fender adopted in 2010 for non-reissue USA production instruments.

In early 2010, after Fender used up the numbers that started with "Z9" (for 2009) they began using numbers on USA models that just started with a "10" for 2010. Unfortunately, the font they used for the "10" was very similar to the font for the other 6 digits of the serial number. Therefore about April or so they changed to using numbers that start with a "US10", and they made the font bold and somewhat different from the other 6 digits.

Fender used to use various prefixes in front of the 2-character code; for the Artist Signatures they put an "S" in front of the code - so an early Eric Clapton Strat from 1989 would have a serial number that started with "SE9" - "S" for "signature", "E" for "Eighties" or "198X", and "9" meaning "1989". When they started production in Mexico they added an "M" for "Mexico" to those guitars; you'll begin seeing that in the 1990s (and for MIM Artist Signatures you will see something like "SMZ1" on say a 2001 Jimmie Vaughn Strat). When the American Deluxe models came out in 1998 they added a "D" in front of the prefix, so a 1998 American Deluxe would have a "DN8" serial number. All that ended when the new system started in 2010 - no more "D" for "American Deluxe" or "S" for Artist Signature.

MIM serial numbers change over in the middle of the year, near the beginning of the year, so circa July of 2010 MIM guitars started using "MX10" decals; I suppose they started using "MX11" back in July of 2011.

There are gaps, anomalies, etc in all of this. Fender started the "letter + digit" code in 1976 with "S6" guitars. However, they wound up using "S9" on guitars made in 1979, 1980, and 1981 (at least on Strats; I believe Teles were the same). CBS sold Fender off in February 1985; among the assets were unused headstock decals with serial numbers starting with "E4" (and a few with "E3") - the 1983-84 model non-reissue Strats and Teles were not big sellers so CBS/Fender never did really get to the "E4" decals in 1984. FMIC decided to use those "E4" (and any remaining "E3" decals) on the first of the American Standards; American Standards went into production in late 1986 (circa October) and were introduced in January 1987. They carried the "E4" decals (as did Strat Plus and Tele Plus models) well into 1988 before they were finally used up and they started using "E8" decals.

In 1990 some "N9" decals were used instead of "N0" by accident - I know this is true on Strats so I assume it's also true on Teles. The early Artist Signature Teles probably carried "SE9" serial numbers well into the 1990s; I don't think the signatures "caught up" until about 1994/1995. Some 2000 American Deluxes went out without the "DZ0" serial numbers and just had the "Z0" serial numbers normally found on American Standards or American Series instruments (the American Series replaced the American Standard in July 2000).

Vintage reissues have their own numbering - the '52 Reissues have a number stamped onto the bridge plate. Those numbers may have even restarted when FMIC bought Fender (these guitars were out of production from say February 1985 to October 1985; FMIC didn't buy the factory from CBS and it took them several months to get their new factory up and running). The American Vintage '62 Tele Custom came out around 2002; they carry the same serial numbers as the AV Strats with a number on the neck plate that starts with a "V"; there aren't any date codes in these serial numbers. The new AV '69 Thinline, AV '72 Custom, and AV '72 Thinline also have the "V" serial numbers on the neck plate.


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 Post subject: Re: Telecaster serial numbers - guide?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:00 pm 
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Ah I should have looked on this site first eh John C? Thanks once again sir, you have been very helpful.

Btw would you know if 'The Fender Telecaster Handbook' is any good? It's the kind of book I would have expected a serial number guide to be in, you know?

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 Post subject: Re: Telecaster serial numbers - guide?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:07 pm 
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Lefty Addams wrote:
Ah I should have looked on this site first eh John C? Thanks once again sir, you have been very helpful.

Btw would you know if 'The Fender Telecaster Handbook' is any good? It's the kind of book I would have expected a serial number guide to be in, you know?


I'm not sure; I don't own any books on Teles. Most of my playing, reading and research has been on Strats and various "strat-like-objects". I've only recently gotten into Teles - better late than never I suppose. Of course, a lot of the serial number and modern-era spec changes for both the Strat and Tele happen at the same time.


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 Post subject: Re: Telecaster serial numbers - guide?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:32 pm 
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Here are a couple of great books with Telecaster Info:

"The Fender Telecaster" by A. R. Duchossoir. Great photography and excellent info on dating vintage up to about 1990!

"The Fender Electric Guitar Book" by Tony Bacon. Another good one on most Fender guitars and has an extensive reference section on all Strats and Teles...including MIA, MIM, MIK, MIJ, you name it...stuff on dating, chronology of production, serial numbering, etc. This one is a must especially for the newer stuff.

HTH

T2

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 Post subject: Re: Telecaster serial numbers - guide?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:14 am 
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Thanks T2

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 Post subject: Re: Telecaster serial numbers - guide?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:45 am 
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Further to serial no, is there a variation as to the use of the "Blackie" decal on the headstock for EC Signature or Artist series strats. Or is it related to assembly line models vs custom made units? i.e. headstock with EC signature but no "Blackie" decal?


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