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At this time, the location of the serial number also shifted from the bridge to the neckplate (the metal plate located on back of where the neck meets the body).Here's how the serial numbers break down from 1954 to the beginning of 1963, though there are some areas of inconsistency in this era: At the very end of 1962 and into 1963, Fender changed to a system where serial numbers began with an "L." According to some accounts, the L was supposed to just be a 1 to mark the cross over into the 100,000 range from the previous scheme, but an L was used by mistake.These are generally referred to as F series due the large Fender branded F on the neckplates of the era.This period also saw a switch from the orginal four-bolt neckplate of the '60s to a three-bolt neckplate in just one example of cost-saving costs introduced under CBS.Starting in 1976, Fender transitioned to a new serial number scheme and moved the placement of most serial numbers to the headstock of the instrument.Depending on the era and model, the number can be found on either the front or back of the headstock.Here the range of the L-series serial used each year.Some of the earliest ones actually popped up in late 1962 as well: After the CBS purchase of Fender in 1965, the factory switched to a new serial sequence with numbers that continued the same general format used prior to the takeover.
There are certainly plenty of exceptions, so again, using serial numbers in conjunction with other dating methods is always the best bet.
Features like bolt-on necks and pickups wired into the pickguard all helped the Fender factory churn out guitar after guitar, day after day.
This also means that various parts used on a particular guitar may have come from different points in time, so no single number can absolutely define when the instrument was built.
In this early period, the serial number can be found on the bridge of the instrument (see image).
Here are the rough serial number ranges for the early Esquires and Telecasters: By mid-1954, Fender began using a universal serial number sequence for all its instruments.