From 1950 until 1976, Fender guitar serial numbers ran up into the 700,000s, with some overlap between years. From 1976 until 2009, serial numbers started with an S, E, N or Z, depending on the decade of production. From 2010, serial numbers begin with US and the final two digits of the year of production.
From 1950 to 1956, Fender stamped serial numbers up to 10,000 on the butt end of the neck heel. This numbering system continued until 1963, when Fender included the letter L at the beginning of the serial number.
In 1965, Fender was sold to CBS and the numbering system stayed consistent since the company used the same tooling and parts. In 1976, a letter prefix was included to indicate what decade the guitars were manufactured. If a guitar was built in 1976, the serial number would start with S6, followed by five digits. In 1980, the letter prefix was an E, so the serial number would read E0, followed by five digits. The 1990s started with an N, and the 2000s started with a Z.
Vintage series guitars have a prefix of V. Vintage guitars built from 1982 and 1988 start with V4, followed by five or six digits. Vintage guitars built after start with V and have five or six digits after. American Deluxe series start with a D before the Z in the serial number.
As of 2010, Fender guitar serial numbers start with an identification of country of origin and year of production. For instance, if the serial number starts with US10, the guitar was built in the United States in 2010 or late 2009.