So, obviously a neck date, while being helpful in providing a date range of production, cannot be a definitive reference. But once again, due to the modular nature of Fender's production methods, and the fact that most serial numbers schemes are not sequential and usually overlap from between 2 to 4 years, from the early days of Fender, through to the mid 1980s , dating by the serial number is not an exact science. By dipping the alder bodies in a yellow stain first, instead of spraying yellow lacquer, there is one less step of lacquer to mix, spray, and dry. Please provide the entire serial number and tell us what condition it is in; 98%, 95%, 90%, 80%, 70%, etc to get a valid value. As seen in the overlap of numbers and years, even these references to actual production dates are rather loose. Notice that there is quite a bit of overlap in numbers and years. The following chart details the Fender serial number schemes used from 1965 to 1976.
Start here if your serial number starts with only numbers, no letters. Below we'll go into detail about the various serial number schemes employed by Fender as far back as 1950. Production dates have been penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses. Not all schemes are covered here! This new whitish-yellow bleeds through the translucent red making it more orangish. It is because there are just so many more of them. I wasn't trying to split hairs with alot of stats and figures and analogies.
And they are out there, and they always will be. Basically there was a big bin of serial number plates, and the installers grabbed one, and screwed it to the guitar. You will probably need to remove the neck and look at the heel of the neck to get the serial number. What Did Fender Use after Lacquer in 1968? There is no other single thing that is more important than this! I did not get the point why it is worthy to produce a guitar in China? To say the 70's are today's 60's is folly. Admittedly B Dave you probubly know alot more than I do about the makings and stats and technical stuff and numbers and all that. Don't be scared of a custom color over sunburst, or a custom color over another custom color, or both. Then during 1955, that undercoat changed to a white seemingly the same finish used on native blond Telecasters.
It's just the way I have seen it go for a long time. Fender just stained all Alder bodies yellow and figured out later which ones would be custom colors. Again, the serial number alone in any of these cases is not definitive and the best approach is to combine that with other methods like the neck and body dates, as well as just the features of the specific instrument. For this reason they are harder to date. Now the nails' sole purpose was to suspend the body while drying. It would have been very costly to destroy these units so two remedies were implemented.
Generally speaking, the more yellowed the clear coat, the less desirable the guitar. And the color of undercoat was inconsistent too. They were stamped on the back vibrato cover plate early '50s Strats , and on the bridge plate between the pickup and the saddles on some Telecasters. There were periods of time when this was not consistently done, between 1973 and 1981 , and there are certainly other examples of short periods of time, and individual pieces, where the dating was simply omitted. They weren't managing the numbers in any way. Because if it's 'E102201', and not '102201', then it makes perfect sense. This simplified the production process, and made Fender quick to react to market demands for Sunburst or custom colored bodies.
Rather than waste those 8-ohm output transformers in stock from previous 6G6 production, Fender used them up on the first 6G6-A with 4-ohm speaker cabinets. Then it could be put into the paint production system to be painted as if it was a new guitar. Depending on the era and model, the number can be found on either the front or back of the headstock. If Fender had the time to use undercoat, they did. There is quite a bit of overlap of both numbers and years. Special thanks to Bassman specialist extraordinaire, Clarke Blanton for his assistance with updating the Bassman dating tables and providing other Bassman facts and figures. But then there is this question: why do only some 1965-1968 custom color Fenders have this two letter code and others do not? The reason is purely financial.
Once again, there is quite a bit of overlap in numbers and years. There were changes in beginning July 1, 1964 that streamlined the production process, especially in the finishing of the bodies and necks. The confounding part is that serial number; It doesn't match an early 1980's Fender, it correlates to a 1965 Fender. Does the color make sense for the period? And finally, special primer undercoats are used on metal for rust prevention. Well, for the 4-digit serials affixed on a foil sticker, numbers as low as 0127 and has high as 3765 have been observed.
Also note that Fender did not always use Dupont paints for their guitars! Using Fender Guitar Serial Numbers to determine the date of manufacture. Starting at the end of 1962, Fender changed how they held the body when spraying it. And most often you see this white primer undercoat on metallic finishes such as Lake Placid Blue or Burgundy Mist. But on wood, none of the above undercoat properties are needed. So, initially, Fender imported guitars from Japanese manufacturers who had proven their ability to produce affordable, viable and well made instruments. Used on Telecaster, Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, Jaguar, Jazz Bass, Precision bass and other models.