Fender Strat Body Dimensions

The Fender Player Series Stratocaster combines the guitar's sleek, elegant lines with the perfect blend of vintage and modern features. You start with the classic comfort-contoured alder body with a gloss polyester finish, then add a 3-ply parchment pickguard and a trio of Player Series Alnico 5 Strat single-coil pickups.

1963 Fender Stratocaster Guitar

About This Item. Build your own Deluxe Strat! Crafted at Fender's Ensenada, Mexico, manufacturing facility, this genuine Fender Deluxe Series Stratocaster guitar body is routed for an HSH pickup configuration and is pre-drilled for a 2-point tremolo bridge with 2-7/32' wide spacing. Check the height between the fret located at the neck and body joint, and the bottom of each string (Refer to the specifications chart for the proper measurement). The top of an acoustic guitar may rise or fall to some degree, depending on the climatic conditions in your part of the country. This is a normal reaction for an acoustic guitar. The dimensions given are for this body only; if you want to make a Strat or Tele or whatever, you may need more or less wood accordingly. The shape of this one is a hybrid of a Fender Jazzmaster and Stratocaster. Important Strat Dimensions For you to choose the correct Callaham bridge for your instrument, you must determine your body thickness, string spacing, and mounting spacing. For any of our strat bridges to fit your guitar you first must have an 1 3/4 inch thick body (44.5mm). If your body is under 1 3/4', you will need a cut down block.

Description: 1963 Fender Stratocaster guitar
Available: 1954 to present.
Collectibility Rating: B-
Production: no official (or unofficial) production numbers available.
General Comments:
The Fender Stratocaster guitar is probably the most popular solidbody electricguitar ever made. Early models (1954 to 1965, known as 'pre-CBS' models, since CBSBroadcaster Company bought Fender in January 1965) are the most collectible.Originality and condition are the two most important features of a vintage FenderStratocaster guitar, and Fender Strats do seem to have been easily modified(due to their 'bolt together' nature).

1963 did not bring any huge change to the Fender Stratocaster (compared to late 1962 models).The one subtle change is the movement of one pickguard screw, located between the neckand middle pickups. Other similar very subtle changes were seen. Probably the biggestchange was the Tolex case material was now white with black leather ends (instead ofbrown Tolex and brown leather ends as used in 1959 to 1962).

Serial number range for the 63 Fender Stratocaster are generally93000 to 99999 or L00001 to L20000 (on the neck plate).If you need to figure out the exact year of your pre-CBS Fender Stratocaster, use the serial numberand the general features of the guitar.The serial number is located on the back metal neck plate.See the Fender Serial Number Info web pagefor help determining the year.

If you have a vintage pre-CBS Fender Stratocaster guitar for sale, please let me know.I am a private vintage guitar collector (not a store), and you can contact me [email protected]

Fender Strat Body Dimensions

See the previous year's 1962 Fender Stratocaster guitar.
See the next year's 1964 & 1965 Fender Stratocaster guitar.

Back to the main Fender Vintage Guitar Info webpage

Early 1963 Fender Stratocaster guitar specs:

  • Location of the pickguard screw between the neck and middle pickupis moved about 1/2' towards the middle pickup.
  • Bridge saddles' 'Fender Pat.Pend' stamping is more pronounced.
  • Contouring of the body is slightly less dramatic.
  • By late 1963, body dates were no longer used.
  • By late 1963 the 3-way CRL switch changes to the 'half moon' shape insteadof having the angled sides.
Vintage Guitars Info's
Vintage Fender Guitars, Basses, Amps.
Introduction and General Specs.
Overview of collecting vintage Fender guitars, basses and amps. General specifications, serial numbers, Fender vintage guitar cases.Private vintage guitar collector.
Picture Gallery, Fender section.
Contact the vintage guitar info guy.September 1952 Fender calendar.
  • Reissue and Original Fender Vintage Parts Comparison
  • Models: Fender Acoustic Flattop Info
  • Inside a 1954 to 1965 Fender Stratocaster video.

DVD video version of this web page for Stratocasters and Telecasters:

Introduction.

    For most collectors, pre-CBS (pre-1966) Fender vintage guitars and amps are the desirable ones. Although CBS purchased Fender (officially) on January 3rd 1965, it took some time till the guitars changed (though by mid 1964, six months before CBS bought Fender, things were already 'on the way down'). By the end of 1965, the general look andfeel of the Fender guitars had changed significantly. All collectors feel the quality of their instruments and amps suffered as CBS employed more 'mass production'manufacturing processes to the Fender guitars. The 'large peghead' (startingin late 1965) as used on the Fender Stratocaster was one example of the(bad) changes to come. The 'custom contoured' bodies Fender was famousfor no longer were as sculped and sleek. Newer (and less attractive) plastics were used for the pickguards. Pearl fingerboard inlays replaced theoriginal 'clay' dots. Indian rosewood replaced the beautifully figured Brazilian rosewood on the fingerboards. And by 1968, polyurathane replaced the original nitrocellulose lacquer that was used from Fender's conception.By early 1971 the party was truely over. Fender now employed the infamous'3 bolt neck' and one piece die cast bridge on the Strat, ruining it'stone and feel. Many other models suffered the same miserable fate ofbeing over mass-produced and cheapened by corporate zealots.

    Because of this, Fender's most innocent era of the 1950's istheir most collectible. This decade produced guitars with one-piece maple necks, single layer pickguards, thin 'spaghetti' logos, and tweed cases that seem to capture collectors the most.

    The early 1960's Fenders with 'slab' rosewood fingerboards are also collectible,but not to the extent of the earlier 1950's maple-neck era. Of the rosewoodfingerboard models, the 'slab' fingerboard (1958/mid-1959 to August 1962) variants are more desirable than the 'veener' fingerboard (August 1962 and later)pre-CBS models. The 'transistion' era (late summer 1964 to December 1965)are the least collectible of the pre-CBS models. This era is knownas a 'transition' because later summer 1964 to December 1965 was the timewhen there was a transition from the Leo Fender management to CBSmanagement, and mass-production manufacturing techniques werestarting to take a firm hold.

    By 1966 (a year after CBS bought Fender), CBS management had really taken hold of Fender's production facilities and incorporated many changes. The sum of of all these changes had a serious effect on Fender guitars as a whole. 1966 brought an era of 'large' pegheads, less contoured bodies, and much higher production numbers. CBS looked for ways to cut productiontime and costs, which generally led to much lower quality. Because ofthis, 1966 and later Fender instruments are considered far less collectible than vintage pre-CBS Fender guitars.

The Guitar Models.

    The Esquire was Fender's first electric spanish guitar. Originally introducedin June of 1950 as a black (and later blond), one or two pickup model, it was discontinued by Fender's marketing arm in September 1950. Only about 50 of these original Esquires were shipped, though Fenderhad a backorder of hundreds of units. And many came backto Fender to have the neck (and body!) replaced because of neck warpage,from the lack of a truss rod. In October 1950, the Broadcaster replaced the Esquire as their two pickupelectric spanish guitar, with a truss rod! The Esquire was re-introduced in early 1951 as a single pickup version of the Broadcaster. The 1951 and later Esquire, because of its single pickup, does not have the value today of itstwo pickup brother, due to its limited tonal range with one pickup.By February 1951, the Broadcasterwas renamed the Telecaster (though theguitars didn't actually have a 'Telecaster' decal on them until the summer of 1951), because of a naming conflict with a trademarked Gretsch drum line.
1954 Fender Stratocaster ad.
    The Fender Stratocaster (and Telecaster) from the 1950's put the solidbody electric guitar on the map. The Stratocaster was like no other guitar ever produced. With threepickups, a contoured body that made playing guitar comfortable, anda tremolo built-in and designed correctly for the guitar, made itan instant sucess. Even today, nearly 50 years later, the Stratocasteris the electric guitar by which all others are judged.

    From country, to rockand roll, to surf music, Fender found a niche with its instruments.Especially different for the era was those Fenders with Custom Color finishes. Hence they are more valuable than the standard finish (usually Sunburst, or Blond for the Telecaster/Esquire).

Fender Strat Body Specs

    The Jazzmaster, introduced in1958, became Fender's 'top of the line' instrument (though today'svintage guitar market does not hold this view; it's clearly a3rd class citizen behind the Strat and Tele). Fender truely thoughtthe Jazzmaster would make a sensation in the jazz scene. Instead,it became the main instrument of many Surf-guitar bands of the 1960's.
    Likewise, in 1962 Fender introduced another 'top of the line' instrumentcalled the Jaguar. Again, this modelquickly lost popularity, starting in 1968 with decreased sales. The shortscale length of the Jaquar was one of its major flaws. Finally the Jaguar and Jazzmaster were discontinued by 1975 and 1982, respectively. Before the death of Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, interest had revived in these models, though no were near the level of Strats and Teles.Now most collectors interested in these models do so because theycan not afford a vintage Strat or Tele.

    The Low-end Fender solidbodies such as the DuoSonic, MusicMaster, and the Mustang are not collectable and are considered student models. Even with the recent popularity of the Mustang, it's still a short scale,entry level instrument. All these instruments share that basicproblem of a shorter scale length, and lower quality electronics.

The Bass Models.

    Fender hit another home run with the Precision Bass, the first fretted electric bass. Still today, it's the standard by which all basses are judged. Early P-basses (late 1951 to mid 1957) are collectable, but not as much as the models from mid-1957 to mid-1959 with split coil pickups, aluminum pickguards, and maple necks.

    Early Jazz Basses with concentric tone and volume knobs are also very collectable, along with the three knob configuration pre-CBS Jazz basses. Until the late 1980's, the P-bass sound was more desirable by players than the J-bass. But by 1990, the sound and feel of the J-bass had become preferred.

The Amp Models.

    Tweed covered Fender amps are very collectable. Themore powerful tweed amps with multiple speakers are the most valued bycollectors and players. The tweed Bassman with four 10 inchspeakers and four inputs (1957-1960) is considered by many to be thefinest guitar amp ever made.

    Brown and white tolex amps (1960-1963), and some 'black face' models(1964-1967) are highly regarded by players. 'Silverface' and later models(post 1967) are fine utility amps, but have no collectable value.

Contact the vintage guitar info guy
Timeline of Fender Electric Guitars, Basses, Amps.
    Year, Model Description
  • 1946 Hardwood Amplifiers
  • 1948 Tweed Amplifiers
  • 1950 June, Esquire (1 or 2 pickups)
  • 1950 October, Broadcaster (replaced the 1 or 2 pickup Esquire)
  • 1950 December, 'NoCaster' as it is called since Fender clipped-off
    the name 'Broadcaster' from its decals as the name was already in use by Gretsch.
  • 1951 January, Esquire (one pickup 'NoCaster').
  • 1951 summer, Telecaster.
  • 1951 fall, Precision Bass, the first solidbody electric bass.
  • 1954 spring, Stratocaster.
  • 1956 spring, Electric Mandolin (four string).
  • 1956 summer, Duosonic (two pickups) and MusicMaster (one pickup).
  • 1958 summer, Jazzmaster.
  • 1959 summer, Telecaster Custom (sunburst body with binding).
  • 1960 White/Brown Amplifiers
  • 1960 summer, JazzBass.
  • 1961 late, Bass VI.
  • 1962 summer, Jaquar.
  • 1964 Black Amplifiers (know as 'blackface' models)
  • 1964 summer, Mustang
  • 1965 summer, Electric XII (12 string solid body).
  • 1968 fall, ThinLine Telecaster (semi-hollow 'F' hole Tele).
  • 1969 summer, Rosewood Telecaster (body and neck made of rosewood),
    and the Thinline Tele were introduced.
Contact the vintage guitar info guy

General Fender Parts and Detail Specs

Inside a 1954 Fender Stratocaster.Click for an inside tour of a first year model of Fender's premier guitar.Also inside a 1958 Fender Jazzmaster.Click for an inside tour of the first year for this model. Also check out thecomparison of reproduction and original Fender vintage parts.

Left: 1950 to 3/62 style pencil-written neck date at butt of neck.
Note the initials before the date were consistent till about 1954,
and were sometimes there till they completely stopped around 1956.
Right: 3/62 to 1969 style stamped neck date at butt of neck. The '2'
before the month indicates the guitar model, NOT the day of the month!

The body and neck dates on a 1956/1957 strat. The body date
(right) is in the middle pickup cavity on this guitar.

Dimensions

The body date on a 7/57 Telecaster, under the lead
pickup. The body date on the Telecaster moved from
the neck pocket to under the lead pickup around 1954
or 1955. Consistently by 1956 it usually appears
under the lead pickup.

    Fender Body Dates, 1950 to present.
    The earliest models (Broadcaster, NoCaster, Telecaster) had a bodydate under the neck, in the neck pocket. But by 1954 or 1955, thisdate moved to under the lead pickup (but didn't show up consistentlyin this spot until 1956). Stratocasters also had variable body date positions.Usually they are seen in the rear tremolo cavity (if the Strat isa tremolo model!). But it is also common for the body date to beunder the middle pickup. For all models, by about 1963 or 1964, bodydates were rarely used.

    Fender Neck Dates, 1950 to present.
    From the first solidbody guitars to 1976, Fender dated their instruments at the 'butt' of the detachable neck. Here is a timeline of the format the dates, and how they were printed:

    • 1950 to 1954: Penciled by hand below the truss rod adjustment at the butt end of the neck usually in M-D-YY format. Many times the initialsof the woodworker were also indicated, such as 'TAD' or 'TG' for Tadeo Gomez.
    • 1954 to 1959: Penciled by hand below the truss rod adjustment at thebutt end of the neck in M-YY format.
    • Early 1959: Due to a complaint by a Fender customer as to an obscentity written on the neck butt, no markings were used for the first part of 1959.I've seen dates of 6-59, so they started using them again at least by mid-year.
    • Mid-1959 to March 1962: Penciled by hand below the truss rod adjustment at the butt end of the neck in M-YY format.
    • March 1962 to 1965: Ink stamp in dark blue or red ink below the truss rod adjustment at the butt end of the neck in 'XX MMM-YY W' format. The 'XX' is not the day of stamping. Instead it is a code for the type of neck (for example, '02'=Stratocaster, '3/4'=3/4 scale Musicmaster). The 'W' is the neck width where'A' is the narrowest, 'B' is normal, and 'C' is the widest.
    • 1966: the model number (the number stamped on the neck before the month)change (for example, '13'=Stratocaster).
    • 1969: new type of neck stamp consisting of 6, 7 or 8 digits was used on some models. This new stamp was usually green ink. An example of this type of neck code is '529129B'. The new green stamp was used concurrently with the previous 'XX MMM-YY W' format. So a neck could have either code system! The model numbers change yet again (for example, '22'=Stratocaster). See below for more info.
    • 1972: Fender changed to yet another new type of neck stamp which had 8-digits.This was stamped in green or red ink. A example of this is '02033923' foundon a Jazz Bass. From 1972 through about March 1973, this new system wasused concurrently with the previous 'XX MMM-YY W' format. Again, a neck wasstamped with either the new or the old date stamp, but not both. The model numbers change yet again (for example, '09'=Stratocaster). See below for more info.
    • April 1973 to 1980: After March 1973, Fender dropped the old style date stamp and continued to use the new style, 8-digit code. See below for more info.
    • 1976 to present: All non-vintage reissue instruments have the serialnumber printed in the decal on the face of the peghead. The approximateyear of manufacturer can be determined from this (see serial number section below). Sometimesa date is also stamped or pencil written on the butt of the neck. Vintagereissue instruments have the date on the butt end of the neck as was usedduring the time period being reissued.
    • 1980: Small adhesive labels with Month-Day-Year date stamps appeared in the neck pocket, pickup cavity and/or back of the neck.

    1962 to 1968 (mostly) Neck Stamp/Model designations.Starting about April 1962, Fender went from a hand written neck butt dateto stamped date. Usually the date had a code (often mistaked as a day of themonth/year) preceeding the date, to signify what model the neck belongs.Note in 1966 many model numbers changed. Here is a list of those codes and the years that they were used.

    • 1 = Jaguar 1962-1965
    • 2 = Stratocaster 1962-1965
    • 3 = Telecaster
    • 4 = Jazzmaster 1962-1965
    • 5 = Precision Bass
    • 6 = Bass VI
    • 7 = Jazz Bass
    • 8 = Musicmaster II, Mustang, Duo-Sonic II 1964-1965 22 fret 24' scale model
    • 9 = Musicmaster II, Mustang, Duo-Sonic II 1964-1966 21 fret 22 1/4' scale Model.Also found on 1969 Swinger 'Arrow/Musiclander' models.
    • 10 = Coronado 1 and 2, and some 1966 Jazzmaster and Stratocaster necks
    • 11 = Bass V
    • 12 = Electric 12 and Maverick/Custom model
    • 13 = Stratocaster 1966-1968, many 1966 Jazzmasters too
    • 14 = Coronado 12
    • 15 = Jaguar 1966-1972
    • 16 = Musicmaster II, Mustang, Duo sonic II, and Bronco
    • 17 = Mustang Bass and MusicMaster Bass
    • 18 = Coronado Bass
    • 19 = Jazzmaster and Coronado 2
    • 22 = Stratocaster 1968-1972
    • 23 = Telecaster Bass
    • 27 = Villiager 12
    • 28 = Shenandoah 12

    1969 to 1980 Neck Stamps.
    This information was documented and written by Greg Gagliano, and was publishedin a 1998 article in 20th Century Guitar magazine.

    About 150 Fenders made between 1967 and 1980 were examined. Of these,less than half had useable information. In most cases, the stamp was smudgedbeyond legibility or the stamps were incomplete. Many guitars had no stampedcodes at all. Some guitars simply had the model name, such as 'MUSTANG'stamped on the butt end of the neck in green or red ink.

    This means two things for the owner of a 1969 to 1980 Fender. First, thechances of having an intact stamped code is about 50/50. Second, the dataset for making conclusions is relatively small and therefore, subject tochange as new information surfaces. However, the interpretation of thetwo date code systems appears to be relatively straight forward and theconclusions were confirmed by pickup dates and pot dates in most cases.

      The 1969 to 1971 Neck Stamps Explained.
      This information was provided by Greg Gagliano.The neck stamp used from 1969 to 1971 can be extracted by working fromthe outside inward. For example, let�s take Telecaster Thinline (s/n 272207)with the code: 3320119B. Starting a the right we have the letter B. Thisappears to be the same neck width code that Fender had been using since1962. The next digit denotes the year, in this case 9 = 1969. The nextone or two digits denote the month, in this case 11 = November. The firstone or two digits of the code, in this case 3, denotes the model. For Telecasters,Telecaster Thinlines, and Esquires that code is 3. For Stratocasters itis 22 and for Precision Basses it is 5. The other three digits (320) are perhaps some kind of batch or lot number. It could also be the numberof instruments of this type produced for that month, but I would suspectFender could make more than 999 of any one instrument type in a month.Hence it is probably a batch or lot number.

      Here�s our P-Bass again (s/n 277983) with the code 529129B. Breaking up the code we get:

      • 5 = code for Precision Bass
      • 291 = batch or lot code
      • 2 = February
      • 9 = 1969
      • B = 1 5/8 inch neck width (correct for a �69 P-Bass).

      Here's another, a Strat (s/n 279515) with code 22384109B. Break it into pieces:

      • 22 = code for Stratocaster
      • 384 = batch or lot code
      • 10 = October
      • 9 = 1969
      • B = 1 5/8 inch neck width

      Exceptions do exist. A few Telecasters have shown up with neck codesthat would indicate a 1967 date and one has been reported with a possible1968 date, yet the rest of the guitar appears to be from 1969. If Fenderused the coding system as early as 1967, then we should see more 1967 and1968 guitars surfacing with the green stamped code. One explanationis the use of leftover necks. Fender is known to have done this often. Other exceptions exist too. For example, a 1970 Strat with the neckcode 2231008B. The first '22' is the model (Strat), and the ending 'B'is the neck width. But the '008' is not the month and year. I can'treally explain why this happens, but it does on the occassional Fenderguitar from this era.

      1972 to 1980 Neck Stamps Explained.
      This information was provided by Greg Gagliano.The 1972-1980 eight digit code is similar to the previous 1969-1971 system.Example, Music Master (s/n 595121) with code 49002153.The first 6 digits are paired off and the last two digits are taken singly. So that gives us 49 00 215 3 where:

      • 49 = model code (Musicmaster, Mustang, Bronco)
      • 00 = neck code (rosewood fingerboard)
      • 21 = week code (week 21)
      • 5 = year code (1975)
      • 3 = day of the week code (Wednesday)
        Model Codes Used from 1972 to 1980.
        Model codes (first pair of digits):
        • 01 = Precision Bass
        • 02 = Jazz Bass
        • 04 = Mustang Bass
        • 08 = Telecaster Deluxe
        • 09 = Stratocaster
        • 13 = Telecaster, Telecaster Custom, Telecaster Thinline
        • 49 = Musicmaster, Mustang, Bronco

        Neck Codes Used from 1972 to 1980.
        Neck codes (second pair of digits):

        • 00 = rosewood fingerboard
        • 01 = rosewood fingerboard
        • 03 = fretted maple neck OR skunk stripe neck with rosewood board
        • 10 = fretless maple neck
      Now try and decode a Precision Bass (s/n 647149) with code 01031051. You should get:
      • 01 = Precision Bass
      • 03 = fretted maple neck
      • 10 = Week 10
      • 5 = 1975
      • 1 = Monday

      Here's a Telecaster (s/n S725092) withrosewood fingerboard and code 1303167?.

      • 13 = Telecaster
      • 03 = rosewood fingerboard on skunk stripe neck
      • 16 = Week 16
      • 7 = 1977
      • ? = day unknown as digit was illegible

    Differences between the end of a Telecaster and
    Stratocaster neck. Note the Tele neck on the left
    has a straight end, and the Strat neck on the right
    has a rounded end. The bodies and pickguards are
    cut differently to accomodate this.

    Style of Strat pegheads and logos from 1954 to 1980.
    Shown is the 'spaghetti' logo, the 'transition' logo,
    and the 'black' logo on a large peghead. The Large
    peghead style started in late 1965 on the Strat, and
    lasted throughout the 1970s.

      Peghead Shapes

      • Telecaster/Esquire: consistent peghead shape from 1950 (Broadcaster) to present,except on the 'Telecaster Deluxe'.
      • Stratocaster: 'small' peghead shape from 1954 to end of 1965. At thevery end of 1965 Fender enlarged the peghead shape. This 'big head' sizewas used till 1980.
      • In 1980 Fender changed back to the small Strat-style pegheaddesign on most models (except the Tele).

    Top: the 'transistion' logo as
    used on a Custom Telecaster
    starting about fall 1964.
    Bottom: the 'spaghetti' logo as
    used on a Custom Telecaster
    in 1959.

      Peghead Decals
      • Telecaster/Esquire: thin 'spaghetti' logo (silver with black trim, except for 1952to 1955 Esquires which were gold with black trim) from 1950 (Broadcaster) to late 1965. Larger 'transition' logo used from late 1965 till 1967. Thick 'black' logo was used from 1968 to 1980. The Tele Custom and Esquire used the 'spaghetti' logo from mid-1959 to late 1960's (stock not depleted till later).
      • Stratocaster: thin 'spaghetti' logo from 1954 to fall 1964. Larger gold'transition' logo from fall 1964 till 1967. Thick 'black' logo from 1968 to 1980.
      • Pbass, Jazzmaster: followed same trend as the Stratocaster.
      • Jazzbass: from 1960 to 1967 the Jazzbass always used a 'transistion' stylelogo. Switched to the thick 'black' logo in 1968. Note Jbass never used a'spaghetti' style logo.
      • In the 1980's Fender changed back to using 'transition' and 'spaghetti'logos, depending on the model.
      • Exceptions: during the 1960s if any particular model (be it a Strat, Jaguar, Jazzmaster,Jazz Bass, etc.) was an original *black* custom color with a matching black peghead,a different peghead decal was used. Why? Because the normal decals don't show upwhen applied over black. So black pegheads during the 1960s will usually have just a 'Fender' logo, without the model name (and in a different font style). Also the 'contour body' decal will be missing.

    Peghead Decal Pictures.
    The following are scans of most Fender decals used from 1950 to the late1960s. These are all original, unapplied decals. Note decals from the1970s are 'backwards' (reversed). For comparison, I have 'unreversed'the pictures so the text is not backwards. Picture from Jim Shine.

    • Strat, 1954 to 1966.
    • Esquire, 1950 to 1968.
    • Custom Esquire, 1959 to 1968.
    • Custom Telecaster, 1959 to 1968.
    • Jaguar, 1962 to 1974.
    • Jazzmaster, 1962 to 1975.
    • Precision Bass, 1951 to 1968.
    • Jazz Bass, 1962 to 1967.
    • Telecaster Bass, 1968.
    • Bass 6, 1961 to 1968.

Typical wear on a 1950's
Fender maple fingerboard.

    Fingerboard Material
    • Maple fingerboard, 1950s: from the start in 1950, Fender used a one piece mapleneck with a walnut 'skunk' stripe down the back (except on early Esquires with notruss rod), where the truss rod was installed. This was the standard neck on all models until 1958 (when the Jazzmasterwas introduced with a rosewood fingerboard; the rest of the Fender modelschanged to rosewood fingerboards in mid-1959).
    • Rosewood fingerboard, 'Slab' (Brazilian), 1958 to 1962: from mid-1959 (1958 for the Jazzmaster) till August 1962, Fender used a 'slab' rosewood fingerboard. That is, the bottomof the fingerboard was flat and the board was fairly thick. A picture of a slab board neck (as seen from the 'butt' of the neck) can beseen in this picture.Also shown is the difference between reissue and original slab board necks.The Musicmaster family also used slab fingerboards (usually Indian rosewood) for about a year from Sept 1965 to Oct 1966. Slab fingerboards are also identifiable from the peghead by their 'hump' line (humps toward the tuners),just above the nut.
    • Rosewood fingerboard, 'Veneer', 1962-1980: from August 1962 till 1980, Fender useda curved bottom rosewood fingerboard that was much thinner than the slab'board. The veneer of rosewood got even thinner by mid 1963.Also by 1966 the rosewood changed from Brazilian to Indian rosewood.Veneer fingerboards are also identifiable from the peghead by their 'dished' line (dishes toward the nut),just above the nut.
    • Maple fingerboards, 1960-1968: available as special order. Different thanthe 1950s one-piece maple necks. These used an actual slab maple fingerboard glued to themaple neck, and no 'skunk stripe' down the back of the neck for thetruss rod.
    • Maple fingerboards, 1969 and later: Fender's maple neck changed back to the 1950s style onepiece neck with a walnut 'skunk stripe' down the back.
    • Rosewood Fingerboards, 1980 and later: Starting in 1980, Fender switched back to the slab rosewood fingerboardstyle, made from Indian rosewood (except on certain recent custom shop models).
    Fingerboard Dots
    • Black dots: used on maple fingerboards and made of fiberboard-like material (in the 1950's) or black plastic later.
    • White dots: used on rosewood fingerboards (Jazzmaster in 1958, all other models in mid-1959). Till the end of 1964 Fender used 'clay' dots as position markers. Thismaterial has an off-white opaque color. In very late 1964 all models changed to pearldot position markers. Side markers remained 'clay' until spring 1965 when these too changed to pearl.
    • White dot spacing: In 1963, the spacing of the two fingerboard dots atfret twelve changed (the spacing became closer together).

    Neck Back Shapes (profiles), all guitar and bass models.
    Fender neck shapes have changed through the years too.

    • 1950 to 1955: Fender neck shapes (all models) havea standard large and chunky 'D' profile (big 'baseball bat' style neck).
    • 1956: Fender necks change to a large and chunky 'soft V' profile.
    • 1957: the 'V' shape gets much stronger. This 1957 'strong V' neck profile becomes famous, and musicians like Eric Clapton prefer its shape. Some Fendernecks produced have a 'small strong V', where the neck isn't so big feeling, butstill has a very strong 'V' shape (mostly seen on Musicmasters and Duosonics,and the occassional Strat).
    • 1958: the neck profile completely changes, with the 'V' shape completely gone. It's back to a conventional 'D' neck profile, but not nearly as thick and large as 1955 and prior neck profiles. This neck style is used on most reissue Fenders(regardless of the year being copied).
    • 1959 and later: the 'D' profile gets yet a bit smaller and less chunky. With therelease of rosewood fingerboards on all models in mid-1959, the 'D' neck profilespretty much stay the same throughout the 1960s with only minor variance fromyear to year (for example, 1962 necks seem to be a bit chunkier than 1959 to 1961necks).

    Neck Width.
    From March 1962 to 1969, Fender marked their necks with an 'official'neck width letter at the butt of the neck (in front of the date code).The 'B' neck width is the normal width, as used on about 99% of allFenders from this period. All other sizes were available by special order only.Also all pre-1962 Fender necks have a 1 5/8'nut width (though I'm sure there are some exceptions, but none I have seen).

    • A = 1 1/2' wide at the nut.
    • B = 1 5/8' wide at the nut (normal size).
    • C = 1 3/4' wide at the nut.
    • D = 1 7/8' wide at the nut.

    Neck Shims.
    Shims were used between a Fender neck and body to adjust the 'neckset' of the instrument (the 'neck set' is the angle of the neck inrelationship to the body; if the neck set is too shallow, it needs ashim so the playing action can be lowered with the bridge to a comforable level.If the neck set is too sharp, the strings can not be raised enoughwith the bridge to stop string buzz). Fender adjusted the neck set atthe factory with a shim. Some Fenders use them, so don't. Click here for a picture of the shim used during the 1950s and 1960s.

    Neck Bolt Numbers (3 or 4).

    • 4 bolt neck plates: all models used 4 bolt neck plates from 1950to early 1971.
    • 3 bolt neck plates: starting in early 1971, the Stratocaster,Telecaster Thinline, Custom Telecaster, Telecaster Bass used3 bolt neck plate (the Telecaster and Precision Bass always used4 bolt neck plates). In 1972 the Telecaster Deluxe(from introduction) also used the 3 bolt neck plate.By late 1972/early 1973, the Jazz Bass went to a 3 bolt neck plate.
    • In 1979 the 4 bolt neck plate came back to the Anniversarystrat. By 1980 all Stratocaster models were again 4 bolt. And by 1981, all Fender models converted back to the 4 bolt neck plate.

    Peghead String Guides (or 'String Tree').
    String guides were used on most models to give the treble stringsgreater string tension across the nut.

    • 1950 to Mid-1956: Single round 'button' string guide for E & B strings.
    • Mid 1956: Changed to a 'butterfly' string guide.
    • 1959: a metal spacer is used beneath the butterfly string guide.
    • 1964: the metal spacer is changed to a nylon spacer beneath the butterfly string guide during 1964.
    • 1971: two butterfly clips are used for the E, B, G, & D strings onthe Stratocaster, Telecaster, Telecaster Deluxe, Custom Telecaster.
    • 1976: two butterfly clips on the Mustang.
    • Click here tosee the difference between reissue and original Fender 'butterfly' string trees.

    Truss Rod and Truss Rod Nut

    • October 1950: all Fender guitars have a truss. Only pre-October 1950 Esquires have no truss rod. Adjusts at the 'butt' of the neck by the pickups.Click hereto see the difference between vintage and repro Fender truss rod nuts.
    • Late 1971: truss rod changed to adjust at the peghead behind the nut with a'bullet' system on Stratocasters and Jazz Basses. Telecaster and Precision Basskeep traditional truss rod system.
    • 1980: Fender starts using different truss rod systems, depending on the model.
The body routes on a 1970's Fender Stratocaster. Notethe added 'shoulder' near the body's edge to accomodatean attachment screw. Also notice the squared off corner pickup routes.Earlier 1960's Strat bodies have rounded corner pickup routes.

The body routes on a 1968 Stratocaster. Note the rounded
pickup route corners, compared to the 1970's pickup routes
seen above.

The body routes on Telecasters. In the 1970's the
'notch' was removed from the bass side of the neck pocket.

    Body Routes.
    Initially, when the Fender Stratocaster was introduced in 1954, it hada single layer white pickguard attached with 8 screws. In mid 1959, Fenderswitches to a multiple layer pickguard with 11 mounting screws. One of theadditional screws required a change to the interior body route on the Stratocaster.Now a added 'shoulder' was left in the electronic route to accomodate oneof the extra pickguard screws. Starting in the late 1960's, Fender alsochanged the shape of the pickup routes on the Strat. Now the corners weremore square, instead of being round.

    The Telecaster body also changed in the 1970's. The 'notch' that existedon the bass side of the neck pocket was removed. See the picture above.

1956 to 1964 style single line
Kluson tuners on a Tele neck.

    Tuners
    • 1950-late 1951: Fender used 'single line' Kluson tuners, that had 'Kluson Deluxe' stamped in a single vertical row (like 1956 and later Klusons); these are easilyidentified as 'early' Klusons (and not 1956 and later Klusons) because 'PAT APPLD' is also stamped below the vertical 'Deluxe' marking.These are also different because they lack the side worm shaft holefor the tuner shaft (there is only a side 'entrance' hole).
    • 1952 to 1953: Fender used 'no line' Kluson tuners exclusively, and wereunmarked (had no brand name stamped in the tuner back). The 'PAT APPLD'is no longer there. Also still no side worm shaft hole for the tuner shaft.
    • 1953 to mid-1956: There is now a side tuner shaft worm gear hole.Still 'no line' style casing (had no brand name stamped in the tuner back).
    • Mid-1956 to 1958: 'Kluson Deluxe' is now stamped in the outsidetuner casing in a single vertical line. The bottom side of the tuner is still stamped 'PAT APPLD' (onlyseen if tuner is removed from peghead). Fender used Kluson tuners exclusively on allmodels. The only variable was the tuner tip. DuoSonics, MusicMasters, Mustangs and other low-end models had white plastic tips, all other modelshad metal tips.
    • 1958 to 1964: 'Kluson Deluxe' still stamped in the outsidetuner casing in a single vertical line. But the bottom side of the tuner is stamped 'PAT NUMBER' (as Klusonwas granted a patent, and the patent 'D' number is only seen ifthe tuner is removed from the peghead).
    • 1964 to 1967: Fender used Kluson tuners, but now the 'Kluson Deluxe' wasstamped into two vertical lines ('Kluson' in one line, 'Deluxe' in theother). Note some models (such as the Jazzmaster and Jaquar) the use of Kluson tuners ended in mid 1966 (see below).
    • Fall 1965 to late 1970's: Fender had tuners made for them with a big 'F' stamped in the back cover. Tuner buttons werechrome plated plastic. Note models such as the Jazzmaster and Jaquar (1966) and the Musicmaster family (fall 1965) got these tuners before Strats and Teles (late 1967/1968).
    • Click here to seethe different Fender tuners used from 1952 to the 1970s.
    • Click here to seea comparison of vintage versus reissue Kluson tuners.
    • Click here to seea comparison of vintage versus reissue Kluson tuner bushings.

    Tone Capacitors

    • 1950 to 1962: the tone capacitors are either big, round (sausage-like)paper caps on Teles and Esquires, or flat box-shaped paper caps on Stratocasters.
    • 1963 to present: all models use a standard ceramic pancake-shapedtone capacitor.
    • 1968: Seemingly for this year only, most Stratocasters have a green square 'chicklet' style tone cap (this may include other models too).

Old style (pre-1971) Stratocaster bridge. Note the nickel plated
saddles with 'Fender Pat. Pend.' stamped in them. Reissue saddles
look exactly the same but are stamped 'Fender Fender'. Also since
the pickguard is removed on this Strat, we can see the 'nail hole'
just above the pickguard screw hole. If this nail hole does not
have paint in it (as seen here), the finish is probably original.

Old style Telecaster bridges. The bridge at the topis a mid-1954 and prior style Tele bridge with brasssaddles, and the serial number stamped into the bridgeplate (reissue vintage Tele bridge plates with serial numbers havea 'dot' pressed below the third number in the serial number, so not to be confused withoriginal Tele bridge plates). The picture below it shows the low E/A stringsaddle, and how it is ground flat on the bottom. Thepicture at the bottom is a mid 1954 to 1958 style Tele bridgewith 'smooth' saddles, and no serial number on thebridge plate. In 1958 Fender then switched to'threaded' saddles on the tele bridge (not shown).

    Strat Bridge Saddles and Tremolo Blocks
    • Bridge Saddles 1954-1971: The Stratocaster used the same bridge saddle from 1954 to 1971,a piece of steal stamped into shape. These are stamped 'FENDER PAT. PEND'.
    • Bridge Saddles 1971-1981:In 1971 the Strat bridge changes to a less expesive saddlemade of cast metal.
    • Reissue vintage Strat bridge saddles are also stamped metal. But theseare stamped FENDER FENDER) on the saddle. Click herefor a picture.
    • Recent 'bogus' Strat saddles are now available in which manyindividuals pass-off as originals. Click herefor a picture.
    • Strat Tremolo Blocks 1954-1971: a separate solid piece of gray painted steel.Click herefor a picture.
    • Strat Tremolo Blocks 1971-1981: case metal which is now part of thebridge plate.

    Euro truck simulator 2 - scandinavia download free. Pickups and Pickup Springs

    • 1950 to March 1964: all models had 'black bottom' pickups and cast slug alnico magnets with rounded top edges. Pickups not dated. Pickup wireis usually a real rich cooper color. Pickups are dipped in hot wax to eliminate microphonics, and this wax is evident on the entire pickup.Also the pickup screw 'springs' are made out of rubber surgical tubing cutinto small 3/8' long pieces.
    • March 1964 to late 1970's: most models had 'gray bottom' pickups and castslug alnico magnets. Gray bottom pickups would be the rule, butblack bottom pickups were used from old stock as late as 1967. Starting in the early 1970's, the top edges of the magnets were nolonger rounded. Most gray bottom pickup assemblies have at least onepickup with a hand written date. By the late 1960's this changed to aninked stamped date code, much like the date code used on the butt of theneck. Most gray bottom pickups have a deep burgundy colored pickup wire.Wax treament is no longer used in favor of a lacquer dip treatment,which is much harder to see. Pickup screw springs are now actuallyreal cone-shaped springs instead of rubber surgical tubing.Click here for a pictureof gray bottom pickups (1970s).Click herefor a picture of a November 4, 1964 gray bottom pickup date stamp.

    Potentiometers

    • Fender used mostly Stackpole brand pots in the 1950's, and CTSbrand pots in the 1960's. These pots are date coded,and can help verify the authenticity and year of an instrument. Themanufacturer code for CTS is 137 (or 304 for Stackpole), so this number should be stamped onthe pot somewhere. Following this number is the date code in YWW or YYWW format. The 'Y' or 'YY' is the last digit(s) of the year, and the WW is the week. In the 1950's, YWW date format was used. For example, '137504' wouldbe a CTS pot made in the 4th week of 1950. A code of '1376344' wouldbe a CTS pot made in the 44th week of 1963.
    • The Telecaster, Esquire, Precision Bass, etc, because of their metal knob configuration, used'smooth solid shaft' pots. Guitars with plastic knobs (Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, etc.)used 'knurled split shaft' pots. The split shaft pot could be adjustedfor variable tension against the inside of its plastic knob, and the knurling stoppedthe plastic knob from slipping. The Telecasteror Precision bass type metal knobs with the small set screw (which wastightened against the pot's solid shaft to hold the knob) was better with asolid shaft pot. The only exception to this rule wasearly production 1954 Fender Stratocasters with the small plastic knobs (4/54 to about7/54). These small 'tallboy' plastic bakelit knobs were implementedon the Strat with solid shaft pots (perhaps Fender didn't have anysplit shaft pots in stock at the time, as the Strat was the first Fenderguitar with plastic knobs).
    • Note during 1966, CBS/Fender bought a huge supply of CTS pots. Because of this, many late 1960's Fenders have pots dated from 1966.
    • Here is a picture of 1960s to 1974 CTS pots, compared to 1974 andlater CTS pots. Click here.
    • More info on pots can be found at in the Feature section, by clickinghere.
The jack cup on Telecasters changed through the years. Pre-1953jack cups were milled, and have sharper edges and 'teeth' to holdit in the body. Later jack cups are pressed steel and have smootheredges and smooth sides.

Fender Stratocaster Body Size

    Wiring
    • 1950 to 1967: all models used 'cloth' wire where the shielding isactually made of cotton. Usually the color is black for ground and whitefor 'hot'. Starting in 1965 sometimes yellow is used instead of white.Jazzmasters and Jaquars also used other colors like red and blue.
    • 1968 to early 1980's: PVC plastic shielded wire is used. Black forground, white for 'hot'.
    • 1980's: all reissue guitars use the old style cloth shielded wire.

An original 1956 Stratocaster wiring harness and pickguard.
Notice the small metal shielding plate around the pots,
and the white single layer pickguard. At the top edge is a
early 1960's three-layer celluliod 'mint green' pickguard
with it's full-size aluminum shielding plate.

First generation CRL switches from 1950 to 1953 had two patent numbers.
Second generation CRL switch used from 1953 to about 1962 have three
patent numbers. Otherwise the two and three patent number switches look
identical. Shown below is a three patent number switch and brown
center wheel.

Top: 1963 to 1970s style CRL 3-way switch with round base.
Bottom: mid 1980s style 3-way switch.

    Telecaster/Stratocaster Switches
    • 1950: On the first single pickup Esquires Fender used a different flat looking3-way switch.
    • 1950 to 1953: Early style CRL 1452 3-way switch with two patent numbers(2291516, 2291517). Switch made of metal and a fiberous brown bakelite type material holding the switch contact that has flat side cuts.This style of switch started with the 1950 double pickup Esquire.
    • 1953 to 1962: CRL 1452 3-way switch with three patent numbers andthe bakelite with flat side cuts.
    • 1963 to 1965: Teles and Strats still use the CRL 1452 3-way switch, but the fiberous brown bakelite material that holds the switch contacts is replaced with a less fiberous brown bakelite (lighter in color) that is cut round (like a half moon, instead of having flat sides). The center wheel is still brown bakelite.
    • 1965 to circa 1973: Teles and Strats still use the CRL 1452 3-way switch with the less fiberous brown bakelite round cut (half moon) center. But now the center wheel is white plastic instead of brown bakelite. May or may not havea Diamond logo (seen both ways).
    • circa 1973 to early 1980s: CRL 1452 switches still look basically the same asthe previous version, but only one patent number. Definately a Diamond logoduring this period. These switches still say 'Made in USA' but are actuallyonly assembled in the USA (parts made in Japan).
    • 1977 to present: Fender strats use a CRL 5-way switch on many models,which looks the same as the CRL 3-way switch but with two added notchesin the switch lever metal.
    • CRL 220-283: Special Heavy Duty switch replacements, flat-side type (pre-moon), used on some stock 1959-1960 Telecaster Customs for VIPsup to 1964. Fender bought 4000 of these in total, and just used them on special Teles and some Strats.
    • CRL 220-288: confirmed as original 'Special' switch replacement for Strats only (extremely scarce). Probably less than a handful were shipped to dealers when the supply of (4,000) CRL 220-283 switcheshad run out by mid-1964. The quote from Al Petty is, 'if you have one of those switches in your Fender, you probably have an employee guitar or it was a guitar for someone special.'
    • Thanks to P.Bechtoldt for much of the CRL switch information.

A virgin 1960 Stratocaster pickup assembly with no broken solder joints,
'black bottom' pickups, 'cloth' wire, flat box-shaped paper tone cap,
rubber pickup springs, flat edge 3-way switch, CTS pots, and an
aluminum pickguard shield all attached to a 'green' pickguard.

    Pickguard Material
    • Black pickguards: black pickguards were used from 1950 to mid-1954 on the Telecaster,Esquire and Precision bass. This material consisted of a fiberous bakelite, and was about.060 (inches) thick. The fiberous material was added to the bakelite to add strength (bakelite is too brittle and would crack at that thickness without it). Finally the blackpickguards were clear-coated with clear nitrocellulose lacquer (top side only) to give them depthand shine.
    • White pickguards (single layer): starting in mid-1954 on the Telecaster/Esquire andPrecision bass, and from the start on Strats in 1954. Fender used a single layer whitepickguard material made from ABS or vinyl about .060 (inches) thick. This relatively new materialfor the time was cheap, easy to work with, and somewhat flexible. Note bakelitewas never used for white Fender pickguards on any model (though many people refer to white pickguardsas such; but it's not bakelite). Fender stopped using the white materialin mid-1959 except on the Telecaster, Esquire and DuoSonic/MusicMaster. In this case the single layer thickness increased to .080 (inches), and was used till about 1965 (Esquires till about 1967, when all old stock was depleted).
    • Multi-layer pickguards: starting in mid-1959 Fender switched to a 3 layerpickguard (w/b/w) made from Celluloid on most models. The Pbass and Jazzmasterused a 4 layer pickguard of Tortoise/w/b/w (except on certain custom colorswhich used a 3 layer w/b/w pickguard). These celluloid 'guards had an outer white layer with a mint green/yellow tint, thus giving them the name 'green 'guard'. The amount of green/yellow depends on the abuse and UV the pickguard was subject to. To some degree the effect is not only caused by age and sun, but the 'felting' of the black layer belowthe white layer. This material was used till January 1965 when Fender switched to vinyl or ABS for their multilayer pickguards (Celluloid was dangerous and very flamable,and shrunk with time causing cracks). Sometimes these pickguards are called'nitrate 'guards' because nitric acid is one of the key ingredients used tomake celluloid. The 1965 and later white pickguards do yellow a bit withage. But even aged white 'guards look much different than the older 'green' 'guards.In the late 1960s, white Stratocaster pickguards change slightly (not sureabout other models). Thoughfrom the front they look identical to the 1965 to 1967 variety, the 1968/1969white Strat pickguards had a bottom layer (the layer not seen unless the pickguard is removed from the body) of 'pearloid'.

Left: the neck cavity on a custom color 1960 Strat. Notice the redish material the
factory used to angle the neck.
Right: the bottom side of this 1969 strat's pickguard uses 'pearloid' material. This is
typical of 1968 and 1969 Strats.

  • Stratocaster pickguards: multi-layer Strat pickguards had a thin (.015')aluminum shield underneath the pickguard (see picture above) till 1967. Click herefor a picture of the ink stamp on this aluminum pickguard shield usedduring the 1960s.From 1968 and later, sticky aluminum foil was attached to the bottomof the pickguard, just around the pots and switch.In the 1950's, this metal shield was much thicker (.040'), but also much smaller, only covering the area around the pots. Note reissue Strats also use theseshields.
  • Click herefor a comparison of pickguard material used from 1962 to 1965, and a reissue pickguard.

Stratocaster Plastic Parts.
Left: The two pickup covers on theoutside are ABS plastic. The three covers on the insidesare 'bakelite' (actually polystyrene, but collectors refer to itincorrectly as 'bakelite'). Note how the 'bakelite' covers are whiter,and the edges have rounded. When new, the 'bakelite' coveredges were as shape as the ABS covers. But with time,the edges round only on the polystyrene covers. They caneven wear to show the black pickup itsef underneath.
Right: The top row of knobs are ABS, the bottomrow are 'bakelite' (polystyrene). Notice again how the edges of the 'bakelite'knobs wear (especially on the volume knob), and the ABS edges don't. Also the 'bakelite'knobs are whiter.

Telecaster Switch Tips.
The original Daka-Ware switch tips used on Broadcasters and
Telecasters from 1950 to the 1960s. These black bakelit tips
are made by Daka-Ware, with the earliest round tips only saying
'PAT. PEND.' (as seen here on the left). The switch tip on the
right is a 'top hat' style switch with a 2189845 patent number
(though round switch tips can also have these markings).

    Other Plastic Parts (pickup covers, knobs).
    • Stratocaster: this was the first Fender model to use plastic knobs and pickup covers. From 1954 to early 1957, these parts were made from white urea formaldehyde, commonly (and incorrectly) known as 'bakelite' (bakelite is actually a trade name for phenol formaldehyde, and is most commonly blackor molted brown; for consistency, I will refer to these white pickup coversas 'bakelite', though in fact they are not). These covers were very brittle and very white. Note early 1954 Strat knobs have a different and taller shape than late 1954 and later knobs. Since 'bakelite' cracked and wore very easily, Fender switched to white ABS parts in early 1957. These ABS parts yellowed with age unlike the earlier 'bakelite' parts. Clickhere for a comparisonof vintage versus 1980s and later Strat knobs.
    • Telecaster/Esquire: these models didn't use plastic knobs or pickup covers.But the switch tip for Telecasters was bakelite plastic. These black tipsare still available today, with very minor differences. Early Broadcasters/Telecastershad round (as viewed from the top) pickup selector tips. In about 1955 this changedto the 'top hat' style of selector switch tip. In either case, all original Teleswitch tips have some stampings on their bottom side. The Broadcaster and early Telecasterssaid 'PAT. PEND.' on the bottom of the tip. All tips about 1952 and later say 'PAT. NO. 2189845' and 'DAKA-WARE CHICAGO'. See the picture above. Reissue 'top hat' teleswitch tips have no marks on the bottom. Click here to see the difference.
    • Precision Bass: this model didn't use plastic parts till mid-1957 when the pickupchanged to a split coil design, and had an ABS plastic cover. Click here for a comparisonof old and new pbass plastic pickup covers.
    • Jazzbass: click here for a comparisonof old and new jbass plastic pickup covers.
    • Jazzmaster: from the start in 1958 all plastic parts were ABS on this model.Click here for a pictureof the knob style used on Jazzmasters starting in 1965.

    Body Wood.
    Exceptions to the below data: the Rosewood Telecaster, the Walnut strat,Thinline Telecasters, etc.

    • October 1950 to mid 1956: All models used Ash as the body wood.Most ash bodies are two or even three pieces, but sometimes a one-piecebody was used.
    • Mid 1956 to current: All models used Alder as the body wood.The ONLY exception to this is if the model had a 'blond' finish.In that case, the body would was ALWAYS Ash. For example, sincethe stock finish on a Telecaster is 'blond' (a translucent white color),all blond Telecasters are made of Ash. If a post-1956 Stratocaster was orderedin blond, it too would be Ash. To summarize, if the Fender instrumentis later than mid-1956, and was originally not blond in color, thebody wood should be Alder!Most alder bodies are 2 to 4 pieces. Alder trees do not grow 'big',so multiple pieces were used for Fender guitar bodies. The number of pieces has little effecton sound or value.
    • 1963-1964: a few models made with Mahogany bodies.
    • 1990-current: Most Japanese Fenders (and some US made models)use a Basswood body.
    • 1992-current: Some Mexican made models use Poplar bodies.

Left: a 1966 Custom Telecaster with the 'target 'burst' style
sunburst. Starting in mid-1964, Fender sprayed the yellow part
of the sunburst. This allowed Fender to be less picky with their
choice of Alder, because the sunburst is less transparent.
Right: a 1959 Custom Telecaster with the old style Fender sunburst.
Prior to 1964, Fender stained the yellow of the sunburst into the
wood, instead of spraying it. This saved a spray step when shooting
a sunburst finish.

    Finishes.
    There is a lot more info on Fender finishes here.
    • 1950 to 1967: Fender used nitrocellulose lacquer for all finishes. Film thicknesswas very thin, especially in the 1950's. From the beginning, Fender would hammernails into the face of the guitar body before painting, under the pickguard areas. Then the body was painted on a 'lazy susan'. First the face of the guitar was painted.Then the body was flipped over onto the nails (which suspended the freshed paintedbody face), and the back and sides of the body were painted. The nails were thenused to suspend the body while the paint fully dried. After all the paint wassprayed, the nails were removed. Hence all original pre-CBS Fender bodies willhave 'nail holes' (with no paint in them!) under the pickguard or control plates.
    • There should be three or four nail holes under the pickguard, control plateor bridge plate on every original finish solidbody pre-1965 Fender instrument. NO EXCEPTIONS! Interestingly, Tele nail holeswere moved in the early 1960s, but are still present. Again, seehere for more details.

Fender Strat Body Dimensions Comparison

One nail hole near the neck pocket on a May 1962 Fender Stratocaster.
Note the 'shadow' (lack of red) created by the nail, as the red was
originally sprayed on the body!

Fender Strat Body Dimensions Explained

  • Mid 1956: Fender started using Alder (instead of Ash) as the main body wood for all modelsthat were not finished in Blond (which means the Telecaster stayed Ash). They did this because it was easier to paintAlder (it required less paint steps). All Alder bodies were dipped in a yellowstain, which was the first step in the sunbursting paint process (sunburstwas Fender's primary color on Alder bodies, hence all Alder bodies wereprepped this way, regardless of what color they were actually painted).

This Strat has a neck date of December 1964, and still has the 'nail holes'under the pickguard. The nails holes were pretty much gone by fall of 1964.

  • 1960: The position of the nail holes was moved on the Telecaster(only). Then were now inside the cavity routes, like in the truss rodrod or neck pocket route, inside the control cavity route, and inside thebridge pickup route.
  • Late 1962/early 1963: Fender now bolted a 'stick' inside the body's neckpocket (to the two bass side neck screw holes) prior to painting. The stick allowed the body to be easily held by the painter while spraying paint and drying. This left a visible paint stick shadow inside the neck pocket. Fender used this technique into the 1970s. The nails were stillused, but now only for the drying process (and were no longer needed during painting).Still, the 'nail holes' will be present (with no paint in them!) under the pickguard or control plates of original Fender bodies.
  • Mid-1964: Fender changed how they sprayed a sunburst finish. In early 1964 andbefore, the yellow part of the sunburst was stained into the wood. This meantFender only had to spray two colors (red and brown) instead of three. Butin mid-1964, Fender changed to spraying the yellow portion of the sunburstfinish. This made the finish less transparent, and allowed Fender to useAlder body wood with minor defects (such as mineral stains). The 1964 andlater sunburst finish colors didn't blend together as nice and don't showmuch wood grain, and hence are sometimes called a 'target 'burst'. Alsoby the fall of 1964, Fender no longer hammered nails into the body prior to painting.They instead used the paint stick to suspend the body while drying.
  • 1968 to 1980: Fender used a 'thick skin' polyester finish. Later'thick skin' finishes got really thick in the 1970's, resembling abowling ball. But all polyester finishes are very thick and glossycompared to the early lacquer finishes.
  • 1954 to late 1960's: Fender also made available Custom Color finishes. These finishes were special ordered for an additional 5% cost.

A 1962 Jaquar in the rare, top-of-the line molded form-fit case.

    Fender Cases
    Note that the following case descriptions concerns mostly U.S. sold guitars.Fenders distributed in other countries were often shipped without cases. Thereason: the foreign distributor felt they could get cases locally and lessexpensively. Canada and Europe are perfect examples of this. Until themid 1960's, most Canadian imported Fenders were sold with a Canadian case.

    Note: the following info does not apply to student model Fenderssuch as the MusicMaster and DuoSonic. The interior material of these casesgenerally will match the descriptions below, but the exteriors willnot. The exterior of these cases in the 1950's didn't have any material on them (they were just a brown formica), and didn't have any interior pocket system.

The 1950s Fender gig bag, an alternative to the more
expensive rectangle hard shell tweed case.

Right Pic: Left to right: Tweed, brown tolex, white tolex.
    • From 1950 to 1953 Fender used a guitar-shaped hard case for the Tele andPbass nicknamed the 'thermometer' case, due to it's unique thermometer shape. This case had a brown covering with a brown plush lining. The case had a bulb shape at the peghead.
    • Also available from 1951 to the early 1960's, was a Fender gig bag case.These cases are soft, foldable bags, and are brown in color. If you couldn'tafford a hard case, this was the alternative.
    • From mid-1953 to mid-1954, this case changed to the 'poodle' case. Still shapedlike a guitar, the poodle case had one flat side that did not follow thecontours of the guitar (this was the side of the case that rested on theground when the case was set down by the handle). Though this case lookssimilar for both the Telecaster and Stratocaster, it was not (a Strat won'tfit into a Tele poodle case). The interior was a bright red plush shag.
      Click herefor a picture of the early 'thermometer' and 'poodle' style Telecastercases.
    • In mid-1954, Fender dropped the guitar shaped case in favor of a rectangle shaped case. The first generation rectangle case used in 1954 wascalled the 'center pocket tweed' case. The interior center pocket not only allowed cord and pick storage, but also supported the neck of the guitar. These cases were covered in lacquer-coated tweed and had a bright red plush shag lining.
    • From 1955 to early 1958, the next generation of rectangle casewas the 'side pocket tweed' case. The same lacquer-coated tweed outside and bright red shag plush lining was used, but the interior pick pocket was moved to the side next to the neck. They also had an interior tag proclaiming the case as a 'Koylon' brand case. These cases also had exterior brown leather ends. In 1957 (only), these cases also had an exterior 'Fender' logo thick foil sticker which fell off 99.99% of all surviving cases today.
    • From 1958 to mid-1959, the case stayed the same except now the interiorwas a much shorter burnt orange plush. Also the 'Koylon' interior tagis gone. The exterior thick foil sticker is now no longer used.
    • From mid-1959 to 1961 the exterior of the Fender case changed. A newmaterial called 'Tolex' was now used, in a coffee-with-cream type brown color. Tolex is a rough rubber-like compound that was much more durablethan tweed. Brown leather ends stayed the same. The interior burnt-orange plush used from 1958 stayed until about 1961 when the interior of the cases changed to a dark orange plush. Also around 1960 the center manual latchchanged positions from under the case handle, to just outside of the casehandle (the latch's postion could hurt your knuckles when carrying the case.)Click herefor a picture of the early square style Fender cases from mid 1954 to 1963. This picture includes the 'center pocket' tweed case, the 'side pocket Koylon' tweed case, the 'side pocket burnt orange' tweed case, and the 1962 style 'brown' case with the dark orange interior. The only casemissing from this photo is the 1959 to 1961 style 'brown' case withthe lighter colored burnt orange interior.
    • In 1963 to early 1964, the exterior again changed on Fender cases.Now white tolex with black leather ends was the standard. The interiorstayed the same dark orange plush.
    • In early 1964, Fender moved to a black tolex case with the (same)dark orange interior. This type of case was basically used till the endof the 1970's, with some minor changes (mostly the exterior logo).Early 1964 to 1965 cases have no exterior 'Fender' logo.
    • mid to late 1965 to the 1970s use the same black case but with a Fender logo.This logo had two black plastic rivets holding the logo to the case exterior.There was no 'tail' under the 'Fender' logo.
    • About 1967: Still used the black tolex case, but now the case exteriorhas a plastic Fender logo with a 'tail' under the 'Fender'.
    • about 1972: The logo on the black tolex case changes to have no 'tail'and a small 'R'. Also the white pipingaround the leather case ends becomes more pronouced.
    • Mid to late 1970s: The logo on the black tolex case changed yet again.No 'tail', a bigger 'R' (registered) mark, and a 'Made in USA' marking.Also the interior of the case got more padding.
    • When Fender started making reissues in 1983, they also reissued thetweed case. But now the exterior tweed was considerably 'hairer', andwas not lacquered. Also the interior was not a short dark orange plush, butwas now a long, light colored orange shag.
    • Also available starting around 1965 to about 1968 was a brown molded form-fit case. This was an upper line optional case with a hard brown molded exterior with a red/golden brown interior. This case was basically rectangle, but with very rounded corners. This case looks similar to the black molded Fender cases of the 1980's,except this case is brown, thicker, a little shorter in length, and theinterior is not blue. This case was primarily available for the Jazzmasterand Jaguar guitars.
    U.K. Fender cases: Starting around 1961, Jennings Musical Industries of Unity House Dartford Road,Dartford Kent, was the sole Fender distributor in the U.K. The case included with these Fender guitarswas a Jennings case, which was similar in dimensions to a California rectangle Fender case,but not as stylish. For example, the Jennings case had no leather ends, and were covered inthin brown vinyl tweed with dark pressed metal corners. The interior was a plushdeep wine color, with no lid to the interior 'glove compartment'. The handle was a smoothplastic-leather over metal. By 1964, Selmer also became a Fender importer. And later, Arbiteralso became a Fender distributor in the U.K.

    The exterior case logos used through the years. The toplogo was used on rectangle Fender tweed cases from about 1957 toearly 1958. It is missing on 99% of all original tweed cases today.No case logos were used from 1958 to 1965.The next four plastic case logos were used from 1966 to the 1970s: 1966 Fender logo with no tail.Thrid logo from top used in 1967 to 1971 ('tail'). Fourthlogo from the top with no tail and small 'R' above the big 'r' was used from 1972. The bottom most plastic logo(with 'Made in U.S.A.' and the 'R' symbol) was adopted in the mid to late 1970's.

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Fender Serial Numbers, 1950 to Present (Identifying the Year).