How to Identify My Fender Bass by Serial Number

Written by laura paquette
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How to Identify My Fender Bass by Serial Number
Serial numbers can help you identify limited edition models, like the "I" series from the early '90s. (electric guitar image by Cindy Haggerty from Fotolia.com)

The Fender company has been producing basses and guitars since the early 1950s. There are many varieties and models. One way to identify your instrument by year is to check the serial number, which is located at the top of the neck plate, on the headstock or near the bolts which attach the neck to the body. Serial numbers may not produce an exact date of production due to changes over the years. Instrument repair technicians can also dissemble your guitar to check for a stamped production date, but this should not be attempted at home.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Serial Number Reference chart (see Resources)

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Locate the serial number on your bass. You should not have to remove any components of the guitar to find the number. Generally, Fender's serial numbers begin with one letter followed by 5-6 digits. For example, newer instruments use the prefix "Z" to indicate the new millennium, so one serial number may read Z348392. Check closely around the neck of the instrument, and remember the number may be faded, covered or scratched away if you are not the original owner. Older models may have a double stamped neck plate, meaning the serial number appears on both the front and back.

  2. 2

    Use a website or other Fender resource to narrow down the possible production date and location of your instrument. Many will break it down by prefix, which denotes American made, Mexican made, Japanese models, Deluxe models and unique series such as the Precision bass special.

  3. 3

    Check into the history of your instrument. Fender did not officially attempt to serialise their instruments by decade until the 1970s. As a result, there is some overlap in serial numbers and your number could refer to several years. In addition, some instruments are notoriously mislabelled, including those in the N series of the 1990s. The label N9 was used both in 1999 and 1990. If you do not find the prefix of your serial number on any charts, it may be a rare series, like the California basses produced in 1997 (prefix AMXN). Take your guitar to a specialist to identify it further.

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