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Some might go by the pot codes, but those could have been stock a year or more old by the time they were put into the newly finished guitar.Or perhaps the guitar was even assembled by various parts picked up over the years and is being passed off as "All original".

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The first digit is supposed to reflect the year of manufacture, but there are major overlaps in this regard, and . An important thing to look for are the matching serial number stickers in the neck pocket and on the pickguard.

S7 5 digits = 1977-1978 S8 5 digits = 1977-1978 - I have seen a 1982 Strat with an S8 decal S9 5 digits = 1978-1982 E0 5 digits = 1979-1982 E1 5 digits = 1980-1982 Be especially careful with '79 Strats.

The Japanese-made Fenders do have some slight serial number differences (typically a "J" serial number prefix). I believe this was a mistake on Fender's part using the same prefix for both U. Below are some examples of letter prefixes used in recent serial number schemes.

Japanese Serial Numbers on Peghead Decal Note the lack of S, E, N series.

In this case it stands for the 3rd week of 1980 and was a Thursday.

Ignore all the "FRR" stamps you'll find on the neck base and in the neck pocket.

ALOT of "1979" Strats with S9 serial numbers I've recently seen online appear to be from 1980, including the Strat I bought.

Body and Neck: All bodies are Ash, and usually a heavy piece.

They are believed to just be some kind of quality check stamps.

Pot Codes: MMMYYWW Example: 1377818 - In 1977 found on the side of the pots, moved to the bottom (and unfortunately sometimes covered with solder) in 1978.

Large Letter Stamps: Not 100% sure what these mean, but I have a theory they were used to grade a body prior to recieving a finish. I have seen four A stamps on Natural finished bodies, and a trans-red with an A stamp. I have also seen a D, along with an A on a Sunburst body.

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