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At the Stratocasters from the early fifties the serial numbers were stamped on the back vibrato cover.
However, there are some exceptions in this transition period in 2012.
3,143,028 the patent granted in August 1964 for Fender's adjustable neck construction. (Used since 1957 to the Precision Bass) The DES is the serial number. The serial number for these three models can be found at the bridge plate and is used until about early 1954. Until 1955, the serial number is applied to the bridge plate.
Fender then switched to a serial numbering on the neck plate for all models. Although Fender had already switched in 1954 serialized for all models on the neck plate, is the serial number at some Precison's still affixed to the bridge plate.
2007 was another transitional year for Japanese-made Fender instruments, with the return to the “Made in Japan” country-of-origin identifier on the serial number decal.
This was a running change, and both “Made in Japan” and “Crafted in Japan” decals appear on instruments from 20.
For example, a 1990 made in India Squier II serial number would start with N0 plus 5 digits.