Fender Stratocaster 1964 Red Dating & Values
Posted on October 11 2021
I was in the hotel in room in London, England when I received a message from a couple in New York asking for help with how to date a Fender Stratocaster. As luck would have it, I was in London buying this Fender Stratocaster 1962 Fiesta Red, so all the Fender Stratocaster information was fresh in my mind. The couple sent pictures of an amazing 1964 Fender Stratocaster in Candy Apple Red finish that I was thrilled to check out. We discussed how to find the year, exactly which of the three available Red colors it was, and what it could be worth. I then rerouted my return flights to come through New York so I could check it out in person.
If you have a vintage Fender Stratocaster and are curious about what a Fender guitar collector might be willing to pay for it then you can contact me here: Sell a Fender. You can send pictures of your guitar for me to check out. I'd be happy to give my thoughts on how to date it, finish originality and color, and how much I'd be willing to outbid the next buyer for.
Here's a great resource for Fender Stratocaster information if you'd like to spend the time to find out for yourself: The Fender Stratocaster by A. R. Duchossoir. It's a great reference book that helps detail how the model changed throughout the years. I highly recommend it.
How to find the year of a Fender Stratocaster
Knowing how to date a Fender Stratocaster is an important of finding out how much it's worth. It's tempting to go straight to the serial number lookup, but Fender serial numbers are not a great way to date a Fender guitar. They're not necessarily consecutive and they're easily swapped using only a screwdriver. I like to use the serial number, neck heel date stamp, potentiometer codes, and features to accurately date a Fender Stratocaster.
Here's a list of Fender serial numbers for guitars made before 1980: Fender serial numbers. Fender changed the serial number scheme multiple times throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, so it's important to be specific. Not only that, but the neck plates with serial numbers applied were not used consecutively, so a lower number could have left the factory long after a higher number. Still, it needs to fit within the range we expect the guitar to fit in. This Fender Stratocaster has a serial number starting with "L4" which indicates that it was made in 1964.
The next step in how to find the year of a Fender Stratocaster would be to check the neck heel ink stamp. I recommend leaving this job to a Fender guitar expert since there's a chance of damaging the finish a bit if you're not familiar with the process. The neck heel ink stamp of this Fender Stratocaster reads "2JUL64B" where 2 = Stratocaster model (not the day!), JUL = July, 64 = 1964, and B = standard nut width of 1 5/8".
The potentiometer codes are another important part of finding the year of a Stratcocaster. Potentiometers are the variable resistors that allow a player to control the volume and tone of the output to the amplifier. They have codes on the back or side that indicates the manufacturer, year, and week of the year they were made. The potentiometer codes on this Stratocaster read "137 6422" where 137 = CTS, 64 = 1963, and 22 = the 22nd week.
Fiesta Red, Dakota Red, Or Candy Apple Red?
Fender offered three different red colors in the custom color chart from 1964. Fiesta Red is the lightest color which can have a pinkish-orange hue. Dakota Red is a bit deeper red that is a flat color with no shiny tiny metalic undercoat. Candy Apple Red Metallic is only very lightly metallic. It's a bit easier to see the silver or gold metallic undercoat in direct sunlight.
This Fender Stratocaster 1964 is finished in Candy Apple Red Metallic finish. In order to verify an original custom color finish, I look for the paint stick mark, sharp cavity edges, nail holes, and more. Fender began using a paint stick that was hammered flat and screwed to the neck pocket in 1963. It leaves a specific shadow mark in the neck pocket that's easy to identify. Here's what it looks like:
Fender Stratocaster 1964 Value
The value of a Fender Stratocaster to a Fender guitar collector depends on the exact year, originality, condition, and finish color. 1964 is just before Leo Fender sold his company to CBS, which is where the term "pre-CBS" comes from. The company sold on January 5, 1965, but most collectors consider anything from mid 1965 and earlier to be pre-CBS. Pre-CBS Fender Stratocasters are more desirable to collectors because they're more finely made and there are fewer of them. You can find out more about the value of your Stratocaster to a Fender guitar collector here: Sell a Fender.
Fender Stratocaster collectors like myself will almost always value an original guitar higher than a Stratocaster with modifications or repairs. Common modifications to Fender Stratocasters include a refinish, changed pickups, changed potentiometers and wiring, new frets, fretboard plane, or even routing the body cavity to accept a larger pickup. This is why it's important to inspect a Stratocaster thoroughly to be sure that all the parts are original.
The exact finish color can affect the value of a vintage Stratocaster quite significantly. Of the three Red colors offered by Fender in 1964, Candy Apple Red is the most common, followed by Dakota Red, then least common is Fiesta Red. The less common the color, the more that a Stratocaster collector might pay to have it.
Where to sell a Stratocaster 1950s 1960s
If you're looking for where to sell a Fender Stratocaster to a passionate guitar collector, then I may be the one you're looking for. I travel worldwide to acquire vintage Fender guitars but especially custom color Stratocasters. I'm looking for nice examples of unmodified guitars like this Fender Stratocaster 1964. You can contact me here if you're curious about the value of a vintage Stratocaster: Stratocaster collector.