Fender Stratocaster: how to date and what's it worth?

John Shults

Posted on May 19 2022

Fender Stratocaster vintage 1960s, how to date, what's it worth


The Fender Stratocaster is one of the most valuable collectible guitars ever made, so it's important to know how to date them using the serial number and features. Stratocaster production gradually increased and slowly changed over the 1950s and 1960s. This is why the 1950s Fender Stratocasters are worth more than those from the late 1960s. Not only that, but Fender Stratocaster values are different for each specific color, so exact year and color identification from a Fender guitar expert is crucial. 

If you're looking for help with how to date a Fender Stratocaster in order to know how much it's worth, an experienced guitar collector and expert is important. I am a passionate Fender Stratocaster collector and professional dealer of vintage guitars. You can get help with Fender Serial Number Lookup here, or if you're considering selling a Fender Stratocaster, you can contact me here: Sell a Fender guitar

Fender Stratocaster vintage 1960s guitars. Fender Stratocaster value.

How old is my Fender Stratocaster?

 Finding out how old is my Fender Stratocaster is more than just looking up the serial number. Fender Stratocaster serial numbers are usually on the metal plate on the back of the guitar from 1954 until 1977, but the plate is easily removed and swapped with only a screw driver (check out this one with parts from three different eras: Fender Stratocaster 1964 1954). The serial number is important to match the parts to the guitar but it's not the only way to date a Fender Stratocaster. 

The way that a Fender guitar expert dates a Fender Stratocaster is with the neck and body dates, potentiometer codes, features, and the serial number. The white Fender Stratocaster above has a neck stamp of "2SEP65B", but the first "2" doesn't indicate the day, it's the model code for Stratocaster. The rest of the stamp indicates the neck was stamped during September of 1965 and has the standard neck width. The potentiometer codes indicate they were made during the 10th week of 1965. It features a transitional logo and plastic pearloid position markers. The serial number plate has a large F logo and is in the 100,000 range. We can easily date this Fender Stratocaster to 1965. 

If you think you have a Fender Stratocaster 1950s or 1960s then I'd be happy to take a look to help date it. Check this helpful blog post out: How to date a Fender Stratocaster

Here's a helpful book if you'd like to learn more about Fender guitar dating: The Fender Stratocaster by Andre Duchossoir with foreward by Eric Clapton. 

Fender Stratocaster guitar dating 1950s 1960s. Neck heel ink stamp.

How much is my Fender Stratocaster worth?

Pricing a Fender Stratocaster from the 1950s and 1960s is not as difficult as it was in the past before access to good information and precedent. Before I try to determine the value of a Fender Stratocaster, I'm very careful to identify exactly what year it was made, exactly what color, and exactly what's original and what's not. Fender guitar values vary wildly based on their age, color, configuration (vibrato of fixed bridge?), and originality. If you've inherited a Fender Stratocaster and aren't a guitar expert, you can get professional help with this part of the process here: Fender Guitar Appraisal. I may also be interested in buying your Fender Stratocaster to collect for myself if it meets certain criteria.

The way Fender guitar experts determine the value of a Fender Stratocaster is by comparing a particular Stratocaster to the rest of the currently available market. Let's assume we would like to determine the retail value of this Fender Stratocaster 1962, Sunburst finish, synchronized tremolo model. The guitar is very clean with no replaced parts. I would estimate that it would be on the upper end of market value if we assume that it's being sold with a professional selling infrastructure. 

 Fender Stratocaster guitar values are similar to that of the value of other high end collectible items in that there is a difference between value at retail versus wholesale. No one wants to sell their guitar for wholesale, but if you don't have a lot of experience, a long list of clients who trust your opinion, a marketing infrastructure, and a commercial insurance policy for shipping, then retail value is not probably not applicable. Private sellers may want keep this in mind when pricing a collectible Fender Stratocaster. You may need to price it competitively in order to attract a buyer without assuming five figures of shipping risk. If there wasn't a need for a professional selling infrastructure, then professional dealers would be less inclined to spend so much money and time on them. 


Fender Stratocaster guitar vintage values 1950s 1960s 

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