How To Date A Vintage Fender Jaguar Guitar
Posted on June 23 2020
Vintage Fender electric guitars from the 1960s and 1970s are constructed of parts that can be individually dated. They were intended to be easily disassembled and repaired by musicians in the field which can also make dating vintage Fender guitars a process. I get a lot of questions from guitar owners looking for help with dating their vintage Fender Jaguar guitars. I'm happy to check out your guitar so click the Contact Me button to send pictures and information about your vintage Fender Jaguar guitar.
Serial number plates on Fender guitars can often be misleading since they weren't necessarily consecutive and they are easily swapped out. Here are the steps I take to date the important parts of vintage Fender Jaguar guitars.
I buy vintage Fender Jaguar guitars and may be interested in buying yours if you would like to sell. You can reach out to me here to sell a vintage Fender Jaguar guitar.
The Fender Jaguar model electric guitar debuted in 1962 and its initial production run lasted until the late 1970s. This blog post is intended to focus on the initial run of Fender Jaguars made in the Fullerton, California factory and not any later guitars.
Here are the four most important parts to check to help date a vintage Fender Jaguar guitar:
1. Neck and body
2. Electronics and pickups
3. Serial numbers on neck plates
4. General features
Neck and body dates
Fender utilized various signatures and stamps on the bodies and necks of Jaguars guitars to indicate what year and month they were made and by which employee. Fender Jaguars have two main date indicators: one stamped on the heel of the neck and one pencil signed in the tremolo cavity of the body (until about 1964 or so). To check the stamp on the heel of the neck, please detune the strings first so that there is no tension. Then, use a properly fitting screw driver to carefully unscrew the four bolts folding the neck plate to the body while supporting both the neck and the body. Here's what a neck heel stamp looks like:
This neck heel date stamp reads "1SEP63B" which should read accordingly: "1" = Jaguar model (not the day!), "SEP" = September, "63" = 1963, "B" = standard nut width or 1 5/8". It's tempting to think that the first number may represent the day but it actually is a model code that indicates what model the neck is intended for.
Here's an example of a tremolo cavity pencil signature date indicating it was made during October of 1963:
Electronics and Pickups
The next step to accurately date a vintage Fender Jaguar guitar is to check the date codes on the electronics and the pickups. The potentiometers are the variable resistors that allow the player to adjust the volume and tone of the guitar through the amplifier. Potentiometers are made with manufacturer codes that indicate the manufacturer and what week of what year it was made. Here's an example that reads "137_6636" which would indicate Chicago Telephone Supply (137), 1966 (66), and the 36th week (36):
The Fender Jaguar's pickups may also have a date on the bobbin that indicates the day it was wound and by which employee. These dates are located on the bottom piece of the flat work and can be difficult to access. I don't recommend looking for this date unless you are very familiar with working on vintage guitars. Here's what a an October 23rd, 1966 date looks like on a vintage Jaguar pickup:
Serial numbers on neck plates:
The problem with vintage Fender guitar serial numbers is that they are often found on an easily replaceable part. Not only that, but these plates were not applied to guitars in a consecutive order. A lower serial number does no necessarily indicate an earlier guitar. There is a general pattern to the serial numbers so that's why I've included them here:
72000 - 99999 = 1962 until 1963 only if 5 digits, no "L" prefix, and located on the neck plate.
L00001 - L99999 = 1963 until 1965, only if L prefix and located on the neck plate. No large stylized F on the plate.
100000 - 750000 = 1965 until 1976 only if large stylized "F" and located on the neck plate.
This neck plate is from mid 1965:
This section could go on forever! There are many seemingly insignificant features on vintage Fender guitars that help inform the time period it was manufactured. Let's focus on one of these features which is the easiest to spot: fret markers on the neck.
Fender Jaguars were introduced in 1962 with cream colored fretboard markers that many collectors call "clay dots" and no fretboard binding. These clay dots were updated to pearloid in 1965. By late 1965, binding was added to the fretboard. Fender Jaguars were made with pearloid dots and binding from mid 1965 to mid 1965 with various overlap of styles. By late 1966, the pearloid dots were updated to large pearloid block fret markers for Rosewood fretboard guitars. A Maple fretboard with large black fretboard markers was offered but is a very rare features. Let me know if you have one like this to sell!
"Clay" dot fretboard markers (1962-1965):
Pearl dot markers with no binding (1965):
Pearl dots and binding (1965-1966)
Large pearloid block markers and binding (1966-1970s)