How to date a vintage Fender Jazzmaster electric guitar

John Shults

Posted on April 03 2020

How to date Fender Jazzmaster guitars

I get a fair amount of people reaching out with questions like "how old is my Fender Jazzmaster?" or "How can I date my vintage Fender Jazzmaster?" It's important to know exactly when a vintage Fender Jazzmaster electric guitar was made in order to know the range of value. The model debuted in 1958 and was made in its original factory in Fullterton, CA until its discontinuation in about 1982. It's one of the coolest solid body electric guitars ever made but can sometimes be difficult to date. Here are the steps that I go through to determine what year a vintage Fender Jazzmaster was made. 

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Here are four important parts of a vintage Fender Jazzmaster guitar to check in order to properly date the year of manufacture:

Neck and body dates

Features

Potentiometer codes

Serial number

 

How to date vintage Fender Jazzmaster electric guitar

Neck and body dates

Did you know that your vintage Fender electric guitar likely has either a penciled month and year or an ink stamp with a date on the end of the neck? Fender employees signed the heel of Jazzmaster necks with a month and year in pencil from their introduction in 1958 until the change to an ink stamp in 1962. This vintage Fender Jazzmaster neck bears the pencil date "12/60" indicating that it was signed in December of 1960. Necks were signed or stamped at the beginning of the neck shaping process so that means this guitar probably left the factory during the first few months of 1961. 

How to date vintage Fender Jazzmaster guitar, how old is my Fender Jazzmaster guitar

In 1962, Fender began stamping the neck heels with an ink stamp that included a model code, month, year, and neck width code. This Fender Jazzmaster from 1963 has the stamp "4DEC62B". The "4" is not the day, but a model code that indicated the neck was being made for a Jazzmaster model guitar. DEC indicates December, "62" indicates 1962, and "B" indicates the standard nut width of 1 5/8". Remember that the necks were stamped early on in the manufacturing process so this guitar likely left the factory in 1963.

Many vintage Fender Jazzmaster guitars also had a pencil signed date under the shielding plate in the bridge pickup cavity. These signatures become inconsistent in the mid to late 1960s so your guitar may or may not have one. It's rather difficult to get to this date so I don't recommend looking for it unless you have professional help. This pencil bridge pickup cavity date reads "11/62" which indicates that this body was at least routed for a bridge pickup cavity during November of 1962.

Features

Fender made gradual changes to the Jazzmaster guitar throughout its initial production run from 1958 until 1982. A skilled eye can look at a guitar and get a ballpark figure for the date without having to check neck dates or serial numbers. Here are a few main features I look for to date a vintage Fender Jazzmaster guitar by its features: logo style, fretboard marker style, knob style, string trees. 

Vintage Fender Jazzmaster spaghetti style logo

Transitional style logo, vintage Fender Jazzmaster guitar

Here are the headstocks from two Fender Jazzmasters with two different logos. The first shows a spaghetti style logo from 1960. This logo shape was used on the Jazzmaster model guitars until about 1964. The second headstock is from a 1966 Fender Jazzmaster. Many collectors refer to this logo as the transitional logo which was used on Jazzmasters starting in 1964 until about 1967. The block style logo was then introduced and was used until it was discontinued in 1982. 

Potentiometer codes

Did you know that your vintage Fender or Gibson electric guitar has parts inside of it that have date codes printed on them? The volume and tone adjustments of your electric guitar are controlled by variable resistors called potentiometers. The volume knobs is attached to the shaft of the potentiometer. The underside of these potentiometers have codes engraved on them that indicate a manufacturer, a year, and a week of that year. Here's an article I wrote on how to date vintage electric guitars with potentiometer codes: 

https://truevintageguitar.com/blogs/tvg-blog/how-to-date-fender-and-gibson-guitars-with-potentiometer-codes

How old is my vintage Fender guitar

Serial numbers

Fender engraved serial numbers on the neck plates of their guitars. The neck plate is a metal rectangular plate on the back of the body that helps secure the neck to the body. The neck plates were serialized when they were made and applied to guitars at the end of the guitar's manufacturing process. These serial numbers are only helpful for a ballpark year since they weren't applied consecutively. Not only that, but it's a very easy part to replace with only four screws. This is only one data point and not a very good way to date a vintage Fender Jazzmaster guitar. Here are the serial number ranges for Jazzmasters made between 1958 and 1982:

For Fender guitars with serial numbers with 6 digits or less on the neck plate:


25000 – 30000 1958 0 or – prefix possible
30000 – 40000 1959
40000 – 58000 1960
55000 – 72000 1961
72000 – 93000 1962
93000 – 99999 1963

Serial numbers preceded by an “L” (1963-1965):

L00001 – L20000 1963 
L20000 – L55000 1964 
L55000 – L99999 1965

Six digit serial numbers with a large stylized F on the plate:

100000 – 110000 1965
110000 – 200000 1966
180000 – 210000 1967
210000 – 250000 1968
250000 – 280000 1969
280000 – 300000 1970
300000 – 330000 1971
330000 – 370000 1972
370000 – 520000 1973
500000 – 580000 1974
580000 – 690000 1975
690000 – 750000 1976

From here, the serial number moves from the neck plate to printed on the headstock:

760000 (large 76, small xxxx) = 1976 and 1977

S7xxxx - S9xxxx = 1977 through 1979

E0xxxx- E2xxxx = 1980 through 1982

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