At the Bismarck ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, Kerry Keane, working the musical instruments table, looked over a Fender Stratocaster, the guitar model that Eric Clapton, the British rock and blues guitarist, described to him once as "the perfect rock 'n' roll machine." Kerry, who works at Christie's East in New York City, had a number of clues that the guitar was assembled in 1959, including a stamped serial number on the neck plate of the guitar.
"But the true way to really date the guitar," Kerry told the woman who brought in the instrument, "would be to pull the neck out and to read what might be either penciled or stamped here at the end of the finger board. With mass-produced items like Fender guitars, they're made of component parts.
Only about half the guitars still carry any intelligible information here.
Below is a list of date formats and how they were marked on the neck-butts: 1950-1954: Hand-written below the truss rod adjustment at the butt end of the neck.
Within a few seconds, however, Russell—a guitarist who provides backing tracks, gear demos and reviews on You Tube—realized it was a fake.
"Someone had rubbed off the Squier logo from the headstock and put a fake Fender waterslide on it," Russell says.
Kerry then began removing the screws that held the guitar's neck to its body, raising a question for everyone who owns a Fender electric guitar: Is this a maneuver you should try on your own?
"My advice would be, 'Don't try this at home,'" Kerry told us. "The angle at which the neck is joined to the body is critical in maintaining the 'action,'" he said.
1954-1959: Same as above, only the format is M-YY, leaving out the day. March 1962 to 1965: Dark blue or red ink stamps below the truss rod adjustment at the neck butt. The “XX” does not refer to the day; it is a code for the neck type (e.g. The “W” stands for neck width: “A” is the narrower, “B” is normal width, and “C” wider and “D”, though rarely seen, is the widest.For more videos by Russell, be sure to drop in on his You Tube channel, which you'll see when or if you click on these highlighted words.How to date and identify your Fender instruments using serial numbers and production date stamps.He has been a contributor to Antiques Roadshow Online since 1998.At some point, Kennis Russell bought a used Stratocaster at his local guitar shop.