Fender Precision Bass Serial Number Guide: How to Date Your P-Bass
The Fender Precision Bass, or P-Bass, is one of the most iconic and influential electric bass guitars of all time. Introduced in 1951, the P-Bass has been used by countless musicians across genres and generations. But how can you tell when your P-Bass was made? And what does the serial number on the back of the headstock mean?
In this article, we will explain how to date your Fender P-Bass using the serial number and other clues from the design and components of the instrument. We will also provide some resources where you can find more information about Fender serial numbers and history.
Why Dating Your P-Bass Matters
Dating your P-Bass can help you determine its value and authenticity, as well as learn more about its history and origin. Some P-Basses are more collectible and desirable than others, depending on the year of production, the features and specifications, and the condition of the instrument. Knowing when your P-Bass was made can also help you identify any modifications or repairs that may have been done to it over the years.
However, dating a Fender P-Bass is not always a straightforward task. Fender used different serial number schemes for different models and periods, and sometimes the serial numbers can be confusing or misleading. Moreover, the serial number alone does not tell the whole story of when and how the instrument was built. You also need to look at other indicators from the design and components of the instrument, such as the body and neck dates, the potentiometer codes, the pickup and bridge types, and so on.
Therefore, dating a Fender P-Bass requires a combination of clues from various sources, as well as some knowledge of Fender history and evolution. In the following sections, we will guide you through some of the main steps and tips for dating your P-Bass.
How to Date Your P-Bass Using Serial Numbers
The serial number is usually located on the back of the headstock, either on a metal plate or stamped directly into the wood. Sometimes it can also be found on the neck plate or on the bridge. The serial number can give you an approximate idea of when your P-Bass was made, but it is not a definitive indicator. You should always compare it with other clues from the instrument's design and components.
Here is a brief overview of some of the main serial number schemes used by Fender for P-Basses over the years:
In 1951-54, Fender did not use serial numbers for P-Basses. Instead, they used a handwritten date on the heel of the neck or on a penciled date on the body under the pickguard.
In 1954-57, Fender started using serial numbers for P-Basses on a metal plate on the back of the headstock. The numbers ranged from 0001 to 8000.
In 1957-58, Fender changed to a new serial number system that used an \"L\" prefix followed by four or five digits. The numbers ranged from L00001 to L20000.
In 1959-64, Fender continued using the \"L\" prefix serial numbers, but they also added a stamped date on the heel of the neck. The numbers ranged from L20000 to L59000.
In 1965-71, Fender switched to a new serial number system that used an \"S\" prefix followed by five or six digits. The numbers ranged from S100000 to S750000.
In 1972-80, Fender changed to a new serial number system that used an \"S\" prefix followed by seven digits. The numbers ranged from S800000 to S999999.
In 1980-82, Fender used an \"E\" prefix followed by six digits for P-Basses made in Japan. The numbers ranged from E000000 to E999999.
In 1982-84, Fender used an \"E\" prefix followed by four digits for P-Basses made in Japan. The numbers ranged from E1000 to E9999.