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Here is what the neck date and body date look like from a 1952 Telecaster: If you're not comfortable removing the neck of a guitar to peek at the date marker, I encourage you to take it to a local tech or luthier.
I will also mention briefly pot-codes as a resource (numbers on the internal potentiometers of the guitar).
Like Henry Ford, part of Leo Fender's genius was in optimizing the company's production efficiency.
His guitars were built en masse by an entire factory, not a single luthier toiling over one instrument at a time.
This period also saw a switch from the orginal four-bolt neckplate of the '60s to a three-bolt neckplate in just one example of cost-saving costs introduced under CBS.In this early period, the serial number can be found on the bridge of the instrument (see image).Here are the rough serial number ranges for the early Esquires and Telecasters: By mid-1954, Fender began using a universal serial number sequence for all its instruments.Perhaps the best place to start when dating your Fender is to get an approximate idea of the era based on the instrument's design and components.This can be a tall order for someone less versed in guitar history, but we do have some resources here on Reverb to help you out.
Starting in 1976, Fender transitioned to a new serial number scheme and moved the placement of most serial numbers to the headstock of the instrument.