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So how do you properly determine the year of production?

Back in the 1950's and 60's no one at Fender at any clue that one day these instruments would be highly sought after collector's items or coveted vintage tone machines and that people would be so concerned about when any particular bass was made.

A small aluminum shielding plate is installed underneath the pickguard that covers the control cavity. Also available without tremolo (known as a "hardtail" model). 1958 Stratocaster : Sunburst finish changed to three colors (red added).

1959-1964 style Stratocaster Mid 1959 Statocaster : Slab Rosewood fingerboard with white "clay" position dots.

Instead of adding another digit on to his 5-digit ID numbers, Leo decided to add an "L presumably for his first initial, in front of the serial numbers and start. The letter (3rd position) is the month; March (see chart.) The final four numbers are the unit number; 13.