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Fender 50th anniversary guitar confusion

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Is it a 1996 or 2004? Answer: Both!

This gets weird, but then again, this is Fender we're talking about.

Earlier, I talked about anniversary Jazzmasters. This time I'm talking about anything labeled as a "50th Anniversary" Fender guitar.

Firstly, the cheapest 50th anniversary is a Squier. Note that when you see Classic Vibe models in the listings, that's a 60th anniversary model (from 2014) and not 50th.

When it comes to the Fenders however, what you'll see the most are 1996 and 2004 models. Some are made in USA and some from Japan. The Japan ones are easy to spot because they are ST62 (Stratocaster w/rosewood fingerboard) and TL52 (Telecaster w/maple fingerboard) models. You will also see a sprinkling of Fender Custom Shop guitars in there as well.

Why are there two "50th" model years so far apart?

Forty years from 1996 dates back to 1946 when the Fender company was founded.

Forty years from 2004 dates back to 1954, the first year of the Stratocaster model.

There's your answer.

This also lets you know that all 50th anniversary models from 2004 are Stratocasters only, while 1996 50th anniversary models are Jaguars, Strats and Telecasters for the most part.

And yes, this does mean you could own two 50th Anniversary Stratocasters, one with a rosewood fingerboard, 22 frets, two string guides and a 3-ply pick guard, and the other built 8 years later with a maple fingerboard, 21 frets, single string guide and 1-ply pick guard, and yep, both 50th anniversary models.

Like I said, weird. But true.

Published 2024 Feb 8

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