The age of a Fender guitar can be determined in several different ways. One way to gain more information about an unidentified guitar is to examine the headstock logo. Fender has used several variations of their base logo over the decades. By identifying the logo that is present on the headstock, you can gain vital information about any guitar. When identifying vintage Fenders, there are three primary types of logos that should be differentiated.
Identifying the Logo
Check and see if you are dealing with a modern or a vintage guitar. On modern guitars, many of the vintage logos were re-used by Fender in order to add a vintage flair to the instrument. If the guitar is estimated to be more than 30 years old, proceed with logo identification.
Examine the trim of the logo. Note whether the lettering is surrounded by black trim, gold trim or no trim.
Note the color of the writing on the headstock logo. The writing will be either gold, silver or black.
Determine whether the writing is thick or thin. Older logos have a thinner font used in the decal.
Compare your findings to these guidelines.
A Spaghetti logo will have very thin writing. The lettering may be silver or gold, depending on which model of guitar you are trying to identify. The logo lettering will be outlined in black trim. A Spaghetti logo indicates a guitar made roughly between 1954 and 1965.
Transition logos look very much like Spaghetti logos, but the writing is noticeably thicker. Transition Logos indicate guitars made from the end of the Spaghetti period until 1967.
In 1965, CBS acquired Fender. Their new logo for Fender guitars went into use in 1967, and is known as the CBS Logo. CBS logos were used until 1980. They are characterized by thick black writing. There is either no trim, or gold trim around black lettering on a CBS logo.
Silver lettering in a non-Spaghetti style is seen on some modern guitars and is known as the Modern logo. Many other modern period guitars feature reproduction Spaghetti and Transition logos.
Judging the relative thickness of the lettering on the logo can be difficult. If you are not sure if you are looking at a Transition or Spaghetti logo, do a Google Images search for "Fender Spaghetti Logo". You will receive several results that will clearly show how thin the writing is on a true Spaghetti logo.