Dating a fender stratocaster guitar
manufactured* difference in the "MADE In Japan" Fenders, and the "CRAFTED In Japan" Fender guitars.
For example: a "MADE" In Japan guitar having a serial number starting with the letter "A," would have been made in 1985 or 1986.
The System III tremolo system was designed by John Page, Dan Smith, Charlie Gressett and John Carruthers. Sometimes parts of the tremolo system are lost and one common modification is to make the bridge function as a hardtail by locking the bridge into a non movable position and installing a string tree for the first and second strings so that the strings don't slip out of the nut slots.
A great place to start in verifying this for yourself is... You'll notice on their "DATING JAPANESE MADE FENDER INSTRUMENTS" page, they start with the "MADE In Japan" serial numbers.
When CBS sold Fender to its current owners in 1984 there was a transitional period from 1984 to 1987 with limited Fender USA production resulting in mostly Fender Japan and leftover stock being sold.
There are also Fender Contemporary Telecaster models with HSS or HH pickup configurations and switches for selecting pickup options.
The System II and III tremolo systems use a height adjustable locking nut.
The System II tremolo system was designed by John Page, Chip Todd and Charlie Gressett.