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First four digits are paired up, 09 is the model number for the Stratocaster, and 00 is the neck configuration, in his case a fretted Maple neck with a Rosewood fingerboard. 38 is the week, 9 stands for the year, 1979, and 3 is the day of the week, which is Wednesday.The '*' represents a middle digit that is either an 'X', a '-' or something that resembles a '1/2' or '1/4' fraction.Late 70's Strats have the serial number on the headstock below 'Fender'.The number will have an 'S' prefix (possibly an 'E', read below) followed by a six digit number.The third pair of digits are definately known to refer to the year.In this example the pickups were wound by operator #20 in the 23rd week of 1978.
Pot Codes: MMMYYWW Example: 1377818 - In 1977 found on the side of the pots, moved to the bottom (and unfortunately sometimes covered with solder) in 1978.So, you can't afford that '54 Strat, or that '64, or even that '74 for that matter.Your last chance to own a vintage Fender Stratocaster is with the guitars of the late 1970's.ALOT of "1979" Strats with S9 serial numbers I've recently seen online appear to be from 1980, including the Strat I bought.Body and Neck: All bodies are Ash, and usually a heavy piece.
Some might go by the pot codes, but those could have been stock a year or more old by the time they were put into the newly finished guitar.