So, I found a used USA Fender Strat on CList for $600 in natural finish w/ a bridge humbucker and white pickguard. I'm kind of wary of it though, as the headstock doesn't have the serial number listed on it.

Seeing as the necks are bolt on, isn't it very easy to piece together a fake Fender and pass it off as a real one? Just curious about everyone's $.2 on buying used Fenders/
my brother bought a used tele a few weeks ago, the guy said it was an MIJ, but when he brought it home i was just thinking it looked fake as all hell...

the neck was weird, usually they say Made in Japan right above the neck plate, but this one didn't even though it had the fender telecaster logo on the headstock.
It also had a super thick coat of clear poly, which made playing anything fast impossible unless your palms were oiled...

I doubt this'll help you, but i did a bunch of research and found out all the differences from the model it was supposed to be and the what it was and convinced him to take it back, so you might want to do that and find out everything you can about the one youre going to buy, so you can make sure
Exactly what I'm worried about.

I played an older USA Strat this weekend at a jam sesh, and it made me want one real bad. It had a similar neck to my EC-1000 which I love, but with that single coil sound.
Happened to me with a P-Bass I bought. Never again. If I ever buy a used Fender anything again, I will make sure by verifying the different aspects of the guitar, like looking under the pickguard, back plate, etc. There is enough info online that you can find out what you need to know to verify.

"Punk is not dead. Punk will only die when corporations can exploit and mass produce it."
Jello Biafra

(so is it dead?)
Some MIA, MIM Fenders they have the serial on the neck plate.

If there is no serial either on the headstock (front or back) or no serial on the neck plate, then the neck may have been replaced.

I have a general rule, if there is no serial then I don't buy the guitar.
Quote by FatalGear41
In the end, the only question is: what bass would Jesus play?

I think he's a Fender Jazz guy.
fenders can be a bit of a crap shoot. if the serial number isn't on the front or back of the headstock then chances are it's not all original or even a fender at all. yes older models had the serial number on the neck plate but if it's not vintage then that wouldn't be the case (there are always exceptions to every rule of course). if you can't reasonably verify what it is then i say pass.