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.
Neck Configuration Codes: 00 = Rosewood fingerboard 01 = Rosewood fingerboard 02 = Maple fingerboard 03 = Maple fingerboard Neck & Body Stamps: WWYD Example: 0304 - Basically the same as the date portion of the nine digit neck stamp although in black ink.
They seem to be found on the bottom of the neck heel, as well as in the neck pocket of the body, or even just stamped on the front under the pickguard on Natural finished guitars.
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.
If a solid paint color was applied to the body it was applied right over the shielding paint which may make it hard to see. Finish: Polyester (Aliphatic Urethane Coating), or "poly" as it's most commonly knows as in the guitar industry, was applied as a sealer/basecoat.
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.