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1969: A new type of neck stamp of six, seven or eight digits was used on some models. Example: “529129B” (more info on reading there in the “nack stamps” section below.) This new green stamp was used simultaneously with the earlier “XX MMM-YY W” format.Models from this period could have either code system.1954-1959: Same as above, only the format is M-YY, leaving out the day. March 1962 to 1965: Dark blue or red ink stamps below the truss rod adjustment at the neck butt. The “XX” does not refer to the day; it is a code for the neck type (e.g. The “W” stands for neck width: “A” is the narrower, “B” is normal width, and “C” wider and “D”, though rarely seen, is the widest.First half of 1959: No markings for a period after a customer complained about an obscenity written on the neck butt. 1966: the model number (the number stamped on the neck before the month) change (for example, “13”=Stratocaster).Neck dating can be useful in finding the approximate age of your guitar.Since the neck is only a component of the guitar, it could have been produced a number of years before the actual instrument was assembled, hence the date on the neck is not necessarily the production date of the whole guitar.The following three digits, here 384, could be a batch or lot number, or i could be the count for how many of this one instrument that was made within the month.
The approximate production year can be determined from this (more about serial numbers will follow).
Determining the date can also be important from a collector’s perspective, since the pre-1966 vintage Fender guitars are generally considered the most valuable.
Fender was sold to CBS in the first week of January 1965, but already in late 1964 mass production was slowly being introduced, which gradually lowered quality and ultimately collectibility.
From the production of the first solidbody Fender guitars and until 1976, Fender tagged a production date at the butt of the detachable neck of their guitars.
Only about half the guitars still carry any intelligible information here.
It is important to remember that Fender serial numbers are NOT conclusively chronological. Back in the day, Fender made their serial number plates in big batches and the assembler simply grabbed a decal or more from the crate and slapped it on the guitar. To get as close as possible to determining the age of your Fender, make sure to check all dates on both body, neck and pots.