Dating fender instruments
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.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.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).
Only about half the guitars still carry any intelligible information here.
April 1973 to 1980: After March 1973, Fender dropped the old style date stamp and continued to use the new style, 8-digit code. 1976 to present: All non-vintage reissue instruments have the serial number printed on the decal on the face of the peghead.
The approximate production year can be determined from this (more about serial numbers will follow).
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.
Since Fender could probably produce more than 999 of any one type instrument in a month, it is more likely a batch or lot number.