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The neck date simply refers to the date that the individual component was produced.
Given the modular nature of Fender's production techniques, an individual neck may have been produced in a given year, placed in the manufacturing warehouse and remained in stock for a period of time, and then subsequently paired with a body to create a complete guitar in the following year.
They are detailed reference resources with a wealth of information for helping to either establish the vintage of your guitar or bass or for just learning more about Fender history in general.
These books are the same resources we refer to here at Fender, when trying to research answers to these same history and dating questions.
In January of 1965, Fender was sold to the CBS Corporation.
The serial numbers do not immediately reflect the change, as CBS continued to make instruments using existing, tooling, parts, and serial number schemes.
The following chart details the Fender serial number schemes used from 1965 to 1976.
While this neck dating is useful in roughly determining the age of a guitar, it is certainly not definitive.The numbers and decals are produced far in advance, and apparently, some N9 decals, (which were supposed to be used in 1999), were affixed to some instruments in 1990.As a result, you will see some 1990 guitars bearing N9 serial numbers.Serial numbers have been used in various locations on Fender instruments through the years.They have been placed at the top of the neck plate, on the front of the headstock, on the back of the headstock, and on the back of the neck near where the neck bolts onto the body.
If you have what you consider to be a somewhat "odd" serial number, please check the following chart to see if you find your serial number configuration here.