Dating fender instruments
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.Again, a neck was stamped with either the new or the old date stamp, but not both.The model numbers change yet again (for example, “09”=Stratocaster). April 1973-1980: Fender dropped the old style date stamp after March 1973 and continued with the new 8-digit code.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).