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So, obviously a neck date, while being helpful in providing a date range of production, it cannot be a definitive reference.Unlike the auto industry which has specific model years for their products, most specifications for a given Fender instrument model, change little if any, through the lifetime of the model.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.The American Deluxe Series instruments use the same dating convention but with the addition of a "D" in front of the "Z", i.e. Once again, and as always, there is typically some overlap and carryover of number prefixes from year to year.The following serial numbers are somewhat outside the more, well known Fender serial number schemes.
The serial numbers do not immediately reflect the change, as CBS continued to make instruments using existing, tooling, parts, and serial number schemes.
With the year 2000 came the introduction of the "Z" prefix serial numbers on US made instruments, which stood for the 0 of the new millennium.
A Z0 prefix dates to 2000, a Z1 prefix dates to 2001 etcetera.
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.The following charts detail the most common Fender serial number schemes used from 1976 to the present.Please note the introduction of the "S" prefix serial numbers.They were stamped on the back vibrato cover plate (early '50s Strats), and on the bridge plate between the pickup and the saddles on some Telecasters.