Dating your fender bass
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).
1980: Little glued labels with MM-DD-YY date stamps appear in the neck pocket, pickup cavity and/or back of the neck.
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.
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.
A example of this is “02033923” found on a Jazz Bass.
From 1972 through about March 1973, this new system was used concurrently with the previous “XX MMM-YY W” format.For example, let’s take a Stratocaster with the serial number 279515 and the code 22384109B.Starting with the letter B, this is the same neck width code Fender has been using since 1962.1969: 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.