Dating a japanese fender stratocaster
As you can see by the overlaps of numbers and years, the reference to the actual production date is rather loose. 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.
If you have serious interest in learning about the history of Fender instruments, or if you just want to try to establish the year of production of your own axe, we would highly recommend that you pick up one or more of the following books.
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.
Most notably, production dates have been penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses.
instrument production history, production dates have been applied to various components.
The neck date simply refers to the date that the individual component was produced.