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.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.
The following chart details the Fender serial number schemes used from 1950 to 1964.
There is quite a bit of overlap of numbers and years.
The only way to try to narrow the date range of your specific instrument would be to remove the neck and check the butt end of the heel of the neck for a production date, which may be stamped or written there.
instrument production history, production dates have been applied to various components.
Production dates have been penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses.
There were periods of time when this was not consistently done, (between 19), and there are certainly other examples of short periods of time, and individual pieces, where the dating was simply omitted.
Neck dating is useful in determining the age of a guitar, but is not definite.
The neck date simply refers to the date that the neck was produced.
Given the modular nature of Fender's production techniques, a neck may have been produced in one year, placed in a 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.
So, obviously a neck date, while being helpful in providing a date range of production, cannot be a definitive reference.
While there have been periods where dramatic changes have occurred, for example: the transition periods between Leo's Fender and the CBS years, as well as the transition between CBS' Fender and the current ownership, generally speaking, most models are feature specific and do not change from year to year..