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As seen in the overlap of numbers and years, even these references to actual PRODUCTION DATES are rather loose. The numbers and decals were produced far in advance, and some N9 decals (denoting 1999) were inadvertently affixed to some instruments in 1990.
Consequently, some 1990 guitars bear 1999 “N9” SERIAL NUMBERS. American Deluxe Series instruments use the same dating convention, but with the addition of a “D” in front of the “Z”; i.e., DZ1, DZ2, etc.
The only way to try to narrow the date range of your specific instrument is to remove the neck and check the butt end of the neck heel for a production date, which may be stamped or written there (if you’re uncomfortable doing this yourself, please refer to an experienced professional guitar tech in your area). Serial numbering didn’t change immediately because instruments continued to be made using existing, tooling, parts and serial number schemes.
Only the seven-digit suffixes were actually entered into the database.
The charts below detail the most common Fender serial number schemes from 1976 to the present.
Once again, there is quite a bit of overlap in numbers and years.
instrument production history, PRODUCTION DATES have been applied to various components.
Neck-dating can be useful in determining the was produced, rather than the complete instrument.