Dating fender japan
The neck date simply refers to the date that the individual component was produced.
Given the modular nature of Fender's production techniques, an individual neck may have been produced in a given year, placed in the manufacturing 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.
As you look at these serial numbers, please note that the same “letter-prefix” on the serial numbers are used for two different sets of dates. AND now Japan as started making the MADE IN JAPAN guitars again and using old serial numbers.
The first being the “Made in Japan” date and the second is the “Crafted in Japan” date. In another 5 years there is going to be sooo much confusion, it will not ne funny!
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.
Serial numbers are also helpful in determining the year of production of a given instrument.
Regarding quailty, I have owned many of both these Japanese guitars and it is a fallacy that the than the Mexican made guitars and rival many of the USA models.
Most notably, production dates have been penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses.
The early series are the most popular for collectors.
Also, some The Japanese serial number can be confusing too.
Most of the “Made in Japan” and the “Crafted in Japan” guitars us a 6 digit number (But not all and excluding the A prefix! A 6 DIGITS 1985-1987, 1997-1998 (Made in Japan) and (Crafted in Japan) This was one of the most confusing serial uber used by Japan.
They placed the "A" on the bridge on the Telecasters and some of them could be as late as 1996 (as in the case with many JD Teles.