Dating a stratocaster
Date format is usually M-D-YY and often features the woodworker’s initials as well.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.Models from this period could have either code system.1972: A new eight-digit neck stamp was introduced colored either green or red. From 1972 to around March 1973, this new system was used simultaneously with the previous “XX MMM-YY W”.Again, either stamp can occur on instruments from this era.A example of this is “02033923” found on a Jazz Bass.The shape, color, style may provide more clues, but you really need to find that serial number.
How to date and identify your Fender instruments using serial numbers and production date stamps.
A few popular books state that the serial numbers re-started with V0000001 when the new Corona, Ca factory opened. If you look at my fullerton inventory, you can see that this is just a broad generality.
From my experience, any serial number below V016000 denotes a guitar made at the fullerton plant (1982-1984).
Of course, there are exceptions to this generalization.
I have come across many guitars with a serial number in the V012000's with a 1982 neckdate.
Search for dating a stratocaster:
Typically the serial number is penciled or stamped on the butt end of the heel of the neck of most guitars and basses.