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.
So, obviously a neck date, while being helpful in providing a date range of production, it cannot be a definitive reference.
Serial numbers have been used in various locations on Fender instruments through the years.
So, you can't afford that '54 Strat, or that '64, or even that '74 for that matter.
Or perhaps the guitar was even assembled by various parts picked up over the years and is being passed off as "All original".
The JV and SQ guitars, as well as some of the E series, had USA parts (mostly pickups, switches, and potentiometers) that were shipped over to Japan to help speed up production while the new USA plant was being set up in Corona, California.
For instance, many of the MIJ/CIJ Telecasters have the serial number on the bridge and they start with an "A".
Yet if you take the neck off they can be 1994-1997!
The '*' represents a middle digit that is either an 'X', a '-' or something that resembles a '1/2' or '1/4' fraction.
Oddlings – Yet another printing error has surfaced, this time from the FEI (pre-CBS) days.