But once again, due to the modular nature of Fender's production methods, and the fact that most serial numbers schemes are not sequential and usually overlap from between 2 to 4 years, (from the early days of Fender, through to the mid 1980s), dating by the serial number is not an exact science.
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.
The new Fender did not acquire any physical assets of the old company, just the name "Fender".
Hence during 1985 to 1987, production of Fender guitars was only done in Japan, while USA Fender created a new factory in California. BUT note that the "E" and "N" series does sometimes appear on "made in Japan" models. In any case, if it says "made in Japan", then it is... Fender has recently (in the last 20 years) introduced LOTS of different serial numbers schemes, depending on the country the Fender was made (USA, Mexico, Japan, Korea, etc). Sorry, since I do not collect new Fenders, I don't really keep track of these things.
If you have what you consider to be a somewhat "odd" serial number, please check the following chart to see if you find your serial number configuration here.
This chart contains If you are unable to place the approximate year of manufacture of your instrument using the above charts, there are a few great books available, which have invaluable information on the history of Fender instruments.(If you are not comfortable performing this operation, please use an experienced professional guitar tech in your area).The serial numbers do not immediately reflect the change, as CBS continued to make instruments using existing, tooling, parts, and serial number schemes.In March 1985, CBS sold Fender to a group of private investors.The serial numbers do not reflect this change - Fender continued to make instruments using existing serial number schemes.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.