So, obviously a neck date, while being helpful in providing a date range of production, it cannot be a definitive reference.
Unlike the auto industry which has specific model years for their products, most specifications for a given Fender instrument model, change little if any, through the lifetime of the model.
The Fender Stratocaster is a model of electric guitar designed in 1954 by Leo Fender, Bill Carson, George Fullerton, and Freddie Tavares.
The Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has continuously manufactured the Stratocaster from 1954 to the present.
Seeking to create a guitar with more tonal versatility as well as improved playability and comfort, the trio came up with the Stratocaster.
Adapted from the profile of the P-Bass, its double-cutaway, deeply contoured solid body offered easier access to the higher frets and nestled more comfortably against the player’s body.
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 Fender Stratocaster is among the most iconic electric guitars to have ever been produced, and it’s been a major influence on the sounds of modern music.
Since it’s introduction in 1954, the Strat has been featured on countless recordings, and played by rock, punk, jazz, blues, soul, R&B, and country artists the world over.
The addition of a middle single-coil pickup gave the Strat greater tonal versatility than its Telecaster stablemate’s two-pickup design.