Fender tele dating
The following chart details the Fender serial number schemes used from 1965 to 1976.
You will notice that there is quite a bit of overlap of both numbers and years.
The only thing more famous than the Fender name are their guitars.
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.
As you can see by the overlaps of numbers and years, the reference to the actual production date is rather loose. The serial numbers do not reflect the change, as Fender continued to make instruments using existing tooling, parts, and serial number schemes.
With 1990 came the introduction of the "N" prefix serial numbers, which stood for the 1990s.
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.
The American Deluxe Series instruments use the same dating convention but with the addition of a "D" in front of the "Z", i.e. Once again, and as always, there is typically some overlap and carryover of number prefixes from year to year.