Fender Korea

Squier Branded Korean Strats

It isn't initially my intention to cover every Squier Stratocaster made in Korea, this page will be some general info and guitars I think are interesting but may develop further in due course. The definitive website for all things Squier is Squier Wiki

Some General information about woods serial numbers and logos
I have posted this information many times on the Strat forum and one of the reasons for starting this section of my website was to have this readily available, although it is available in various forms elsewhere.

Logo etc Details
Black Logo Made roughly 1992 to 1995 always thin plywood body and poor quality, CN and VN etc
Silver Logos Unless Fender Branded with Small black Squier series these are 80s Guitars. But see below E9
Silver Logo E7 or E10 serial numbers Good quality Young Chang Guitars Alder bodies with Maple top and back
Silver logo E9 S9 or S10 serial numbers Full width ply bodies see E9 debate below
Silver Logo Squier II E9 S9 M1 or J1 logos Thin Plywood body
Gold Logos 1995 onwards various serial numbers all full width Alder Bodies except the Protone which is full width Ash

The E7 and E10 Squier Strats

This is a 62 E10 I think this colour is Torino Red

The E7 and E10 were both made in 1987, some sources suggest the E10 is later but that's wrong. There were 2 models a 57 and a 62 and they were direct replacements for the Japanese models like the ST362 and 357. As always with far Eastern models these are not reissues just similar to 57 and 62 models. Good quality guitars built by Young Chang. I don't think that there is any difference between those with an E7 serial number and those with an E10 except that the E10s were earlier the first Korean Squiers.
The serial numbers on these have a real tendency to fade to invisibility so if you can't easily see the serial number don't be unduly worried.

Model 57 62
Body Alder with Maple Top and Back Alder with Maple Top and Back
Neck Maple soft V Maple C shape
Fretboard Maple 21 Frets 9.5" radius Rosewood 21 Frets 9.5" radius
Tuners Chrome Fender Branded Diecast Gotoh Chrome Fender Branded Diecast Gotoh
Headstock Small with silver logo see pictures Small with silver logo see pictures
Pickups Ceramic Ceramic
Controls Standard Strat White Plastic Standard Strat White Plastic
Nut 42mms 42mms
Hardware Chrome Chrome
Pickguard 8 hole single ply white 11 hole 3 ply white
Colours Arctic White, Black, Torino Red or Lake Placid Blue Arctic White, Black, Torino Red or Lake Placid Blue

The back and front of the headstock with the usual faded serial number

Back of a Blue E10 note the staggered centre holes on the backplate like a real Fender

E10 Routing

Squier Korean Strats E9 serial number debate

Following a post on Strat talk it would appear that there are some E9 serial number guitars with Silver logos and solid bodies my inclination was that these are made by Young Chang but there is good reason to suspect that this isn't the case. Meopz from the forum posted his guitar which is a solid body E9 silver logo headstock picture below.
Chukkernation from the forum also owns one and has posted pictures and posted pictures of an advert for another one.
Two of them seem to be an all Maple neck and board and one has a Rosewood board so like the E7 and E10 there appears to be a 57 and a 62. Some E9s have trap tuners and some have diecast tuners whether the body is solid or not doesn't affect which tuners they have.
The problem with them being Young Chang is that the routing looks completely different to the E7 and E10s and in fact looks quite like the Protone routing suggesting Cort.
Trying to get some pictures of routing on the 89 90 Laminate guitars from anyone to compare.

The Headstock and neck from Meopz's guitar

This is the body of Chukkernation's guitar

Looks very much like an ST357 to me.

Routing comparisons

The E9 solid body black serial number

My Young Chang E10 shown again for convenience

Protone Cort
Pictures can be deceiving but to me the relative size of the neck and bridge routes looks different on the Protone compared to the E9 but that doesn't mean much

1st September 2023 The plot thickens
We have two more pictures of the routing of E9s One is a Squier II kindly supplied by jmdean of the Squier forum and the other a standard laminate E9 Squier supplied by stratmanshow the first is a similar style to the E10 but not the same and the second doesn't look like anything else in this series. So either there are several manufacturers for E9s or the same manufacturer is routing them differently.

Further investigation begins to shine some light on this. I am now certain that some E9s were made by Young Chang this is verified by the presence of the Kenji sticker, which only Young Chang used. These are recognisable by the serial number script which is in a silvery grey colour. Those with the black serial number will be another manufacturer. These are either Cort or Samick routing is so similar to Cort it must be Cort. See pictures below.

So in conclusion
E9 silver grey serial number Young Chang
E9 Solid body black serial number Cort
E9 Laminate probably Samick routing is similar to Samick

The Squier II

Standard E9 laminate body

Samick routing from the time (a piece of wood has been added to the bridge route)

Standard Young Chang Headstock

Young Chang E9

Solid body not Young Chang but Cort or Samick

Cort routing from the mid 90s satisfies me that the Black serial number solid bodies are Cort

Squier Protone Strats

The Sapphire Blue Transparent

Most people will know the story of the Pro tones but just briefly in the mid 90s Joe Carducci became Squier Marketing manager he felt that Squier needed to up it's game as it was losing market share to the many competitors. He decided that the way forward was much better quality options. The Pro tones were born in 1996 well appointed great quality guitars and very good looking. There was an SSS in several colours and finishes (5 in all) and a black HSS fat strat said to be the first time Fender had used the term fat to describe a humbucker. As we all now know these were withdrawn in 1998 because they were too good and sales of Fender branded guitars dropped off because of people buying pro tones.
These guitars were made at the Cort factory.

Body Solid Ash Solid Ash
Neck 1 piece maple 1 piece maple
Fretboard 21 Frets 9.5" radius Maple or Rosewood dependant on colour 22 Frets 12" radius Maple
Headstock Plain (matching on the Oly White) see pictures Black See pictures
Tuners Diecast Gold on the CRT and SBT colour chrome otherwise Gold Diecast
Hardware Gold on the CRT and SBT colour Chrome otherwise Gold
Pickups 3 Alnico Single Coils white or aged covers 2 Alnico Single coils 1 HB black covers
Bridge Vintage style 6 pivot trem Floyd Rose licensed double locking
Controls Standard Strat White or aged 1 volume 1 tone 5 way switch Gold Knurled
Pickguard White shell except as below Black Shell
Colours Crimson Red Trans, Sapphire Blue Trans, Vintage Blonde with Aged Pickguard, 3 colour sunburst or Oly White with red shell pickguard Black

From the top Sunburst, Oly White, Crimson Red Trans, Vintage blonde.

SSS Headstock

The Fat Strat

Mid 90s Korean Squiers a return to quality

Around mid 1995 Korean Strats ceased to be made of Ply or laminate cheaper materials and reverted to solid Alder full sized bodies. Easily identified by the change from Black to Gold Logo. These were initially made by two factories Cort and Saehan, Saehan is also known as Sungham. Those with serial numbers CN and KC are made by Cort and those with KV or VN serial numbers by Saehan. There are published specs for the CN models but it appears that there are not universal to all models made then I am unsure of exactly why and what but here is what I know so far, this will be a work in progress and I will add what I find out as we go along.

Specs Cort CN serial numbers
Body Full width Alder Poly finish
Neck Maple 4 bolt
Board Maple or Rosewood (LH Rosewood only) 9.5" radius 21 Frets very wide 12th Fret markers
Headstock TRA at Head Black Plastic plug Gold Logo Serial Number on Front with Made in Korea 2 wing type string trees
Tuners Hexagonal also known as "Trap" tuners much derided
Pickups Ceramics SSS
Hardware Chrome
Bridge 6 Pivot Sync Trem
Pickguard 3 Ply white 11 Hole
Colours Black, Midnight Blue, Midnight Wine, Arctic White or Sunburst
This is known in the 1996 catalogue as the Standard Stratocaster sometimes known as Standard Stratocaster V4

There is also a HSS model with the same specs except for the pickup configuration and according to the catalogue available only in Midnight Blue and Midnight Wine.

This is the CN serial number standard Strat

Note Skunk Stripe on Rosewood board model and the awful tuners.

KV Models
I think this is the second generation of Squier Standards of this period. Probably replacing the Cort ones who have now moved on to Protones. These are made by the Saehan factory with similar specs to the CN models except that I have seen enough of them with Sealed diecast tuners to believe that these came as standard on some guitars, but I have also seen some with the "trap" tuners. The headstocks are different as the serial number and "crafted in Korea" is on the base of the neck. There appears to be no skunk stripe.

This is a KV model

Below are the backs of two headstocks from KVs 1997/98 it's fairly obvious tuners on both are original

Here's a Left handed one

Again fairly obviously original tuners

Here are some pictures of the innards of a 1997KV from a left handed model owned by Newuser619 of the strat forum

He tells me that this is a 12" radius.

The VN Models
Obviously the VN indicates Saehan again but they differ from the KV but appear to have been made at the same time or perhaps are just the last of a previous series. These have headstocks very like the CN models but I have only seen a couple and they do not have the "trap" tuners but sealed diecast type. I can't find much more information on these

Some Pictures

KC serial numbers
These were in use during this period notably on the Protone range and some other models. I have not been able to find any standard strats using this range.

Update Jan 2021
The most knowledgeable person I know on Squier guitars and particularly on Korean models is a Squier talk member called Roccobagadonuts he has clarified some of the above here are his comments
As far as the tuners go on the KV models the very first units built still came with trap tuners like the VN models they had been making before the KV stuff. So you will see some KV97 models with traps and some with gotoh style tuners. Then pretty much all the KV98 models will have gotoh style tuners. The KV models are pretty much the VN models except they changed the headstock logo and moved serial number to back of neck. Then they eventually changed over to the gotoh style tuners instead of the traps. Beyond that the only difference is colours as they moved from the midnight wine and midnight blue colours to Lake Placid Blue and Candy Apple Red. Beyond that I noticed ya mentioned E7/E10 models as having Fender branded Gotoh tuners. Some also had just Gotoh stamped as well. So you find both types of stamp on those models...

March 2023
Alex has written to me with some comments about the VN and CN models here are his thoughts:
I’ve played many strats in my time, but these MIK Gold Logos seem to have the most comfortable (satin) necks I’ve ever played. I stumbled across a VN6 Gold Logo Strat 10 years ago for £70 (UK). I had no idea what it was (at the time) but the neck was a delight to play. I’ve changed the tuners, electronics and body since, but the neck has stayed. Recently, I found an olympic/vintage white CN6 Gold Logo Strat for £150. Again, a beautiful guitar, BUT the necks are different. The VN6 is a bit more U shaped and the frets seem to be in between vintage tall and medium jumbo. The CN6 has a slightly slimmer but more comfortable neck with vintage tall frets. I believe both have a 9.5” radius. The differences are subtle but after 10years with the VN6, it’s easy to notice. Both bodies are full width and take an import full block tremolo with ease. Before I changed the VN6 body, I sanded it down. It appears to be a 3 piece body
Thanks Alex I suppose it isn't surprising to find that necks from different factories have slight differences.

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