Fender Korea

Bill Alston

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. See below
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
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 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

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 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

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...

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