## How Old is My Korean Fender Guitar?

Contents

Just like many other companies in the late 1980s, Fender decided to start manufacturing products in Korea. As with any new product line, Fender came up with a new numbering system for these guitars. You would think after nearly 40 years of producing guitars, Fender would have a standardized serial number system down by now, right? Well, they didn’t.

The **Korean Fender serial numbers** are just as scattered and confusing as all the rest of their guitars. Let’s take a look at the different serial numbers and see what they mean.

## 1988 – 1993 Korean Squier Fender Serial Numbers

Fender began producing Korean guitars in 1988, but they didn’t keep digital records of any guitar serial numbers before mid-1993. Fender admits that there is little to no information about the serial numbers from 1988-1993. Some of the serial numbers have lettered prefixes and some don’t.

What we do know about the early Korean days was that there were three different plants: the Samick pant, the Young Chang plant, and the Sung-Eum plant. Guitars produced by Samick used a serial number starting with an “S” followed by six digits. Usually the first digit represented the year of production. The Young Chang and Sung-Eum guitars used a serial number starting with an “E” followed by six digits. The first number on the “E” serial numbers is a little confusing. It does stand for the year of production in a way. The first year Young Chang produced guitars with in 1987-1988, but they didn’t use a “7” or an “8” as the first number. They used a “1” because it was the first year of production. An “E2” serial number was then used for 1989 since it was the second year of production. At this point, they decided to start corresponding the serial number with the actual year, so in 1990 they used an “E0” serial number. In 1991, they reused an “E1” serial number. It doesn’t get more confusing than that, right? Here’s how to tell the duplicate serial numbers apart. The 1980s guitars’ serial numbers were written in silver ink. The 1990s numbers were written in black.

Some early Korean serial numbers didn’t have a lettered serial number at all. They just had six, seven, or eight digits with the first number representing the year. Some of these no prefix serial numbers have been found on guitars produced all the way through 1996. Fender did some crazy stuff back then. Korean serial numbers starting with “M” are said to actually be made out of plywood. Watch out for these! Here’s a reference for the first few years.

Numbers | Years |
---|---|

6 Digits | 1988 – 1996 |

7 Digits | 1988 – 1996 |

8 Digits | 1988 – 1996 |

E1 + 6 Digits in Silver | 1987 – 1988 |

E2 + 6 Digits in Silver | 1988 – 1989 |

E0 + 6 Digits in Black | 1989 – 1990 |

E1 + 6 Digits in Black | 1991 – 1992 |

E2 + 6 Digits in Black | 1992 – 1993 |

E3 + 6 Digits in Black | 1993 – 1994 |

S9 + 6 Digits | 1989 – 1990 |

S0 + 6 Digits | 1990 – 1991 |

S1 + 6 Digits | 1991 – 1992 |

S2 + 6 Digits | 1992 – 1993 |

S3 + 6 Digits | 1993 – 1994 |

## 1993 – 1997 Korean Squier Fender Serial Numbers

After 1993, Fender really cleaned up their serial number process. They switched to two different plants: the Cor-Tek or Cort plant and the Saehan or Sunghan plant. Since Fender was using new plants to build their guitars, they decided the change the numbering system again, but this time they changed it to something more like the American guitars. Both the Cort and Sungham plants used unique numbers. All Cort serial numbers started with the letter “C”. You would assume Sungham would use the letter “S”, but that was already taken by the Samick plant a few years earlier. Sungham ended up using the letter “V”. Both of these serial numbers used an “N” to represent the 1990s followed by a number that stood for the exact year. This is similar to the American Fender serial numbers. So a guitar produced by Cort in 1992 would have a serial number of CN2 followed by five digits. Sungham guitars would be the same only starting with a “V”. These serial numbers were used until 1997 when Fender stopped producing guitars at the Sungham factory.

Numbers | Years |
---|---|

CN0 + 5 Digits | 1990 – 1991 |

CN1 + 5 Digits | 1991 – 1992 |

CN2 + 5 Digits | 1992 – 1993 |

CN3 + 5 Digits | 1993 – 1994 |

CN4 + 5 Digits | 1994 – 1995 |

CN5 + 5 Digits | 1995 – 1996 |

CN6 + 5 Digits | 1996 – 1997 |

VN0 + 5 Digits | 1990 – 1991 |

VN1 + 5 Digits | 1991 – 1992 |

VN2 + 5 Digits | 1992 – 1993 |

VN3 + 5 Digits | 1993 – 1994 |

VN4 + 5 Digits | 1994 – 1995 |

VN5 + 5 Digits | 1995 – 1996 |

VN6 + 5 Digits | 1996 – 1997 |

## 1997 – present Korean Squier Fender Serial Numbers

Since all guitar production was moved to the Cort factory, Fender decided to change its numbering system again. Starting in 1997, the Korean Fender Squiers used a “KC” prefix that stood for Korean made in the Cort factory. The 1997-1998 serial numbers were a little messed up. Fender used “KC97” to represent 1997 and followed this prefix with six, seven, and eight digits. From 1998 on, Fender used the “KC” prefix followed by a two-digit year identifier and six digits.

Numbers | Years |
---|---|

KC97 + 6 Digits | 1997 – 1998 |

KC97 + 7 Digits | 1997 – 1998 |

KC97 + 8 Digits | 1997 – 1998 |

KC98 + 6 Digits | 1998 – 1999 |

KC99 + 6 Digits | 1999 – 2000 |

KC00 + 6 Digits | 2000 – 2001 |

KC01 + 6 Digits | 2001 – 2002 |

KC02 + 6 Digits | 2002 – 2003 |

KC03 + 6 Digits | 2003 – 2004 |

KC04 + 6 Digits | 2004 – 2005 |

KC05 + 6 Digits | 2005 – 2006 |

KC06 + 6 Digits | 2006 – 2007 |

KC07 + 6 Digits | 2007 – 2008 |

KC08 + 6 Digits | 2008 – 2009 |

KC09 + 6 Digits | 2009 – 2010 |

KC10 + 6 Digits | 2010 – 2011 |

KC11 + 6 Digits | 2011 – 2012 |

KC12 + 6 Digits | 2012 – 2013 |

KC13 + 6 Digits | 2013 – 2014 |

As you can see, the Korean made Fender Squier serial numbers are no less confusing than any of the other guitars. In some ways, it helps to know the story behind the numbers to understand their meaning. I hope this article helped you figure out how old your Korean Fender guitar is. That’s enough looking at numbers. It’s time to get back to playing!

You can also find more information on the Fender site.

Hi, nice write up, but I own a Sungham made Squire Precision bass and its

serial number starts with VN7 with 5 digits while your chart only goes up VN6.

I’d be happy to send you a pic of it if you like!

John Tara,

I’m going to guess that this article is incomplete, as the early series (before the Cor-Tek exclusive contract) MIK Fender’s were made all the way until the end of 1998. So yes you do have a correctly marked VN7 (made in 1997). I’ve had several VN7’s, mostly the wonderful Pro Tone models that Saehan (aka Sungham) made including a fantastic translucent cream Squire Stratocaster “Pro Tone” I own myself, and it’s a VN7 xxxxxx. I’d put that 97 Pro Tone up against any late 60’s and 70’s home grown Fender Strat any day and it would sound better.

I am a Guitar and Mandolin Luthier in So Cal and worked for Fender in Fullerton and Corona factories from 1970 – 2000. I specialize in restorations / repairs of Vintage instruments and customs.

I have a Fenix Stratocaster in metal blue with a Fenderlike headstock. There is a number E738808 (and C.Y) on the neckplate with the 4 srews. Please can you tell me when and where this guitar was build?

I have a Fender Newporter that has front side headstock markings that look korean. There is nothing on the back of the headstock and there are no country of origin markings either on the label or elsewhere (I’ve check the truss rod heel as well). Mine is 32221XX the leading one might be a 5 and I’ve Xd out the last two digits. There is a hand-written “VVW 88” on the label. I’m very sure it’s a korean Newporter. It is solid mahogany, not ply and very nicely book matched, even both sides. It plays very well, and I have to keep “rescuing” it from teachers at my guitar store.