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Although Fender began producing Fender and Squier instruments in Korea in 1988, its digital records only go back to mid-1993, with little if any information available on serial numbering from 1988 through 1992.It is accepted that there were serial numbers with and without letter prefixes at that time, but as definitive information is lacking, serial-number dating for Korean instruments made before 1993 is highly uncertain.The letter prefix is followed by an eight-digit number, the first two digits of which identify year of manufacture, (i.e., , , etc.).The remaining six digits are the unit identifier, but they are not sequential and do not provide further identification information about the instrument.This new serialization covered Aria, Aria Pro II, Vantage, Westbury, most Westones, Japanese Washburns, some Electras, and the Skylark as well as others.As far as I know, the Korean version of these labels bear 8 or more digit serials and sometimes the production locaciton code (letter indicating Korea, Phillipines, Indonesia, etc.) which does not concern us here.Attention must be paid to when the particular model was available and apply that to the first digit of the serial, excluding the letter if present. For example, my first Cardinal CS-350 has the serial 2010237 which indicates both by the first digit and the duration of the Cardinal CS-350 run it is a 1982 (and I know it is, I bought it then! In rare instances the first two digits would indicate the year, in which case we can safely assume that my Cardinal is not a 1920!
Serial numbers without letter prefixes have been found dating through 1996; these are six-, seven- and eight-digit serial numbers with the first numeral (or first two numerals in the eight-digit numbers) indicating year of manufacture.
The first digit (and upon rare occasion the first two) indicated the year.
There is an inherent flaw with this single-digit method as the single digit year indicator will re-cycle after a decade!
Early Korean models adopted similar looking serial numbers but were not indicative of the year manufacturered.
Many early Koreans appeared to be nearly identical to the Japanese models with one important thing missing, at least on models with bolt necks and neckplates: "Made In Japan" or "Product of Matsumoku". Other tip-offs to later Korean heritage are bridges with squared-off ends, 3rd fret scarf joint in the neck, Schaller style tuners on models previously equipped with keystone style tuners, smaller potentiometers, and Quck-hook tailpieces with standard stop-bar stud spacing among others.