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Serial numbers are basically chronological, but there is some overlap in some years.
Fender Musical Instruments Corporation entered the picture in the 1950s, when the V. Squier Company began supplying Southern California inventor and businessman Leo Fender with strings for his unusual new electric guitars. Before the Fender Squier line of guitars was introduced in 1982, Fender was making lower priced guitars such as the Fender Lead series at its Fullerton, California plant.
Jerome Bonaparte Squier, a young English immigrant who arrived in Battle Creek, Michigan, in the latter part of the 19th century, was a farmer and shoemaker who had learned the fine European art of violin making. Victor Squier started making his own hand-wound violin strings, and the business grew so quickly that he and his employees improvised a dramatic production increase by converting a treadle sewing machine into a string winder capable of producing 1,000 uniformly high-quality strings per day.
He moved to Boston in 1881, where he built and repaired violins with his son, Victor Carroll Squier. Squier violin strings, banjo strings and guitar strings became well known nationwide and were especially popular among students because of their reasonable price. Squier Company in early 1965, shortly before Fender itself was acquired by CBS in May of the same year.
Leo Fender never intended for his guitars to become collectors items.
He never invisioned a need to pinpoint the manufacturing date of any of his guitars.
Starting sometime in 1976 has the serial number on the headstock but on earlier models the number could be off as much as two years.