it's serial number doesn't seem to match the pattern on other lists i've seen.
it only 6 digits not 8 like the lists i've found show. If I recall correctly the ones applying the pinstripes were having trouble with applying it around the truss rod cover, and went on to applying the pinstripe behind the cover. Very few early T-40s and T-60s had the pin stripe around the truss rod cover.
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The strange part are the volume and tone knobs - all three are numbered "021857 250K AUD2 35-137". This is of course impossible since the pots weren't made till 9 weeks after the 71 model year ended June 30, 1972.
I can't find any reference to where part #021857 was used on a Fender instrument as opposed to an amp. Since the pot codes date to just past mid 1972, it is likely to be a 72 model made after September of 72.
The lower priced Fender guitars were made in America and could not compete with the lower prices of Japanese made Fender copies.
In the early 1980s, Japanese labor and production costs were much lower than in America and to compete with the Japanese made guitars, Fender moved the lower priced Fender guitar production from America to Japan.
Accurate dating of musical instruments is a very easy and useful skill to learn.
Whether the instrument was found at a yard sale or a museum, there are several signs that can confirm the authenticity of an instrument.
To me it wouldn't make much of a difference, one could always find earlier toaster pickups to return it to original condition.
I like things all original, as do most people buying older guitars.
History Fender, under the ownership of CBS, acquired the Squier brand name in 1965 when it bought a USA based string making firm, but it lay dormant for many years .
Before the Fender Squier series were introduced in 1982, Fender were making lower priced guitars such as the Fender Lead series at their Fullerton California plant.
I have owned this since 1990 and always believed it to be from 1971 or 1972. Or it is a 137 = CTS pot 35 = 35 the week , 2 = 1972Look there; // Info Your guitar was made at the Fullerton Plant (Fender - CBS Era), USAin the Year(s): 1971Some contradiction here but nothing unusual.