Fender Strat: American -vs- Mexican Made

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by guitarman1956, Aug 31, 2008.

  1. guitarman1956

    guitarman1956 Supporting Member

    Aug 29, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    Could someone please educate me on the differences in the two? Lets leave off the part where Americans are more expensive and one says Made in USA and the other says Made in Mexico.

    I need specific examples please.

  2. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2007
    I had a MIM Strat. Absolutely loved it except for the small frets. I'm a fan of Jumbo frets. Other than that it was a great guitar. Lightweight and had a great neck on it.
    Unfortunately, refretting it would have cost a lot more than I payed for the guitar.
  3. rollyfoster

    rollyfoster Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2006
    same parts, assembled in different places. some are better than others on either side of the rio grande.
  4. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2007
    In a van down by the river
    Same parts? No way. I have had a couple of students who owned MIM strats. One was fine, a great guitar for the $. The other was a POS. Wouldn't stay in tune, had it set up by the best guy around, just wasn't right somehow.

    Cheaper stamped metal parts, tuners, bridge, pups all lesser quality than my US strat. Less attention to fretwork, etc. However, the bodies, and necks were very nice. I was amazed at the better of the two. I think with a change of tuners, pups, and a little fretwork, MIM strats can be pretty darned close. However, there is a reason why they are a few hundred less.
  5. teleman1952

    teleman1952 Member

    Aug 26, 2007
    Fender takes short cuts in the machining of the MIM Strats. If you have a chance to compare a US and MIM strat look at the neck pocket, pickup routings, and control routing. Also the pots, pickups, and trem aren't the same quality of the US strat. By the time you are done upgrading a MIM strat you'll end up paying the price of a US strat and you will still have the the lesser quality machined parts.
  6. s2khawk

    s2khawk Member

    Oct 14, 2006
    dropped to 3rd drunkest city in US
    I've heard some great MIM strats for the buck, but I've also seen what a HUGE difference great pups, pots and bridge can make. I drop $350 on those critical parts on all my strats and would have to do the same if I got a MIM, so the price balance gets a hell of a lot closer but I think I'd rather grab a MIM, dial it in, have a total of $800 (which includes a visit to my tech for full pro steup) and I'd have a strat that would make anyone smile.
  7. John Hurtt

    John Hurtt Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2002
    Northern California
    Fender cuts the wood in Corona, CA for both. Three piece bodies and less normally go to the USA builds, MIM gets more laminated pieces. Different electrical components including p/u's, paint processes likely different, etc. Different hardware, cases vs. gigbags, etc.
  8. Think Floyd

    Think Floyd Member

    Jun 24, 2008
    Eastern PA
    Except for certain MIM models, the MIM Standard and MIA Standard have different nut widths.

  9. Pietro

    Pietro 2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy

    Feb 17, 2007
    Maineville, OH
    Some of the higher-end Mexi Fenders are just awesome. The world is getting very flat indeed. I have seen a LOT of these, and I don't see a big difference in the neck pocket, and I don't see a big difference in the hardware except on the very cheapest guitars. I remember the first mexi strats (we called 'em mexi-cali strats, because the pieces were made in one place and assembled in another), we sold 'em at Veneman's in the early 90s for 300 bucks. Interestingly enough, they didn't have any "made in ........." marking at all. I'm sure that's not totally legal though.

    I wouldn't let MIM scare me away from a guitar I loved.
  10. indytruckboy

    indytruckboy Member

    Mar 21, 2006
    Reading, PA
    I gotta say, some of you CS/MIA guys around here make me think twice about MIM. I have always played MIMs. But then I read more threads here and it makes me think my MIMs are poop. Even though they have played great for me.
    Then again, I detest "relic'ed" guitars, and a handful of you think they are the best.
    So I have been 'shopping' on a new Fender unit as I haven't had one in the stable for a year or so, and I am missing it.
    So I decided to make my own since there isn't one that suits my need. Hunting parts cheap on eBay. Highway1 body, whatever rosewood neck, my choice pickups and hardware/wiring.
  11. acwild

    acwild Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Hillsborough, NJ
    There's also a lot of details that are different. For instance, an AmDlx has
    22 vs 21 frets.
    Highly polished frets
    Two-point trem
    Carved neck heel
    Barrel String tree
    S-1 Switching
    Locking tuners
    Rolled fretboard
    Abalone inlays
    Tone knob tied to bridge pickup and mid.
    5-way switch (although I'm not sure if the MiMs have them as well).
  12. Blue4Now

    Blue4Now Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    There is a huge differenec in the $399 MIM Standard models which are way more hit and miss and have multi peice bodies with veneers, and the higher end MIM models like the Classic 60's amd 50's and the Classic Player's series. These are incredible guitars and a very good value. My Classic 60's strat is a 2 peice solid alder body with a beautiful three tone suburst finish that looks better than most MIA strats. Fit and finish is PERFECT. Neck joint so tight yo can remove the screws and it won't come out easily. It's light at 7.6 lbs and man in sounds great. I traded in my MIA Strat for this becuase I realized that I like vintage features on Strats and other than spening 1500 for a AV Reissue 62, this was my only other choice. I am very happy.
  13. edward

    edward Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    And bridge widths.
    And, as already mentioned, diffs in hardware and electronics; and wood (as in number of pieces and aesthetics); and overall attention to finish details.

    None of which means the MIM is "inferior" as most here (incl myself) own or have played both and can attest to MIA dogs and MIM greats. That said, the aforementioned reasons are what separate the MIAs from the MIMs ...only you can draw your own conclusion as to which is better :)

  14. zenfreud

    zenfreud Member

    Mar 20, 2002
    Portland OR
    The tuners on my MIM Standard Strat are kind of weak, they have a fair amount of slop, I'm planning on replacing mine. Also, the trem block on my Strat is skinny, has less mass than a MIA Strat. Can't say how much it affects the tone, but I don't think I'll bother switching it.

    As for the MIM frets being smaller, that's not the case with mine. They're pretty substantial (at least compared to the vintage frets on my MIA Strat), I think they're medium jumbo.

    Today I played a number of new Strats and the only one that felt significantly more polished/refined than my MIM Strat was a MIA John Mayer version, was damn nice. An American Standard and American Deluxe were both solid guitars, but I can't say they felt significantly different (or better) than the MIM Strats I also played (Standard, Road House, Lone Star, Classic Player 60's and Jimmy Vaughn).
  15. Troubleman

    Troubleman Silver Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2006
    Remulon V Beta Colony

    *With the exception of a couple Fender "Special Limited Edition" models that are no longer made, that's absolutely incorrect..
  16. BarkingTree

    BarkingTree Member

    Jul 26, 2008
    I owned a mexi standard it was inferior. Now the classic mexis are a different animal and priced within 300 of the AmST.

    American guitars have.
    Better fret leveling, rolled edges.
    Gloss front, satin back better ,feeling hardrock maple.
    Better finish and graining
    2 to 3 piece body mine is a 2.
    Better bridge although not a callaham by any means.
    Better pickups.
    Better sound.
    Better resale value
    Better case...The SKB is a great value.
    All IMO..of course.
    I ordered the american after I found my mexi neck had a valley in it.

    Not saying this is the case across the board but..Why gamble if
    you need one go to strat.
  17. jtm622

    jtm622 Member

    Sep 24, 2007
    Texas, USA
  18. HammyD

    HammyD Member

    Dec 1, 2002
    South Carolina
    I recently bought a Robert Cray which was made in Mexico and has the 60th aniversary emblem on the back of the headstock.I have two friends with American Deluxe Strats and they like the Cray.

    I see nothing slip shod or sloppy about this particular guitar but have played a '57 Reissue and a '62 Reissue, both of which were not as nice as the Cray. I got it "as new" with case candy and gig bag for $450.

    Maybe the specs are different on this model?

    Color: 3 Color Sunburst
    Body: Alder
    Neck: Maple, '61 "C" Shape, (Polyurethane Finish)
    Fingerboard: Rosewood, 9.5" Radius (241mm)
    No. of Frets: 21 Medium Jumbo Frets
    Pickups: 3 Custom Vintage Strat Single-Coil Pickups
    Controls: Master Volume, Tone 1. (Neck Pickup), Tone 2. (Middle Pickup)
    Pickup Switching: 5-Position Blade:
    Bridge: American Vintage Strat Strings-Through-Body Hardtail Bridge
    Machine Heads: Fender/Ping Vintage Style Tuning Machines
    Hardware: Chrome
    Pickguard: 3-Ply White
    Scale Length: 25.5"
    Width at Nut: 1.650"
    Robert Cray Signature on Headstock,
    Hard-Tail Bridge,
    White Plastic Parts,
    '61 "C" Shape Neck,
    9.5" Fingerboard Radius,
    White Dot Position Inlays
    Strings: Fender Super 250R, Nickel Plated Steel,
    Accessories: Deluxe Gig Bag
  19. TGF

    TGF Member

    Aug 6, 2008
    I have a MIM from 2002 or 2003. I also have a MIA SRV Sig from 2007. The MIM is hollow-sounding in a bad way and barely playable, despite a recent setup. It's probably made of a truckload of different pieces of wood. My SRV Sig is a beautiful 2 piece Alder though, although as far as I see it, the bridge is the same on both of them

    JUSTJOB Member

    Oct 13, 2006
    Many of the differences have already been pointed out, and there are many differences, not to mention this subject has been beat to death:horse
    I will also add that the Mexican Fender versions are encapsulated in and indestructable thick bomb-proof polyester. They feel like plastic, but finishing them this way saves them some hand sanding time. Also, they do not come with a case, and their Fender American made counterparts come with nice cases. If you just take out a calculator and start adding the cost to upgrade the Mex Strats to their American counterparts you can quite easily exceed the price of the American built Strat.
    Overall the American made Strats are much nicer to me with better hardware and attention to detail. If you are a detail person you will very quickly know the difference in the quality of both. If an aspiring musician cannot afford to get an American built Fender then the Mex versions can be a great value. Even Squire can offer a decent value as well. I am not saying the Mexican built ones are bad, some are very nice with a little work, but again to me the better value is in the American Strat lineup. You are free to disagree YMMV.:argue
    Just bring what you play, and play what you brung, and don't worry about where it is made. If it makes you happy then play it. There is no reason the origin of an instrument should divide good musicians.:cool:

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice