MIJ guitars that rival custom shop

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by frankencat, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. frankencat

    frankencat Guitarded Gold Supporting Member

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    I have been intrigued lately about the quality of MIJ guitars and I am curious about the stories I have heard about how they rival custom shop Gibson, Fender etc guitars. Lets hear (and see) some real hands-on experiences. Thanks -Frank
     
  2. Seafoam Green

    Seafoam Green Member

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    I have two doublecut Juniors - a refin 1960 original, and a 1989 MIJ Orville by Gibson.

    The 1960 is clearly a better guitar. It sounds much fatter and simply sings better. It's also a 1960 Gibson Les Paul, which makes it fairly cool by definition.

    BUT.....

    The Orville is utterly smokin'. It's lighter, has a nicer feeling neck, and a nicely aging nitro finish. It doesn't sound as good as the 1960, but it sounds good, and with a nicer Antiquity pickup in it (or something else boutique) it might get even closer. It also cost less than a 5th of what the 1960 cost, and that's only because it's a refin, or it'd be a tenth.

    SO, in this particular example, MIJ utterly rules. I'd happily rock just the Orville, it's a fantastic guitar.

    I've had a couple of Tokai 335s that were also pretty good, but clearly not great, like this Orville is. So, yes, it varies, like anything else, but I'm mightily impressed by the Orville at least.
     
  3. Blue4Now

    Blue4Now Gold Supporting Member

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    Gretsch Pro Line guitars you really cant get much better in terms of quality
     
  4. straycat113

    straycat113 Member

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    Well my two MIJ Fenders are from the 80's 62-reissue and 72 Thinline re-issue when most Fenders on store racks were mainly all MIJ. After the buy back from CBS Bill Schultz and partners were left with no factory and only the name- machinery- left over parts-and Fender Japan which had opened in 82 under CBS but were already doing the re-issue thing. So by the time CBS sold and the Corona factory was built more then 80% of all Fenders sold for about 18 months were imports. I own 30+ guitars and these two still remain my only non US built instruments. Fender Japan has always been held in high esteem though some guys find the pups and electronics inferior. But it is documented that around the time frame I had bought my two Schultz had sent over a load of US parts to Japan to speed up production as my two Tele's are impeccable though my 62-re-issue has been heavily Tricked Out since 91 on my own doing as I wanted more horsepower and it would be in the vein of a Kotzen-John-5 type Tele. My 72 re-issue is totally stock and is the best sounding 72-re-issue I have heard no matter where it was built. It is also the opinion of a bunch of regulars that hangout in the same guitar shop that I do. I really am not up on what Fender Japan has been doing the last 20 years but there is no doubt in my mind that their Master Builders can make a guitar as good as any US Fender Master Builder. I don't know if you know or ever heard of Xhefri pronounced(Jeffry) who is a wiz on the Plus series Fenders to the point Fender FMIC contacts him about the model. But he is also big on MIJ Fenders and has a great website everyone should store in their favorites as he has many cool wiring schematics. Here is his site and it is loaded with info and a ton of pics- http://www.xhefriguitars.com/
     
  5. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    The Gretsch flagship series (6 - prefix, like 6120, 6122, etc) are made at the Terada factory in Japan. They are flawlessly built, finished, and set up. Easily the equal of any guitar made in the USA, and better than some. Very much the equal of the Gibson and Fender custom shops, and the same high level as PRS' core line.

    =K
     
  6. frankencat

    frankencat Guitarded Gold Supporting Member

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    I have owned a Gretsch Pro Line 6128TVP Power Jet and it was nice. I'm not sure it was as nice as my R8 but it was very nice.
     
  7. minorseventh

    minorseventh Member

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    Ive had a couple ESP custom shop Eclipses. No pics on my new PC here, but take my word for it, they were both sublime. The necks and fretwork alone easily rivaled anything built in the USA.
    Unfortunately I feel out of love with the LP shape, wieght, and heel access rather abruptly and just took a BRUTAL beating when I sold the last one. (traded one, sold the other) I got 1/3 of what I what I paid for it. A used custom shop Gibson or Fender would have retained far more value.
     
  8. dazco

    dazco Member

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    I have a new MIJ tele 62 custom. Not sure if it's CS quality, but the build is totally flawless so i guess it is. I'm mean, when everything is perfectly shaped and fitted and the finish looks as perfect as a finish can be, what else can you use to determine it? Now that however doesn't include the pickups, switch and pots. Those are anywhere from serviceable to junk. But $25 for pots/switch and a bill or so for pickups and theres no longer anything to be desired.
     
  9. hackenfort

    hackenfort Supporting Member

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    I have had very good luck with many MIJ guitars, heck back in the day they saved Fender, the MIJ re-issues were about all we could get and once people got over where it was made, they loved them.

    Burny, Tokai, Greco, and others have some very fine guitars, a far cry from the lower end Univox/Ibanez stuff that was imported here in the early 70's While I have fond memories, they were Not high quality.
     
  10. goodwater

    goodwater Member

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    the best MIJ guitars can match or surpass the best USA

    I've been on a Les Paul kick for about 5 years now...I've had a lot come and go...Gibson USA, Gibson Custom Shop, custom builds, a few vintage Jrs. and a handful of MIJs...out of all of them, the one that I've kept was an early 80s Tokai LS-80 Love Rock. I honestly cannot picture a better LP style guitar than it. I've since also acquired a 2011 Tokai '56 Goldtop style and it may be the best playing guitar that I've ever played. I like it so much that I have my '56 Jr on the market (and that's a great guitar)

    I've recently acquired a late 70s Fernandes...it's not the best tele that I've ever had but it's not far from it. The best that I've had (from my tele phase a few years ago) was a Fender Custom Shop Nocaster.
     
  11. shakeshakeshake

    shakeshakeshake Member

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    The nicest sounding, playing and manufactured guitar I ever had was a Edwards Les Paul. It was a nicer guitar than the 3 Gibsons I've owned.
    I think the body, neck is made in China and put together and then those are shipped to ESP in Japan for installation of hardware, paint (maybe?), finishing stuff.
    Really nice wood, nice hardware, attention to detail.
    Even those bolt on LP and SG lawsuit guitars are usually surprisingly good playing and sounding when you find one in a junk store or small music shop.
     
  12. theroan

    theroan Member

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    I just got an Orville Les Paul, I am blown away.
     
  13. rubbersoul

    rubbersoul Member

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    I have 3 MIJ guitars. A 2002 Fender Paisley Telecaster, a 1996 Orville LP Special, and a 1974 Lawsuit Ibanez LP. All are phenomenal guitars and the best I've ever owned. The Orville, in particular, is superb.
     
  14. timsmcm

    timsmcm Member

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    I have two ibanez guitars. An at300 and an am205. Out of the 30 plus guitars that I have owned or own now they are the best fit, finish, and playability out of the box of any of them.
     
  15. vlammie

    vlammie Member

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  16. TeletoneH137

    TeletoneH137 Member

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    I like Epi Elitist series and MIJ Telecasters I have tried.
     
  17. cardinal

    cardinal Member

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    I have an Ibanez J-Custom that's as well built as any Suhr or Tom Anderson I've played or owned.
     
  18. GuitarInnovations

    GuitarInnovations Member

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    One thing worth noting is that not all MIJ knockoffs have nitro finishes.
     
  19. bloomz

    bloomz Member

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    Thank goodness for that.
     
  20. djlynch

    djlynch Supporting Member

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