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Old September 22nd, 2009, 08:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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USA Strat vs. Mexico Strat

New to this site, and playing guitar in general, so if this subject has been beat to death, sorry. What is the difference between the USA model and MIM, other than the obvious and about +/- $700 in the used market? What kind of quality issues are there and differences in parts, etc?

I was trying to find an "apples to apples" comparison. If anyone wants to jump in or add a link, I would appreciate it. Looking for my first electric, and I cant see any other reason to buy anything else other than a Fender. Price point is not much of an issue for me, not that I've got stacks, but I don't mind spending more money for something of better quality (regardless of my inability to play). Plus, price is what you pay, value is what you get. A little collector value doesnt hurt either.

Thanks!

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Old September 22nd, 2009, 08:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by VAByrd View Post
New to this site, and playing guitar in general, so if this subject has been beat to death, sorry. What is the difference between the USA model and MIM, other than the obvious and about +/- $700 in the used market? What kind of quality issues are there and differences in parts, etc?

I was trying to find an "apples to apples" comparison. If anyone wants to jump in or add a link, I would appreciate it. Looking for my first electric, and I cant see any other reason to buy anything else other than a Fender. Price point is not much of an issue for me, not that I've got stacks, but I don't mind spending more money for something of better quality (regardless of my inability to play). Plus, price is what you pay, value is what you get. A little collector value doesnt hurt either.

Thanks!
Hey you get what you pay for. New Fenders are all awesome. You cant go wrong no matter which one you choose. You get upgraded parts on US models. And more choices in finishes.
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 08:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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It depends which specific models you are comparing.I own a few Mexican and U.S. strats and I find them all to be great guitars.The Mexican classic player 50s and 60s models are fantastic.They are custom shop designed.The workmanship is really nice,the wood is nicely contoured and playablity is great.The pickups are U.S. made and are also used in various U.S. made models so tonally these are the same quality.My favourite Mexican strats however are the Roadworn series.These really feel like older guitars with a wonderful woody resonance.After playing and sweating on thse for a few months,it is getting hard to tell the difference between these and a genuine vintage model.The U.S. models are really great too though not so much a superior guitar in my opinion...noy for the extra money anyways.Try a few out and determine which one suits your needs most.It's all about finding one that has a great vibe.I've learned not to judge a guitar by it's country of origin or price but rather on how it inspires me to play.
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 09:04 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hey you get what you pay for. New Fenders are all awesome. You cant go wrong no matter which one you choose. You get upgraded parts on US models. And more choices in finishes.
That's what I was wondering about, which parts were better and different if at all, again, not that it makes much difference for me. Just curious. As far as colors go, you mean there is something other than sunburst? That's about the only thing I'm sure of as far as what I want....
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 09:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That's what I was wondering about, which parts were better and different if at all, again, not that it makes much difference for me. Just curious. As far as colors go, you mean there is something other than sunburst? That's about the only thing I'm sure of as far as what I want....
Well the choices of hardwood makes a sunburst finish !
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 09:39 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Well the choices of hardwood makes a sunburst finish !
Now that sounds like some of the juicy stuff I was interested in. My guess is that Alder is preferred over Ash when it comes to sunburst?? Or do I even know what Im talking about?????
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 09:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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I actually prefer ash over alder for sunburst finishes (for the grain pattern). It's all very subjective. I too own MIM and MIA and MIJ strats; all have their strong points and weaknesses (all of which can be modded-up!). I find the best necks are the MIA; by best, I am talking nuts, fret-ends, rolled edges etc. They seem more consistantly good than MIM and MIJ. The CP series from Mexico are highly thought of along with the Jimmy Vaughan series. Most electronics in MIJ are their weak point as well as the pups. Finishes are good with all three, more options with MIA and MIJ. (from what I have seen). I really think it comes down to if the guitar works for you tone-wise and playability; then it really doesn't matter where it's made!! My most played strat lately has been the Chinese-made Squier CV60's.........
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 10:12 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Usa is always better because better pickups and stuff but cant also go wrong with the mexico but better buy the highway one becuse its just 699 USD the orignal price is around 1200 better get that I love the highway one
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 10:23 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Check out the MIM before you dump the money on an American. These new MIM are excellent guitars.
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 10:30 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Check out the Highway 1 ....

The one I have is perfect craftmanship and i think the price is very low for them

lately
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 10:33 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I also have the HW1, just purchased 2 months ago. They are excellent indeed. The pickups are great too, no need to change them. Great Strat tone.
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 11:13 AM   #12 (permalink)
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new to guitar in general? Don't know how to play yet? Don't worry so much about the quality of the guitar. Buy one of the nicer Squier models,get it professionally setup, buy a decent small amp and then spend the rest of the $1200 or so that you would spend on a MIA strat on lessons.
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 11:16 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I have both MIM and USA and i love them both equally. I bought my MIM brand new in 1998 and it has been everywehre, on the road, in the studio and in the home and its still going strong and i have had zero problems with it other than the odd Intonation adjustment which is to be expected, Its very worn in an plays and sounds beautiful.

The USA i bought in Feb this year and its a great guitar, It sounds great, looks great and feels great. I have to say tho, i pick up my MIM more than i do the USA but i think thats down to me owning it for so long and becoming very attached to it.

MIM Top
USA Bottom
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USA Strat vs. Mexico Strat-mim.jpg  USA Strat vs. Mexico Strat-usa.jpg  
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 11:45 AM   #14 (permalink)
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new to guitar in general? Don't know how to play yet? Don't worry so much about the quality of the guitar. Buy one of the nicer Squier models,get it professionally setup, buy a decent small amp and then spend the rest of the $1200 or so that you would spend on a MIA strat on lessons.
I dont agree with this completely. I recommend you find someone (a friend, NOT a salesman) who knows guitars. Talk to them about what you listen to. What you want to learn to play. At this stage you DONT need the best guitar out there. That much is true. But if you get the cheapest guitar you can find, you will make the learning process less fun. The less you practice, the harder the whole thing is.

I had a riding mentor that told us to buy the most expensive helmet we could afford. The reason is that if the helmet is nicer, we are more willing to put it on and have our heads protected, even on a sweltering summer day.

You could say the same for running a marathon. If you buy low end shoes, you can still run the race, but if your feet hurt, then thats just one more degree of difficulty that you didnt need.

Ive got a quote from Jimi Hendrix on learning...: @You have to stick with it. Sometimes you are going to be so frustrated you want to give up the guitar. Youll hate the guitar. But all of this is just a part of learning, because if you stick with it, youre going to be rewarded. - From The Stratocaster Chronicles by Tom Wheeler.

A bad guitar will make it easier to quit. Thats no good for anyone. IMO the key thing is to learn what components you need. Find a guitar that has those things. Let the rest come down to what you WANT. From there aint nothin left but to practice!
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 12:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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...A bad guitar will make it easier to quit...
True, for some...for those who are committed to playing, it will make them really appreciate the benefits of a better guitar. But no one's suggesting that the OP buy a "bad" guitar, just a decent Squier with a good setup...this makes a lot of sense to me. Then, while learning, play as many different models as possible, until you find what suits.

That said, if you have the disposable income and are pretty sure that you're going to stick with it, I wouldn't discourage anyone from buying the best guitar he can afford.

I bought my first guitar, a $40 Hofner with flatwound strings, from a pawn shop at age 13. I learned the basics on that Hofner, and learned about guitars at the same time, and moved on from there.

Of course, there was no internet then, so I didn't know that I should switch out the pickups, roll the fretboard edges, upgrade the bridge saddles, refinish with nitro and change the capacitors before I learned to play a lick...
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 12:41 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I'm loving my MIM classic 60's, but for a beginner the Highway ones may be good. Nice big frets, plus the awesome (or tacky) headstock is nice for aesthetics. If you can, buy one you can play first. No model guarantees you a great guitar, there's plenty of lemons in the orange tree (Fruit Analogy's FTW)
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 12:42 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Here's my suggestion:

Fender MIM Deluxe Player
~ Loaded with 3 vintage noiseless single coil pickups
~ 7 different sounds instead of normal 5 sounds
~ Gold plated vintage hardwares
~ Great value for money & combines modern and vintage specs!
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 12:43 PM   #18 (permalink)
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there's plenty of lemons in the orange tree (Fruit Analogy's FTW)
Thats a great way to put it
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 12:53 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Kuroyama, he didn't say buy a cheap guitar but a top of the line Squier. A guitar at the $350 price point is not really "cheap" but inexpensive, and the Squier Classic Vibes are especially nice, not only for the price, but nice regardless. If I had CV back when I got started I probably would have never bought another guitar.

I agree that a Good amp figures more into the equation than a guitar, but like a Kuroyama said, a bad guitar will make you not be interested in playing.

To me the big distinction between Mexican, Japanese, and American models is price point. If you compare guitars in similar price points i.e. American Standard, MIM Classic Player 60s, and The Japanese Reissues with MIA pickups, there really isn't that great of difference in quality.

The American and Japanese models tend to be more consistent in their Qc than the MIM models, but any factory can go awry at anytime so I'd take that assertion with a grain of salt. I have owned something like 20 guitars, and maybe about 10 different strats. I have had a couple of American, japanese, korean, and mexican strats. Some were greater than others, but the Americans weren't always head and shoulders above the others. My MIM CP 60s was better to me than the American standard, and my JM strat was better than the CP.

The best advice I can give you is to play them all and buy the one that speaks to you
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Old September 22nd, 2009, 02:12 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Man, lots of good info..... Granted I'm not much of a player, but I would rather own something of value rather than a something I'll hate in 6 mos. I guess for comparison, you can buy a Remington 870 at Wal-mart for $250. It goes boom, but what a load of junk. I'd rather buy an older used model that has better wood and metal than that new mess they sell now. So any "gun" guys here get where I'm coming from. My current guitar is a Washburn D-10. No Martin by any stretch, but decent as far as I'm concerned. I thought for a solid top it was a good deal and I like the way it plays and sounds.

Sounds like quality may not be as big of an issue as I thought it would be. Clearly Fender is making guitars in Mexico to be at a certain price point, but it doesnt sound like there are many complaints. As for those Highway Ones, and Squiers, haven't really looked at them yet.
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