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California Series Strats

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by MikeinMaryland, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. MikeinMaryland

    MikeinMaryland Strat-Talk Member

    43
    Mar 28, 2015
    Maryland
    Hi everyone, I noticed some of these 90s era strats up for sale and they look interesting - some great vintage colors and specs. I gather that these were partly MIM and partly MIA, and most came with Tex Mex picksups. I also heard that they stopped making them as they were to some extent cannibalizing the Standards (and even vintage reissues) that Fender was making at the time. Anyway, I see a couple of used ones that I may be interested in and was hoping to hear from folks who own/owned one and/or know anything about their playability, tone, etc... How risky would it be to buy one of these without a try-out compared to say a more recent American Standard? Thanks, Mike
     

  2. John C

    John C Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 17, 2012
    Kansas City
    I do vaguely remember these - essentially Fender's first attempt to put something in their product lineup between the MIM models and the American Standards.

    You are correct - they were transported back-and-forth between the Corona (USA) and Ensenada (MIM) factories during production. I think they were USA wood selection/rough milling, sent to Ensenada for final sanding and painting, then back to Corona for assembly (but using a mixture of MIM and USA hardware; I don't recall if the pickups were USA or MIM). They were nice, but I don't recall them as being a product that really cannibalized the American Standards (or the AVRIs) other than picking off the people who didn't want to spend the money on an American Standard (or who couldn't afford an American Standard but could afford something more than the MIM models).

    I imagine it was probably a bit of a logistical nightmare to get them done (with all that transportation between Corona and Ensinada), so Fender went back to the drawing board and a few years later brought out the Highway 1 series where all production was done in the USA, but they mixed in some of the MIM hardware to keep the costs down below the American Series (as the American Standards were called from July 2000 through the end of 2007).
     
    jpmist likes this.

  3. Paperback Rocker

    Paperback Rocker Nitro-mancer Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 18, 2014
    Victoria TX
    I've played a few used ones. Seemed like an old MiM. Wasn't impressed, honestly.
     

  4. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    These are possibly the most over-hyped Fenders of recent years. I have a California Series Tele. I was interested in it because it had a Strat neck pickup, which is a great idea. Unfortunately Fender decided to paint it with a spoon rather than a paint gun. Can anyone explain why a Vintage White Tele would need black & red undercoats? Or why the paint needs to be as thick as a plastic shell around the body?

    IMG_1580.JPG

    The bridge was thin & cheap & nasty so I upgraded it to a Japanese Tokai bridge from the 1980s. And although the truss rod surround is black plastic (usually something that indicates MADE IN MEXICO), Fender decided to claim that these guitars were MADE IN THE USA. I call BS on that.

    IMG_1585.JPG

    IMG_1573.JPG

    I really shouldn't be so honest as I intend to sell this guitar in the next year or so. But honestly - I prefer my Chinese Squier Classic Vibe Tele to this.
     
    nickmsmith and Cerb like this.

  5. Cerb

    Cerb Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    38
    Jan 22, 2016
    Sweden
    People over here usually try to get paid as if they were Standards just because they have Made in USA on the headstock. They should be priced like MIMs, high end MIMs but MIMs nonetheless.
     

  6. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Exactly.

    But I might argue with "high end"!
     
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  7. Cerb

    Cerb Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    38
    Jan 22, 2016
    Sweden
    Speak of the devil. A California series telecaster just came up for sale locally. $700...
     

  8. CyFan4036

    CyFan4036 Strat-Talker

    Age:
    48
    279
    Mar 22, 2018
    Iowa
    Yeah, they're MiM. I wouldn't buy one.
     

  9. harrysmo

    harrysmo Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2009
    Memphis, TN
    Final sanding and painting of body was done in Ensenada. They had a new state-of-the-art painting facility in 1997. Newly built after fire destroyed the plant. Better painting than Corona had. Hardware was AVRI. Tex Mex pickups. 9.5 radius neck. My body is shaped more like Fullerton bodies. More rounded with a thicker contour top.
     

  10. harrysmo

    harrysmo Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2009
    Memphis, TN
    Screen shots of catalog listing Image1531550572.018063.jpg Image1531550609.010743.jpg
     
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  11. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Are you serious? Look at post #4 again, then tell me that's "Better painting than Corona had"! It's a disgrace to put the Fender name on anything finished as badly as that. And the hardware on my Tele was nothing even vaguely close to the bridge on the AVRI Tele.

    This post, with the greatest of respect, is complete nonsense.
     
    CyFan4036 likes this.

  12. little_wing142

    little_wing142 Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 24, 2010
    Piscataway, NJ
    This series had the best shade of fiesta red I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how accurate it was but I loved the color.
     

  13. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    Perhaps it was the several layers of black, red & white under the Fiesta that gave it it's unique shade?
     

  14. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 28, 2011
    Pawnee, Indiana
    Eh, there is no accuracy when it comes to color in fenders. Fiesta red is anywhere from basically Dakota red to basically orange.
     

  15. Nate D

    Nate D Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    37
    Apr 2, 2016
    Ohio
    One of these was my first strat back in like 1997. I bought it for like $600 and it was a great guitar!!!
     

  16. harrysmo

    harrysmo Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2009
    Memphis, TN
    I have no idea what the deal is with the Tele on post #4. For all I know it could have been painted over several times at the factory (a lemon) or prior owners had it painted several times. I doubt any Fender factory paint shop ir any builder routinely paints a guitar three times. Makes little sense. The fact that Ensenada had a state-of-the-art paint facility after the original was destroyed in a fire is simply true. If you do a little research you can find that out. If you read the Fender price list catalog from July 1997 it states that “U.S. Vintage Hardware and tremolo” (see the attached screenshot from that catalog) is used on that model. That’s what Fender claimed and that’s what is on my ‘97 Fiesta Red California Series Strat. If you have something different on your Tele I wonder if parts were changed. I’ve owned 3 CA series Strats over the years and they were all of the highest quality build. I’m sorry for you if you got stuck with a Tele that wasn’t to your liking but don’t prejudge all of those guitars based on one that you dislike. And respectfully, don’t make a claim that my post is complete nonsense based on that same prejudice.
     
    archetype likes this.

  17. harrysmo

    harrysmo Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 12, 2009
    Memphis, TN
    I know...it ain’t real unless you show pictures. Image1531619128.577003.jpg Image1531619159.280904.jpg Image1531619202.697612.jpg Image1531619247.433874.jpg Image1531619307.557987.jpg Image1531619351.933974.jpg Image1531619399.845467.jpg Image1531619433.910374.jpg
     
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  18. Silvercrow

    Silvercrow Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 6, 2014
    Bucks County, Pa.
    Well, I think it's a GREAT looking guitar! I've never played one so can't comment on it at all but it looks grand!

    I absolutely love Strat-style bodies that are more "rounded" on the edges. My first G&L Legacy (USA) had rounded edges and I love the look and feel.

    Looks like this one has edges like that too...a + for me!

    Thanks for posting @harrysmo !

    Brian
     

  19. Sangetsu

    Sangetsu Strat-Talker

    Age:
    50
    113
    Oct 6, 2017
    Tokyo
    “California Series Strats”? I imagine the sales tax is a little higher, and there has to be a label somewhere warning you that guitars cause cancer.
     
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  20. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    58
    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
    I said the post was nonsense because it was nonsense. I am aware that Fender had a new paint shop. The term "state of the art" is a term Fender used that you are simply repeating parrot fashion. The fact that it was new does mean that it was state of the art! I've shown you an example of their paint work, & your reply is simply to question that it's original. It is. You question whether the bridge was original - it is. Check out other CS Teles & you'll find out that I'm correct. This guitar is well below the standard of most Fender Mexico guitars, yet it claims MADE IN USA on the headstock. I'm calling BS on that.

    Are you being paid by Fender? I can't think of any other reason why you would question proof of their shoddy workmanship unless they were paying you to do so. This guitar has been posted on here several times in the past, & you are the only one to have questioned whether it's genuine. My post wasn't based on prejudice but on fact. It seems that the one with prejudice here is you.