American vs Mexican strats is it really a difference between them?

Mr Dunlop

Senior Stratmaster
Nov 30, 2014
4,215
usa
Oh yeah I’m sure there’s a few pre-cbs stuff floating around out there. It’s just when someone says the difference between MIM and MIA is the 1 piece body is a little out in left field.
Yah I completely agree. One piece are pretty rare
 

Mbroady

Strat-Talker
Mar 21, 2022
345
WNC
RANT coming :) Over the last 2 weeks I probably sampled about 25 to 30 different strats, including some MIM, MIA and a few custom shops. How in the world can any one judge them properly, in a short time, when none of them were properly set up. And im not talking about set up specifically for me. Some had way too much relief, some had not near enough. With many, the intonation was off, and for most of them, the saddles did not follow the contour of the neck, including the custom shop Strats. Granted, it was at a few GC,s. There was an 81 strat that was sweet. But any and all them could have been sweet with just a little TLC. RANT over. I'm ok with MIM or MIA, as long as its ..sweet...
 
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Tratocaster

Strat-Talker
Mar 22, 2013
471
Colorado
RANT coming :) Over the last 2 weeks I probably sampled about 25 to 30 different strats, including some MIM, MIA and a few custom shops. How in the world can any one judge them properly, in a short time, when none of them were properly set up. And im not talking about set up specifically for me. Some had way too much relief, some had not near enough. With many, the intonation was off, and for most of them, the saddles did not follow the contour of the neck, including the custom shop Strats. Granted, it was at a few GC,s. There was an 81 strat that was sweet. But any and all them could have been sweet with just a little TLC. RANT over. I'm ok with MIM or MIA, as long as its ..sweet...
Fair assessment. I really don't get it. It really doesn't take much time to do a VERY basic set up on a Strat or Tele, especially if it's a model with the truss rod adjustment up at the neck. Even a roughly dialed in guitar where they eyeballed the relief and set the action would probably result in more guitars being sold.
 

Mbroady

Strat-Talker
Mar 21, 2022
345
WNC
Fair assessment. I really don't get it. It really doesn't take much time to do a VERY basic set up on a Strat or Tele, especially if it's a model with the truss rod adjustment up at the neck. Even a roughly dialed in guitar where they eyeballed the relief and set the action would probably result in more guitars being sold.

Though my RANT had a drop of tounge and cheek, it was frustrating. I was set to bring something home and spent The last 2 weeks sampling the current main Street offerings. To be fair the tech guy at one of the stores seemed competent and was swamped with work. He was kind enough to tweak the truss rod an 2 of the guitars I tried. Next week I’ll hit up some smaller boutique or mom and pop shops, and possibly a few used local offerings. MIM, MIA, MIJ ....it’s all good, I’m GASING :)
 

activeigroup

Strat-Talk Member
Apr 11, 2021
88
Southern California
In the end, I don't really care how old a guitar is, or where it was assembled, as long as it feels right and it has good bones. If it needs upgraded pickups, hardware, rolling the board, dressing the frets, replacing the electronics, whatever, it's just part of the process. Not everybody can afford a shiny new McCarty PRS, a Custom Shop, or a boutique custom built instrument. Even if you get that impression, scanning through YouTube... :)
 

madamoose

Strat-Talk Member
May 2, 2020
57
Zagreb
I'll agree with most of what you said except fort the "bent necks"? C'mon, man! Please enlighten us with some proof of this, or is this purely anecdotal? If you've really seen this and its such a frequent, rampant occurrence you would think someone like yourself would have taken pictures of this. I for one have seen quite a bit of poor string alignment, sloppy neck joints and what not, but an actual bent neck? Being a little dramatic, aren't we?
maybe I misspoke. Bent as in loose trussrod. Too much relief. Which for a new guitar is unacceptable. Maybe you are thinking twisted. Twisted I haven't payed attention to. Why would I when Fender is not addressing the basic stuff.
 

Tratocaster

Strat-Talker
Mar 22, 2013
471
Colorado
maybe I misspoke. Bent as in loose trussrod. Too much relief. Which for a new guitar is unacceptable. Maybe you are thinking twisted. Twisted I haven't payed attention to. Why would I when Fender is not addressing the basic stuff.
You do understand that you can fix that within literal seconds, especially on a MIM Player where the truss rod is adjusted at the headstock, right? And thats the whole point of having an adjustable truss rod...so it can be, get this...adjusted!
 
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WelhavenT

Senior Stratmaster
Sep 24, 2017
1,423
Norway
In the end, I don't really care how old a guitar is, or where it was assembled, as long as it feels right and it has good bones. If it needs upgraded pickups, hardware, rolling the board, dressing the frets, replacing the electronics, whatever, it's just part of the process. Not everybody can afford a shiny new McCarty PRS, a Custom Shop, or a boutique custom built instrument. Even if you get that impression, scanning through YouTube... :)
Many of our guitar heroes bought cheap guitar in pawn shops, and wrote some of the most famous songs on them.

I’m listening to Zappa right now, and he butchered his guitars with all kinds of experimental stuff. That’s what I enjoy, changing stuff to make guitars sound like the way you want them. For me, a used MiM is the perfect modding plattform. The result is way more inspiring than the expensive case queens I owned a few years ago. But I do understand the appeal of owning a really high-end guitar too, it’s just not for me anymore (and with todays prices, I can’t afford them anyway).

Here’s Zappa with his burned Hendrix strat that he modded the hell out of, and that even inspired Steve Vai to come up with the design for his first JEM. Now THAT is how guitars should be to me, inspiring. It could easily be left untouched in a case somewhere.

8E8B437C-E8B9-4B48-8931-0300D3AF885B.jpeg
 

activeigroup

Strat-Talk Member
Apr 11, 2021
88
Southern California
Many of our guitar heroes bought cheap guitar in pawn shops, and wrote some of the most famous songs on them.

I’m listening to Zappa right now, and he butchered his guitars with all kinds of experimental stuff. That’s what I enjoy, changing stuff to make guitars sound like the way you want them. For me, a used MiM is the perfect modding plattform. The result is way more inspiring than the expensive case queens I owned a few years ago. But I do understand the appeal of owning a really high-end guitar too, it’s just not for me anymore (and with todays prices, I can’t afford them anyway).

Here’s Zappa with his burned Hendrix strat that he modded the hell out of, and that even inspired Steve Vai to come up with the design for his first JEM. Now THAT is how guitars should be to me, inspiring. It could easily be left untouched in a case somewhere.

View attachment 555458
His son Dweezil still owns/plays that guitar, and it's amazing...
 

thegrasshopper

Strat-Talker
Mar 15, 2021
359
Spain
I have Mexican, American Standard and Custom Shop strats... I played quite a few more, and, after spending money and entering the Stratocaster tone rabbit hole, I have to say:

If you're only concerned about sound quality, I'd buy a Mexican and a set of Custom Shop pickups and would do a very good setup

IMHO most of the quality differences you may found in more expensive Fender models (woods, hardware...) do not affect the tone. I think what affect the tone the most are the pickups and a propper setup. Most of the tonal differences I've found playing guitars unplugged are lost when the guitars go through an amp... An electric guitar is just this, "electric"... They do not behave like classical guitars, violins, cellos... They were conceived for another purpose

The Custom Shop is 8x more expensive than the Mexican... They sound pretty similar, I'm pretty sure that in a blind test 50% of the people would prefer the Mexican... Even more, swapping pickups between these guitars make them sound almost equal, even more, I must admit I perceive a bit more sustain in the Mexican

I think there is a high placebo effect... The tonal differences are usually often perceived by the eyes and not by the ears (myself included), also by the hands which is very important obviously...

I've got to this opinion quite recently after being one of those who claimed "come on, custom shops are the best in the world, all the money you pay for them translate to the ultimate sound in the universe..." But, I had to be honest to myself, it is not true... I live in peace now and I enjoy all my strats

Anyway, I do love Custom Shop guitars and I would buy mine again
 
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FrieAsABird

Senior Stratmaster
Mar 18, 2020
3,801
Germany
I have Mexican, American Standard and Custom Shop strats... I played quite a few more, and, after spending money and entering the Stratocaster tone rabbit hole, I have to say:

If you're only concerned about sound quality, I'd buy a Mexican and a set of Custom Shop pickups and would do a very good setup

IMHO most of the quality differences you may found in more expensive Fender models (woods, hardware...) do not affect the tone. I think what affect the tone the most are the pickups and a propper setup. Most of the tonal differences I've found playing guitars unplugged are lost when the guitars go through an amp... An electric guitar is just this, "electric"... They do not behave like classical guitars, violins, cellos... They were conceived for another purpose

The Custom Shop is 8x more expensive than the Mexican... They sound pretty similar, I'm pretty sure that in a blind test 50% of the people would prefer the Mexican... Even more, swapping pickups between these guitars make them sound almost equal, even more, I must admit I perceive a bit more sustain in the Mexican

I think there is a high placebo effect... The tonal differences are usually often perceived by the eyes and not by the ears (myself included), also by the hands which is very important obviously...

I've got to this opinion quite recently after being one of those who claimed "come on, custom shops are the best in the world, all the money you pay for them translate to the ultimate sound in the universe..." But, I had to be honest to myself, it is not true... I live in peace now and I enjoy all my strats

Anyway, I do love Custom Shop guitars and I would buy mine again
Sounds exactly like my experience:)
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
6,194
Edmonton, Alberta
I have Mexican, American Standard and Custom Shop strats... I played quite a few more, and, after spending money and entering the Stratocaster tone rabbit hole, I have to say:

If you're only concerned about sound quality, I'd buy a Mexican and a set of Custom Shop pickups and would do a very good setup

IMHO most of the quality differences you may found in more expensive Fender models (woods, hardware...) do not affect the tone. I think what affect the tone the most are the pickups and a propper setup. Most of the tonal differences I've found playing guitars unplugged are lost when the guitars go through an amp... An electric guitar is just this, "electric"... They do not behave like classical guitars, violins, cellos... They were conceived for another purpose

The Custom Shop is 8x more expensive than the Mexican... They sound pretty similar, I'm pretty sure that in a blind test 50% of the people would prefer the Mexican... Even more, swapping pickups between these guitars make them sound almost equal, even more, I must admit I perceive a bit more sustain in the Mexican

I think there is a high placebo effect... The tonal differences are usually often perceived by the eyes and not by the ears (myself included), also by the hands which is very important obviously...

I've got to this opinion quite recently after being one of those who claimed "come on, custom shops are the best in the world, all the money you pay for them translate to the ultimate sound in the universe..." But, I had to be honest to myself, it is not true... I live in peace now and I enjoy all my strats

Anyway, I do love Custom Shop guitars and I would buy mine again

Yes speaking tone wise there’s no real difference. Any great player can make anything sound good.

Perfect example was last Friday’s jam. My brother wants to “upgrade” pickups in his sweet classic vibe 60’s strat. I said they sound awesome as is. I’m playing my custom shop, my buddy’s playing his 90’s American standard and my brother was playing the CV.

All fender tube amps, all set mostly clean. So let’s jam and see a difference. We all look at each other, do some shoulder shrugging and keep playing. Yes there was a tonal difference but nothing that would make me want to replace pickups.
 

thegrasshopper

Strat-Talker
Mar 15, 2021
359
Spain
Yes speaking tone wise there’s no real difference. Any great player can make anything sound good.

Perfect example was last Friday’s jam. My brother wants to “upgrade” pickups in his sweet classic vibe 60’s strat. I said they sound awesome as is. I’m playing my custom shop, my buddy’s playing his 90’s American standard and my brother was playing the CV.

All fender tube amps, all set mostly clean. So let’s jam and see a difference. We all look at each other, do some shoulder shrugging and keep playing. Yes there was a tonal difference but nothing that would make me want to replace pickups.
Yes man, tonal differences but not necessarily worse/better... One needs the courage to admit that his friend's 800$ MIM strat sounds as good as his 4k$ own Custom Shop... I'm not afraid anymore to admit it if it is the case... I love CS guitars for a bunch of reasons, marketing included I have to admit, but the tone is not definitely at the top of the list
 

CB91710

No GAS shortage here
Platinum Supporting Member
Feb 24, 2019
11,483
SoCal
The main difference between American Strat and Mexican Strat is the type of wood that is used for making the instrument. The quality of wood used for making the American Strat is comparatively higher than the quality of wood used for making the Mexican Strat.

^ Quality of wood? Ok.
There is some truth to that, but it's not the whole truth.
It is not uncommon for solid color MiM bodies to be pieced together from 4 or 5 planks, while US will typically be 2 or 3.
Epiphone and MiM have also done 3+ piece bodies with veneers on the top and back to make them look like 2-piece.

But...
The pickups, hardware, and other features are not the same... and on a solidbody electric, these have more of an impact on the tone than whether the body is 2 or 6 pieces.
MiM lacks the micro-tilt and BiFlex truss rod, and does not ship with a case... the Player doesn't even include a gig bag for $850.
Of the US models, the American Performer is comparable to MiM in features, but it at least comes with a gig bag.
 


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