American vs. Mexican

Discussion in 'Stratocaster Discussion Forum' started by fast_frets, Oct 11, 2006.

  1. fast_frets

    fast_frets Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    43
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Location:
    idaho
    so, i play two mexican strats.... a Jimmie Vaughan signature and a 96 model in lake placid blue. i love both of them dearly, but i'm always being asked why i don't get a USA model? now, i've actually owned several USA models and i really don't see (or feel) much difference other than they hold value much better. but i buy guitars to play, not collect. so, one day i will own a real 62 strat.... it is one of my goals in life! but, for now, i'm perfectly happy with my mex strats. let me hear from some other mex strat players!!! what's the big deal about USA strats that makes them worth triple the cost of a mex strat??
     
  2. sinnerboy61

    sinnerboy61 Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    64
    Joined:
    May 23, 2006
    Location:
    WV
    As someone who has played both, I will mention as many differences as I can that were apparent.

    1. Neck - The necks on the MIAs tend to be larger which may or may not be your cup of tea. I'm not sure if frets are of different size or not. I know there are 22 frets on an MIA strat, and 21 on current MIM "Standard" strats. The finish on MIA strat necks also tends to be darker or "More amber" I find. The MIAs also have the edges rolled for a "played in" feel...And lastly..the MIA has the spaghetti logo, whereas the MIMs have the silvery almost-CBS script logo.

    2. Pickups - The pickups in the MIA strats seem to have more output, louder, and more punchy. The MIM pickups have ceramic magnets and generally tend to be wound less.

    3. Electronics - Someone's going to have to help me here. Do the MIM's have the CTS or Oaks Switches, and the larger "Quarter" size pots? The MIA's do. Also, the MIAs have the "no-load" pot, which gives the bridge and middle pickup at full output at 10 - as if the pickup were wired directly to the jack. Sounds really good.

    4. Tremolo - MIA has a two-point pivot and the MIM has a 6 screw vintage style. I'm not sure what they're doing the blocks out of right now for the MIAs. I think they're putting "steel" blocks in the current MIM's though. Also, the bridge saddles in an MIA are made of stainless steel.

    Am I missing anything here?

    Oh..the subursts tend to be a little different as well. My '04 MIA strat tends to be a little darker, and the grain is very visible. My friends '02 MIM strat in sunburst tends to be more yellow-ish towards the center, and less of a clear amber.
    I also think the woods used in the MIA may be of better quality, but I am not sure. I've never stripped either to find out. :D
     
  3. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    70
    Messages:
    50
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Location:
    Greater Boston
    Good topic ! I used to be a Strat snob, meaning that if it wasn't American made then it was sub-par. I fell upon some tough times about 15 years ago and ended up selling a lot of my vintage gear.

    I didn't even have a Strat for a few years, but eventually scraped up enough cabbage for a Tex Mex Strat (this is now called the JV or Jimmy Vaughan model). This guitar felt and sounded as good or even better than some of my American made Strats that I had sold off.

    I've since played a Deluxe Players Strat and a Powerhouse that both felt, played and sounded (to these ears) just as good as the "new" American Strats, which come in so many varieties now that it's hard to choose one.

    I still like the American made Strats, but I no longer snub my nose at the MIM counterparts and those that do maybe just haven't found the right ones yet ?
     
  4. fast_frets

    fast_frets Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    43
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Location:
    idaho
    sinnerboy61,

    lots of good information, man. many of the subtleties you mentioned do certainly make some amount of difference. but, considering an off the rack USA model will run you $950 new, verses $400 for a mex model, do the subtle differences really make the usa model worth double the price? the point i'm getting at is that it's hard to believe that being made in the USA is justification for tacking on another $500 above and beyond the standard mex model. many players make excuses for the fact that they just play a mexico made strat, when in reality, it's a fine instrument and a fine example of a legendary heritage! so, mex strat players strum those strings with pride!!
     
  5. tazzboy

    tazzboy Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    335
    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2006
    Location:
    Oregon
    You can always get a used USA stratocaster for $500 to $750.
     
  6. fast_frets

    fast_frets Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    43
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Location:
    idaho
    right..... or a nice, used mex strat for $250.
     
  7. fast_frets

    fast_frets Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    43
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Location:
    idaho
    my point in all of this is simply to raise the question of why can't a guy (or gal) get an american made strat for say $600 new? it would seem that a couple hundred dollars more than the cost of a mex strat would easily cover the "upgrades" you get on the USA model. the point is that you pay way to much more to have the tag "made in the USA" applied to the headstock....
     
  8. GuitarSlinger

    GuitarSlinger Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    Location:
    USA
    Labor costs are higher in the U.S.
    I would say that in the long run, I do not feel any regret dishing out a grand for my american deluxe. I played MIM standards for a long time, but upon test driving the AmDx v neck I was completely blown away. My MIM really feels like a toy in comparison, the modern c shape neck is just way to thin. Aside from the JV you really don't have the v neck option on the cheaper strats. The contoured heel, SCNs, locking tuners, flawless finish and neck are worth it too me.

    I mean I still like my MIM - its got a nice tight neck pocket, stays in tune, has a fast low action that doesn't fret out with extreme bending, and its really light....but I had to play a bunch of crappy ones to find mine, and its nowhere near the quality musical instrument that is my deluxe.
     
  9. sinnerboy61

    sinnerboy61 Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    64
    Joined:
    May 23, 2006
    Location:
    WV

    Right, and I'm not saying that MIM strats are lesser. I happen to have large hands, and the larger neck alone is worth it to me. The finish is another part that gets me. I just don't like a lot of the color options that are available on MIM models. And if things like thickness of neck, quality of body (3 piece vs. 2 piece), and quality of electronics are determinate factors in which guitar you purchase, then the price of MIA vs. MIM makes sense somewhat. And obviously, the paycheck makes a difference in what you get. I'd say that the MIA is more geared towards someone looking for a more perticular instrument.

    Again, MIM strats are not bad and I'd recommend them to anybody who wanted a less expensive darn reliable instrument. But if someone gave me $1000, I'd buy the MIA rather than 2 MIM's.
     
  10. rjhalsey

    rjhalsey Strat-Talker Vendor Member

    Age:
    60
    Messages:
    330
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2006
    Location:
    Ohio
    Orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr you could just build your own. For what a new AM Deluxe costs, I can make one better with the options I want not what Fender wants. If you want to customize a Fender Strat from the custom shop you are going to fork out 2 grand or better. I have 2 AM deluxes, the first is a 2004 Montego Black s/s/h and the second is a 50th anniversary s/s/s. The ones I build kicks their asses. Fenders finishes are so thick that they suck all the tone. I will never spend another grand on a Fender again. I also have a MIM Strat that is an awesome player, but it is not as good as the AM deluxes. I would rate it as good as a Highway 1 though. I am building one now that is a 1 piece black limba (150.00), black limba neck with a madagascar ebony fretboard (150.00), a set of Tonerider Blues pickups (my cost would make you crap your pants, your cost 80-100 bucks), Steinberg 40:1 tuners (100.00), Callaham vintage bridge kit from Speciality Guitars (150.00), pickguard (25.00), wireing kit from Rothstein Guitars (28.00), and Tru Oil for the finish. (11.00) for a gran total of 694.00 plus labor of love. Lets see Fender CS top that. 8)

    Ralph
     
  11. sinnerboy61

    sinnerboy61 Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    64
    Joined:
    May 23, 2006
    Location:
    WV
    My #1 is one I built, finished, and furnished for under a grand...I just didn't consider that one of the choices here :D
     
  12. collinsman

    collinsman Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    94
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    Location:
    " Land of Ten Thousand Ta
    I went to GC and played a Hwy One, MIA, MIM, and my opinion is * all* very close, when you consider 900 v/s $400 for a MIM, I'd go with themex, unless you have big pockets. JMO..
     
  13. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye New Member!

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2006
    Location:
    Denver
    New here so this post isn't as timely as it otherwise might be. I play several (5)strats. My primary 3 are a 1990 American Deluxe Plus, a 1999 American Deluxe and a Stratocaster Standard Mexican. All three are great guitars and all have distinct sound.

    There is no "Strat" sound. Stevie Vaughn didn't sound like Clapton who doesn't sound like David Gilmour..... and so on.

    The only difference I see is maybe some additional attention to fine detail on the American frets. ALL the necks come out of the Corona plant. Play 10 different strats and you're likely to get 10 different sounds.

    You may like the finish on one neck more than the other but every neck on a North American Strat body comes from the American factory. Some are used at Corona some at Ensenada.

    My finish on my Mexican is standard sun-burst and the finish is flawless. It has a little less visible grain than my 1990 but still gorgeous.

    One time I needed a Tele and played about a dozen. The best sounding one, and the one I bought, was a Squire made in Indonesia. Wow.

    Every player uses different strings, amps and effects making "their" sound their own.

    The primary reason my #1 is my #1 is because it has lace sensor pickups and I dig their sound. Others don't like Lace pickups - go figure.

    Take care, Hawkeye.
     
  14. bluedwarfhamster

    bluedwarfhamster Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    32
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2006
    Location:
    Indiana
    I sold my 89 MIA a few years ago...uncomfortable neck for me since I have small hands. I just bought a used 99-00 MIM...small neck, sounds awesome, easy on the pocket...what's not to like? This is my new favorite guitar & it has had the roughest life of any guitar I have ever owned!
     
  15. Jasco

    Jasco Strat-Talker

    Messages:
    305
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2006
    Location:
    Nashville
    I think the MIA's are going to generally be more consistant that Mexi-strats, but that doesn't mean that you can't find a mexi-strat that will beat a USA one.

    I'm of the opinion that when you are shopping for strats, you need to play every one you can find until you discover one that really sounds and feels good to you regardless of country of origin.


    - Jasco
     
  16. bluedwarfhamster

    bluedwarfhamster Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    32
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2006
    Location:
    Indiana
  17. acstorfer

    acstorfer Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    53
    Messages:
    57
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    Location:
    Broadview Heights, Ohio
    Another option, MIJ. I never played one myself, but I hear great things about them. I even hear some are better than MIA. But I am alas a snob, but everyone who owned one, loved it.
     
  18. david kae

    david kae Strat-Talk Member

    Messages:
    41
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2007
    Location:
    LOS aNGELES
    look i changed the bridge and pickups on my mexican made 60s strat is it as good as an american i dont know
    i have played american strats that played like poo so its all reletive its a stuggle to have a well playing guitar
     
  19. mutato

    mutato Senior Stratmaster

    Messages:
    3,621
    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2007
    Location:
    RI
    Labor. Labor. Labor. And then throw in some "Built in the USA" markup!;)
     
  20. kb2nto

    kb2nto Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    79
    Messages:
    17
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Location:
    LeRoy NY
    Less filling tastes great another debate from another time. I acquired a MIM first and really liked it. My first strat and a nice aged white. It was why I bought the 87 American Standard. I like play both but seem the use the American Standard more. My girlfriends son however alway reaches for the MIM. He just likes the way it plays. To each his own both fine guitars we are lucky to have a choice...Ed