Are Fender USA Guitars good value for $$

Baelzebub

Dr. Stratster
Nov 1, 2019
15,395
State of Disbelief
With the recent price hikes, I would say that both MIA and MIM are not "great" values. The sheer number of well made and finished guitars budget guitars from all over Asia are skewing the price/value ratio.

I have 2 MIA strats and 1 MIA Tele. All my others are partscasters, with mostly MIM bodies, and MIM Tele and some boutique customs.

A couple Epiphone LP's. Again the relative quality vs price makes them a no-brainer over Gibson for me.

If you want a good deal on Fenders just wait a little while. They hired on a bunch of people after the lockdown surge and just laid off 300 of them last week.

And I've been getting unprecedented emails from them offering site wide discounts of up to 20%, as opposed to their longstanding practice of only discounting only their ancillary merch, which is largely over-priced to begin with.

All this tells me that there's plenty of backed up inventory to offload and that usually means some good deals down the road.
 

demilieu

Strat-Talk Member
Mar 5, 2012
55
houston
Saw this recent video which raises some valid issues imo.
I'm sitting on fence without a strong opinion either way and own both an MiA Strat and an MiM Tele - love them both :)

But what does the Strat-Talk membership say ???


they are both good values but made in america will probably have better resale well into the future. the quality between the standard american line and the ones made in mexico is so close, either one is a good purchase. people buy an fender american standard line guitar and then spend big money for high end aftermarket pickups (when the pu's it comes with are identical to what cbs fender produced between 1965 and 1979). doing the same with the mexican made guitars, since the quality of the woods is equal, is a better deal because the end result's the same tone. but some people want the made in america version 'just because', as an icon...the price difference is just a few hundred dollars, not really much more of an investment if you plan to keep the guitar for a lifetime
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
7,001
Murfreesboro, TN
I don’t get the whole thing with guitars being expensive today. If anything they’re cheaper. You can pick up a USA made strat for way less then you could back in 1962.

1962 strat would retail for $2500 or so in todays money.

Isn’t that more expensive then the Strats that everyone says is over priced? If anything fender went cheaper to please everyone. Image there was only one model of a USA made strat and it cost $2500. What would everyone complain about then, not enough models to choose from to fit everyone’s budget?

In 1962 Fender didn't have CNC, so they needed to use more labor than they use today. Spray guns and finishes are better today, too--so the finishing process also takes less labor. Their industrial process is better, it doesn't take near as much labor now as it did back then.

Nowadays, good guitars are available for under $200--decent finish, decent sounding pickups, the frets are all in the right place, the pickups work. These are in direct competition with Squier, but sometimes they offer features that Fender reserves for the more expensive guitars. And let's account for inflation. $200 today would have been $20.39 in 1962 money. Any guitar you could have bought for $20.39 in 1962 would have been unplayable garbage.
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
5,681
Edmonton, Alberta
In 1962 Fender didn't have CNC, so they needed to use more labor than they use today. Spray guns and finishes are better today, too--so the finishing process also takes less labor. Their industrial process is better, it doesn't take near as much labor now as it did back then.

Nowadays, good guitars are available for under $200--decent finish, decent sounding pickups, the frets are all in the right place, the pickups work. These are in direct competition with Squier, but sometimes they offer features that Fender reserves for the more expensive guitars. And let's account for inflation. $200 today would have been $20.39 in 1962 money. Any guitar you could have bought for $20.39 in 1962 would have been unplayable garbage.

The point is today fender and other companies make great guitars at everyone’s price point. Everyone can get a guitar that’s playable in their budget.

You want a USA made guitar that’s top notch get your wallet out, just like that model in 1962, it wasn’t cheap. That’s my point. There was one model back then of a strat, if you couldn’t afford it you didn’t get one.

Now fast forward to 2022, you can get a $200 guitar that’s playable. Yet people still complain about being too expensive. Is it too expensive or just not affordable to that person?
 

punkavenger

New Member!
Feb 18, 2014
7
California
Saw this recent video which raises some valid issues imo.
I'm sitting on fence without a strong opinion either way and own both an MiA Strat and an MiM Tele - love them both :)

But what does the Strat-Talk membership say ???


I’ve had 5 or 6 used strats over the years. Partscasters MIJ, MIM USA etc I’ll find stuff on reverb that looks good or make trades with friends etc.
Usually $1000 is about my limit and I too try and avoid buying new from a shop. (Actually I’ve never bought a brand new guitar from a shop , lol.)
I’ve never really been super happy with anything until I bought a brand new 2021 American pro 2 at a good price ($1450) from a friend
I love this guitar ! Finally! ( After about 10 years of screwing around)

Fit and finish is perfect, sound and playability is perfect.
Based on this experience I’m sayin’ stop trying to save a few bucks and if you find a USA model that you like go for it, you won’t be sorry.
 

Caythorpe

Strat-Talk Member
Aug 8, 2022
96
Lincolnshire, England
It’s not exactly a complete rip-off…

USA models are almost always superior to equivalent MIM models (Although the Japanese did the job even better in my opinion)

Consistency is a big factor.. USA QC is better, the hardware is Nickel-Chrome instead of hard Chrome, The finish is reliably good, electronics are tested to a higher standard, and the factory setup is nice…

MIMs do vary in quality, and while most are pretty decent, some can be poor, and some can even be truly superb and sound/play every bit as sweetly when everything comes together perfectly, but they’re not common… You do however know exactly what you’re getting with a USA model, and you get piece of mind..

Like all premium brands, Fender do exploit brand snobbery and charge way too much for the “Made in USA” serial number, because they know that most people will happily pay a couple of hundred Dollars extra for it. So there is a little bit of rip-offery involved at the end of the day…
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
5,681
Edmonton, Alberta
It’s not exactly a complete rip-off…

USA models are almost always superior to equivalent MIM models (Although the Japanese did the job even better in my opinion)

Consistency is a big factor.. USA QC is better, the hardware is Nickel-Chrome instead of hard Chrome, The finish is reliably good, electronics are tested to a higher standard, and the factory setup is nice…

MIMs do vary in quality, and while most are pretty decent, some can be poor, and some can even be truly superb and sound/play every bit as sweetly when everything comes together perfectly, but they’re not common… You do however know exactly what you’re getting with a USA model, and you get piece of mind..

Like all premium brands, Fender do exploit brand snobbery and charge way too much for the “Made in USA” serial number, because they know that most people will happily pay a couple of hundred Dollars extra for it. So there is a little bit of rip-offery involved at the end of the day…

So what about a made in USA special? Does this fall in the brand snobbery? Just saying with everyone going on about expensive, all kinds to choose from that isn’t CS shop prices.

Lots of people need to go out in the world and see what other hobbies are and what they cost. Fender is probably one of the more affordable guitar manufacturers. Still you get what you pay for. If one needs that MIA serial to be satisfied, there’s plenty of affordable options out there.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
7,001
Murfreesboro, TN
So what about a made in USA special?
Nothing. It's just where it's made. I do have a certain sentimentality about it, because I'm an American. Plus there's the appeal to nationalism, and supporting local industry. I own a USA guitar that doesn't get much play. Geography is not a guarantee of craftsmanship or good design.
Does this fall in the brand snobbery? Just saying with everyone going on about expensive, all kinds to choose from that isn’t CS shop prices.

That's certainly part of it. FMIC has marketed its American guitars as "better," ever since they opened their USA plant. But they've also generally built their USA guitars to higher price points.

Lots of people need to go out in the world and see what other hobbies are and what they cost. Fender is probably one of the more affordable guitar manufacturers.

LOL no. The average price of a new guitar is about $500. You can't buy a new one with Fender on the headstock for that. Fender is a luxury brand, a status symbol. If you want an average priced or budget guitar from FMIC, you'll have to buy Squier or one of their (many) other brands.
Still you get what you pay for. If one needs that MIA serial to be satisfied, there’s plenty of affordable options out there.
"you get what you pay for" is one of those saying that always bothered me. As though rip-off artists don't exist; if it costs a lot it must be great. And also as though bargains don't exist: anything inexpensive must be poor quality. I will agree you rarely get more than you pay for from a knowledgeable seller.

I maintain that the best guitar is the one that fits you best. Regardless of price.
 

Caythorpe

Strat-Talk Member
Aug 8, 2022
96
Lincolnshire, England
II was simply answering the original question, In order to explain why many people are very confused as to why there’s such a huge price difference between USA and MIM Fenders.. That’s all… I wasn’t saying that everyone who buys a USA model is a brand snob (Although a great many are)

I highlighted the fact that there are a great many people who see the massive gulf in prices of USA and MIM as being a true indicator of the difference in quality, which it isn’t by any means. And further highlighted some of the details that add extra true, demonstrable, value to the USA models

I was also said that there are lots of people who see the “Made in USA” label as a fashion statement, and are happy to pay extra just for some perceived kudos, and that just like every other manufacturer of premium guitars (And all other premium branded items), Fender exploit that brand awareness to make a bigger profit. Widening the price difference in the process, to the extent that it makes the USA models ”appear” to be that much better than MIM, when they are in fact quite close.

That is why we regularly see people doing side-by-side comparisons on YouTube, and asking “Are we being ripped-off” or “Why are we spending all that extra money for such a small improvement in quality”
 

Skystrat

Strat-Talk Member
Jul 18, 2011
14
Pacific NW
When I bought my MIA Standard Strat a decade ago, I trusted this would be a high quality instrument for just a bit more money than MIM at that time. I found this in-shop versus mail order; when I saw what looked like my perfect guitar up high on the wall, the sales consultant brought out a big ladder and fetched it for me. We agreed it is a nice instrument - playability, sound, build, looks.

A harder decision was my first electric guitar, a MIC Epiphone DOT Deluxe. At the time I wanted to try a hollow-body on a budget. Build quality for the body and neck was surprisingly good, playability was just okay, and electronics were poor. A talented guitar tech set it up which greatly improved playability. For about $850 all-in, I could have also updated the electronics and had a very nice 335 clone, but I opted to try something else and soon discovered that the Strat works better for me.

I've learned that each guitar has its own personality. Regardless of pedigree, if I enjoy playing one, then it makes sense to hold onto and work with it, whether stock or modified.
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
5,681
Edmonton, Alberta
Nothing. It's just where it's made. I do have a certain sentimentality about it, because I'm an American. Plus there's the appeal to nationalism, and supporting local industry. I own a USA guitar that doesn't get much play. Geography is not a guarantee of craftsmanship or good design.


That's certainly part of it. FMIC has marketed its American guitars as "better," ever since they opened their USA plant. But they've also generally built their USA guitars to higher price points.



LOL no. The average price of a new guitar is about $500. You can't buy a new one with Fender on the headstock for that. Fender is a luxury brand, a status symbol. If you want an average priced or budget guitar from FMIC, you'll have to buy Squier or one of their (many) other brands.

"you get what you pay for" is one of those saying that always bothered me. As though rip-off artists don't exist; if it costs a lot it must be great. And also as though bargains don't exist: anything inexpensive must be poor quality. I will agree you rarely get more than you pay for from a knowledgeable seller.

I maintain that the best guitar is the one that fits you best. Regardless of price.

I was referring to the USA Special series. That’s a budget USA fender.

Also these price threads or value threads are just silly. You buy a fender or squire. It will last a lifetime, yours and probably whoever you hand it down too. That’s some crazy value. So crying about a big corporation making money or ripping off people is just strange.

What in the world today can you buy that one will last lifetimes? You new Maytag washer and driver, your TV, computer or latest iPhone. All crazy expensive and have a limited shelf life. Fender can be expensive and last a lifetime(s). That’s value.
 

Docpage

Strat-Talker
Dec 4, 2021
254
New York
“Value” is a multi-faceted question (haven’t read the other replies, I might be repeating stuff already stated). Value in terms of resale? Value to you personally? Value when purchasing new/vs old? All different questions. Two things happened to me recently: a guy was selling a Vintera 50s “road worn” strat, listed it for $950. Compared to others, it was an okay “value,”: certainly not the highest, not the lowest…I was “meh…”. Then for some reason, he dropped the price to $665….I couldn’t snatch that thing up faster….THAT was a great value…but again, it’s compared to the resale market, which is only one way to look at things…the second thing, a guy listed an EJ Strat for about 1850, again, for some reason, dropped the price to just over a grand. I jumped on it, and it was gone before I could get to it…so….yeah….
 

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
5,681
Edmonton, Alberta
II was simply answering the original question, In order to explain why many people are very confused as to why there’s such a huge price difference between USA and MIM Fenders.. That’s all… I wasn’t saying that everyone who buys a USA model is a brand snob (Although a great many are)

I highlighted the fact that there are a great many people who see the massive gulf in prices of USA and MIM as being a true indicator of the difference in quality, which it isn’t by any means. And further highlighted some of the details that add extra true, demonstrable, value to the USA models

I was also said that there are lots of people who see the “Made in USA” label as a fashion statement, and are happy to pay extra just for some perceived kudos, and that just like every other manufacturer of premium guitars (And all other premium branded items), Fender exploit that brand awareness to make a bigger profit. Widening the price difference in the process, to the extent that it makes the USA models ”appear” to be that much better than MIM, when they are in fact quite close.

That is why we regularly see people doing side-by-side comparisons on YouTube, and asking “Are we being ripped-off” or “Why are we spending all that extra money for such a small improvement in quality”

No I see that and wasn’t pointing out to you directly. These threads are all the same though. The “man” being fender is gouging consumers. I get it. These click bait YouTube videos are all the same too. This vs that and are usually targeted to consumers who have zero clue about a guitar. No one including fender is forcing anyone to buy anything. People can believe whatever they want as far as quality.

Go spend years playing, buying, selling and trading and you’ll see what you want out of a guitar and what quality, fit/finish level you expect. These price threads though are usually started by someone with very little experience. They can pick up so and so for this but the fender I really want is out of my reach due to its price. That sucks.
 

nigelr

Senior Stratmaster
Aug 28, 2014
1,818
Switzerland
I'm not here to bash Fender, have probably owned 12 -15 MIA strats since the mid 1980s, but I will say that there are some great value strats being made today - just not by Fender. Fender is prestige, not value.

Resale value is ok, but there are always so many strats for sale you can't always sell them for what you want.
 

budglo

Strat-O-Master
Nov 21, 2009
653
ohio
I say buy the guitar that speaks to you. For me those happened to be CS Tele and Strats.
You know , when I’m looking for a guitar, I have a max I’m willing to spend . I start at the lower end and work my way up . I’m looking for the best one within that budget. I don’t worry if this one is a better value than that . I’m simply looking for the best guitar I can afford. As I’ve gotten older I know what works for me and what doesn’t . Since then I’ve only bought 3 Strats. One in 2010 ,one in 2015 and my first MIM in 2020 . I sold the MIM earlier in the year . Mostly because I’m completely satisfied with the other 2 and the MIM just sat in its case . It was a nice enough guitar . I just didn’t care for the string spacing ,plus it didn’t really blow me away once the honeymoon was over.
 

PlayerOne

Strat-Talker
Jan 29, 2022
297
Charlotte, nc
Specially, looking at use prices, Fender USA is a solid way to go. I've never been dissapointed going that route. I bought both of my CS Strats used, and they were both at just under $2000. And in perfect condition after a quick setup.
 

StratChat

Strat-Talker
Sep 17, 2021
204
California
Remember all the vintage guitars were made by Mexicans…. Taddeo Gomez, Abigail Ybarra etc. With any brand of guitar, some are good, some are great - you have to play guitars until you find the ‘one’ rather than judge them all by where they are made.

I understand the comments posted that many people feel these instruments are overpriced. I have a different view. We all blow money on **** that we don’t need or doesn’t last and yet a guitar will bring you joy your entire life. And IF you choose to sell it - it still has some value (even though you have personally consumed all what you put into it). If I think of all the underwhelming meals I have paid for over my life, I would have preferred to cook something myself and own more guitars!
‘Value’ is all perspective.
 


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