Fender Japan "vs." US made

Intune

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 14, 2021
6,860
Edmonton, Alberta
I thought I would chime in here (rare), as I ship a decent amount of guitars in from Tokyo. I can say the current domestic product offerings in Japan far surpass most anything you will find in a US guitar shop - in terms of value. I will say the pre-Covid days were a fuzz better, but the last 2 instruments I brought in last month were great. The biggest sell to me is that they come ready to play. Intonation is perfect, frets are dressed with no sharp fret ends, and pickup height is set. Ironically, I bought I JV mij reissue from Sweetwater recently, and it was not like this at all! The last 2 guitars I brought in were the 1980 International Color Capri orange re-issue and the Modern Strat with bound body, compound neck, and Gen 4 noiseless pickups. However, the Hybrid series (1&2) is the absolute best value on a domestic Japan Strat. It’s my everyday player. Stunning quality. Hope this helps anyone who is looking to bring one over the pond.

No to poke holes in your comparison but you brought in a total of 2 guitars and they far surpass most anything you’ll find in a US shop today? You may have something if you said you brought in 25 or even 200. 2 guitars is hardly a comparison.

Then the MIJ you bought in the US was not up to par. So yeah it’s all a personal thing to this is better then that. A guitar playable out of a box is definitely a plus but that still may not be the set up most folks want.
 

92 Fiesta Red 62

Strat-O-Master
Apr 27, 2022
886
TEXAS
I really don’t care where a guitar is made any more. At one time, I thought anything that wasn’t US-made was crap.

Now, I gravitate toward hecho-en-Mexico (such as my #1 Telecaster)

The fit and finish of the Japanese Fenders are generally fabulous.

The only thing I’ve ever found I didn’t care for with the Japanese Fenders are the pickups. Many (not all, not even most) of the Made in/Crafted in Japan Fenders I’ve played have pickups that are kinda sterile or uninspired, lacking dynamics…but that’s an easy fix.
 

Nick L Plate

Strat-O-Master
Sep 15, 2020
564
Santa Barbara
I've found the MIJ Fender production stuff to be generally vastly overrated, probably as a holdover from the post-CBS/new ownership years in which USA production was halted and Fender conducted all production in Japan while reorganizing to build better guitars in the USA. There are many really fine Fender Japan Strats out there, but my own experience is that overall there's nothing distinct or special about MIJ Fenders. As other have mentioned, the frets can be quite small and do not feel great to me. And though I can't explain it, the neck finish has a strange feel to it that I do not like much. I don't think MIJ Fenders rise to the level of some of the Japanese makes.
The same is somewhat true for MIJ Gibsons during the Norlin era. The ones I've owned (Orvilles) are in some respects (notably, body build and specs) "better" than Norlins, if you want vintage specs like long tenons) but not, IMO, better than, say, current MIA LPs. The hardware and pickups are not good, with the exception of those models with MIA PUs. Many models were budget spec and some were veneered or fotoflamed. Nothing to get too excited about.
The "not for export" production, as with Orvilles, applies only to dealers and retailers, I believe, and has never been the case for articles of personal property.
 

Maltoftheearth

Strat-Talk Member
Jul 14, 2013
48
Ohio
No to poke holes in your comparison but you brought in a total of 2 guitars and they far surpass most anything you’ll find in a US shop today? You may have something if you said you brought in 25 or even 200. 2 guitars is hardly a comparison.

Then the MIJ you bought in the US was not up to par. So yeah it’s all a personal thing to this is better then that. A guitar playable out of a box is definitely a plus but that still may not be the set up most folks want.
I would say I’ve brought in close to 75 of the domestic Japan strats over the last 8 years. They are good sellers ;) Sure, everyone’s tastes are different. Again, I feel the for the $ the current domestic Japan guitars are better than what you will find in a normal guitar shop. They really do a nice job.
 

randostrat

New Member!
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 25, 2021
7
Vail, AZ
Most of my recollections of playing different Strats are old and grey just like me. I own two currently, a 1992 MIJ HRR with the Floyd Rose trem, and a 2000 American Deluxe. Back in my gigging and jamming days we would pass around our guitars to get a feel for what the differences were. If we were playing in a different town or city we would visit the local guitar shops to check out their Strat collections. I would guess that I have compared maybe a two dozen or more Strats, Jazzmasters, Mustangs, Jaguars and Teles. The neck shape on my MIJ HRR Strat is the most shallow and most comfortable neck profile I have ever played.
 

drp146

Strat-Stalker
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 8, 2020
632
Oklahoma
View attachment 610607 View attachment 610608 View attachment 610609 View attachment 610610 View attachment 610612
View attachment 610622 View attachment 610623
The fact is that, as you can see from the image, it was at the current Custom Shop level, with a beautiful finish that does not seem to be a regular line, such as the treatment of the edges of the neck, and this guitar was made in 1986 and was one year before the Custom Shop was established in the Corona factory.
I've found that pretty much any model from that time had necks like that.
 

brianwh832

New Member!
Dec 19, 2016
1
United States
Sounds like there are is a lot of knowledge about this subject here. Any one care to help out a old guy and help me find out a little info on this guitar. I bought this guitar from a friend in the late 80s. It plays good but the pickups are not the best sounding. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks
 

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drp146

Strat-Stalker
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 8, 2020
632
Oklahoma
I just wanted to clarify that when I speak of the quality of MIJ guitars, I'm talking about the fit, the finish, the playability, the feel of the necks, the frets, pretty much the build quality, and they made a number of models with the same woods, alnico pickups and other features that were common to MIA models.

When I state these facts, I'm not saying that MIA Fenders weren't also good, though we all know the time period when many weren't.

I'm not denigrating other years of MIA Fenders to say the Japanese have made and do make many fine guitars.

I have had and still have both MIA and MIJ. If you've never owned an MIJ, I don't know why you would even comment on their quality.

I was reading the other day about how Fezz Parka said in 2019: "my 83 JV Squier is my favorite guitar. Has been for 36 years". That's just one of many comments here saying how good they are.

I don't see why anyone would say that they aren't generally good quality, even though I'm sure they've made some clunkers, just like every other guitar factory. And it's a shame when someone gets a substandard Japanese Fender, because it's not the higher percentage experience.

I love MIA models that also share the same characteristics that many consider high quality. Neither the Japanese or the Americans are the only ones who can do it.
 
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drp146

Strat-Stalker
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 8, 2020
632
Oklahoma
Sounds like there are is a lot of knowledge about this subject here. Any one care to help out a old guy and help me find out a little info on this guitar. I bought this guitar from a friend in the late 80s. It plays good but the pickups are not the best sounding. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks
I wish I could help, but authenticating them isn't something I'm an expert at. I did put the serial number into Fender's search and it said, "No results".

Posting pics of the neck pocket, back and bottom end of the neck will help.
 

GitGeek

Livin' After Midnight
Gold Supporting Member
Oct 2, 2020
516
Denver
Sounds like there are is a lot of knowledge about this subject here. Any one care to help out a old guy and help me find out a little info on this guitar. I bought this guitar from a friend in the late 80s. It plays good but the pickups are not the best sounding. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks
This thread has been covered, not a lot of new participation anymore. I suggest starting a new thread, there are some expert eyes on this site that will help you out.
 

stratman323

Dr. Stratster
Apr 21, 2010
39,443
London, UK
Quick search and found a bunch of random squier classic vibes with flame and even quarter sawn necks. Not sure these were hand selected but that’s a really sweet bonus to a very affordable guitar. View attachment 610667 View attachment 610668 View attachment 610669 View attachment 610670 View attachment 610671 View attachment 610672

Some of us may regard flamey maple like that as a good thing because it's pretty (to some eyes), but Leo didn't like it & tried hard not to use it. So now it's being used on some guitars which some people are lauding for their vintage correctness?

This place is so funny... 😆
 

balston11

Senior Stratmaster
May 8, 2013
4,383
Preston UK
Sounds like there are is a lot of knowledge about this subject here. Any one care to help out a old guy and help me find out a little info on this guitar. I bought this guitar from a friend in the late 80s. It plays good but the pickups are not the best sounding. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks
It is what it says an ST362V this was the basic 60s like model no attempt at vintage correctness.
Basswood Ceramic Pickups Rosewood board most came with 1 roller string tree but some like yours came with 2. They were either styled ST362 ST362V or ST362F The F was a Floyd Rose Style trem the V an ordinary "vintage" style trem.
 

aleamparo

Strat-Talk Member
Aug 28, 2016
51
Brazil
Sounds like there are is a lot of knowledge about this subject here. Any one care to help out a old guy and help me find out a little info on this guitar. I bought this guitar from a friend in the late 80s. It plays good but the pickups are not the best sounding. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks
Pot code indicate 1989.
Here you'll find the other specifications.
 
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Tratocaster

Strat-O-Master
Mar 22, 2013
541
U.S.
I've owned both and can attest they are both great guitars. Only reason I moved the Strat Plus along (think mine was a very early model, '89 I believe) was I prefer vintage specs.

Only thing that sucks about the NIJ/CIJ Fenders is the wiring. Some used USA-made pickups and components, but the ones that didn't used crap pickups, and the wire used was very thin and the pots and switches tended to be sub-par compared to USA-equipped models.
 
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El Gobernador

fezz parka
Apr 21, 2011
37,797
Nunyo, BZ
If you don't mind my asking, did you have to replace anything on the guitar to make it your favorite?

It did come with a five way switch. I replaced that with a three-way about 20 years ago, wired it like a post '67 Telecaster (B/BN/N), and made the bottom tone knob a blender for the middle pickup just in case I needed the tweeners. For the most part I don't. LoL
 

drp146

Strat-Stalker
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 8, 2020
632
Oklahoma
It did come with a five way switch. I replaced that with a three-way about 20 years ago, wired it like a post '67 Telecaster (B/BN/N), and made the bottom tone knob a blender for the middle pickup just in case I needed the tweeners. For the most part I don't. LoL
I have listened to the recordings you posted using it and it sounded great to me. Very nice playing as well. Thanks for answering!
 


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