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okassassin's picture
Los Angeles
Mar 2005
5 years ago

It seems like people are continually asking whether they should by Fender Mexican Strats or Teles and what the differences are from the American guitars. As I have had a lot of sucess myself using Fender Mexican guitars and only replacing the electronics, I highly recommend this route for anyone looking for a quality, but inexpensive guitar. Here is some information about American & Mexican Fender guitars that I posted previously...

In an interview I read the head of Fender said something similar about the quality of the Mexican guitars. Not all the parts are made in America, but their site says "Fender® Mexico guitars and amplifiers are made using many U.S. components, again maintaining the highest standards..." Here is a list of differences I found on the Fender Europe site:

Standard Series (Mexico)
Body: 5 to 7-piece alder with maple or birch veneer. Sunburst models have maple veneer Note: due to periodic material availability issues, alder cores are sometimes used

American Series (U.S)
Body: Current specs: 3-piece alder for solid colours and 3-tone sunburst. White blonde and natural are 2 or 3-piece ash (Non-Veneered)

Standard Series
Body Routing: 1-humbucking, 2-single coil
American Series
Body Routing: Current specs: 3-cavity universal rout(hum/sing/hum). Older models have the "swimming pool" rout

Standard Series
Body Finish: Polyester (finished in Mexico)
American Series
Body Finish: Polyurethane (finished in USA)

Standard Series
Neck: 1-piece maple milled in the Corona plant
American Series
Neck: 1-piece maple milled in the Corona plant

Standard Series
Truss Rod: Standard headstock adjust (single rod).Relies on string tension for concave adjustment
American Series
Truss Rod: Bi-Flex headstock adjust. Allows for true concave and convex adjustment

Standard Series
Neck Finish: Polyurethane
American Series
Neck Finish: Polyurethane

Standard Series
Frets: 21 standard frets (small)
American Series
Frets: 22 highly detailed Medium Jumbo frets

Standard Series
Machine Heads: Imported cast/sealed
American Series
Machine Heads: Fender/Schaller cast/sealed

Standard Series
Logo: Silver transition logo
American Series
Logo: Vintage spaghetti logo

Standard Series
String Tree: 1-standard butterfly
American Series
String Tree: 1-hardened steel "Easy Glider." Reduces friction thus improving tuning stability.

Standard Series
Neck Attachment: Standard 4-bolt
American Series
Neck Attachment: 4-bolt "Micro-Tilt." Allows instant string "action" adjustments

Standard Series
Pickups: MIM standard single coils with slug pole-pieces and ceramic magnet on bottom of coil. Mid pickup is reverse wound/reverse polarity Pickups:
American Series
Pickups: MIA single coils with alnico magnets. Middle pickup is reverse wound/reverse polarity

Standard Series
Electronics: CTS Pots, Grigsby switch
American Series
Electronics: CTS Pots, Grigsby switch

Standard Series
Wiring: Original (no tone control for bridge pickup)
American Series
Wiring: "No Load" tone control on Bridge & Mid pickup. Standard 250k tone control (neck pickup)

Standard Series
Bridge: Imported standard Synchronized tremolo. 6-mounting screws; stamped saddles
American Series
Bridge: MIA 2-Point Synchronized tremolo –mounting screws; hardened stainless steel saddles.

Standard Series
Strap Buttons: Vintage style
American Series
Strap Buttons: Schaller straplock ready (straplocks & embroidered strap included)

Standard Series
Case: Optional SKB molded case (guitar can be ordered with case)
American Series
Case: SKB standard molded case

Standard Series
Assembly/Tune/Test: Mexico
American Series
Assembly/Tune/Test: U.S.A.

okassassin's picture
Los Angeles
Mar 2005
5 years ago

I have owned 2 Fender Mexican guitars, and once I replaced the pickups they suited their purpose and they saved me a lot of money. MIA Fenders, according to the above list definately are more quality, but it is nice to know things like the necks are the SAME, as well as the pots, etc. As far as body wood goes, from what I have read it is a good posibility that the quality of the wood does not effect the tone in a Fender-style guitar to the same extent that it does in a Gibson, etc. because the pickups are mounted to the pickguard, not the wood. Sustain is another question, and the wood quality may effect that, however, note that the MIM guitar actually has LESS wood routed out of it than the MIA which would help the sustain/tone or at least maybe balance out the lesser quality peice of wood in the MIM bodies. The finish materials on the MIA is oldschool and definately superior in my opinion... my MIM Tele cracked and the finish just flaked off, whereas polyurethane is hardier, but also more work intensive to apply and takes a month or so to harden. To sum up, I think that the Fender MIM guitar is a great beginner-to-intermediate guitar and/or workhorse guitar as long as the pickups have been changed. The quality of the workmanship (fret dressing, body finish, etc) is probably comparable, and from what I hear from my friend who used to work at Jackson (before it was bought by Fender), Fender (and Gibson!) the workmanship/attention to detail all the way up to their most expensive models does not compare to the workmanship on the the lowest-of-the-line Jacksons (once again, before the sale to Fender). That's something to keep in mind when you're considering putting down a hefty amount on a new top-of-the-line guitar from one of the major manufacturers. The head of Fender said it himself in an interview, that all the top-of-the-line and bottom-of-the-line guitars and amps come down the same assembly lines, the difference is in the material/labor costs. For instance, even the "Custom Shop" amps like the Vibro King is built by the same workers as the Reissue Super Reverbs, but they cost nearly a $1000 more because of how time intensive it is to hand-wire an amp instead of using a pre-printed/pre-loaded PC board...

Some may argue that the workers at the Mexican factory are unskilled labor and therefor the craftmanship is not up to par with the US worker's. I'm not crazy about outsourcing, but putting together mass-produced guitars in a factory is not exactly skilled labor, it's not as if master luthiers build each one by hand. My friend at Jackson would just file frets all day, and after a while I'm sure anyone could be decent at a job that repetitive. For that reason, I believe that non-skilled labor is generally the same no matter where you are... and who are the unskilled laborers in the US anyway? Often immigrants and minorities from these countries work is being outsourced to, not some white-all-american-good-ol'-boy. Your choice, Hispanics making your guitars in the Corona, CA plant, or Hispanics making your guitars in Mexico. I'm not trying to be racist, just making an observation. I honestly don't care who makes my guitars as long as they do a decent job and aren't mistreated by the company they work for.

Even though Fender Mexican pickups are generally thought to be inferior is sound quality, use your ears! I have a set of Mexican Fat Strat pickups in my Strat that I bought on eBay years ago before I knew the difference between Mexican & American, and I love the single coils! The Seymour Duncan Invader sucks, but I've never heard another set of middle & neck pickups I like more that these single coils. I later had another Mexican Strat I put Fender American pickups in an really disliked it compared to my Mexican Fat Strat pickups. It's all about individual taste.

My final words on the matter is, if you are looking for an quality, relatively inexpensive Fender, Mexican Fenders are a good choice, especially with a pickup swap. Swapping electronics is very easy to do in Fender guitars, I taught myself how to do it with resources available on the internet.

Any other comments on Fender guitars?

auralevolution's picture
Nashville, TN
Nov 2005
7 years ago

the mexi guitars are awesome. although to me they seem a little heavier

acoustic_frippy's picture
Map Ref 41N 93W
Sep 2005
6 years ago

Are not the new (2006 upgrade) MIM strats a bit different: all alder bodies, a greater mass trem block, medium jumbo frets, and hotter p/ups?

The wording on the Fender Europe website is a bit odd too--an alder core on an alder body? The least expensive method is to glue the 5-7 alder blanks together and then carve/route the body. I've never read where solid-color, and even sunburst, MIM strats have a maple or birch veneer. This would increase the cost of the instrument and it would seem that the standard series is about reducing the cost. Most manufacturers omit the veneer on a solid-color instrument from what I've seen.

The MIM instruments do seem to be awesome--I'm looking forward to trying out a new tele and strat soon :D

Double Helix

Quote:

Originally posted by teleman
*waiting for frippy to find this thread*

StratAtak's picture
Apr 2005
8 years ago

I just picked up a mexican nashville tele, and its suits it purpose fine .. its a step up on the standard. better pups , bridge , neck , and finish ..

most of the deluxe/custom series mex are great for the dollar..

Great thread by the way ...

Line 6 verbzilla w/ adapter $120 shipped

acoustic_frippy's picture
Map Ref 41N 93W
Sep 2005
6 years ago

Originally posted by StratAtak
I just picked up a mexican nashville tele, and its suits it purpose fine .. its a step up on the standard. better pups , bridge , neck , and finish ..

You need to post some photos! :)

How is the vintage six-saddle bridge?

Double Helix

Quote:

Originally posted by teleman
*waiting for frippy to find this thread*

clnh5's picture
Bay Area, CA
Oct 2003
6 years ago

"5 to 7-piece alder with maple or birch veneer"? That cant be true, i have a MIM Standard Strat, and i've stripped the body to bare wood, and there is no maple or birch veneer, its alder throughout.

"I hate to advocate weird chemicals, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone...but they've always worked for me." -Hunter S. Thompson
Guitars:
- Gibson Les Paul BFG (Black Sperzels).
- Ibanez RGA121TKF (Black Sperzels, Dimarzio Super Distortion and Dimarzio BREED).
- Ibanez RGA121NTF (Black Sperzels, SD Custom & Dimarzio PAF Pro).
- Beard Gold Tone Mahogany Resonator w/ Cutaway.
- Seagull Artist Mosaic CW Acoustic.
Amps:
- Mesa/Boogie Mark IV Head into Mesa/Boogie 4X12 Recto Cabinet (Loaded with Celestion G12T-75's).
- Fender 59' Bassman LTD.

grungemaster's picture
Jul 2005
8 years ago

this thread needs to be stickied!

no bias, just the cold hard facts.

Proud Member of the cheap Solid-State Fender Family.

Quote:

Originally posted by michael-callari
I mean, if they wanted new gear, they should have done the respectable thing and stolen it from Guitar Center instead of from hard-working musicians like you.

okassassin's picture
Los Angeles
Mar 2005
5 years ago

Originally posted by clnh5
"5 to 7-piece alder with maple or birch veneer"? That cant be true, i have a MIM Standard Strat, and i've stripped the body to bare wood, and there is no maple or birch veneer, its alder throughout.

I posted it just as it was posted on the site. If you notice, it does not specify what wood is used in the solid color Mexican guitars like it does for the American standards, which makes me believe those are the specs for the natural finishes and it's an oversight that the solid color body specs aren't included.

acoustic_frippy's picture
Map Ref 41N 93W
Sep 2005
6 years ago

Originally posted by okassassin
I posted it just as it was posted on the site. If you notice, it does not specify what wood is used in the solid color Mexican guitars like it does for the American standards, which makes me believe those are the specs for the natural finishes and it's an oversight that the solid color body specs aren't included.

I'd thought the same thing after posting my earlier comments. Also, those specs have been on the Fender Europe site for some time and do not seem to include the changes to the MIM strats, such as the FSR models and such.

This is a great thread by the way :)

Double Helix

Quote:

Originally posted by teleman
*waiting for frippy to find this thread*

lp_man's picture
UK
Nov 2004
6 years ago

Way ahead of ya bud http://www.geocities.com/guitar_faq/

Just not in as much detail. Mind if I drop it in next update? Full credits to you :)