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Are AMERICAN MADE MIA Telecasters Really Better than Mexican or Japanese Telecasters?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Toppscore, Apr 9, 2012.

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  1. Sherpa

    Sherpa Tele-Holic

    Mar 20, 2011
    New England
    I believe a good guitar is a good guitar, regardless of the country of origin. As far as MIM Strats as concerned, I bought one of the very early ones back in '91. The body and neck were made in the USA, and assembled in Mexico.

    I put an EMG DG-20 rig in it, and had a good full setup done by an excellent tech. It's a brilliant guitar, and stacks up well to most of the non-CS MIA Strats I've played. That said, my experience is relatively limited.

    I have little doubt, however, that a MIA Fender will generally hold its value better than a MIM, so that should be taken into consideration if resale value is important to you. My modded MIM Strat will probably fetch considerably less on the used market than a similarly-equipped MIA would, but that's not an issue for me, as she's a keeper.

    I do love to see "Made in the USA" (and U.K) on my gear, though, and will gladly pay the premium if the instrument feels "right" to me. There are no hard fast rules IMHO.

  2. Toppscore

    Toppscore Banned

    Oct 23, 2011
    Santa Cruz * Monterey
    Yes, I agree in general as I do purchase completed guitars from the source
    for total accountability. Buying USA has been, in part, because it "might have
    better collector or resale value" down the road. That is a consideration.

    Now, that I own an MIM Mexican Deluxe Fat HSS Strat, my thinking has been
    completely turned around. I was thinking about building my own Telecaster
    as a fun project to learn "all about it". I was reading in this TDPRI Forum
    about the pricing of Mexican Made Telecaster bodies.

    So, therefore this thread :?:

    As I will seek to buy neck & body parts for a new guitar,
    I will consider the best price with good quality craftsmanship
    and quality wood, and then quality components.
    Down the road, I can imagine asking about tuners, bridges and pickups.
    I am already excited about those parts :eek:

    All of this thinking has lead to the topics:
    1) are foreign Fender manufacturers using body, neck & wood of less quality?

    2) are foreign Fender manufacturers' craftsmen not good enough to be Fender luthiers?

    3) is PRICE the only difference towards bare Telecaster guitars
    between American and Foreign Fender manufacturers, and nothing else?

    4) if one buys a foreign Fender Telecaster, strips off any hardware that is
    different than what is on an American Telecaster, then upgrades the foreign
    Telecaster with the American parts (what are we talking about, really,
    pots, tuners, nut, bridge & pickups, right?) . . . .
    would the foreign Telecaster be the same as the American Telecaster, but at a much lower price?

    Please let me know your opinion?
    Thank you. Toppscore :cool:

  3. tele salivas

    tele salivas Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 5, 2008
    As far as MIA vs. "the world" threads go, this one has been pretty civil. I just had to mention, though I found the body and neck that fit my needs in an MIM, I still loaded a Fender Amercian Vintage Reiissue '62 bridge pup, plate and saddles on there to get the sound where I wanted it. I have a feeling that most of us "upgrading", tend to buy American manufactured parts, from American distributors and vendors, whether they be Fender, Seymour Duncan, Wilde, Don Mare, et al.

  4. Telemarkman

    Telemarkman Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Dec 6, 2005
    How do you think I felt when I was a newbie - and a "foreigner" as well? I got a lot of beating for picking on some (unknown to me) "sacred cows", just to give you an example. There were some codes I was totally unaware of.

    It never discouraged me though, and I feel that I'm finally being accepted now, but I've never felt that I'm in some kind of "club" - especially being a "foreigner" with a rather different cultural background. But a self appointed "good ole boys club" - I don't think so.

  5. Sherpa

    Sherpa Tele-Holic

    Mar 20, 2011
    New England
    Count the number of pieces that make up the body. In general, I believe you'll find less in MIA bodies, and more in MIMs. The resulting impact on tone is open to debate. if that's important to you, stick to bursts and clear finishes.

    I suspect that your search for universal iron-clad answers are doomed from the start, as there are no absolutes, but whatever floats your boat...

  6. Toppscore

    Toppscore Banned

    Oct 23, 2011
    Santa Cruz * Monterey
    Thank you for your response, Tele S.!

    The American Telecaster makers SHOULD have the highest level of PRIDE
    to produce the best, because MIA's are twice the price, at least! :cry:

    But, I will bet the foreign makers of Telecasters feel the heat and embarrassment
    of being NOT AS GOOD. Don't you think the foreign quality control persons desire
    to pick up the pace of better production and better employee commitment? :idea:

    Don't you believe that the American Telecaster makers feel the heat that
    MIM MIJ & MIC are closing the gap? :(

    That the word is already spreading that MIM Mexican Telecasters
    just might be the BETTER BUY, the BETTER BANG for the BUCK???

    Thanks for your opinions. Toppscore :cool:

  7. nvilletele

    nvilletele Friend of Leo's

    Jul 4, 2008
    I've had squier, MIM, MIJ and MIA telecasters. And two Fender Custom Shop teles.

    Generally speaking . . .

    The Custom Shop teles are the best of the lot (by far).
    Next come the MIAs: AVRIs, 8502, AmDeluxe, AmStd, etc.
    The MIJ and MIMs I've had are roughly equal.
    Best Squier I had was a CV50, but others were south of mediocre.

    That's my experience with the guitars I own and have owned. The US ones were best by far. But this by nature was a very limited sample set, so perhaps not sufficient to make a broader statement covering all MIA, MIM, MIJ etc.

    In other words, YMMV.

    As to the other theme running through this thread, I thought Telemarkman's initial response (and later ones as well) was fine. I know from reading many posts of his over some time that he is a helpful poster, often looking to pass on what he knows in an always friendly fashion. I think many of the folks here who have seen his posts over the years will know this to be true. Telemarkman generally hits the mark when talking about Teles (puns intended).

    Jeg kan ikke helt si det samme om den andre fyren.

  8. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

    Mar 11, 2009
    Sand Land
    I'm sure you didn't intend what you said to be taken the way I did. But "good ole boys clubs" exist everywhere you go. Like I said they are a part of human nature. They just aren't a part of human nature I have much use for. After what we have had to say to each other so far it sounds like we are on the same page. And no, I don't think you are a "good ole boy".

  9. BillB1960

    BillB1960 Tele-Meister

    May 26, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    I think you're trying to rationalize your choice to buy MIM in your own mind by soliciting public support for your decision.

  10. Toppscore

    Toppscore Banned

    Oct 23, 2011
    Santa Cruz * Monterey
    Hi, Serpa! My boat is floating and more resolved
    from many of the fantastic TDPRI responses.
    I am not after the iron clad answer.

    I enjoy shared quality opinion.

    Same as A & B "Blind Fold Testing"
    Same as Eric Clapton playing a MIJ
    and me playing a MIA. All opinioned results.


    Also, I owned a 1980 Blonde Telecaster with great wood, and have heard about buying
    blonde or clear coat finishes to have a better chance for buying better wood.
    I owned a 1971 Sunburst Stratocaster, and know about "bursts" need good wood as well.

    Thanks for your response. Toppscore :cool:

  11. Elibrown09

    Elibrown09 TDPRI Member

    Jan 12, 2012

  12. Elibrown09

    Elibrown09 TDPRI Member

    Jan 12, 2012
    I want to add a situation to this. Any guitar I buy, whether mim Mia or mij, I like to put my own pickups/hardware to customize it exactly how I like it. In this case, mim Mia and mij make no difference whatsoever.

  13. Toppscore

    Toppscore Banned

    Oct 23, 2011
    Santa Cruz * Monterey
    Thanks, BillB.

    I already bought the MIM 2008 Fender Deluxe Fat Strat HSS Stratocaster.
    It was that purchase, and the suprised qualtiy of this guitar that has
    led me to inquire about the various Telecasters from MIA MIM MIJ and
    apparently now, MIC.

    But, also, I am very interested towards building my own guitar from
    parts, and the issue of Mexican wood, necks & body parts being
    priced at a variety of price levels, all from Mexico and various posters
    shared their opinions about why.

    So, I am not soliciting for support, I am interested in experiences and opinions.
    I own more than 25 guitar amplifiers of which most are Fender and two thirds
    are 1950s/1960s vintage Fender amps.

    So, the issue comes up for me as to which to buy:
    Tweed Brown Black Silverface, 1990s Pro, 2000s Reissues, etc.
    Lots of different opinions and via those shared opinions,
    I was able to make better choices and look for and to seek certain
    good amplifier qualities and which things to avoid buying.

    Same with Fender guitars. Today, not much issue with foreign Telecasters
    as far as I can tell, compared to the CBS era foreign Telecasters.

    Thanks for your interest. Toppscore :cool:

  14. Toppscore

    Toppscore Banned

    Oct 23, 2011
    Santa Cruz * Monterey
    To ALL TDPRI'ers

    I very much want to thank those who have been real cool about sharing your
    posted ideas and positive comments towards this thread regarding particular
    issues and closeness of quality between American & Foreign Telecasters

    I know this thread started off with a few bad, sad & rude comments
    from "experienced" posters, but now we are on track.

    I hope this thread will show "experienced posters" that what they believe
    is a dead an "over-discussed" issue, is not that at all. And that their negative
    "experienced opinions" are not that experienced nor welcomed, if negative, at all.

    I do not feel, so far, that I have wasted my time.
    We are near 100 posts and 2000 viewers just a few hours,
    so, this is an important thread.

    Telecaster buyers/owners do want quality and at a fair price
    and we are discussing how those two goals can be achieved.

    Please, keep on sharing your opinions about American and MIM MIJ products.

    Toppscore :cool:
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012

  15. Steely_Ken

    Steely_Ken Tele-Meister

    May 28, 2010
    Austin Texas

  16. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO

    That's easy. Buy used whenever possible, especially when it comes to MIA product. That advice comes up around here pretty frequently too.

    The MIA product offers more variants as far as models and finishes and there are those who would prefer that to the lesser selection that the Squier line offers. The MIA quality and features are somewhat better as well but not enough to justify a price 4x what I top end Squire CV sells for.

    Personally, I would not pay that much more for those features when even the cost to upgrade a lower price model to near that level would still be far less than the cost difference of a new one.

  17. Nick JD

    Nick JD Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Now you're just being rude.

  18. Jupiter

    Jupiter Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    Just FYI to the OP about MIJ/CIJ Fenders: They're extremely high quality, particularly the fit and finish, and they aren't particularly cheap. They aren't "catching up" to MIAs; they've been very well made for about 30 years. Some people take issue with the electronics, but mine came stock with Texas Specials.

  19. FenderNashville

    FenderNashville Tele-Meister

    Jun 27, 2006
    You think that a Custom Shop Telecaster is "by far" better than the AVRI series? I'm curious to know why if you don't mind. I have a Gibson Custom Shop '58 Reissue VOS, and several USA-made instruments, one of them being currently custom built by a famous builder. I also have a '52 AVRI, and to be honest, I don't know how it could get any better than it for a vintage tele. Is there something I'm missing? I would actually argue that the AVRI series is equivalent to Gibson's Custom Shop Reissue series, and many feel that that is the pinnacle for Gibson unless your after something "custom" like an artist model or something basically for bragging rights against who has the biggest wang.

    Obviously, Gibson and Fender lines will differ with their lines. For example, with a straight face, I can say that the Custom Shop Gibson Les Pauls are "by far" better than the standard Gibson Lester offering (ie-- "Les Paul Standard Plus, Traditional Plus, etc"), especially with the "vintage-correct" mindset. I can actually give you many reasons why, but I think you're going to have a hard time explaining how a Tele from Fender's Custom Shop is any realistically better than the AVRI series, by Fender, which I consider pristine and some of the best offerings by Fender today.

    Back on the topic. I say this without ego: After 16 years of playing and buying roughly 50 guitars in my lifetime from all over the damned globe, the American instrument is the better guitar in general, FACT. I wish people would stop debating this because it's pointless. If you've been playing guitar for only a few years, IT DOESN'T MATTER where the make is, so stop worrying or caring about it an enjoy your instrument. Work on your skills, because your ears will continually develop along with your playing. What once you may thought sounded good will not anymore.

    When you learn the dynamics of sound with your playing, and you've have had experience setting up hundreds of guitars (all makes and models), you really "feel" something when touching a quality USA instrument. I've been impressed with Japanese instruments, too. I've never felt like I've held, played, or listened to anything special coming from non-US and non-Japanese factories, sorry if I offend anyone, but that's been my experience. I had a Japan acoustic, and I've played on a few Japan guitars. I would take a Japan instrument over an Mexico instrument any day of the week.

    That doesn't mean that I think overseas instruments (excl. Japan) suck. I just don't think any of them are worth taking to your grave and dying five-times over. They're players. They're fun. They get the job done. They can even sound "pretty good." But do they have that legendary "solid" feeling and sound from superior woods/cuts, superior setup out-of-the-door, high resale value, investment for children and family, little-to-no quality compromises in hardware or electronics, or that emotional sense that a real person who cared about building guitars did more than set it in a machine and walked off? or how about the sense of value when what I'm holding was NOT made as a cheap commodity item? There's no replacement for that.

    That doesn't mean that I'm implying ALL US instruments are the best. I've played on some stinkers. But there's stinkers in every make and model. But when you play on a quality US instrument, there is no going back.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012

  20. BackNtheSaddle

    BackNtheSaddle Tele-Holic

    Mar 25, 2012
    Philly 'Burbs
    Well, at the end of the day, for me...

    I looked closely, I played endlessly, I held/felt/touched, listened critically and then I repeated that process over & over - with many MIA and MIM Tele's, over many days.

    The Tele the ultimately came home with me was an MIA Std. It was the best Tele that I could find, in my opinion, for my liking, based on my standards, needs, wants and evaluation.

    Price was not a concern. Please don't take that the wrong way; I do not have more money than brains. However, the $400 difference in price, between the MIA and MIM was not a consideration at all. My top spend amount was $1100-1200. Beyond that, I just wanted the best "new" guitar that I could get.

    I fully realize that buying new involves paying a premium over buying pre-owned. But, like with my cars, I wanted to be the first owner. If I were to buy used, I would buy vintage... a "real" vintage. However, that would have been $thousand$ more than I was willing to spend. Saving a few dollars, by buying used, was not a consideration.

    I'd offer, that as best as one can, folks take price, country of origin or any other "label" out of the equation and simply get the best guitar that they can obtain, at a price they feel is worth what they are getting.

IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.

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