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Mexican Standard vs American Special

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by DaveRage, Mar 13, 2018.

  1. DaveRage

    DaveRage TDPRI Member

    Mar 13, 2018
    Hi all.

    I am looking to get my first Tele, but have a dilemma. I have tried out a great Fender standard and a nice American Special. Neither is significantly better than the other, that I can tell from sound and feel.

    My question is, is there a £400 difference between a Mexican Standard and an American Special?

    Thanks all :)
  2. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Telefied Ad Free Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Austin, Tx
    Buy the one you like more.
  3. DaveRage

    DaveRage TDPRI Member

    Mar 13, 2018
    That's the thing, they are equal in my mind. The question is really, can I justify an extra 400 quid for the american made one. Is the workmanship and the electronics THAT much better?
  4. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 2, 2006
    I think there is. I like the pickups on the American Special better, the rolled edges on the fretboard on the American Special feel better tomorrow me. Frets on the Special are bigger. You also get a gig bag with the American Special, worth about $30. The American Special has a traditional 3 saddle bridge, the Mexican Standards get a more modern 6 saddle bridge.
    In the USA if you ever go to resell you will get almost every bit of the difference in price back.
    DaveRage and Synapse2k like this.
  5. jackinjax

    jackinjax Friend of Leo's

    Sep 11, 2016
    Welcome, Dave. "Neither is significantly better than the other, that I can tell from sound and feel." "they are equal in my mind".
    Based on your observations above I'd say you've pretty much answered your own questions.
    TimothyC, boris bubbanov and DaveRage like this.
  6. Synapse2k

    Synapse2k Tele-Meister

    Jan 11, 2016
    Brooklyn, NY
    Go with the American special. They go used for about 600-650.
    DaveRage likes this.
  7. DaveRage

    DaveRage TDPRI Member

    Mar 13, 2018
    Hehe, partially. I suppose the issue is, if I buy a mexican will it last as long as an american made. Will i be replacing the electronics in 6 months, or need to refret in 12 etc.
  8. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Tele-Afflicted

    May 31, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Will you have to replace the electronics or refret in under a year? Probably not.

    I'm puzzled by the perceived sameness though. While it doesn't surprise me that two guitars hanging for who-knows-how-long on the wall of your average guitar shop, might be in a similar state of need for a good setup, and thus feel similarly. However, given the pickups in the American Special vs the MIM I would expect these two guitar to sound quite different. Maybe not "better" or "worse" as the two things are subjective, but there's probably one that you prefer.
  9. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    May 9, 2015
    Seekonk, MA
    It’s worth the difference unless you’re handy. Smooth frets and rolled edges have become compulsory for me. A well-made and “finished off” neck allows my fingers to pay more attention to the matter at hand, which is creative expression. Any subtle shortcoming potentially requires conscious attention on some level. Thus, taking time and energy away from that happy place where the real good stuff lives.

    OTOH, even if you’re good with a file and have all the tools, IMO the American pickups in the Teles that I’ve played are much more true Tele sounding than the Mexican ones I’ve played. I’ve played some MIMs that I really liked, but if they were going to be in the long term plan for me, the pickups would likely be swapped out. Cost of that is what, $150-200? Even if you’re handy with a soldering iron, all of a sudden that price difference has had a big chunk taken out. Not sure about the difference in electronics. There seems to be a difference of opinion on that. Maybe different years?

    BTW, don’t count out a Japanese Tele. I’ve played some fine examples of those. I would put the overall quality and playability of the MIJ at just below a late year MIA. Only thing is the prices on those has been creeping up to the tipping point over to a USA- at least in the markets that I keep tabs on.
  10. JL_LI

    JL_LI Tele-Afflicted

    May 20, 2017
    Long Island, NY
    I have a MIM Telecaster and an American Standard Strat. There's no discernable difference in quality between them right down to the finish. I replaced the pickups in both to get rid of hum. I like the slotted tuners on the MIM better than the staggered tuners on the Am Std. The fret ends on the MIM were a little rough at first but the guitar broke in nicely in a few months without the need for filing fret ends. If you like the sound of both guitars you're looking at and your budget doesn't make the MIA a stretch, I'd ask myself, am I happy with my amp? In my experience, a really good amp is a necessity. Do you have an acoustic? I not only thoroughly enjoy mine, I find it has really helped me improve my playing. I'm sure you'll make the right choice, for you. My opinion is only that, my opinion.
    schotter611 likes this.
  11. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    There's a difference. But it's nowhere near a £400 difference. Just my opinion.
    Obsessed and hellopike like this.
  12. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 11, 2006
    Near Athens GA USA
    Are you on a year long tour with nightly 4 hour gigs where you play very aggressively? Or, do you play a few nights a week at home, strumming a few cowboy chords to relax? Durability is really more a function of your playing style. I've seen inexpensive guitars work well for decades and I've seen expensive ones falling apart within a year because of how the were played and maintained.
  13. DaveRage

    DaveRage TDPRI Member

    Mar 13, 2018
    Thanks all, so great advice. I need to go and play both again and pay more attention to the fret ends, it may be the MIM I played was just very well finished in the factory - both are brand new. I need to check the bridge on the special again, just to be sure the rolled edge of the ashtray is comfortable for sustained palm muting lol.
  14. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    Same electronics. Different pickups, MIM hotter for modern rock, MIA weaker output for cleans. Deck the MIM pickups and they clean up too. You can change out pickups. I see a lot of buyers 'auto swap' pickups in MIAs too so you're not safe there, lol. Logo is a big thing for some players. Fretwork could be different, but if you have both guitars in hand you an inspect for that on each (fret rocker), and a pro fret level is only $100 away.

    Obsessed and DHart like this.
  15. Lobomov

    Lobomov Friend of Leo's

    Jul 15, 2013
    All is a question of personal preference. I'd go with the american, but sounds like you'd be much happier with the mexican.

    Go get it :)
    ianstrike likes this.
  16. john_cribbin

    john_cribbin Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 26, 2014

    You've already got some good advice already. Don't worry about fret ends being an issue a few minutes with a file will address those issues if they exist. Plenty of people will tell you that even a new guitar will benefit with a once over from a luthier.

    I bought a new Cabronita Tele a couple of years ago, it had some fret sprout. Now that guitar had travelled from Mexico to Germany and then on to me. Wood moves with climate changes and I could have found the same thing on a custom shop model. Months later it had settled down and now I have to look for fret issues. Yep a quick file will make it perfect, but it doesn't bother me enough to do it.

    One model that gets a lot of love is the Baja, maybe the best all round Tele made anywhere. Check one out you won't regret it. Personally I'd look at buying s/h, new UK prices bring tears to the eyes :(
    DaveRage likes this.
  17. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Friend of Leo's

    Nov 15, 2010
    The one that (1) feels better, (2) sounds better, and (3) looks better (in that order) is the better instrument.

    If you don't feel, hear or see any significant difference, the only thing to consider is resale value...the American will retain it's value better.

    If you aren't an "instrument flipper", you have one more decision to make: how will you spend the 400 quid?

    I personally would buy the MIM and spend the extra towards a better amp (if you need one).
    Obsessed and boris bubbanov like this.
  18. Rayf_Brogan

    Rayf_Brogan Tele-Meister

    Dec 14, 2017
    I wouldn't compare new MIM with new American teles. If you can afford a new MIM, you can usually afford a used American if your patient.

    I bought an American Special with the plan to swap out the pickups, but after a few months of playing, they really sound good to me. Great for overdrive and clean tones(although that could be said for almost everything).

    I ended up buying mine new from Guitar Center after they gave me 20% off and 0% financing for 4 years. It ended up being about $160(including tax) more than what I could get a used Special for, but spread out over 4 years, it was worth it to me to hold on to my cash (and use it for something else).

    The alternative is to find a used, modern MIM and use the money you saved to upgrade the pickups and get a setup. It'll be every good a player as the Special.
    Synapse2k and DaveRage like this.
  19. Gmountain

    Gmountain Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Jun 7, 2015
    Why does everyone assume that person WANTS to buy a used guitar, or cares about resale value?
    AndrewG, Synapse2k, DHart and 2 others like this.
  20. Tim S

    Tim S Tele-Holic

    Oct 27, 2008
    Upstate NY
    If both guitars feel equivalent, buy the one that costs less. It's pretty simple. Unless you like spending more for qualities that you don't detect? (and if that's the case, I have some slightly used emperor's clothes to sell you) :D
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