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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Mexican Standard vs American Special

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

  1. DaveRage

    DaveRage TDPRI Member

    Mar 13, 2018
    As it happens, I am going brand new - it is my 40th birthday present ;)
    boris bubbanov likes this.

  2. DaveRage

    DaveRage TDPRI Member

    Mar 13, 2018
    lol. For me it is about the things you can't detect. Quality of materials and electronics. Day one they may be great, but after a month will there be problems on the MIM vs the MIA - I don't know the answer as I have never bought fender before :)

  3. Tim S

    Tim S Tele-Meister

    Oct 27, 2008
    Upstate NY
    I have 8 Fenders. I prefer my MIM Classic Player models to my MIA models -- I don't care how much others tell me that I should love my MIA guitars more. It's all about what feels right and works for YOU.
    DHart likes this.

  4. beninma

    beninma Tele-Holic

    Mar 17, 2017
    You can put just about any of the high end boutique pickups on the market into a MIM along with replacing all the controls, jack plate, add treble bleed, switch to 4/5 way switching, etc.. with top of the line components and if you do the work yourself you will still come in WAY under the price difference. Use fender pickups and you can do the work for even less. Buy the most expensive fender pickups and the stewmac premium wiring kit and you'll be at around $200 in parts.

    It's really feel of the neck, frets, different bridge, etc.. more than anything IMO... if you like them both the same maybe get the cheaper one.

    If you're talking a used MIA vs new MIM than you can't do all that work cost effectively and should just get the MIA, but if you go used on both it's right back to the same situation.

    I've played my MIM daily 1-2 hours for a year and there is no discernible wear on the frets, certainly nothing that is effecting how it plays at all.

    All that cost difference stuff is meaningless anyway if you like both guitars as is, if you like them both as is then the cost difference is at it's largest.
    DHart likes this.

  5. LocoTex

    LocoTex Tele-Meister

    Jan 16, 2018
    Waxahachie, TX.
    Get the Standard. You can always replace the pickups for less than the difference in cost. A lot less.
    DHart and DaveRage like this.

  6. Dunnigan

    Dunnigan Tele-Meister

    Apr 27, 2017
    I usually talk myself into the nicer choice, or pricier choice. For example, I went with a USA G&L over the overseas model. I liked getting a real case, a color I loved, and a plek’d fretboard. Not concerned about resale. I did buy a used overseas model for my first nicer electric, since I was still exploring what I wanted. I was able to sell it for about the same when I decided on my G&L keeper.
    I do agree with the point of possibly using the saved money elsewhere in your rig. If you need your first tube amp, that 400 will go a long way. A solid MIM and a tube amp is a great rig.
    DaveRage likes this.

  7. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    The pickups in the American Special are alnico, where the MIM Standard has ceramics. Both are fairly hot, not vintage sounding, but if you could look at a graph of the what happens to the signal as the level goes up and up, this set of alnicos has I think a prettier transition into breakup, than the ceramics. Although your ears weren't impressed one way or the other. So what can happen is, guys get a bit tired of the stock MIM pickups after a year or two and find themselves installing something else. But really nice replacement pickups can be found at all prices, some way under $ 100 a set.

    If you personally thought the MIM Standard seemed like an equivalent product, that's the better choice for you. One thing the American Special has is huge fretwire (which hates me) and you're not ga-ga for that huge wire, paying the premium (double the price) for the American Special just makes no sense. But people spray expensive Champagne all over their friends on their 40th birthday too, and technically that "makes no sense" either.

    We've got some debate here as to the quality of the electrics. Imagine you're in a large factory and switches or pots are being churned out, by the pound, tested maybe, then shipped to the customer where they drop the switch and pots in there, fast, solder it up and get the job done. I understand the pots and switches may start off virtually identical, but the ones that get shipped for use in the USA guitars just go through more testing and if there's too many bad ones, Fender Corona asks for a replacement box of the pots or switches. I think the workers in the USA are given more time to do the soldering and time to maybe inspect their work better. But the difference is NOT night and day, and there's guys who rip out and redo the electrics in their USA Fenders pretty much the same as there's guys who do the same to their MIM Fenders.

    To me, I pay attention to FEATURES and if the guitar has features I don't prefer, and that I cannot address inexpensively with available parts and my own tools and hands, it may as well not exist. Whether it costs twice another or one half of another model. The Secret Weapon that patient guys have, is, to play enough MIMs to find the ones that are just as good as (in some cases better than) the USA Fender on the hook next to it, in the shop. Although, you may have stumbled on a MIM gem right out of the box.

    It still falls on the individual buyer, to do a highly detailed inspection of a guitar, and to see how it feels and plays (esp. plugged in). Don't rely on the price on the ticket because the best MIMs are way better than the mediocre USAs. My gut says, you should go over right now and buy that specific MIM you have tried. If your instincts are sound, that's easily the right choice and not the Am. Special. Do it, you have a return policy probably, at your store. The worse thing that could happen is to return too late, and that MIM is sold/gone, and the next 12 you try are just not the same. That happens.
    DHart, DaveRage and 6BQ5 like this.

  8. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    I hear you.

    My personal belief is, MIM and USA Fenders are like brothers and sisters of one another. So much commonality in the manufacturing processes, in the engineering of the actual build process. Just some of the finish/painting technology really, is different.

    Even though the Tribute/replica production line Surabaya "G + Ls" are actually decent guitars, half of my senses rebel and they just scream at me "this is nice but it is NOT a G + L!!!" even though in a lot of ways it kinda seems like it should be alike. I grip the neck, touch the fretwork and I'm reminded of the Squier Standard's and all those other mass manufactured guitars that the Cor-tek Surabaya plant churns out. The tuning machines, the nut, the sort of finish, the jack assembly, the feel of the blade switch, all the Tactile things about the guitar just don't add up to the USA product - even though a non guitarist probably could not tell the difference without looking for the "Indonesia" and identifying each based on the presence or absence of that.

    I tell people who simply can't find room in the budget for a USA G + L, don't even play one because once you can see the difference, it IMO kinda spoils the Tribute. If you have never had a nice USA G + L, never had the use of one for a month or something, then you will not know what you don't know. IMO once you picked up the USA type, with good intentions on buying something, you made the only choice from there you could make.


    Contrast this with the Fenders. I go back and forth, back and forth almost daily, playing MIMs and USA Fenders and honestly, once I have the guitar the way I want it, I do not sense any such difference.
    DHart likes this.

  9. DaveRage

    DaveRage TDPRI Member

    Mar 13, 2018
    Thanks all, gonna go MiM and save the extra money for any upgrades I feel it needs. And maybe a boss katana.
    esetter, DHart, LocoTex and 1 other person like this.

  10. heltershelton

    heltershelton Tele-Holic

    Sep 14, 2016
    not houston
    there might have been a big difference before 2006. since then the quality of the mim standards has really gotten least on strats anyway.

  11. dustoff

    dustoff Tele-Meister

    May 23, 2005
    Glenview Illinois
    Close your eyes and play them both. Which one feels better to you ? That is the one to buy....

  12. kurtmanifest1

    kurtmanifest1 Tele-Meister

    Oct 17, 2013
    Like suggested, play both and see which one you like the best.I have a 2013 american special and a 2015 mim standard that I upgraded with fender original vintage pickups, 3 brass saddles and 52 knobs, I like the mim better

  13. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    Marion, NC
    Been there. Done that.

    DaveRage, I agree with your decision, but not your rationale. Allow me to explain.

    What matters most when buying a Tele (or any other axe) is how it feels in your hands. As was mentioned, electronics and accessories can always be swapped in per personal taste.

    "Headstock envy" (i.e., branding and country of origin) is NOT a logical approach to buying ANY axe.

    If the American Special "feels" better in your hands, then save your shekels and buy one.

    FYI, HAD a Katana 50; HAVE a Roland Blues Cube Hot.

    Good luck in your hunt.

  14. DaveRage

    DaveRage TDPRI Member

    Mar 13, 2018
    This was the problem, they both had as many plus points as each other, both felt and sounded great. That being the case and knowing the internals are of similar quality, the less expensive makes sense. I had my heart set on the squier classic vibe, but I really didn't like the neck!

  15. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    But, what if it doesn't?

    I went back and read the O P's posts, and he seemed to say "tossup".

    This is where we sometimes see divergence between those buying "blind thru the net" and those identifying actual guitars in person and buying a stellar example of a model that could consist of examples not nearly as nice. Easier to make a case for the more expensive guitar when web-buying. Easier to just buy the "cream of the crop" in person that can only be identified in person.

  16. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity

    Nov 9, 2008
    Buy an older stock MIM. They came with good alnico pickups.

    If you want "new" then I can't help you as I don't understand that word...:confused:

  17. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    Marion, NC
    Congrats on the new axe, DaveRage.

  18. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    Marion, NC
    Hmmm. I went back and re-read the OP's post, too.

    He says, "I have tried out a GREAT Fender standard and a NICE American Special" (emphasis mine). Sounds like he was predisposed to the Fender Standard, right? He's there; he's held and played both, right?

    The financial difference between the 2 axe's is a moot point, IMHO.

  19. boris bubbanov

    boris bubbanov Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mike, aren't the older MIMs with the alnico pickups and vintage fretwire kinda scarce these days, esp. in sweet condition?

    Honest, I don't think a guy could find the right one quick - might find one in a year when he wasn't looking anymore.

    Besides, IMO, the newer MIM have much, much nicer fret work/fret finishing. Which appeals to me.

  20. DHart

    DHart Tele-Meister

    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    The recent years of MIM Fenders have gotten so good that I happily rotate around the eight USA Fenders and MIM Fenders that I have. They're all wonderful and a joy to play.

    In recent years, I don't buy complete guitars anymore; I buy Fender bodies, Fender necks, a variety of select components, and put together instruments just as I like them. Fenders are magical that way! I have mixed and matched USA and MIM Fender necks and bodies with complete satisfaction.

    If you find an MIM Fender that you really click with, GO FOR IT! And if at some point you want to try different pickups, that's easy and not expensive to do.

    I am one who like to tinker, so all of my Fenders get modded: pick-up changes, pot changes (250k to 500k), cap changes (.047uF), pickguard changes, and a variety of neck swaps around and among them.

    These guitars are such a joy to play and a joy to tinker with! :)

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