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

Newbie --MIM vs. American

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by oldnewplayer, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. oldnewplayer

    oldnewplayer NEW MEMBER!

    Feb 20, 2008
    I am a relatively new player (one year) and looking to add a Telecaster. Been looking at used American Series or standard vs. MIM. Looking at other posts most seem to receommend the MIM, I assume based on the price. I am wondering what the real difference is in play or quality, or is the real difference just in the price.

    Thanks in advance for the input.

  2. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 4, 2007
    New Jersey
    The USA built Teles use better wood and electronics and the build quality is generally higher and more consistent. Note though that the USA models are typically a more modern take on Tele design with 6 saddle bridges, flatter fretboards and larger frets. The quality of the MIMs seems to be improving all the time, although you would probably need to play a few to find one you like. The MIM Classic series are built to vintage specs and are well regarded at excellent prices.

    The best advice for you is probably to just go out and play a bunch and see what feels best to you.

  3. Blewbyou

    Blewbyou TDPRI Member

    Jun 4, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I have a MIM Tele that I bought new a year and a half ago and had the neck pickup quit on me so I replaced both pickups with Lindy Frallins. Anyone that has played it has really been impressed with the guitar and the pickups. IMO I believe it plays every bit as good as any American Tele I've played and sounds better. That's just my opinion. But what I'm getting at is this...... a MIM Tele is a damn fine piece of lumber and with a few tweaks there is no need to spend the big bucks on a MIA.

  4. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Bakersfield Ca.
    There are several different levels of MIM and USA made Fenders.

    The MIM Classic and Artist series are very good instruments costing 1/2 as much as the USA versions.

    The HWY1's are also a good choice made in USA with some MIM hardware they are also very good.

  5. neocaster

    neocaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Jan 26, 2006
    Chester County, PA
    I've been happy with my MIM, but that's just me. There was a pretty big difference between a guitar just under $500 and one just under $1000. I might have seen the value in an American Tele more if I had the cash to back it up. It's all about what you like and how deep your pockets are. If you're looking at used gear, you'll find some nice American Telecasters that can be had for not a whole lot more than a new MIM. try and be careful of fakes when buying privately.

  6. OSdave

    OSdave Tele-Meister

    Mar 13, 2006
    Romeoville, IL
    I have always been a STRONG supporter of MIM Fenders. I have quite a knack for good Fender setups, and have had numerous MIA owners tell me that my MIM guitars play and sound better than their MIA's. A couple months ago, I got my first MIA Tele - a used 2002. After doing a setup on it, I played it against my MIM Tele and confirmed what I've always said - a well set up MIM can easily play as good as an MIA.

    That being said, there are two big differences. First, an MIA is typically going to appreciate in value more than an MIM (though as my wife has said, "appreciation don't matter if you don't plan on selling it"). Secondly, and maybe this is incredibly "materialistic" and shallow, but after playing only MIM's for YEARS, even though they play incredibly close, I just FEEL like a better player when I'm playing the MIA. Darn, I think I just crossed over the line to guitar snob. I was wondering what that felt like... :D

  7. superchicken_VI

    superchicken_VI Friend of Leo's

    Aug 16, 2007
    Monroe, NC
    I don't think that you can go wrong with anything from the MIM to the MIA. I don't notice a big difference in "quality" or "playability" from an MIM Standard to an American Standard. I do find the Highway One bodies to be more resonant than either the MIM or American Standards. To me, I'd buy either another Mexican Standard or another Highway One.

  8. guitarzan13

    guitarzan13 Friend of Leo's

    Jul 25, 2006
    LaGrange, GA
    Welcome to the TDPRI !!!!!!!!!!!

  9. kp8

    kp8 Friend of Leo's

    Aug 22, 2004
    Seoul, Korea
    I have MIM, HW 1, and MIA.

    Lots of folks will sing the praises of the MIM, and rightly so, some folks will put down the MIA in order to do the same, and that is a shame if you ask me. The MIM is by far the better value, but the MIA is a very good guitar. The detail, the fit and finish, the quality of the MIA is outstanding. The deal with the MIA is that it is not quite the quintessential tele, has less twang, and it is not a simple swap to put on a 3-saddle bridge if that is how you roll. Plus the p/ups are a little generic. I have a Callaham on my MIA with brass saddles and it sounds great, big rich piano-like tone, but not a whole lot of twang on tap. This guitar is solid, and is the easiest player i have. If i have a tricky part, this is the one i grab. With the bi-flex rod, the mirco-tilt the rolled edges and smooth frets i can get this dialed in just as i like it.

    The MIM is a better value, and it is trivial to swap out the bridge plate. Downside: No Rosewood boards, so if you like rosewood you are SOL.

    My HW 1 is the single best guitar i have owned in my life, but i have the old version, and when i tried the new ones, and A/B ed them with the Baja, i came away liking the Baja better, but like i said, i dig RW boards... but my 2003 HW_1 has twang to spare and is crazy punchy and spanky. Great guitar, but some folks hate the fragility of the finish.

    So.. it all depends what you want....

    You want a road worthy plug and play, with veristility, are you a tweaker? Do you need to have RW or Maple? Do you insist on a 3-saddle bridge?

    Tell us more of what you are looking for, what kind of music you play... you will get better help.

  10. Tom S

    Tom S Friend of Leo's

    Aug 3, 2005
    Before the can of worms gets fully opened (oops, too late)...

    Here's one way of looking at this, but no matter how you look at it, people will argue to the contrary.
    Limiting this solely to the MIM vs American comparison, the significant differences are not as much about quality as they are about features.

    That is to say that the MIM guitars are perfectly playable, perfectly usable instruments that are, for all intents and purposes, equal in quality of manufacture to the American-made Fenders. But they are available at lower prices primarily due to the lower cost of manufacturing, allowing Fender to better compete with other manufacturers within a given price range.

    Fender could easily stop manufacturing in the USA, and begin producing all current production guitars in Mexico. No one would notice any difference in quality.

    So why don't they do that and pass the savings on to the consumer?

    The answer is simple: There's gold in them thar Califormia hills. Fender fully knows the value that the "Made in the USA" sticker carries in the minds of guitar buyers. It would be sheer folly to abandon it from a business perspective. But to continue to reenforce that premium image, the guitars made in the USA have to be differentiated from their Mexican counterparts by more than just a sticker.

    The way Fender does it is through features and feature sets. Do you want some nice binding with a tummy cut? Do you want a copy of a '52 telecaster? How 'bout a '62 custom? A "nitro" finish? Abalone fret markers? The latest, new & improved pickups? (Sure, that last one may be highly debatable, but that's how Fender will sell them.)

    If you want any of those, you need to buy the USA-made guitar, because they don't offer them from the Mexican plant. This kind of feature differentiation helps keeps the USA guitars special.

    Does this mean that USA-made guitars are nothing more than superficially different than Mexican-made guitars? Well, that's up to each individual to decide. For some, certain features are worth paying for, for others, they are not.

    As for me, I generally prefer the American guitars, because the individual guitar models interest me more. It's not because they are necessarily better-made, more playable instruments. Two notable exceptions are the '50s and '60s Classics from Mexico, either of which I would prefer over an American Standard Telecaster. But that's just my preferences.

    As mentioned, go play guitars and see what feels right in your hands. That's all that really matters.

    Anecdotal reports of how somebody's MIM blows away the American guitars, or how their USA guitars are far superior to any MIM, or yadda, yadda, yadda, are of no value because even if they were accurate, they are descriptions of individual examples of specific guitars. You have to find the individual example that you're going to live with, and there's only one way to do that...with your own hands.

    And now I return you to your regularly scheduled controversy....

  11. Spunky99

    Spunky99 Tele-Meister

    Feb 1, 2007
    Redondo beach
    I have both the MIM Strat and MIM Tele and the USA Std Strat and 03' HWY 1 Tele.

    The MIM Tele's parts are interchangeable with the HWY 1 as all the specs are pretty much the same as far as nut width etc. I replaced all the electronics and pups on the MIM and it was equal to the HWY 1 in sound and playability. The tuners are the same on both.

    The Strats are totally different. The MIM Strat has garbage tuners, a narrower nut and a narrower bridge. Nothing is interchangeable and the pickups are garbage too. I ended up replacing the bridge compensator, pickups, tuners, electronics and frets to get the MIM Strat up to par and the nut and bridge are still too narrow.

    I was amazed at the difference in quality between the MIM Tele and MIM Strat. The MIM Tele is a fine instrument and I don't know why the MIM Strat is so poorly constructed in comparison.

  12. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 2, 2003
    Bakersfield Ca.
    If the MIM's werent less expensive because of the lower labor costs in Mexico and they were priced the same as the USA models would anyone buy them?

    Thats the main reason I buy the MIM's. I feel Im getting more guitar for my $$ than the USA models which arent really THAT much different except the price which is much higher. Your just paying more for the more expensive USA labor costs and might not be getting a better product.

    MIM 50's Classic @ Musicians Friend $699
    USA 52ri @ Musicians Friend $1399

    2x's more for a 52ri and the basic difference is it has better pickups and tuners abd a case instead of a gig bag. Shouldnt cost 2x's more for just a few differences.

  13. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

    Jun 12, 2003
    Glamorous NoHo
    Maybe not with the standards, but the Muddy Waters, Highway One and Classic '60s Telecasters come with rosewood boards, as does my Palo Escrito.

  14. charlie cash

    charlie cash Tele-Holic

    Jul 1, 2006
    Western Colorado
    They don't make the same models as USA and MIM, so for me it is a question of getting the specs I want and I don't really care what country it comes from. I agree with Mark that there is some difference in quality and components, but not enough to justify the difference in price in most cases.

    Despite what a few knowlegable people know about the differences in quality, the USA sticker adds alot of perceived value for most people; it represents the top of the line model in most people's minds.

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