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American made vs ...

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by 50sTeleneck, Mar 3, 2021.

  1. 50sTeleneck

    50sTeleneck TDPRI Member

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    Hi.

    I here people talking up the MIJ and MIM guitars. I’ve never played them side by side.

    is there a huge difference between American made and the others?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Fuelish

    Fuelish Tele-Holic

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    Price? I dunno ;) Only MIA I have is a '64 Harmony H15, considered a student model back then, and it's actually a nicely built lil guitar that is a gas to play...I think the previous owner gave up learning and put in it's case under their bed until I picked it up last year or so ..... in very fine condition, and came with the first volume Mel Bay Method booklet tucked in there ;)
     
  3. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    A) Define "huge"
    B) Specify model to model comparisons because it matters. Every blanket statement with a tiny tiny sample size is just more heresy.

    I'll say this: I own a AV Thin Skin Jazzmaster, which arrived to me in flawless condition. It was setup correctly and just nailed what a guitar, and a Jazzmaster should be. Smelled like cake. I also owned a TVL Jazzmaster at the same time, and it was just as flawless, sounded just as good. That's a MIM, which now cost 1500 bucks. I bought the TVL back when it was 1200 bucks. No huge difference, but the price makes for one.
     
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  4. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Does a CNC machine know what country it is in?

    Of course, there is the quality of the parts...
     
  5. IanMoss

    IanMoss Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

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    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
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  6. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Tele-Meister

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    until you play a bunch side by side, it will be hard to tell. there are great and horrible examples of all of these.
     
  7. posttoastie

    posttoastie Tele-Afflicted

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    Fender/Squier MIJ guitar necks are flawless. At least the 80s models.
     
  8. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    With the experiences I've had from Squiers through to 52RIs, I think the higher end MIMs are good value, but I wouldn't pay a premium for US made unless I found a really good specimen.

    Pickups would be a big issue for me, but you can always change them yourself.
     
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  9. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

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    This for me. I’ve had both and never been disappointed. But I’ve never had two of the same type of guitar at the same time for side by side playing. Also my playing ability and feel are not very refined.
     
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  10. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    I’ve owned many US-made Fenders and G&Ls of various vintages—from 1964 to 1992...all were good-to-great, with the exception of the 1964 Fender Mustang, which was somewhat “meh.”

    I was somewhat of a “country of origin” snob, to a degree...then, in ~2003, I bought a 1995 MIM Fender Telecaster. It quickly moved its way up the rank of my guitarsenal, and is now my #1. I own another MIM Fender (a ‘72-reissue Telecaster Deluxe), and it is excellent as well.

    American-made Fenders are great...and the higher-end MIM Fenders are not significantly “lesser”; to me, hecho-en-Mexico means “best bang for the buck” in Fender guitars.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
  11. _MementoMori_

    _MementoMori_ Tele-Holic

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    I prefer American-made music gear over anywhere else, but my preference is not based on any kind of estimation of quality. I have no doubt that there are Chinese/Mexican/Indonesian guitars and amps that are incredibly well made.
     
  12. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    Not as far as the basic guitar goes that I have seen. My MIM is my #1, My MIA is my #2.
    I think the particular guitar is more relevant to the "like-ability".

    The electronics on MIA are better though on an unmodded guitar.
     
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  13. Telecaster88

    Telecaster88 Tele-Afflicted

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    There are great examples and shoddy examples of both MIA and MIM guitars, but after playing lots of them I'd say a good MIM is about 85% what a good MIA is, for 50% of the price (well, used to be 50% -- MIM prices sure are creeping up...)

    ETA: There are plenty of examples of certain MIM guitars that outshine certain MIAs... you gotta play them and let your gut tell you the answer.
     
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  14. Jakedog

    Jakedog Telefied Ad Free Member

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    All are built to an exact set of specs provided by the corporate designers to the respective factories. These range from the species and quality level of wood used, to the types of electronic components and hardware used, and the quality of materials used to make those. Also types and thicknesses of finishes, fret wire material, degree of finishing of frets and nut, and overall build tolerances. They also spec dimensions, neck angle, and tolerances for those. Then the factories build the guitars and ship them out.

    Some products are spec’d much higher than others. None of the less expensive models are spec’d to be as nice as the highest end models. This is done intentionally.

    Every model is spec’d to meet a desired price point. More expensive models are more expensive because they cost more to produce. Some of that is labor cost related to where they are produced. Some of it is wood, hardware, fret wire, and other component choices.

    Lastly, there are people who can tell the difference, and people who can’t. There are people who can but don’t care. There are people to whom price is more important than quality. There are people to whom an extra $500 (or more) to get a marginal increase in quality is worth it, and those to whom it is not.

    Are there differences? Absolutely. Are they worth the price differences? That’s up to you. They usually are to me. But as with everything else, YMMV.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2021
  15. blue17

    blue17 Tele-Meister

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    I find on the "nicer" Americans, you'd get features generally not seen on the MIM models like rolled fingerboard edges, (sometimes) 2 piece bodies, micro tilt, and the like. That's not to say a MIM wouldn't sound the same with the same pickups and all that, but to say that they're exactly the same, aside from price and label is not exactly true.

    I've got an MIM strat and a MIA Strat and Tele, and the difference is night and day, but everyone's got anecdotal evidence for their view, so take it with a grain of salt. Never spent much time with MIJ though.
     
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  16. GGardner

    GGardner Friend of Leo's

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    I used to assume that MIA was better at holding its value for resale. But today, new MIA's are so expensive that you might take a big loss selling them used. Conversely, I'm seeing people asking alot for used MIMs. So who knows.
     
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  17. tattypicker

    tattypicker Tele-Meister

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    I'm a MIJ snob, but can't deny that my MIA Strat compares well.
     
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  18. TheDavis

    TheDavis Tele-Meister

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    The thing that people are usually talking about in USA versus the world in guitar production is often times large scale production versus small scale. The largest scale of production is often times done with lesser quality parts and less time in human hands to create the cheapest priced product for the consumer. This will obviously lead to some inferior products but as so many have pointed out in so many threads mass production of guitars has never been better so often times you can get a really nice guitar at an entry level price point.
    American manufacturing is expensive so we tend to see smaller shops using a higher grade of components and more human time on the guitars so that leads to higher prices but also generally solid products as well.
    Great guitars or terrible guitars can be produced anywhere.
     
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  19. GuitarsBuicks

    GuitarsBuicks Tele-Holic

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    I would say it depends on what you are looking for. You can get a great used American Standard for about half price and have a better built guitar. chances are the neck has already been fixed, so you won't get cut on it...unlike some of the new Am. Pro. I series. That drew blood when I tried it.
     
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  20. Minivan Megafun

    Minivan Megafun Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    I just about rolled my eyes when I saw another one of these country of origin quality threads.

    First, I'd like to know how each poster qualifies their definition of quality. I see descriptions like "flawless" and other hyperbole but what exactly would constitute a flaw? I'd say you'd have to look long and hard in 2021 to find an example of any guitar from any brand that left the factory with serious production flaws. Are we talking warped or twisted necks? Bad finishing? You tell me. Heck, even the Squier Affinity is a completely playable guitar with a reasonable setup done to it.

    Everyone loves to laud MIJ as if it were superior to MIA. In the 1980's that was true, but you have to consider the context of the situation at the time. After about 15 years of CBS running Fender into the ground, they didn't actually know how to make their own guitars properly anymore. They also had to move out of their original facility in Fullerton and during that transition (roughly 1984-86) they didn't even produce any guitars in the USA. MIJ guitars were born to help bridge the transition to the Corona CA facility. So yeah, it took several years for Fender to figure out how to property make guitars again and the Japanese were better at making copies as they had already been doing so for years (as CBS quality tanked through the 70's). But that was almost 35 years ago.

    It's not so much the quality as the difference between country of manufacture, it's the cost of production. MIA guitars typically are finished in either nitrocellulose lacquer or polyurethane lacquer. Bodies are usually 2 or 3 pieces. Traditional materials like rosewood are used. Almost all of the parts and hardware on MIA guitars are made in house by Fender in the Corona CA plant.

    MIJ and MIM guitars are typically finished in polyester (plastic). Bodies can be 2 or 3 pieces but can also be up to 5 or 6. In recent years, alternative and lower cost materials are used such as Pao Ferro. Electronics on the MIJ guitars are typically Alpha mini pots and switches and the pickups can be non-standard as well (for example, MIJ Jazzmaster pickups are strat bobbins under the large cover).

    Are they all good guitars? Yes. Is it an identical apples to apples comparison? No.
     
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