Baja vs. American standard

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Guytar11, Jul 19, 2021.

  1. Guytar11

    Guytar11 TDPRI Member

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    Looking at two teles and having a hard time deciding…

    First is a 2015 Baja. S1 deactivated by tech, everything else is stock. MIM. Yellow (desert sand?) w/ maple neck. Good condition, small chip in finish. Price is $800

    Second is a 1998 American Standard. Everything stock except an upgrade to fender locking tuners. Black with maple neck. Very good condition. Price is $700.

    I’m just trying to get some opinions from those who have owned/played these two guitars, and hopefully figure out which is likely a better buy (value-wise), because both guitars are two hours from me but in opposite directions so I’ll ideally only be making one drive. The only initial opinion I have is I like the yellow better than black, but color is far less important to me than the feel and sound of a guitar

    Thanks for any/all input and opinions!
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
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  2. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Two somewhat different animals.

    The Baja has the thicker soft-V neck (thicker profile, not as much shoulder). The American Standard (AS) has the modern C (I think).
    Baja has vintage tuners, AS has modern.
    Baja has three brass saddles, AS has six individual saddles.
    I am pretty sure the pickups are the same on both.
    Baja has a 4 way switch, AS has 3 way.

    The Baja is more a vintage instrument with a few modern tweaks; the AS is a modern instrument (as of 1998). This is a judgement call; the neck on the Baja is the selling point, but you have to like it.
     
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  3. OmegaWoods

    OmegaWoods Tele-Holic

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    I have a Baja and it's good except the neck is a bit glossy for me so I play my Vintera (profile pic) most of the time.

    Personally, I'd lean toward the American, especially since the Baja's been modified.

    I'd drive to the American one and play it. If you don't love it, drive to the Baja.
     
  4. midairmatthew

    midairmatthew TDPRI Member

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    I think you should go with whichever neck feels best to you.

    I ended up with the "new" version of the Baja (Vintera '50s Modified) solely because of the neck. I'm also super happy with how it sounds. The Twisted Tele neck pickup was not a huge selling point for me, but I'm more in love with it every day.

    Edit: Maybe there's a Guitar Center or something closer to you where you could find a Tele neck with similar specs to the American Standard, then after trying that you could make your drive to check out the Baja?
     
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  5. Weaselcoon

    Weaselcoon Tele-Meister

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    I have both. A 2010 AS and a 2016 or 2017 (can’t remember) Baja. They are both excellent guitars. They are both very different guitars. You’re gonna need to play them.

    I’m thinking I’m about to express an unpopular opinion on TDPRI. If I had to choose one of the two to keep, I’d keep the AS. There is just something about this particular guitar. There is not a bad sound in it. Really easy to play.

    The Baja is an awesome guitar though. Not real big on the 4 way. Maybe I’ll put a 3 way on it?
     
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  6. Guytar11

    Guytar11 TDPRI Member

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    Yeah I keep hearing things about the “Baja neck” seems like it’s this mystical magic neck that’s the best of the best, but I’ve never played one so it’s hard to make a purchase based on the idea. I agree trying that neck out would be key to narrowing it down.
    Because yeah I couldn’t care less about a 4-way, an S1, etc. things like that are all easy to add/mod

    EDIT: I realize the only thing I don’t like about black is when it’s paired with a white PG. I know lots of players like that look but I hate it. If I got the AS I’d prob just replace the guard with a black one, because black on black with a maple neck is a sexy look as far as I’m concerned
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
  7. telekaster1999

    telekaster1999 Tele-Afflicted

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    The AS is the one to get.
     
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  8. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Yep. The neck shape, the bridge, and to a lesser extent the tuners are the distinguishing features on these two guitars. The Baja neck was the selling point for me, but there are people who don't like that neck too.
     
  9. Controller

    Controller Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I would say the AS. The Baja neck is a bit of an outlier. Very nice but pretty beefy.
     
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  10. gkterry

    gkterry Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I would stack my Baja against any guitar Fender makes. They play very nicely and sound superb. An amazing guitar for the money. I would buy the Baja and reactivate that S1 switch. It adds a unique and quite usable sound to the tone palette.

    The best advice is to play them if possible, but it's hard to beat a Baja.
     
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  11. Guytar11

    Guytar11 TDPRI Member

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    Great point. And I actually LOVE the look of the old ashtray bridges with the three saddles, but I expect the bridge on the AS is more comfortable to play and easier to intonate. But correct me if I’m wrong
     
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  12. Guytar11

    Guytar11 TDPRI Member

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    yeah my brother has a beautiful American strat with the S1 and I like the feature a lot, but of course strats and teles are different animals
     
  13. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Afflicted

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    It's a crapshoot without playing either one, but the prices are fair for both guitars. Like other folks have mentioned, the neck is the single biggest difference between the two and you really need to know if you prefer a thick neck like the Baja or a more modern neck like the '98 AS.

    Personally, I have a similar era Baja and love it. The 3 killer features of the Baja were the neck, the pickups, and the fact that you could get one used for around $600-$650 all day long. #3 is no longer true as used Bajas have now gone up in price but $800 is still fair value. I personally hate that someone took the S1 out, it's a feature not a bug and doesn't get in the way if you don't like it. The S1 is worth having for the the in-series/out-of-phase tone setting -- instant funk right there.

    $700 for the '98 American Std. is more than fair and if you prefer the more typical thinner neck of modern Fenders, the AS is the better choice. The price of used Bajas is high right now, but I think the '98 AS may hold value better in the long run. The 6 modern saddles of the AS vs. 3 brass saddles of the Baja can be a pro or con either way depending on your tele saddle preferences.
     
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  14. Guytar11

    Guytar11 TDPRI Member

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    Great input thanks. I’m not a a longtime fender player. Play mostly Les Paul specials w/ P90s being my choice pickups. Been playing guitar for most of my life, but most of the fenders I’ve played were always strats, which I don’t love. I do love the sound, just not in my own hands if that makes sense.

    But I recently spent some serious time playing a tele though from a guitarist in a band I shared a bill with and absolutely fell in love hard for that sound and the energy those guitars put out into a room. It’s hard to describe but it’s almost magical the way those simple guitars behave

    I did recently play a Highway One and a Muddy Waters and liked the necks on both of them, if that provides any useful reference point…
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
  15. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I upgraded my Baja to compensated fat saddles. Intonation is about as close as you can get it, and they look really cool. Again - simple upgrades.

    The fat saddles don't have protruding screws, so they are very comfortable to play.
     
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  16. hdvades

    hdvades Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    My experience with the Baja I once owned. Didn't like the thick poly finish especially on the neck. I prefer thicker necks. The Baja definitely has a fat neck but I couldn't bond with the "V" profile. Didn't like the 4 way toggle and S1 switch. Pickups were meh. Other people love them for the same reasons. I'd be all over that Am Std. I hear ya about black guitars, I wanted a red Gibby SG Std, tried 2 good lookin' red ones and returned them. Then a black one came into my possession and it was game over.
    Good luck to the OP. They are two totally different beasts.
     
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  17. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    $700 for the American Standard is a really good deal right now unless there's a fabled east Texas unicorn pawn shop nearby. This would have been an OK deal 2 years ago but it's not 2019 now.

    The Baja is more in line with 2021 pricing, maybe a little on the low side by $50 to $100.

    If it was me and had to choose one of the other, I'd probably go for the AS just for resale value alone. I think they're both nice, but different feeling, guitars.
     
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  18. AviA

    AviA Tele-Meister

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    For a 100$ difference I would go for the MIA.
     
  19. midairmatthew

    midairmatthew TDPRI Member

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    Apologies for the tangent, but what saddles did you get? That's my one upgrade, I got the Rutters brass and the up-the-neck intonation is magic.
     
  20. McGlamRock

    McGlamRock Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'd be concerned about fret wear on the 98', just because it's 20 years old. But for the right guitar a re-fret is worth it. Good luck on your decision!
     
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