USA Tele’s and Strat’s vs made in other countries

Wrighty

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Now you know why Fender's marketing department wound up changing the name to "American Professional"; they did try to kill the name back in 2000 by just calling them the "American Series" but that didn't really stick as people still called them "American Standards".

And you are correct that "standard" doe have that connotation of "everyday" even though the model was more the "bottom of the top of the line" at the time they were released when you looked at their entire 1987 product lineup.
I like ‘bottom of the top of the line’, about sums it up! People use the expression ‘top of the line / range’ to infer something they have is really top notch. My first thought is always ‘how good is ‘the line’ that it’s at the top of’?
 

Downsman

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Personally I think it's more useful to compare specific product lines and price points, rather than where they're made. My Squier Bullet Mustang didn't have rough frets because it was made in Indonesia, but because they wanted to make a profit selling it to me for £75 (I got it on sale and assume the shop didn't lose money). Which meant even on Indonesian wages they couldn't afford to pay someone to polish the frets.

If Fender sent a team of their most experienced Master Builders to Indonesia to train the workforce there, and gave them the best components to work with, within a few years you could get Custom Shop quality guitars from Indonesia.

A lot of the new signature models coming out are MIM, and you regularly see people say they're too expensive purely because they're MIM. Again, whether they're worth it depends on the quality of components the workers were given to use, and how much time they were allowed to work on it. Not where they go home to at night.
 

That Cal Webway

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I've always felt that Telecaster copies made in countries outside of the US, that they're probably made outside of the US.

ymmv
 

fender4life

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Theres no black and white answer, it varies a lot depending on the models u compare. Some MIM or MIJs are better then some USA and visa versa. When looking for a guitar the way to decide is to know what you want and need and look at everything, design, woods, etc. If you know what will get you what you want, that will decide for you whether to go USA MIM or MIJ. If you don't, then it's a crap shoot. I used to buy based on certain factors that really weren't the important ones. Over the years i came to realize what details would deliver the sound i wanted and now that's what guides me and i can get something great from any country of origin at most any price. So it has long been apparent to me that it has nothing to do with where it's made. It's HOW it's made. And that doesn't mean quality. Quality is good, but the design will dictate what u get more then anything else, price, country of origin, and even quality barring the cheapest garbage.
 

burntfrijoles

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Aside from the vast difference in price… what are the other differences?? All my guitars are either MIM or MIJ. I’ve never owned or played any made in USA.

I've always maintained that the difference is in the hands of player. If you can't discern a difference between a MIM and MIA when you play each and the finishing is fine then there is no reason to pay the upcharge for a MIA. That's line in the sand IMO. The same is true for the differences between higher end MIA versus Custom Shop. If you can't feel, see the difference then there is no point in choosing a CS. Other factors may come into play like "pride of ownership", fulfilling a long-held wish, etc.
Guitar is a tactile instrument. It's all about how it feels in your hands. That's the relationship many of us have with our guitars or basses.
My 63 CS Tele is my favorite instrument in terms of feel but my AV64 felt just as good. If I had walked into a shop and played both, I probably would have walked out with the AV64. The same could apply to a side by side of MIM and a MIA for some people, while others may perceive a noticeable difference between the two.
If you like what you have, there's no reason to look further.
 

IrishBread69

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I disagree with the statements that Squier guitars are equal to MIM and MIA.

Of course some will be better than others but every Squier I've had has been inferior to my MIM and MIA guitars. They aren't even close. Either I'm spectacularly unlucky or people don't want to see the differences.
 

Si G X

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I disagree with the statements that Squier guitars are equal to MIM and MIA.

Of course some will be better than others but every Squier I've had has been inferior to my MIM and MIA guitars. They aren't even close. Either I'm spectacularly unlucky or people don't want to see the differences.

I agree, but I don't believe that's because they are made in different places. It's because of the quality of the parts and raw materials the guitar was made from and the time they are given to make those guitars. The guitars are made to fit the price Fender wants to sell them at.

Same with MIM and USA.

I have no doubt that Fender could make guitars anywhere in the world the same quality as the USA ones if they wanted to.
 

IrishBread69

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I agree, but I don't believe that's because they are made in different places. It's because of the quality of the parts and raw materials the guitar was made from and the time they are given to make those guitars. The guitars are made to fit the price Fender wants to sell them at.

Same with MIM and USA.

I have no doubt that Fender could make guitars anywhere in the world the same quality as the USA ones if they wanted to.

I absolutely agree with you there. They're made to a budget. The COO is irrelevant.

I was just making a generalised statement about Squier guitars. People say they're equal or better than Mex/USA guitars and that just isn't my experience at all.

But yes, fender could make equivalent quality guitars outside of the USA, no doubt about it.
 

Si G X

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I absolutely agree with you there. They're made to a budget. The COO is irrelevant.

I was just making a generalised statement about Squier guitars. People say they're equal or better than Mex/USA guitars and that just isn't my experience at all.

But yes, fender could make equivalent quality guitars outside of the USA, no doubt about it.

No it's not mine either.

.... which is shame because even Mexican made Fenders are increasingly looking out of my budget these days.

I wish I had bought a couple of nice US models before I had kids. :lol:
 

Peter Graham

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This is easy. For me, being tone deaf and a mediocre player, a MIM is about my speed. Hey, I'm a realist.

Thou hast harped my Muse.

This was exactly what was going through my mind when I bought my Tele. I wasn't really constrained by budget but did consider myself constrained by reality. The thought process was thus:-

1. I want a guitar that looks and sounds like a Telecaster. Solution: buy a Telecaster.

2. I want a well-built guitar rather than a cheap copy that I'll need to fettle in order to make it sound good. Modifying things is not my comfort zone. Give me a soldering iron or some tools and within five minutes it looks much less like a skilled horologist fine-tuning a watch and much more like the Sandmen looting Luke's speeder. I don't really know much about anything other than Fender guitars in any event as my guitar collection consists of two Fenders I bought in the 1980s. Solution: buy a Fender Telecaster.

3. I don't need a really whizzy guitar. My playing ability hovers on the line between execrable and unimpressive, although for a few years in my youth, I reached the giddy heights of Very Average. So, just as I don't need a Ferrari in order to commute to work, I don't need to spaff a load of cash on a Custom Shop beauty with birdseye maple tuners, rosewood strap ends, a locking tone knob, a Gruntbucket treble bleed system and a set of Fulgington-Cromwell Treble Yoik Metalhammer pickups hand wound by Valkyries in the halls of Valhalla.* Solution, buy an entry level Fender Telecaster.

As it was, I ended up buying an MIJ, but not for much more than a MIM and it has very much satisfied the brief. If I live to be 120, my guitar is always going to be a much better guitar than I will be a player. It's everything I am ever going to need and more, so I intend to just enjoy it. I'm never going to join The Fall now that Mark E Smith is no longer with us**, so I don't even need to buy a case...


* It is possible that there may be some small inaccuracies in this description.

** The turnover of members in The Fall was such that every aspiring musician living in the north-west of England had a reasonable expectation of Getting The Call one day.
 

Boreas

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Country of origin is irrelevant. Price point and profit essentially determine quality. Guitars are made by people - all the same species and CAPABLE of the same workmanship - machines, and wood and parts from all over the world. Where the perceived DIFFERENCES in quality come from is primarily due to time to manufacture and attention to detail. This is never set in stone. Production cost is mostly about time in human hands. Each plant has different priorities from time-to-time. Price point determines time in human hands. Wood quality, parts quality, and worker quality all vary. Long story short - regardless of where it it is made and purchase price, you can get a gem or a dud. Best bet is always try before you buy to avoid the duds.
 

transmetro

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A couple of points.

First, contrary to the previous post, workers are not all capable of the same level of workmanship. They are shaped by the experience and knowledge they acquire over time. Even if you have access to the opportunity to become e.g. a Fender Masterbuilder, it takes many years and most don't make it.

A worker in a Squier plant might spend equal amounts of time with guitars in hand. But they don't practice the same things and don't develop the same skills. With training and experience of course this could be eradicated but that doesn't mean that it will (and workers in wealthier countries have historically been more productive for a range of reasons).

Second, we are currently at the start of a geostrategic shift away from globalisation. I don't share a view as to whether good or bad, but bottom line, we've been in this era where everything has been driven by efficiency and price - where makes the cheapest stuff? And in future supply chain resilience is going to be a much bigger factor.

In terms of what that means, reshoring/friendshoring of manufacturing will be the new offshoring. An advantage on price matters less if you can't count on delivery by X. We'll see the impact this has on guitar manufacturing, but it's hard to see the industry being unaffected by this wider trend.
 

Witcher

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I've owned several MIA guitars in the past, and some MIMs. Back then (this was in the 90s to early 2000s) the MIMs were really not fantastic, though the MIAs were ok at most. The Japanese models were still better in terms of build quality (I'm ignoring MIA CS at this point cos of pricing).

Fast forward to today, I only own 1 MIA strat bought in 2007, and I have since bought 2x MIM Brad Paisley Telecaster/Esquires which have really good build quality. At the same time, I also have an Indonesian made Strandberg Salen I absolutely adore (i had a few), which has a build quality on par with my MIA/MIM Fenders. The MIJ Strandberg I have, is an whole different level though. I also owned an MIA PRS Silver Sky Lunar Ice which was a fantastic build.

So I guess the overall standard of builds today has gone up considerably, that it really doesn't matter which country you get it from, as long as the build is good, and it's not hard to find a good build these days.
 

Boreas

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A couple of points.

First, contrary to the previous post, workers are not all capable of the same level of workmanship. They are shaped by the experience and knowledge they acquire over time. Even if you have access to the opportunity to become e.g. a Fender Masterbuilder, it takes many years and most don't make it.

A worker in a Squier plant might spend equal amounts of time with guitars in hand. But they don't practice the same things and don't develop the same skills. With training and experience of course this could be eradicated but that doesn't mean that it will (and workers in wealthier countries have historically been more productive for a range of reasons).

Second, we are currently at the start of a geostrategic shift away from globalisation. I don't share a view as to whether good or bad, but bottom line, we've been in this era where everything has been driven by efficiency and price - where makes the cheapest stuff? And in future supply chain resilience is going to be a much bigger factor.

In terms of what that means, reshoring/friendshoring of manufacturing will be the new offshoring. An advantage on price matters less if you can't count on delivery by X. We'll see the impact this has on guitar manufacturing, but it's hard to see the industry being unaffected by this wider trend.
But geography has nothing to do with a human's ability to perform complicated tasks. Who makes better cars? There are many "masters" that do not reside in the US. The US is not exceptional. Fender US would not keep trade secrets from its other plants. Wouldn't make much sense.

Obviously not every human has the same skill set or abilities. My point was the geography. Americans aren't the only people to have pride in craftsmanship or exceptional skills. But the most skilled craftsmen produce very few instruments - not the average player-grade guitar.
 

transmetro

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But geography has nothing to do with a human's ability to perform complicated tasks. Who makes better cars? There are many "masters" that do not reside in the US. The US is not exceptional. Fender US would not keep trade secrets from its other plants. Wouldn't make much sense.

Obviously not every human has the same skill set or abilities. My point was the geography. Americans aren't the only people to have pride in craftsmanship or exceptional skills. But the most skilled craftsmen produce very few instruments - not the average player-grade guitar.
Geography is irrelevant but the economics of the industry are very important. It was never my point that Americans are sole custodians of guitar luthiery mastery. My point equally applies to Japan for example.
 

Si G X

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A couple of points.

First, contrary to the previous post, workers are not all capable of the same level of workmanship. They are shaped by the experience and knowledge they acquire over time. Even if you have access to the opportunity to become e.g. a Fender Masterbuilder, it takes many years and most don't make it.

A worker in a Squier plant might spend equal amounts of time with guitars in hand. But they don't practice the same things and don't develop the same skills. With training and experience of course this could be eradicated but that doesn't mean that it will (and workers in wealthier countries have historically been more productive for a range of reasons).

We aren't talking about custom shop master builders or even luthiers of any level, we are talking about production line workers.

and I don't agree that they 'might spend equal amounts of time with guitars in hand'

Here's one example I can think of from a recent experience.

On a Squier Jazz bass it's pretty clear that when they install the pickups they just ram the screws straight into the wood with some kind of power tool. They are really difficult to adjust for height without taking all the screws out cleaning out the holes and threads, maybe even needing to drill them a little deeper if you want to lower the pickup height.

On a USA made Bass it appears the holes have been drilled to the correct size and depth (and in the right place) the holes blown out and you can adjust the pickups up or down quite easily.

I'm gonna suggest that the Squier pickups are fitted in a matter of seconds, maybe it takes minutes on a USA.

This has nothing to do with the skill of the worker, the folk that install the pickups in Indonesia could quite easily do an equal or better job than on the USA ones and could be taught/shown how to do it very quickly and you can apply this to any part of the production line to make a better guitar. .. at a higher cost.
 

golfnut

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Tone and playability on my MIM road worn is every bit as good as my Custom shop 52 Telecaster. The MIM Road worn has sharper fret board edges not being rolled like my custom shop. That may bother some but I don't mind at all. I'd prefer that then too much rolled.
The MIM cost near triple for the initial set up then my custom shop which just needed some basic setup tweaking for my preferences. I also changed out the stock saddles on the custom shop to Rutters. On the MIM I had no need to change out any stock parts except the nut I replaced. The frets needed considerable work, leveling crown\polish, etc. But when that was done it became a fantastic player. A lot of players would complain about things like this but I never complain I just do what needs to be done to get a certain guitar to play the way I like it.
 

RichieB12834

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I read somewhere that Carol Kaye of the wrecking crew plays a MIM jazz bass. I have one as well and it is as fine a guitar as I have ever played. circa 2000, fretless. I may change the tuners to light weight Schallers, and the pots to something , but everything else is top notch.
 




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