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Why are Japan Fender Telecasters selling so high?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by DRFP, Jul 9, 2014.

  1. jammers5

    jammers5 Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 21, 2009
    Mount Pearl NL
    I have a 2013 MIJ Paisley that stands up to any other Tele I have. It certainly spoke to me more that an American Standard!

  2. gwjensen

    gwjensen Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Apr 26, 2011
    District of Chicanery
    This isn't about a telecaster, but I bought a new MIJ FSR Limited Edition '54 Stratocaster for $750 (normally $999), and it is one FANTASTIC guitar. Even at $999 it would have been a fair deal. I compared it side by side with a Classic 50's, a Highway One, and a Classic Player 60s and the higher quality of the MIJ was immediately apparent.
  3. cmm71

    cmm71 Tele-Meister

    Feb 26, 2007
    Spokane, WA
    I am a big fan of Fender Japan, but not every Japanese-made Fender is of good quality. I've owned a lot of MIJ/CIJ vintage spec 50s and 60s stuff and I find them to be very high quality. I recently bought a Standard Telecaster from the 80s, before Fender moved the Standard line to Mexico. It was horrendous. The basswood body was dead. The guitar was lifeless, no tone and the wood was very, very soft to the touch. The neck was OK, but just OK. It was the first MIJ that didn't impress me.

    And since the US Vintage stuff has gone up in price, driving up the price of the used market, the Japanese stuff is following. I don't know that I like paying $800 for a used MIJ 60s Tele, but when the alternative is the US model, weighing in at $2000, $800 doesn't look too bad. Better yet, the Mexican stuff, which has really come up in quality, is also looking pretty good.
  4. Zodiak

    Zodiak TDPRI Member

    Jun 5, 2009
    Lisbon, Portugal
    Please don't hate on me for what I'm about to say, I really do mean no harm, but isn't the only difference between MIJ and MIA is that the Mexicans are making them in California, as opposed to their brothers in Mexico? Let's face it (CS apart), we are talking about mass production meaning even the American factory has to employ lots of labor (and California is close anyway). At least the Japanese ARE a different bunch in terms of work ethic and principles (for better or worse).

    *flame-suit on*
  5. Starshine

    Starshine Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 20, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    I always figured it's because, for the most part, MIJ guitars are not officially sold in the US. My impression is that most MIJ guitars are produced for the Japanese market and only show up elsewhere as gray market.
  6. Alex W

    Alex W Friend of Leo's

    Aug 29, 2003
    In my tube amp coccoon.
    I've said this in another thread and I'll say it again here: before paying big bucks for a used MIJ Fender guitar, check into buying a new one. Lately the U.S. dollar (USD) has a been a little stronger relative to the Japanese Yen (JPY) -- about 10 to 12% better compared to 2012. You can check the exchange rate by googling a price such as "83000 JPY in USD" and it will tell you the price in dollars. ($817.48 currently.) Figure about $115 to $125 for shipping to U.S.

    This is not to say that all e-retailers' prices will reflect current exchange rates. I searched eBay just now for the TL62B and most were priced in the 900-1000 range plus shipping. That's not such a good deal. But if you can negotiate a price directly via email or telephone you might get the price to match the exchange rate.
  7. flyswatter

    flyswatter Friend of Leo's

    Jan 12, 2013
    In the 25 years I've owned my 85 MIJ 62 RI Tele, I've seen general reactions to it go from "cheap knockoff inferior import product" to "high quality collectibles to rival MIA instruments."

    Amazing how one guitar was able to completely change style, sound and character over that period of time.

  8. pondcaster

    pondcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 29, 2010
    Tryon, NC
    ^^ THIS ^^

    I've really never seen a nice one for as little as the OP stated?
  9. 65 Champ Amp

    65 Champ Amp Tele-Afflicted

    May 28, 2011
    Illinois-Wisconsin line
    10 or 12 yrs ago, I desperately needed an electric acoustic for my church gig. A friend had an '85 Collectors Series Ovation which was (and still is ) perfect for my needs.Unfortunately, the only way I could swing it was to trade my '96 Am Std Strat.(°~°)

    Less than a year later, the same friend offered me what I now call the Squier Sisters- an '83 tele and an '85 strat . Both mij E-series. I paid $200 cash and rebuilt his brakes for both.
    If these are representative of guitars coming out of Japan, those prices don't surprise me.
  10. Ash Telecaster

    Ash Telecaster Friend of Leo's

    Feb 28, 2008
    North Ridgeville, Ohio
    I recently found out that the Japanese Marcus Miller Jazz basses have been fetching around 1100 used. Thats pretty amazing considering I paid about 9 for it new. As I understand it they moved the mfg'ing to Mexico which has driven up the prices on the remaining Japanese models. Maybe something like that is going on with the teles.
  11. Yamaguy

    Yamaguy TDPRI Member

    Jun 21, 2014
    Long Island
    I ""always figured it's because, for the most part, MIJ guitars are not officially sold in the US. My impression is that most MIJ guitars are produced for the Japanese market and only show up elsewhere as gray market.""

    Exactly- they are not sold here because if they were to be placed head to head on the sales floor in abundance the Japanese models would crush the sales volume and or market value of the American models- period.
  12. SAguitar

    SAguitar Tele-Meister

    Feb 7, 2014
    That's the funny thing about the market. Over time, things tend to sell for what they're worth.
  13. Frontman

    Frontman Tele-Holic

    Jul 10, 2014
    Wordworking in Japan is a high art, and the amount of training and experience required in the intrument-making industry is quite high.

    A friend had a new house built near the seaside in Chiba, and houses in Japan are still mainly made if wood. The carpenters cut and notched the lumber at a workshop in another prefecture, and then brought it to the worksite to assemble the frame of the house. Each and every piece fit perfectly, the joints interlocking without requiring nails, screws, or other hardware. I was amazed. There were no gaps, no flaws, and no onsite adjustments needed to be made. And this was only garden-variety construction carpentry.

    The workers who assemble instruments are much more skilled. I bought two new Fender guiters last year, a MIJ Strat, and a MIM Tele. The Mexican Tele cost a third more then the Japanese strat, but the level of quality was probably less than half. The Japanese strat had a perfect finish, there was not a single flaw to be found, not the faintest scratch, nor the smallest tool mark on the hardware. The frets were blended in properly, and the guitar was properly set up at the factory, it didn't require any adjustment, just plug and play. The Mexican Tele had a few marks on the finish and hardware (despite coming out of it's original box, still wrapped in plastic). The ends of the frets were protruding, with sharp edges which had to be filed down, and the guitar requires much more frequent tuning. Both guitars sound good, but I won't buy another Mexican Fender product.

    Today I am waiting for the mail man to deliver what is supposed to be a first-production run Fernandes Telecaster from the early 70's. I'm quite curious to see how well it is made.
  14. FredDairy

    FredDairy Friend of Leo's

    Mar 25, 2007
    The only Japanese Fender I look at is the CIJ Paisley RI. I bought one a Sam Ash for 900ish in 2008 when they imported a bunch here. They go for what 1200ish now on eBay from Japan? That's 300 more. 6 years ago and only a 300 dollar price hike? Not so bad. Didn't the AVRI Fender line go up like twice that in the past 6 years?
  15. cleanheadsteve

    cleanheadsteve Tele-Meister

    Mar 4, 2010
    84-85 mij strats

    i have owned about 20-30 mij strats. i got hooked on a specific type with the locking tremolo. (no dive bombs, just subtle vibrato) the fine tuners were smooth and accurate, necks were pretty flat, action could be brought way down, whammy arms had a plastic bushing to remove any slack, arms popped in, back plate mounted flush w body. etc. just so many little extras that made it perfect for me. e series, a numbers, i would usually change pickups though.
  16. diogoguitar

    diogoguitar TDPRI Member

    May 14, 2014
    Bay Area, CA
    Ok, let me jump in here because I've been playing US and MIJ guitars for 15+ years

    I own:

    2011 USA Custom Shop Strat (1960 RI)
    2011 USA American Standard
    1997 MIJ Strat (62 RI)
    XXXX MIJ Tele (62 RI)

    I can tell you ... the MIJ strat is as good as my other american guitars.
    There are some tiny nuances that makes me feel better playing the USA Standard (yes, the standard, not the CS), but that is just because I like the bigger frets.

    I haven't tried my 62 RI tele that much to tell,... but so far so good. Killer neck!
  17. gmann

    gmann Friend of Leo's

    May 7, 2008
    Okinawa, Japan
    Woodworking may be high art in Japan but Teles and Strats aren't high art. They use CNC machines like everyone else.
  18. LeonDanger

    LeonDanger TDPRI Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    Japanese guitars are getting more expensive in Japan, so of course they are more expensive elsewhere. My friend used to work for ESP in Japan and knows about the biz over there. He said that very few MIJ guitars are actually made in Japan. With that said, some great quality instruments.

    Keep in mind that the ebay link above is for the Australian market where guitars are much more expensive than the North American and European markets for the most part. $750 for a half decent guitar is actually pretty good down here.

    If you're looking to get a Fender guitar in North America you're probably going to get better value out of a Mexican or USA made Fender rather than a Japanese model. Of course, if you find a Japanese guitar for a good price then go for it.

    If you're after a Japanese guitar have a look on yahoo japan auction. You can use buyee (they'll have a banner up the top) to get the page translated and buy through them.

    Most of the guitars I used to send to the States from Japan cost about $100-$130 USD. Europe was maybe $20 more. Might be a touch more than that these days. I think shipping takes about 5 working days.
  19. MrCairo46

    MrCairo46 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Jul 17, 2009
    Baltimore, Maryland Hon!
    Guys I believe it's because they feel and play great. I was in a music store in 1986 and I started walking down an aisle of Tele's grabbing necks. I had grabbed several that felt bad, umostly issues with frets sticking out. I stopped when I grabbed a blonde esquire. It felt great. It was superior in playability to all the made in USA Tele's that were on the rack. I think these guitars at half the price of the USA made guitars were a wake up call to Fender.
  20. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Dec 3, 2009
    Coolum Beach,Australia
    ""an aisle of Tele's ""..... sigh....

    only in my dreams...... the real world is not like that around here,,,:)
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