American Made vs. Mexican Made Fender Jazz

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Captain Jack, Nov 25, 2001.

  1. I'm curious to hear people's opinions on the difference between Mexican made and American made Fender Jazz Basses (aside from the obvious price, I'm trying to get at why the price is so different). What is the quality, playability, feel, sound difference, etc?

    I'm probably going to get an American Jazz bass soon cause I like them a lot, but I'd like to know more about why (and if) I should pay the extra instead of buying a less costly Mexican made.
  2. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Welcome to TB Capt! I'd recommend doing a search on this subject as I've seen a coupla similar posts recently... To sum up my experience, the major difference lies in the quality of materials... Lesser woods, hardware, and electronics used in the MIM's... Fender had to cut costs somewhere, while still delivering a viable product. Many will slam them, but I think they've done well...

    Now that's not to say that you won't find good players in MIM's or poor MIA's... just a general difference. I like my MIM Jazz better than many MIA's that I've played, (on a feel only basis... the stock electronics left plenty to be desired!), and my MIA P-Bass is flat out the best P I've ever played. Of course, all of this is subjective and is merely my opinion, but there you have it :D

  3. RicMeister

    RicMeister Guest

    Nov 25, 2001
    This is only my opinion........

    Be very careful in buying anything made in Mexico. If you buy it and decide you don't like it, you'll probably have a difficult time dumping it without taking a sizable loss. For no more than they cost, a potential buyer could just go to the local El Cheapo Music Store and get it new.

    Caveat emptor.
  4. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    I played both the Mexican and American Jazz Deluxe models for quite a while and was ready to buy either.

    I chose the Mexican one over the American. I did not like the way the American Jazz sounded as much as the Mexican. The sound was sharper. It had a better attack to it.

    The American was lighter. The finish was really pretty. I don't remember if the sustain was better. But for me the bottom line was I didn't like it's tone as much.
  5. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Ive played and owned both. IMO the Mia is a bit better than its mim counter part, putting all asthetical differences asside, there really is'nt that much of a major difference in the 2 basses.
    The body woods are the biggest, and imo the mia has a much deeper, warmer, tone, and is a little bit more mellow sounding than its poplar mim counterpart.

    Both are great basses and imo if you have a decent rig, youll get a pretty professional tone from the mim dlx.
  6. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    The main difference Ive noticed between MIA and MIM Fenders is the frets. The fret dressing and crowning and whatever all that stuff is called is just awesome on MIA basses. I went to GC last weekend and played a black MIA precision with a rosewood fingerboard (my dream bass :p ) and the frets just rocked. No buzzing anywhere, shiny as a mirror, no file chatter marks, everything perfectly level, smooth as ice. They were excellent. Im sure that with the varying quality of fenders, some dont have frets set up this nice though :(

    oh yeah, and I think the neck finishes are different. the MIM feels more like natural wood, while the MIA has more of a finished feel to it. You can get used to either. Right now I prefer the finished neck, since I am in love with that American Series Precision. It had great sustain and everything was awesome :D
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Take off the pickguards on both...the difference will become readily apparent.
  8. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    The difference is the design philosophy. The Mims are made to a cost and are IMO good value. The Mia's are the pucker model or real deal. Both a re mass produced and some Mims are 'better' than some Mia's. Whatever you choose try a lot and get the one that speaks to you. Also dont be close minded. I went to buy a Wal and bought a Status. I wanted a Status 5 and bought a Stingray 5. I didnt like Warwicks at all except for the one I bought. I hate one piece maple necks and bought a 57 ri Strat last month.
  9. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    exactly. the routing on MIM J basses is just a mess. :eek: MIA J basses are routed perfectly. You can perminently (sp?) take the pick guard and leave the control plate on, and voila! instant jaco Jazz bass!
  10. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Not on my 97 Jazz V. The routing is similar to my old MIM Jazz. The MIMs are great, but the MIAs are made with more care. I agree with the statements above regarding fretwork. The MIMs are very good for the money. The MIAs and MIJs are just plain very good.
  11. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I've not played enough of them to know, not being a huge Fender fan, but I know a multitude of Fender-ites who swear that the MIJs are the most consistent of the bunch and by far the biggest bargains. I myself can't tell the difference in an MIA and a MIJ unless I read it one the bass somewhere.
  12. im one o the rare people that likes the MIM better than the MIA I never liked Fenders but I always tried to like them I would go to GC and pickup some really expensive MIA and I would play It but It just lacked the feeling I was looking for they werent bad basses I just didnt like them. But one day I went to Mars I was just their to get strings but I once again wanted to try a Jazz bass so i saw a black MIM I picked it up started playing it and realized it was the best playing bass I had ever played so I decided to buy it (best purchase I ever made) for 280 dollars it is a 2000 MIM Jazz bass and it sounds great feels great and it extremely reliable. I think whether you get a MIA or MIM you should find one that feels "right" i know thats the only reason I ever bought this wonderful instrument. I also think If your going to consider a Jazz bass dont get a MIM 2001 model I think they are overpriced and you would better off finding a great playing American series but either way make sure it feels good to you because that all that matters.
  13. mchildree has a piont that you may want to concider. I play a MIJ Fender Jazz '62 Re-issue and I wouldn't trade it for any MIA bass. Got it for around $500 on ebay about a year ago. It is my main bass now (until my DPCustom comes in).
  14. BassHacker


    Nov 26, 2001
    Tampa, FL
    I have a Fender J-Bass (MIM). After playing around with it some, I concluded that it sounded bad. It sounded bad because it was not setup right and it suffered in terms of some quality issues.

    I took the bass to a good guitar technician and had him properly set it up with a new bridge (bad ass II) and new strings. Around $120 later, I got back a bass that almost sounded great. It was like a totally different bass. I could not believe the difference.

    One of the basic things to note is the pickups. There are two round magnets per string. In order for the pickup to sound right, each string should line up centered between the two magnets. Each string should also have the correct clearance above the top of the pickup.

    On my J-Bass, the E and A strings lineup, the D string almost lines up, and the G string is off center with the two magnets. Well, the E and A strings sound great, the D string sounds good, and the G string sounds somewhat weak.

    Next time you are in the music store, make a comparison for yourself. Note how many Fenders (low end models) have strings that don’t lineup with the pickups.
  15. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    This is also adjustible. You can change the string spacing to change where the string goes over the pickup, either by moving the saddle itself over to the side, changing the groove in the saddle so its more to the side, or adjusting the string spacing of your bridge (only if you have one of those expensive highly adjustible bridges)
  16. BassHacker


    Nov 26, 2001
    Tampa, FL
    Thanks for the feedback. Please keep in mind that I did not set the bass up. Fender set it up the first time when they made it. Then, I paid an expert guitar technician at Mars Music to do it. If Fender and the expert at the music store has a problem with this type of adjustment, then the average bass player buying a low end MIM Fender is in need of some real help.

    On my bass, the strings are equally spaced and centered with respect to the neck/fingerboard. If the bridge is moved, the strings would become off centered with respect to the neck. If I push on the G string to align it between the two magnets, it goes off the lower edge of the fingerboard. Well, I really wish it could be easily adjusted but I don’t see how. It looks like the pickups need to be moved and that will not be easy.

    Have you or someone else performed this adjustment on a MIM Fender? If so, can you provide more info please?

    Well, based on my experience, if one elects to go with a MIM Fender, they are very likely to end up spending several hundred more later to have it set up right. With that in mind, it is probably a better idea to just save up more money and get a higher end MIA Fender.

    Thanks again to lo-end.
  17. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    :rolleyes: :D

    Mars Music isnt exactly the best place to take your bass to be set up. I always take my basses to an independent luthier in Philadelphia that only builds and sets up guitars and basses. He used to be Eric Clapton's guitar tech, which I think is pretty cool. But if you cant find a good luthier like that (or afford one) Mars Music is fine. I just felt like being a snob about them :p
  18. ok, setting aside for a second the issue of personal preference, etc., what is the reason for MIAs costing sooo much more than MIMs?
  19. Well, for one, American labor cost more so the parts and construction are going to be more costly. I understand that the American factory has better Quality control which means more employees which means even more cost to the customer.
  20. The general trend is that the MIAs use better wood (or more expensive wood). The construction is generally better (neck pocket tighter, etc). The MIAs have better hardware (tuners, bridge) and better pickups. The necks are also graphite reinforced which makes them more stable and helps eliminate dead spots. Fret work and fit and finish is generally better. This isn't always the case, I have seen some very nicely built and good sounding MIMs and some poor MIAs. Although the quality of MIAs has gotten much better since the mid 90s ( at least as far as I've seen). US labour also costs more. You can feel the difference as soon as you pick them up. The MIMs definately feel cheaper than the MIAs. I've yet to see a MIM or MIJ that I would consider anywhere near as nice as my MIA. That being said, the MIMs are a great value for the money and are great project basses.