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Are higher priced Fenders really worth it?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Alex Lineback, Jun 6, 2019.

  1. Calvin Maine

    Calvin Maine

    Aug 22, 2018
    I own an American Professional J made in the USA and it’s amazing. I played an American Performer J made in Mexico and it sounded amazing and felt great. Now for the important bit. I played both through a Mesa Bass Prodigy Four88 Head and a Mesa 410 cab. That is where the damage is really done. A great guitar will sound average through crappy amps but an average guitar will often sound very good through amazing amplification. So good guitars great amps. Amps are the way to go. Just about any Mexican Fender will sound awesome through high quality amps and speakers.
    shoot-r likes this.
  2. manny rose

    manny rose

    Jan 26, 2018
    san diego
    i think the avri /and most reissues have no components that warrant inflated cost,but i still love american standards ,you can never go wrong with a nice p or j
    Calvin Maine likes this.
  3. Riconaka


    Mar 3, 2018
    I have both the MIA and MIM (white is MIA and Blue is MIM) and you’re right about the edges. I actually have used a sand block and “lightly” sanded the edges down and have gotten good results. Do a search on YouTube with titles like, “make your Squier play like...”. There are couple good DYI hacks.

    Attached Files:

    Ryan L. likes this.
  4. whatever4


    Dec 12, 2012
    I own a 1997 American Standard Jazz that I bought used for about the price of a new Mexican Jazz, so price made no difference to me. I know a lot of people that love their Mexican Fenders. Bur after playing my American, I have a hard time playing my friend's Mexican Jazz, even though I strung it and set it up for him. It doesn't seem to have the same clarity and resonance as my American. I tend to get tired and achy hands after I play it for more than an hour because it seems harder to get a good sound out of it that cuts through the rest of the band. Also the Mexican neck doesn't have rolled edges, and there is some fret sprout.
  5. Flatty

    Flatty Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2013
    I think any instrument selection is very subjective. I have a MIM P bass that I mod'd with Norstrand NP4 and a Hipshot bridge. It's strung with flats. It's my favorite bass to play and always the first one I grab. It's held up fine when gigging. Never a problem. I also have a '98 Am Std J, that is absolutely gorgeous in every way. It plays and sounds amazing. I paid $250 for the MIM. Does the J play $1000 better. I'm not sure about that. Dont get me wrong. I love it, but as someone mentioned, if you can do your own set ups/work and set it up the way you like and get the sound you want, well it's all about the music then, isnt it? I will say the quality of the J is noticeable better, but the MIM isnt lacking in any regard. Does that make it a better music maker? Not sure about that either. When I was shopping for Strats for my son, I played every Strat I could find in local stores (I wanted to buy him a new instrument). After a weekend of shopping, I came home with a VM Squier (I sh*t you not). I threw some Fralin PUPs in it, and it's a killer playing and sounding guitar. I couldnt see dropping 1G on an Am Std when this particular guitar played and felt as nice (and I knew he'd trash it - it looks like it's been on tour for 10 years now). That's not to say I didnt play several dogs - from any flavor MIA, MIM, and Squier or that I didnt play killer MIAs. The short answer is, the best bass is the one *you* like, regardless of where it was made or how high quality it is.
  6. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Wikipedia often mistakes my opinions for fact Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    I find that value conversations are invitations to talk about ourselves, not our basses.
    Novarocker and knumbskull like this.
  7. Dreamsinger


    Jun 3, 2012
    None of my Fenders are "Fenders", per se. Between Warmoth and a host of other aftermarket sources a far superior instrument can be put together. The P5 I'm playing in my profile pic has no Fender parts. It wasn't necessarily cheaper than a Fender but it is a better axe.
  8. Furutan


    Sep 5, 2018
    No, but that's not the point. If you find the right bass - one that you will use for years - then that's the one for you. If they charge too much, that a question of money, not music. It really comes down to the individual. If a person a regularly gigging pro, the music is the key factor but if a person is an amateur (regardless of talent and skill) and they have a collection for various purposes, the money might be more important.

    Some people are constantly buying and selling, in an eternal search for the perfect instrument, in which case they may not have the funds. But if you buy one instrument and it is your main axe for years, it may be cheaper to buy an $1,800 bass than a string of $900 basses.
    GregC, martinc and Dreamsinger like this.
  9. GRoast


    May 2, 2004
    San Jose, CA
    These are quite nice, I was just shown one by a buddy who bought one and it's a really nice bass buildwise, and sounded great.
  10. I have a vintage p bass from the 70’s that is probably valued at about $2000-2500. I also have a MIM p bass that I bought for about $900 and it’s my favorite bass ever. The neck just feels perfect and it’s not too heavy and it’s candy apple red, which i love. I’ve swapped the guard, electronics, and pickup and I love it even more.
  11. buffalobillh


    Jul 20, 2005
    Endorsing Artist: Samuel Shen Basses, NS Design, D'Addario Strings
    I'm not sure if Custom Shop basses are worth the price they charge, but they are usually finished well. I have owned several MIM Precisions and a couple of MIM Jazz basses, and they were solid basses. I never thought the US basses provided enough value for the higher price. I tested a US Professional Precision when they came out, and I changed my mind. The sound, neck profile, weight, etc. were all what I had wished a Fender to be, so I got one. Best Fender I've ever owned. To me, it's worth it. It's a joy to play - sounds great, feels great.

    For the record, it's Candy Apple Red/Rosewood board/Pearl pg
  12. Zonked


    Jul 12, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Does the BASS............... make you ?

    or do YOU............ make the bass ?

    I have a couple of more expensive and "reputable" basses as well as a few very affordable players.

    When I do gigs around LA I use both interchangeably.

    I don't get paid a single penny more..... because I bring a more "prestigious" and "quality" bass.

    I don't suddenly play any better, nor do people enjoy my band's music any more because I use the more expensive bass.

    If my music and skills suck, they will suck no matter what bass I use.

    The good news is if you have the skills and have something to say musically you don't need to spend loads of money on a bass.

    Yes I use more expensive and affordable basses interchangeably, and when I think about the return on investment, the the affordable basses win by a country mile !!!

    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019
  13. Buzz Bomber

    Buzz Bomber

    May 1, 2019
    In the last 3 months I've found awesome deals on a a natural finished squire Jazz 70s VM and a MIM Arctic White Jazz Player. Had the MIM Jazz not been such an incredible deal (brand new, and prime shipped from Amazon for 360$) i would've been pissed at myself for buying the MIM and returned it, because it's quality in finish was lower than that of the Squier. They both essentially felt and sounded the same and I personally felt the squier was set up by the factory much more I tune with how they should feel based on a minimum standard. I can never imagine that except for vain reasons such as caring what others think, there is any other value in buying an american Fender. I have since put hipshot tuners and bridge on the squier and given it SD Quarter Pound pickups with EB slinky strings and it plays and sounds better than any other bass I've played. So if you're worried about what others think, it will matter, if you're like me and others can shove their opinions where the sun doesn't shine, there's no way it can matter, because the fit and finish and tonal differences are not worth anywhere near the insane difference in price.
  14. OP, if the "tone quality" (timbre?) is indistinguishable to you and you prefer the look and feel bass you already have… then just save your money and be happy.

    I happen to own three of the same Les Pauls, two of the same Teles, and two of the same 4003s. Same model, different pieces of wood, made on different days. Well, the finishes are different. But they all have a unique timbre.

    There is either a shortcoming in your evaluation and/or bias.

    But to answer your question: I own a '57 Precision from the CS. It's worth it to me. It sounds and plays great. I've played Precisions for about 20 years. I've had my hands on a few Ps in that time. I even worked at a music store when I was in college.
  15. Chucky Stiletti

    Chucky Stiletti Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2017
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I've been playing Fenders (among other basses) of all kinds (MIM, MIJ, MIA) for almost 40 years and I'd say that my USA models are worth every penny...

    Riconaka likes this.
  16. dannydabiker


    May 24, 2011
    Why does that P-Bass have a Jazz decal???????????????
  17. Buzz Bomber

    Buzz Bomber

    May 1, 2019
    Yeah you can set up any decently built (and some poorly built) bass to have a good feel and action (this is also much more of an issue with your playing ability than the bass itself). That's not so much a difference in basses, that's a matter of who set up the basses out of the factory, and many times this is still the case just within the individual factories, my Squier was given a factory set up better than the schecter I own buy a highly touted luthier in my area that I paid way too much dough to give my Model T a once over. Since that day, years ago, I've always set up my own basses to an 'industry standard' then tweeked each bass to my own personal preferences.
    Calvin Maine likes this.
  18. MechaniCrash


    Apr 18, 2015
    I used to buy instruments made anywhere without a thought. About 6 or 7 years ago I took a tour of the Fender Factory. I work in manufacturing, and have visited many factories in Asian countries making products for the rest of the world. At the Fender Factory, I was struck by the level that things were being created in-house, in America. I was expecting to se more of an American assembly operation, possibly using parts from wherever, like a car plant. They were making almost everything except the tuners. They were winding pickups, stamping saddles, cutting pickguards. It was impressive, and the discrepancy between the cost of MIM and MIA was obvious.

    I left there, and started thinking... I do pretty well... and I have a lot of guitars and basses. The number of instruments I have is inflated by inexpensive-but-decent-quality off-shore-manufactured guitars in my collection. People always complain about companies moving manufacturing out of America, and there is usually not much to be done about that... but in this instance, here is a company that can make almost the exact same product in the USA, Mexico, China, and Indonesia. There is a choice. I pledged to buy American Fenders moving forward, unless there is no comparable American model.

    Since then, I have bought 3 or 4 American Fender basses, and a few guitars too. I have to say that I love the quality and sound of the US Fenders. If I rescinded my rule, going back to buying Fenders made anywhere, I don’t think I would be buying Mexican over US that often. I really feel they are worth it, especially when you catch a sale.

    One other thing to think about is that this question is created by the resilience of the Fender design. It is designed to be easily made by relatively unskilled labor... and now in this world of CNC machines, inexpensive off-shore basses are better than ever. I don’t doubt that a Squier bass model sourced from their most inconsistent factory occasionally puts out a bass that is a star. That design greatness, once again, pushes me specifically to spend my money at the source.

    I like Fender, and I want them to be successful. And they make products I really love.
    barginkov, LM Bass, Tad and 2 others like this.
  19. Kragnorak


    Sep 20, 2008
    This is the best analogy yet. Dan Spitz from Anthrax decided to become a master watchmaker. He had a quote in an interview that was something like: "You'll find that in a mans' life, the three things he spends the most money on are women, cars, and watches." I found that hilarious because I'm clearly not in the economic circles he runs in, and I've spent far more money in gumball machines or on picnic plates than I have on watches.
  20. Harold Runyan

    Harold Runyan

    Apr 27, 2015
    I currently have 3 Fender basses. 2013 American Standard P, CIJ Geddy from 2003, & a MIM 2018 Mustang PJ. I’ve changed pick guards on all 3 nothing else to either the P & Geddy. The bridge pickup and the pickup switch on the Mustang were lacking in my opinion so I removed the switch altogether and installed a stacked V/V pot along with Geezer Butler pickups. The things a monster now! All good Basses. I play the Geddy the most often and the P the least. I have a 2003 German Warwick Corvette that gets the most use. I paid less for it than any of the Fenders and in my opinion is built and engineered at least as well as any American Fender I’ve ever seen. Warwicks aren’t for everyone that’s for sure but on the used market can be great values compared to Fenders. Always amazed at what used American Fender Basses fetch. Would never consider buying a new American made Fender.

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