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Basic Fender Q...MIA/MIM/MIJ

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by adouglas, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    I'm not a Fender guy, and am not intimately familiar with the bewildering number of variations on Fender basses and how they relate to one another. It astounds me that the company can make SO many different Jazz basses at such wildly different price points.

    A friend was asking me about Fenders and when I tried to answer him I realized I really don't know all that much about the line. I do know that there are Squiers (crap), MIM, MIJ and MIA basses, and then there's the Custom Shop. But beyond that I know next to nothing.

    I did a search on this, but didn't get quite what I was looking for...so before you tell me to use the search tool, please be aware that I already have. I'm not looking for opinions per se...I'm looking for a simple description of the actual differences between the lines.


    - Are there any actual quantifiable (as opposed to subjective) differences between MIA, MIJ and MIM Fenders? If so, what are they?

    - Are the dimensions all the same, or are there physical differences?

    - Are the materials different, and if so in what way?

    - Are the manufacturing methods different, and if so how? Isn't all this stuff just done on milling machines anyway?

    - My understanding (which may be completely wrong) is that MIM Fenders are considered the lowest quality of the three...MIJ one step up, and MIA the highest quality. Is this correct? What makes it so?
  2. MIM's tend to be of varying quality, the MIJ's are almost as good if not better than the MIA's in some cases, and the MIA's are the top of the range, altho there are alot of models that are only MIJ or only MIA
  3. Yes. Quality of components and workmanship.
    Not sure.
    To the best of my knowledge, in every way. Different woods, harware, pickups. They are different instruments.
    Not sure.

    Yes. See above. One (or all) of the responses you'll get will tell you that it doesn't matter where they are made, QC is spotty in all the lines, great basses can be had from Mexico, etc, etc, etc. Pick a few up. Play them. Buy the one that works.

  4. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    I'm going to try to help, Fender basses are MIA, MIJ/CIJ, MIM, MIK, MII (Squire), custom shop (built to vintage specs) and Master built. Master built basses are built intirely by one person to vintage specs of anything you want.
    As far as physical dimensions go Iv'e heard MIJ bodies sometimes are slightly larger than MIA and MIM bodies, don't know how true that is though.
    As far as materials are concerned, there are some differences. MIA and MIM parts both come out of California with hardware slated for MIM basses and bodies going to Mexico to be assembled and painted. All bodies start out in the same pile but choice pieces are use for the MIA (translucent and natural) stuff. Leftover stock goes to Mexico to be painted. MIJ basses are made from ash, alder and basswood. The ash basses Iv'e seen are not matched as well (2 or 3 pieces) as MIA basses and are noticably heavier. Hardware on MIJ/CIJ basses are average at best with pups being some kind of vintage or MIA vintage. Fit and finish is usually excellent
    MIM basses are entry level Fenders, they are standard basically no frills instruments that lend themselves nicely to any modification you could possibly imagine. MIM has a line up of dlx basses that are VERY decent basses for the money, They also have a classic line that ain't no slow leak either! Now you may have noticed I've got a MIK there, well Fender just released a FMT 24 fret bass that sounds pretty good. As far as MIA Fenders go, these are plug and play basses. they need nothing from the start and are designed to give you all you need without replacing anything. These basses come with nicer finishes, choices of maple or rosewood necks, tuners that you will never have to change or find any kind of beef with, graphite reinforced neck, better matched 2 and 3 piece bodies. These basses have an all around more solid feel to them, just try picking one up and a Fender made anywhere else and you'll see what I'm talking about.
    Now as far as the highest quality Fender this is the order.
    1)Master built
    2)Custom shop
    3)FMT/QMT,MIA R.I.'s, MIA Artist series
    4)MIA basses Series and dlx
    5)MIJ Artist and R.I. basses
    6)MIJ basses
    7)MIM deluxe and classic basses
    8)MIM standard basses
    *note, MIK basses have not been put into a catagory
  5. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Don't let all this fool you into thinking that all MIM Fenders aren't good basses, though. I have two, and they are FANTASTIC instruments. A lot of it depends on your hands, your strings, your setup, and your ear. I love the stock elecs on my MIM precision. I really like the solid construction of both that and my fretless jazz. The jazz needs new pickups though, the stocks are too noisy. But they sound great.

    Right now, my MIM Fenders edge out the construction quality on my MIA Carvin by a good margin. You have to pick out the right ones.
  6. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    Hey Snarf, you got two MIM basses? well I got three! I say that to say even though I have the MIA FMT V MIA RI's and a bunch of other Fender stuff (check profile) the MIM stuff is still in my stable. I mentioned in an earlier thread that they lend themselves to modification well here are the mods done to mine.
    1)MIM 2002 pbass agave blue with black pearloid pickguard and Duncan SPB3 quarter pounder pups
    2)MIM 1999 pbass white with Lindy fralin pups and cts pots
    3)MIM dlx jazz black/white pearloid pickguard and badassII bridge.
  7. Hey Pyrohr...you should start charging for that MIM/MIK/MIJ/MIA explanation. That's at least twice today!