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Fender Japan question

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mindflow, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. mindflow


    Oct 31, 2004
    What were some of the best years for Japan basses? or is pretty much everything japan touches as good or better than the USA basses? sorry to ask here but i cant find much on the net
  2. Rvl


    Dec 23, 2003
    Aomori Japan
    Japanese Fender vintage reissues are excellent and are very popular

    Remember there are 2 or 3 Japanese Vintage reissues made for each model. A 58,000yen version , a 75,000yen version and sometimes a 110,000yen version.

    Are they (75,000 or 110,000yen version)better than the USA versions? .....no (but occasionally yes)
    Are they equal to the USA versions?..........yes but the electrics(pots and jack)arent as good

    Right now I have several Japanese Fenders and several USA
    Hmmmmmm....if I pulled off all the seals and markings....I wouldnt be able to tell one from the other......plug them in and I can hear very slight differences

    Japanese Vintage Reissue Fenders vs USA Vintage Reissue Fenders

    If you have or want to spend the extra money go for the USA
    But in my opinion any of the Japanese Vintage Reissues will be 95 percent that of a USA version and sometimes will be better than the USA version.


    Robert VanLane
  3. As Robert said, today's MIJs vary in price. The higher priced ones have American pickups and alder bodies, for example, while the lower end ones have cheaper pickups and basswood bodies. Construction seems to be great across the board, while materials, especially electronics, seem better on the higher end.

    As for years, the early reissues (early 80's maybe) are very highly regarded. Remember that when Fender was bought from CBS in the early 80s, the factory was shut down for a few years and the MIJ was its flagship series. Those are looked at as very impressive basses. Hard to say if they were better than today's, but they have a great reputation.
  4. mindflow


    Oct 31, 2004
    thanks a lot for the info. i just bought an 86 p bass MIJ on ebay for $460. im curious to see how the quality compares. i currently own a geddy lee which is one of the better jazz basses i checked out when i was shopping. i played several MIAs and wasnt as impressed, at least not impressed enough to spend the extra 500 for the USA model.
  5. ShamrayBass

    ShamrayBass The Bass Custom Shop

    Dec 29, 2004
    Moscow. RUSSIA
    Over the years, I have owned a half a dozen early "Crafted in Japan" instruments, all picked up in pawnshops, and all because they had exceptionally nice wood in the necks. Beautiful, figured wood! So there ARE some great examples of old MIJ Fenders out there...

    I cannot vouch for the new ones, although i briefly owned a 96 ("50th Anniversary" sticker) MIJ "Jagstang" that was as close to a perfect guitar as you can imagine. Great wood, super resonance...
  6. JayAmel

    JayAmel Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    Just my 2 cents here :

    I had a Fender MIJ 70's RI Precision Bass, built in 2002, and it was one of the best P basses I've ever played.

    Hope this helps,
  7. There are some clear distinctions to be made between MIJ's and between MIJ's and their MIA counterparts. I happen to own examples of two types of Japanese Fenders - an incredible "Crafted in Japan" 1996 '62 Reissue fretless Jazz and a 1987 "Made in Japan" '62 reissue Jazz. Placed side by side, one can see and feel subtle but definite indications that our friends to the east were taking the moniker "Crafted in Japan" much more seriously than just "Made in Japan". That doesn't keep the older J from being my main player though. The neck is a perfect rendition of the original it's designed to copy and that's true of both. What's also true of both is that neither is a true "reissue" copy. Years ago when I first got these instruments, I asked the reknown Fender expert Bill Bolton just what the "reissue" label meant when it came to these instruments. He explained that although there were similiarities between these and a real 1962 Jazz, they weren't real "reissues" in the strictest sense of the word as Fender had come to define it. The problem, he went on, was that the hardware chosen for the line wasn't period accurate as were the American reissue lines and this prevented them from being true reissues. He referred to these instruments as "in the style of" a 1962 Jazz. Shortly after that I coined the term MIJITSO - Made In Japan In The Style Of - to describe my instruments.

    From discussions with other owners of these basses, there seems to be a common thread concerning the quality of their electronics. It seems that no matter what year or level of quality, these basses can benefit from a change of the pots. Owners have all reported much better pickup response after replacing the inexpensive pots with high grade versions. In doing this, I also discovered that it's possible that CIJ pups and MIJ pups are slightly different. My CIJ's are noticeably hotter than the MIJ's but since I've not heard that from anyone else it could be just my pair of instruments. At any rate, I firmly believe these to be the prodigal sons of the Fender line, forgotten as to their quality but certainly equal to anything the North America could throw at them. And since they are so undervalued, I think they make perfect platforms for all out customs. They aren't expensive to acquire initially and for that you get American quality and the upgrades are easy. The result is a thundering hot rod that hasn't had it's sky high collector value destroyed because it simply didn't have one to begin with. Given my druthers, I would purchase a Japanese Fender ANYTIME over the American version for any vintage from say, 1980 on. They are that good.
  8. 555


    Jun 21, 2003
    Taking a look at the ishi japanese site, most (maybe all?) Fender Japan made basses are made out of basswood instead of alder. IMO alder>basswood.
  9. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas

    Do I take it to mean that you would choose the MIJITSO Fenders over '80 or later USA Fenders?
  10. Hi there,

    In my experience Japanese Fenders at their best are as good if not better than their American cousins - I have owned a "CIJ" 62 P-bass and a J-bass - what I remember I loved about them was that they had phenomenal necks - very playable.....

    That was before I got into 5-strings.

    There is a great Japanese site that shows some of the models available


    My favorites include the maple neck fretless P-bass (PB-70-84US/FL), the 5-string "62" Jazz (JBV-95) and the (almost) Geddy Lee like JB75B-90US - this has no Badass bridge and would most likely have a slightly fatter neck than the Geddy signature (still way smaller than a P-bass mind!) - the "US" indicates it has US pick-ups - these basses also have ash or alder bodies - the non US p/u equipped basses have basswood bodies.

    If you type in the model numbers into a search engine you can see some of these models in different colours - the JB75 (black blocks or pearl blocks) for example is available in natural as well as sunburst.

    I've seen the 5-string Jazz appear occasionally on e-bay via some of the Japanese importers.

    Yup, those are three basses mentioned above are ones I'd love to see in my collection !

  11. 555 you would be entirely mistaken about that. To begin, both of my Japanese Fenders are alder. That's what you would expect of a division that was trying to make instruments of the same quality as their American couterparts. The differences between alder and basswood are many and pronounced. They are not the same in any respect. Having built basses with both, I can attest to that with great certainty. Alder is a harder wood. It's grain is tighter and that makes for near perfect machinability. Basswood is much softer and it's grain has a rather stringy nature. Routing will produce a fuzzy threading in some directions that has to be sanded off. Because of it's softness, basswood is a preferred carving stock. That's why you'll see it often used in instruments with carved tops and sculpted bodies. I prefer the sound of alder - it's got better definition than basswood. Alder also, in my ears, seems to be a bit brighter than basswood.

    R379 - If the basses were lined up with their legitimate market prices attached, I would probably pick the Japanese basses every time. They would be the equal of the Americans but they would be a minimum of 30% less in cost. And I'm a cheap bastard at heart.

  12. Ain't that the danged truth. The neck is what you'll fall in love with first. I wind up comparing everything I pick up to my MIJITSO Jazz and most don't. I'm ruined.
  13. 555


    Jun 21, 2003
  14. Yeah, every time I go to that site, I see something I wouldn't mind owning. :scowl: That looks like a 70's style with the type on the headstock. Damn, I would kill if I could recreate my "Blackie" P from 1975 from them.

    Funny thing about the exchange rate now. It's at such a point that you can almost just move the decimal point to the left 2 places and get near what it would cost in $. That bass is ¥84,800 and that exchanges to about $808.
  15. Stu L.

    Stu L.

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas

    The neck is why I bought my MIJ Steve Harris P. Truth is, I couldn't care less if anything happens to the body, I'll put the neck on another if I have to. The only thing Fender left on this bass is the wood and tuners. And that's only because I can't find decent replacements that fit. :scowl:
  16. Razor


    Sep 22, 2002
    I'll never forgive you for bastard-izing my Harris......you bad man! :bawl:
  17. Stu L.

    Stu L.

    Nov 27, 2001
    Corsicana, Texas
    :D :D :D :D
    Nothing has been done that is irreplaceable, except for those battery routes...
  18. 555


    Jun 21, 2003
    Oops, i missed this reply, sorry.

    Ah, but why does the fender japan site say their basic range of fender basses (not RI's) are made out of basswood bodies? And their RI's are Alder? As you can tell i have little knowledge about Fender's and their history of RI's and vintage basses (I am learning but can't find any sort of dedication site towards fender's though :( ) Still even trying to figure out what on earth is the difference between MIJ RI 60's and 70's basses apart from the headstock decal style and the copper strip on some fender jazzes that i've seen behind the bridge pickup running to the bridge.

    Also when you are talking about CIJ and MIJ, aren't these both the same? Or are they different?


    PS: This threads great for Fender schooling hehe:D
  19. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    For what it's worth, I have a MIJ Noel Redding Jazz and I love it. I'm kind of thinking about upgrading the piuckups (not sure what teh best move would be there), but the rosewood fingerboard is great. I don't have a '65 jazz bass (or whatever year Noel used) to compare it to, but if I did, I wouldn't be using it on most gigs anyway. I never see much about these basses. Were they a limited edition or something?

  20. I have been looking for a good Fender MIJ Jazz Bass for a while now, there have been some good ones out there but I am waiting for the right one to come along!

    I don't know of a Fender Japan dedication website for basses, but there is one for Strats run by John Blackman - I got quite a lot of information from his site before I bought my rather excellent Strat.