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How to tell the difference between MIM, MIJ & MIA Fenders?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by RiseOfTheWooten, Apr 8, 2006.

  1. How do I tell the difference visually between the MIMs, MIJs and MIAs? I'm asking cos I've been perusing online retail websites as well as eBay, and I can't tell the difference (notwithstanding clues from the price range).

    Am I right in assuming MIMs are the cheaper ones, followed by mid-priced MIJs, and the highest priced MIAs?
  2. well i have an mim, and it doent have a strings through body like the mia. if they show a pic of the back of the bass and it has strange looking circular things on it(string ferrules) then its an mia. i have no experience mith mij, but if they supply you with a picture of the headstock, blow up the pick so you can read what it says, it will say made in america, mexico, etc, as well as show you what the serial number is, so you can find out exactly what it is, i.e year original color and wat not.
  3. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    Quality wise, MIJ and MIA are comparable in a lot of cases as well. But, usually you will have to look on the back of the neck near the neck pocket on the back for the "Made in Japan."
  4. Thanks for the responses.

    So when it comes down to it, you can't visually tell the difference between the Fenders from regular stock photos usually shown on online retail music shops?
  5. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    On 5 strings, the MIM series have 5 tuners in line, and the MIA series are 4+1. I'm not sure about the MIJ 5s, if such an animal exists.
  6. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather Supporting Member

    American's have a graphite reinforced neck, slightly smaller body, no skunk stripe on the neck, strings thru body and if bought new, come with a molded hardshell case.
  7. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    New MIAs are usually easy to spot because their access to the truss rod is located where the fretboard meets the body, not at the headstock. Look for the little opening in the pickguard.
  8. Nighttrain1127

    Nighttrain1127 Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2004
    Near Worcester MA
    The easiest way to tell is by the serial number The american series are just the letter for the decade S=70 E=80 N=90 Z=2000 so a Z4 would be a 2004 American a MN1 would be a Mexican 91 a JE3 would be a japanese 83 this only applies to the first three characters in the number.
  9. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    That's interesting, because when I was trying out P-Basses one store only carried MIM's and one only carried MIA's (both basses were clearly labelled MIA or MIM respectively on the headstock...written out, not abbreviated of course). Both stores being authorized Fender dealers.

    They all had the "skunk stripe" on the neck. The reason I remember this fact is my choice came down to one MIA at one place, or the MIM at the other place. I chose the MIM for three reasons. 1) price. 2) MIM felt better playing (setup pretty much the same as the MIA) and... 3) the skunk stripe on the MIA was not flush with the rest of the neck in one spot.
  10. If you're looking at the american deluxes, they'll all have silver or gold metallic Fender logos as well as a gloss finished headstock.
  11. Gomez

    Gomez Live from the Shire

    Apr 15, 2005
    Soundwise they might surprise the hell out of you. I've played some really great MIM's and some aweful MIA's.

    'C'est la Vie' say the ol' folks. Goes to show you never can tell.
  12. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    You can tell if you have a number of both (or all three), The MIM basses while a good value (I own 3) 1 with Fralins 1 with duncan 1/4 pounders and 1 with a badassII never sounded like a MIA bass! even after the mods they sounded perhaps better but different. MIA basses have a full sound (depth) out the gate, something you really can't tell going back and forth for a couple of seconds. I own 5 MIA basses and not 1 needed any type of mod anywhere, not one sounded a little thin, not one had any issues. As an owner of MIA, MIJ and MIM basses I take equal care of all my basses regardless of country of origin and I can safely say my MIA basses need the least amout of care, adjustment and concern.
  13. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    MIA dlx basses also have smaller bodies, longer 22 fret necks with abalone inlays. They have light weight tuners with tension adjusters for tuning stiffness:)
  14. Indeed. I was mainly commenting on that because he was talking about looking at their pictures online.
  15. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    MIA basses standard or dlx do not have skunk stripes! The truss rod is installed from the fretboard side of the neck! only Hwy 1 (glorified MIM bass MIA) re-issues or "specialty" basses like my MIA 75RI or basses from a period gone by have stripes, newer basses the Hwy 1 don't have this.
    Btw the MIA hwy 1 and MIM basses share the same neck thus the skunk stripe!
  16. Gomez

    Gomez Live from the Shire

    Apr 15, 2005
    If you're saying that buying an MIA is a safe bet you're wrong, wrong, wrong.
  17. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    No not at all, Sure you have to play them first. Btw all my MIA basses I bought new (2 ordered directly from Fender) were taken out the box new by me, all were setup decently and needed basically no adjustment. They were not played and abused by anyone, no little grubby fingers! No out of control wanking! no tuning an "E" string to "A" and thinking the bass was tuned!!!! Fenders on the wall are like buying a used rental car, you will never know what kinda abuse is has sustained:)
  18. Gomez

    Gomez Live from the Shire

    Apr 15, 2005
    Somehow, every MIA (yes, new ones, not of the wall) I've played differed in quality from the next. I know that it shouldn't be possible but it's a fact.

    I really wanted a good MIA but I let it go.
  19. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    The ones I tried were standard P-Basses, and they all said "Made in America" right on the headstock. The one in question was definitely 100% standard P-Bass. This was at an authorized Fender dealer whom I've known for more than 25 years.

    Now...the one I was comparing to the MIM I did buy was a used bass. After reading some threads on people wanting to use Fender decals...it is possible someone made a switch.

    There was no mistaking it either. This store NEVER has, nor ever will, carry MIM Fender basses. Everything they carry is MIA, though they do now (2 years later) stock the MIK ones.

    I know it said "Made in America" because I was having a hard time deciding whether to buy the MIA or the MIM and was trying to get over the MIM stigma (which thankfully I did). The "skunk stripe" on the MIA had a flaw that I could feel when I played it (which was a big factor in my decision as well). Plus, I can read. :D

    I'm just curious. Has Fender ALWAYS not had the skunk stripe on MIA's? I don't know how old this MIA was, but it was used. It looked and felt very much like the pre-CBS P-Bass I bought when I was a teenager. But I couldn't tell you how old it was, as I had no intentions of looking for a vintage Fender...just the one that felt the best. Plus I wanted a cheap one as I planned on (and am) modding to my liking.
  20. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    Fender did have the skunk stripe on it's MIA basses, fore they were the only Fenders made at one time. In 1995 Fender started to use graphite reinforcement in there necks and from that time on I believe skunk stripes on MIA basses was halted. Now I had a 98 dlx jazz and a 98 RB5 and neither had a skunk stripe. None of my MIA basses after that have a skunk stripe. If you get a chance to go back and look at the bass notice the serial#, it probably starts like this N4*******. The N will mean 90's and the first # will be the year. If it is indeed a new bass the serial will be Z5 or Z6. MIA Fenders also say " Fender Corona California" on the neck plate.

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