Interesting read RE MIJ vs. MIA

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by I am Domokun, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. Here's the executive summary:
    "...In some cases the difference between an American-made guitar versus a Japanese-made guitar versus a Korean-made guitar was little more than where the machine was located. To make a guitar in the USA involved putting a Japanese-made CNC machine on a boat and sending it to the US whereupon it could be programmed in the USA and then American or other wood could be fed into the machine, which would spit out components made to tolerances within a few thousandths of an inch of the programming. By contrast a Japanese-made guitar would be produced by leaving the CNC machine in Japan, programming it with a disc done in the USA, and then importing wood to be put into the machine which would spit out components to the same specifications as those which would be made by a similar machine in the USA. A Korean-made guitar could be remarkably similar since the Japanese-made CNC machine could be sent to Korea whereupon the same process could be done there."

    Link to Gruhn newsletter
  2. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    New York, NY
    Confirms my belief that MIMs are just as good as MIAs.
  3. ClassicJazz

    ClassicJazz Bottom Feeders Unite!! Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Delray Beach, Florida
    I disagree. The pickup routes on my CIJ '62 reissue and CIJ Geddy are much cleaner and have tighter tolorences between the wood and the pickup then my MIM Classic Jazz bass and MIA I've seen.

    If they are using the same program and machines, my Classic '60s Jazz and my '62 reissue Jazz should be identical, but they are not.
  4. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    There's a lot more to an instrument than the CNC machine the wood parts were fabricated on.
  5. lefty007


    Jan 19, 2004
    Miami, FL
    Fret dressing, one of the most important factors in a bass' playability, is still done by hand. The more time a skilled worker spends dressing the frets, the more you are going to pay. That is a universal law, I think.

    That said, I have seen better fretwork in Japanese Fenders than in American ones, which shouldn't be because of the lower prices of the Japanese ones.

    Mexican and Korean Fenders have simply "OK" fretjobs.

    As far wood, I don't know if Fender actually selects, pre-treats and dries the woods better in the US than in Japan or Korea.

    I just think that Japanese (and many Asian) workers have better work ethics and they simply are not satisfied by leaving a fret end rough or unleveled.
  6. The difference between my MIM P and the American ones in the shop was the shoddy fret ends on the MIM. The singing tone, body and neck build and feel was the same when I tried them both out. I can always get a fret job on my bass, its no biggie.
  7. pointbass

    pointbass Semi-Retired Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Absolutely agree! In addition to the other "hand work" that needs to be done (frets, etc), there is also a huge question about quality control. If the QC is tight, mass produced items with flaws will be kicked back to the floor for re-working before being sold to the public. Loose QC standards result in a lot of the problem basses we all see these days.
  8. dunamis


    Aug 2, 2004
    Who's MC Hammer?
  9. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    Absolutely. It has to have mojo.
  10. Tony G

    Tony G

    Jan 20, 2006
    That is some interesting stuff. My MIJ Reissue 70's Jazz plays and feels great. The neck feels great and I have no issue with the fretting.
  11. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    I have a MIJ, a 1975 MIA, and a Blade jazz clone that is Made in China, assembled in Japan and set up in Switzerland. The Blade is my number 1 bass, and, in my view is superior to every new Fender I have tried.

    In todays world, where an instrument is made is less of a consideration to me that how well it is made. It's becoming clear that quality is not unique to traditional countries of manufacture. It would be interesting to see how well we would all fare in a blindfold test.
  12. Juniorkimbrough


    Mar 22, 2005
    Mississippi / Memphis, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    perfect example of why fewer and fewer things are being made in the U.S., the workers simply don't care about the product they are making.....then people gripe about everything being made overseas.
  13. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    in terms of fender these days i really cant tell too much between the american and japanese offerings. I do however see differences between the custom shop and anything else.

    That is to say today if you want a good guitar to the standard of the 60s...well you need to pay the price..go for custom shop. In the 60s it was all custom shop and you had to pay then and you have to pay now.

    Everything else is cheap mass produced luck of the draw.
  14. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    No doubt about it. The MIA's get the best hardware of the standard basses. I'm excluding the Custom Shop stuff end not comparing high end MIJ with low end MIA for obvious reasons ...) The quality of the MIJ hardware seems to be better than that of the MIM to me.

    I've seen 3 pc MIA bodies so frankly, I'm not overwhelmed by MIM, MIJ or MIA Fender bodies. I've seen 2 pc MIA and 4 pc MIM's Given a choice - the 2 pc obviously, though I'd just as soon upgrade the body to a 1 pc aftermarket...

    Necks. Don't the MIA necks get graphite stabilization bar'd these days ? MIM's sure don't. The MIA neck has a rolled edge stock, the MIM is square. Nothing that I've played from Fender on a shop floor was setup worth a damn. That 's a fact...

    Basically the MIM Fender is a nothing special but certainly giggable bass. It is ripe for component upgrades. New bridge, new pickups, maybe a new nut depending on how well the original was cut - or maybe you like corian, graphtech, bone, etc instead (I'm a graphtech guy.) SO without going mad, you drop $150 into the upgrades. Now the bass sounds a whole lot better!

    Then you get a luthier to roll the neck edge, round the fret ends and check the fret crowns and adjust the truss to that new set of strings. You just dropped a C note on the strings and setup, if that. Now your bass plays as well as it sounds and you've still spent less than you would to buy the MIA off the floor at GC. It's still a MIM and you won't be able to collect it or get your money back out of it for the most part - but it's your bass, setup to your preference, sounds the way you want it to.

    The mechanical aspect of the MIM is fine, it just needs a little help to make it be the best it can be...
  15. I must say although I went for the MIM over the MIA P bass, the Japanese made Jaguar guitar I owned and my MIJ made Ibanez are the best constructed guitars I have ever owned. Even compared to my German built Warwick, which suffered from QC issues.
  16. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    +1. My Geddy has much cleaner routing than any MIM I've messed with.
  17. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    FWIW, MIM necks and bodies are MIA. (how's that for a sentence with acronyms)
  18. So... The fretless guys get off easy then???
  19. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    back to the topic at hand....

    Quite an interseting article. I think that one of the reasons USA and japanese instruments are of higher quality is because you still see companies putting thier best materiels/pickups/hardware in those instruments, and demanding higher quality control and more man hours per instrument.

    This is changing however, Lakland puts much of the same materiels and hardware into their korean instruments and does the frettwork in Chi-town. Producing high quality instruments at lower prices.

    Perhaps one of the most striking examples or this kind of change is the Epiphone masterbuilt series of acoustic guitars. High quality hardware (grover tuners, etc" and all solid woods on instruments made in China and selling for around 500 bucks. I auditioned a number of these with my brother, and comparing the "masterbuilt" to it's Gibson counterpart (same body, finsh, and woods) my brother made the intersting comment that "their is a difference, but not a 1100 dollar difference."
  20. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    Very interesting observation and he hit it on the head. I honestly thought my Blade was made here in Switzerland as Blade Guitars is a Swiss company (owned and operated by NYC luthier Gary Levinson). Excellent quality. Might be a challenge to sell at some point due to the relative rarity in North America. On a par with a Lull or some of the Sadowsky's I have played. And as your brother eloquently put it, "their is a difference but not an $1100 difference". More and more players are opting for these instruments. Great value for the money.