MIA vs. MIM: Quality differences?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by White_Knight, Nov 19, 2000.

  1. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    Ok, I'm sure that this has been asked but my searches came up with nothing, so:

    What's the difference between a MIA and a MIM Jazz bass made by Fender? Obviously, one is made in America and the other is made in Mexico, but what else? Is the action on the MIA better, is the tone cleaner? How about the neck? There's gotta be something in there that ups the price by $600-700. I've only played a MIM J-bass, so I don't really have anything to compare to except it and my current bass (which isn't a Fender).
  2. MIA Fenders have alder bodies, while have MIM's have cheaper poplar bodies, which aren't bad, but I prefer the tone of alder wood better. MIA's also have upgraded pickups, and the necks, or at least the ones I've played have better grain necks. I'm not sure if this is true for the basses, but the MIA strats have better bridges than the MIM's as well, so I'm not sure about that. If you upgraded the MIM with better pickups it could be a really kickin' bass though, that's what I did with my Fender MIM g**tar.
  3. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    The MIA Fenders also have a graphite reinforced neck. The burst and natural finishes are ash bodied. Tuners, bridge and electronics are also higher grade. I think the MIM Fenders are an excellent value, a lot of bass for $300.
  4. UCWhatUdid


    Oct 2, 2000
    I bought a MIM jazz a few months ago and aside from the different wood used in the body, found the following:

    Flat-sawn neck w/truss
    Light-weight bridge w/ "unguided" saddles
    "Cheap" tuners
    Identical pups (both are bridge type)

    Graphite reinforced
    Heavier bridge and/or string-through
    "Standard" tuners
    Standard neck and bridge pickups

    Frankly, I find the MIM pups to provide pretty close to vintage sound, just not quite as much humbucking effect when both pups are wide open, so they can be a little noisy. Tuners may or may not be good, just depends on your luck.

    The bridge was the only thing I found I just had to change, because the string saddles would move from side to side depending on how hard you dug into the strings. I put a BA II on it, set it up for low action and man, am I ever pleased. Neck was well intonated all the way up, with negligible dead spots, pups get that j-bass bark when you dig in.

    Bought the bass for $279, spent $40 for the BA II, spent two hours putting on the bridge, filing the saddle notches and setting up the bass. For the money I spent, you can't beat it with a stick. Someday I may go ahead and replace the pups, but for now, I've got a nifty, thrifty "Fender" J-bass that I can bang around. They are a great bargain.
  5. Yes, the MIM basses are a good bargain. Aside from the different woods, hardware and electronics, the finishes differ as well from the MIA basses. I've played 'em both and like the feel of the MIA better, but that's MHO. I've played with some guys who modded their Mexicans with great results.
  6. Bernie


    Dec 12, 1999
    I had a MIM J and agree with what the others have said with one exception.The SB finish on the MIA J is only available on alder,not ash.Great bang for the bucks bass!Dont forget to check out the MIM P and the Active J.The J has the elecs from the 99 MIA Dlx.Very nice,about 450.Good luck!
  7. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    There's another new feature of the American series, in that the fingerboards are now rounded over the edges for greater comfort...:)
  8. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    I've never owned a MIM Fender and always bought MIA, but I have tried out lots of Mexicans ( both bass and guitar). I'll always continue to buy MIA because the difference is worth it to me for all the reasons on this thread.
    But I must say that the Mexican stuff is fabulous value. The MIA at twice the price is not twice as good as the MIM- either in terms of feel or tone.So if you're a beginner or can't dig up the dough for a MIA don't think you're getting a cheap bass/guitar if you have to settle for a Mexican.
  9. I'm a Fender Fan and have played many examples of both MIM and MIA and found a lot of inconsistency. I've played lots of MIMs that played and sounded great and I've played several MIA's that sounded like they had a cork up their butt. Obviously the MIM bridge is lame and the MIA does have better components all around, but you gotta play em all and take em as they come. When you find a real nice MIM, you are getting a hell of an axe for $300.
  10. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    That's an understatement, they're not humbucking, period.

    On MIA Jazzes the two pickups are wound with opposite polarities so that they will hum cancel.
  11. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    My bad, the white blond and natural are the only ash bodied.
  12. Skip


    Mar 22, 2000
    Bronxville, NY
    You didn't say if you were comparing Standards or Deluxes or some combination of the two.

    I'm lookig at a MIM std. Jazz and a MIA std. Jazz (the previous model). The price difference is only about $300, rather than the normal $600. The MIA felt better in the neck and the one I played had better sustain. The MIM pick-ups also had a more hum when pluged into any amp.

    A little thing that bugs me about the MIM is the felt washers between the straplock and the body are white and they stick out like a sore thumb. I realize that a felt tip pen rectifies the problem in 2 seconds, but it bugs me.
  13. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    Thanks for all of your help everyone. Skip: the Deluxe models are the active ones, correct? I'm a passive man all the way, so I'm comparing the standard models.
  14. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    Truthfully, I have a MIM Std. Jazz and I have played a MIA Std. Jazz, and I actually prefer my MIM jazz over the MIA Jazz. The tone is cleaner and I just liked mine better. I guess it could just be a one time thing, but I was not impressed with the MIA at all.

    Skip, that stupid felt thing bothers me also!! Im always trying to stuff it down into the little hole when I get bored from waiting!:D
  15. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    One fairly obvious difference between the MIAs and MIMs: Check out the nut on a new MIM! There's no way any other manufacturer would be able to get away with such shoddy workmanship.

    Another difference: no thru-body stringing on the MIMs. I guess ferruled holes are beyond the capacity of the good people at the Corona plant.

    Another difference: bakelite knobs on the MIAs vs. cheaper strat knobs on MIMs. You'd figure Fender would spare a couple of cents for this!

    For a while, Fender was sandwiching poplar or cheaper woods between alder veneers on its US models. Ed Roman and a couple of others exposed this unsavory practice; hence the "new" American Standards, with their amazing all-alder bodies. Leave it to Fender to turn an entitlement into an extra.
  16. UCWhatUdid


    Oct 2, 2000
    Christopher, your comment made me curious. I have a MIM jazz that I bought a few months ago. I examined the nut and I am trying to determine where the shoddy workmanship comes into play. The nut is well fitted and firmly attached. The slots are cleanly cut, the correct width, with the string heights exactly where they should be. There are no obvious indications of poor workmanship. The nut looks amazingly similar to the nut on '70s vintage j and p basses I used to play. So what am I missing? Is it their choice of material?
  17. Inconsistent nuttage is exactly the point with the MIMs. Some are beautifully crafted instruments and some are junk.
    That's the deal with MIMs. You gotta look em over real carefully and play em for a while. Find a nice one and you got a great axe for $300.
  18. rojo412

    rojo412 MARK IT ZERO! Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    (Cracks knuckles and puts on salesman face)

    Well, the differences are many:

    MIA Fenders (American Series): ASH bodies, no veneers. Maple necks and rounded fingerboards with much better fretwork for a more broken in feel. Strings thru body construction. Better made machined bridges. Better tuners. Different pickups and more attention paid to detail when wired. Parchment colored pickguards. Better piece of maple for neck. Graphite reinforcement.

    MIM: Poplar body. Cheaper hardware. Less attention to detail. Corners cut. Less time invested.

    IMO: I played both of them head to head a few times. Once, a MIM blew away an MIA in initial sound. But as time goes on and the player beats on them, the MIA will be worth more dough and mature more as an instrument than the MIM will.