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MIM or MIA standard Fender P bass for vintage tone?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by boristhespider7, Oct 30, 2010.

  1. boristhespider7


    Jan 27, 2008
    Which bass do people think is best for vintage tone (ie. motown, stax..think Jameson etc): a MIM or MIA standard P?

    I know the quality of the MIA is so much better, but they didn't have high mass bridges, through strung bodies and graphite reinforced necks back then. So isn't the MIM more authentic?

    How about a MIM with swapped out PU?

    BTW, please don't suggest the Vintage 62 or 57 as these are just in a totally different price bracket (ie. way out of my league). Don't really like the 50's either due to the thick neck.
  2. The parts, wood, fit and finish ect should be better on the MIA, but I've played (and own) MIM Fenders that have blown away many MIAs I have tried. I don't think either will be more "vintage" than the other.

    My advice is to play a bunch of Fenders and pick the one that works for you without regard to it's country of manufacture. It's easy to change pickups and bridges later if needed. I play a MIM Jazz, put in Nordstrands and changed the bridge to a Gotoh style Allparts. Very happy with it.
  3. TBassEurope


    Feb 24, 2008
    If you are looking for the vintage pbass tone maybe you will have to get used to the thick neck. Maybe the best match - if a Vintage 62/57 is unaffordable - is getting a 50s Classic P (mex) and a Pickup-replacement (e.g. Fender Customshop vintage PUs)? (Only regarding the bass, there are possibilities with strings, amps, cabs.)
  4. pathdoc2


    Oct 16, 2002
    McKinney, TX
    I strongly suggest the MIM for the exact reasons you mentioned, esp low mass bridge.
  5. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    How about a Road Worn, or a 50s Classic Series?

    The new MIAs sound more like 70s P Basses to me, and the ceramic pickup in the MIMs sounds really good, but not in that dry, old P Bass way.
  6. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    The MIM Standards -- guitars or basses -- are technically closer to vintage Fenders than the MIAs, though far from being exactly the same.

    I've avoided MIMs due to their usually poor QC, but occasionally a good one gets out if you pick through enough lemons.

    As far as tone, I tend to be dismissive of this question. I've played innumerable Fenders over the past forty-five years and there's really no such thing as one "vintage tone." The sound is all over the place, especially with the old instruments, which were much more inconsistent in every way than modern production.

    In theory, the current American Standard Precision should sound different, but you just never know. :meh:

    Put flats on it and nobody will be any the wiser.
  7. Bluesbob


    Mar 13, 2000
    Springfield, TN
    While this was certainly true in the past, both the MIM and MIA Fender guitars and bass guitars are made with the same CNC machines. The difference is now more about features like the string-through bridge, which I don't think is going to make a noticable change in tone, and graphite rods, which will.
    I understand completely the appeal of the MIA, but a difference in quality is no longer a real reason for that preference, no matter what you may see here on TB. There are gems and dogs in each category.

    The stock pup in the MIM Standard is not a bad pup and is actually pretty close to what you want, but if you wanted to put in a Fender Original '62 P-bass pup you'd be about as close as you can get (on a budget) to a '60's P-bass.

    I play Motown, dance/classic rock and oldies in PlanB and I did almost exactly what you're talking about when I put together my P(arts)-bass. The only thing that you really must do is get a good set-up done by a qualified luthier, including a better nut and fret leveling and polishing. That is the one thing the MIA basses seem to have over the MIM, other than the extra features. Good luck with your project.
  8. Marton


    Sep 20, 2005
    Maybe a used Highway one, the ones that don't have the Badass II ?
  9. my highway one with ti jazz flats and upgraded pickup to nordstrand and new wiring nails that old school tone, mine has a vintage bridge not the badass. its more in the fingers and feel though, i could get it outta a 50s reissue precision thats mim too. they come along here sometimes. it works for everything. great for laid back groove style playing.
  10. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    El paso, TX
    you mean the MIM that has goes thorugh final assembly in the US? plus the nitro, of course.

    AFAIK back in the day leo focused on making instruments not with the best stuff available, but with stuff that would work and was reasonably priced/readily available. And that's how mims are made.

    For isntance, IMHO modern schaller tuners are indeed smoother, but mim/highay 1 tuners turn a lot more smoothly than any tuner on any of the old basses I own righ now (59, 65, 72, 78, 81). The stuff just works.

    And about QC, anyone that worked at a factory can tell you that QC is exacty the same thing anywhere in the world. Fender may be down-spec'ing their imported products for obvious reasons, but the MIM factory can pull out the exact same basses than the corona factory IF fender wanted.
  11. JMW


    Mar 25, 2008
    I recently acquired a Fender Precision to add to my collection of basses, which include premium brands like Music Man. I visited my local music store and tried 6 Precisions. Three of them were MIMs. One MIM didn't work properly (faulty jack input). Each of the remaining 6 Precisions sounded distinct. Some I liked, and some left me indifferent.
    One MIM sounded punchier and more "interesting" (how's that for a subjective term?) than any of the MIAs. It provided the sound that I was looking for- along the lines of late sixties live Who. My sense is that the stock pickup on recently-manufactured MIM Precisions is somehow hotter than the pickup on MIAs, even a bit harsh when the tone control is set to full treble.
    A week later, I tried a seventh Precision- an MIA 60th anniversary model.
    In the end, I purchased the MIM Precision that gave me an approximation of that “Who Live at Leeds” tone.
    Another bass player trying out the same 7 instruments might have concluded that some of the MIAs were more suitable. One, for example, provided a perfect 70s Fleetwood Mac tone. Nothing wrong with that, but it was not what I was seeking.
    I have a Bartolini precision-style pickup installed on an old Fernandes, and most would consider such a pickup an upgrade to my MIM Precision, but the deeper, more "refined" tone that it would deliver is not what I am looking for from the Precision.
    The bottom line: don’t assume that an MIA Precision will be “better” for you than an MIM Precision. There is far too much variability from unit to unit to make any generalizations.
  12. basspraiser

    basspraiser Jammin for the Lamb! Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Chicago - NW Burbs
    IMHO.....what ever bass you get (Lakland preferred) put in the Hanson Vintage P pickup! I have one in my 55-64 (5 string P) and it is the most vintage sounding pickup I have heard in a long time!

    Souns GREAT for motown etc.....
  13. Surly


    Feb 2, 2007
    South Florida
    I agree

    When people have a "vintage tone" in their head, it's a little darker, with a bump in the low mids. The opposite being scooped and trebbly. Any P-bass can sound twangy or dark. Strings and your amp's EQ will do either. Another thumpy vintage tone would be flats with some foam for muting.
  14. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    If you want a great looking and sounding MIM, try the newest models. The QC on them is top-notch and well worth even a new price tag.
  15. Jeff K

    Jeff K Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2005
    Memphis, TN
    I agree; except I wouldn't be in a hurry to replace the pickups. I have a '50s Classic and I love the tone with the stock pickups. Very "vintagey" tone. And to the OP, since cost is important, I'd suggest you get a used one (Classic '50s). Earlier today I saw a used one for sale here in the TB classifieds. Great bang for your buck.
  16. treekiller


    Mar 4, 2010
    I have one in mine and it is my main gigging bass. My MIA is a great bass, but the MIM has the edge as far as "vintage" tone. It made a world of difference!
  17. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    I love the new MIA Ps but they do sound different than the old ones. I agree the Classics and the Roadworns are closer and are very good basses. The RW in particular is just amazing IMO.
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    the differences in tone are not so obvious where you could tell a mia p from a vintage one blindfolded imho. there are differences but i think they're more in the feel than the tone. i say just get whatever the heck makes you feel like playing and rock.
  19. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    I do agree for the most part. Especially if you are throwing a set of flats on it, any decent passive P will sound great and plenty authentic.
  20. BassBuzzRS


    Oct 18, 2005
    The pickup in that model is the current MIA Standard Precision pickup :) (I have a 50's from 2011)

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