MIM verses MIA

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Skel, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    I don't know if I have free speech here or not, but you'll all know if I do.

    Please let me know if I am an idiot, but I was thinking (my first mistake) the other day: I think that it's very possible that if you walked into the factory where they make American Fender basses and guitars, about 60 percent or more of the work force would be Mexican Americans. Being that Mexican Americans are the majority population in California. I wouldn't even be surprised if some of the work force are Mexican illegal aliens.

    So, my question is: Is the *real* difference between a Fender American bass, and a MIM bass primarly a question of "do you want it made by Mexican Americans, or Mexicans who live and work about 2 hours down the road from here?"

    How much of the cost of an American Fender is simply stuff like health care for the employees? Did Fender put a plant in Ensenada because machinery or materials were cheaper there? Wasn't it 100 percent the cost of labor?

    I think the deal is probably this: You pay twice as much for an American Fender, and it's *maybe* about 20% higher quality.

    Please know I own a MIM Precision, and I'm totally happy with it, but I'm sure I would *feel* a little cooler if it said "Made in America", but I think that feeling is unreasonable. I wonder sometimes if my MIM Precision would have been a "to die for" bass 40 years ago.

    Ok - I'm ready for my flogging.

  2. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Moderator - Could you please move this to the "Bass Guitar" forum? Sorry for the mistake.

  3. anonymous278347457

    anonymous278347457 Guest

    Feb 12, 2005
    people *say* its the parts quality and worksmanship.

    but ive heard plenty of people say that some hot rodded asian made basses are comparable to MIAs. Personally I think that its just opinion, there are some bassists that play reasonably "cheap" basses, eg duff from GNR plays a aerodyne jazz(MIJ i think), and there are people out there who play some 60k custom fancy basses like les claypool.

    I think you are right the price isnt directly proportional to the tone/quality, but fender just has to account for people who spend lots of money.:ninja:

    Im not saying that MIA is a waste of money, im just saying that its probably not worth all the money it is made of but then again a lot of stuff isnt.
  4. steve21

    steve21 Banned

    Who cares where it's made? If it plays and sounds good, and the price reflects it properly, that's all that matters.
  5. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    A lot of people care where it's made - that's kind of my point...should they?

  6. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Good answer. If somebody bought a $20,000 Fernandez classical guitar made in Spain, they would have the best classical guitar made, and it's not made in America. Of course, Fender is a different story. They are simply outsourcing the labor to keep costs down so the products are more affordable. But whenever a Fender guitar or bass is for sale, the first text in the item description will usually be "MIA" because it must be very important to a lot of people.

  7. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Personally, I wouldn't care where it was made but unfortunately there are differences in the MIM & MIA mades basses. Better woods, string through body bridge, graphite reinforced neck, better electronics & HSC!
  8. The Lurker

    The Lurker

    Aug 16, 2002
    generally it's the materials, not the workmanship. That said, the MIA ones include a good percentage of goofs and lemons.
  9. Its mostly materials . I live " two hours down the road from here " and find it very insulting the way people generalise mexican made products.
  10. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Thanks for saying what you did, and if I insulted you, it was not my intention at all - like I said, I own a MIM Precison, and I just bought a MIM Jazz. I don't own an American Fender bass. Also, after reading every post, nobody said MIM basses were made inferior to MIA basses, in fact, the contrary. One person said what is the most realistic; that goof ups happen on MIA basses, just as they probably do on MIM basses from time to time - hey, people make mistakes once in a while. So, what I have gathered, is that there really is a difference between MIM and MIA, but it is in the materials, and I'm glad I know that now.

  11. no problem . I wasn't offended by your post . Its just that I've seen a lot of musicians that think an instrument is crap just because it says " made in mexico " .
  12. My opinion? Fender makes sure through quality control that the MIM basses (and guitars) are generally sub-standard to the MIA basses, and then is very sure to spin it as such. They are made faster, with lower quality supplies. Why? How many people would buy a more expensive American bass if the Mexican basses were of the same quality at a significantly reduced price? Probably not too many. It's not just about the lower working wage in Mexico either - I am sure if the Mexican factories had the same supplies, time tables and QC as the US the basses would be the same, just about 20% cheaper (my guess). But then all basses are MIM and there is no differentiating the two tiers of instruments, between the two distinct Fender brands. They are essentially carefully covering both ends of consumers with an obvious racial bias - and selling lots of less expensive (less profitable / unit) low end basses MIM and also selling some more expensive (more profitable / unit) higher end basses MIA in the process. That's why nearly ALL manufacturers have a budget line made over seas (to capalize on all consumers and to play into the US market's view of foreign goods) and their flagship products made in the US (at a cost noticably higher then if made in the foreign factories).

    As to the question of should we support American economy over that of a foreign country, boy... I'm not touching that one!
  13. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    That doesn't make sense. If Fender makes a high quality bass in Mexico for half the price, and their cost for producing the bass is half, they are still making the same profit. They are just like most other US companies, they outsource the labor, but they realize their is a market for the "Made in USA" logo, so they use it. If nobody cared at all where it was made, I think they would shut the US plant down in about 30 seconds.

  14. tkozal

    tkozal Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
  15. bassbully43


    Jul 1, 2005
    Wait...i was always told the MIMs and parts are made in Cali and shipped down the road to Mexico to be assembled at a lower labor cost which reflects the savings of a MIM to a MIA..I also asked a large fender dealer when i ordered my MIM jazz 5 are the pups any diffrent on the 06 MIM jazzes that a highway one? He winked and said i highly doubt it but they want you to think they are. My new 5 has Gotoh tuners Pau Ferro fretboard vitage bi-pole pups and knobs and is even painted 3 tone sunburst a MIA color when it was to have brown sunburst....did this color slip by them? I have not seen another MIM 5 like it and its called an upgrade MIM Jazz 5. I think the new MIMs are getting better all the time.
  16. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Atlanta, GA!

    ...let's keep the conversation civil! :eyebrow:
  17. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Exactly. It's not where they're made, it's what they're made of. I think the MIM Fenders, both basses and guitars, are perfectly fine instruments and excellent values. But every time I've done an A/B comparison, it hasn't been even close -- the American Series always sounded much better, and felt better too. And they're more likely to hold a setup with the graphite reinforced necks. My testing doesn't exactly represent a large sample, but it's been the same every time.

    As for sound, I would be tempted to base that on the electronics, but that's not the whole story. When I was examining Telecasters, I played the Standard and American versions with fresh strings back to back through and amp, and the American was much better. (Much better than the American Deluxe to my ears, in fact.) Then I played acoustically, and pressed my ear to the upper horn. Surprisingly, much of the difference in clarity and presence was audible like this, so the woods and construction are important too.
  18. jwsamuel


    Apr 26, 2004
    A few years ago, I worked for a company that makes electronics products. We had three assembly plants. One was in the US, one in the UK and one in Switzerland. Those three pants had a 98% quality rating, meaning that 2% of the products they made were defective and could not be shipped.

    We opened a plant in Mexico to expand capacity, not replace existing plants. Within three months of its opening, the Mexican plant was operating at 100% quality and was turning out the best products we made.

    The reality is that when American comapnies go to Mexico, the wages they pay there are so high by Mexican standards that everyone does the best job they can because they do not want to risk losing that paycheck.


  19. thats true . about a year ago I wasn't studying and went to the fender plant to apply as a tuner .While I was there I got to see how they make the instruments and how they paint them and stuff. They called me about 2 months ago .. turns out they had a long waiting list . Every one I know that has worked in fender has told they pay and treat them very well .