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Stock American P vs. Modded MIM(Perhaps)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bassline_Delux, Aug 25, 2005.

  1. I've used the seacrh function, but oddly couldn't really find this. Granted it was a half-ass lazy search, but what they hey!

    Ok. So www.musiciansfriend.com has a Butterscotch Blonde American P with a maple fretboard for 999.59 (Call it $1000).

    what I was thinking was perhaps get a MIM for significantly cheaper and then mod it out with the difference. And I was gonna sk you which would sound better a MIM with close to $500 in mods or a stock MIA. However, it seems that MIM models don't come with maple fretboards????

    Help me out here.
  2. I would do the American P just simply for one reason: resale.
    If you are like me and tend to trade/sell at all the American P will do better in a sell or trade situation than the MIM IMHO.
  3. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    now that you've mentioned it, i've never seen a maple MIM
  4. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I agree - I would go USA. I really like the Butterscotch Blonde one, so maybe I'm biased. I had a MIM P Bass and even with Mods don't see it as high in quality as my MIA Jazz.
  5. xshawnxearthx


    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    i have a mim and an mia p-bass. me, if i had to do it all over again, id buy another mia p-bass.
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    This is my number one complaint about the advice given on Talkbass, to the point where I get really angry and want to hop through the computer and shake some sense into people. I'm very glad to see that there are some sensible people on here in this thread.

    A typical opening comment is "I just got a MIM Jazz Bass, and I'm going to buy set of Barts, a Sadowsky preamp, a Badass bridge, a brass nut and new tuners, and my bass will be better than the Custom Shop models." Then someone else who already made the same mods will chirp in with, "Yeah, I did all those mods and my bass is better than any Custom Shop model."

    No it isn't. It's still a Mexican Fender with upgraded parts, and by the time you paid for all these mods, you could have bought an American Fender and got a much better bass for the same amount of money. And all these parts won't do too much for resale value. It probably won't increase what you can get for it, and since so many people want stock basses these days, especially Fenders, you might even harm the resale value.

    "Now Jim," you modded MIM owners might be saying, "All these parts are much better than stock Fender parts, and my bass sounds so great with these mods that you have to be full of s***." But no, there's two parts you forgot about that you didn't replace that act against the mods you made...the body and neck. The wood quality and building techniques on a MIM bass are not as good as a MIA bass. I won't say they're bad basses but they are not as high quality as the more high-end basses, and their acoustic sound just isn't up to par with American models. And if it doesn't sound good unplugged, it's not going to sound good plugged, no matter what electronics are on it.

    So when you do all these mods, you forget that you're still dealing with inferior woods and building techniques, and the fancy pickups and preamp are still going to be amplifying the sound that comes off the neck and body of a Mexican Fender. And no matter what you think about your mods, if you ever want to sell it, all your buyer will remember is MIM Fender and won't want to pay any more than a stock MIM would cost on the used market. They may actually want to pay less since Fenders are much more desirable to collectors when they're stock. And in the end, you're left with a bass that you may have improved a little but not significantly enough to justify spending $600 in mods. And your tricked out MIM still won't sound as good as a stock MIA Fender.

    I'm sure now I'll get angry messages from those of you who modded your basses telling me how wrong I am. Fine. Whatever gets you through the night. If I wasted a bunch of money like that, I'd probably feel the same way. But it's not going to sound or feel as good and there's nothing you can do about it. That isn't to say it won't sound good...it will. But not as good as a bass made with better quality wood using better building techniques.

    So my advice if you're in the market for a bass? If you want a really good one, buy a really good one. If you want an inexpensive one, buy an inexpensive one. If you have an inexpensive bass and want to turn it into an expensive one, sell it and put that money toward an expensive one...don't mod it.
  7. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Fantastic post, Jimmy. Exactly right.

    I used to have a really sweet MIM Jazz Bass. I put some standard mods on it: Basslines pickups, Badass II, traditional Jazz Bass knobs, beautiful pickguard. It ended up looking like this by the time I was done modding it:


    Nice bass, but in retrospect frankly it sounded and played better 100% stock. I got a deal on a USA Jazz V a couple years later. I replaced the pickguard on it but have since reverted to the original white. The USA Jazz looked like this when it had the pearl pickguard on it:


    The USA bass is in another class compared to the Mexico one. Not that the Mexico bass was bad by any means, it was great, I should have never sold it! But the USA one is just superior in absolutely every single way with one notable exception: the MIM paint job was at least as good as the USA paint job.
  8. 43% burnt

    43% burnt an actor who wants to run the whole show

    May 4, 2004
    Bridgeport, CT
  9. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    That was a truly excellent post. I completely agree. When you buy an American Series instrument, the construction and hardware are generally top notch, so there's no need to mod. (But if you go to the major chain stores, you might think otherwise due to abuse and horrible setups -- don't get me started!) And the tone will be very good, far superior to the MIM models. They really aren't in the same ballpark, and this applies to guitars as well. If eventually you want better (or at least different) tone, replace the pickups and you're done.

    The modding approach makes perfect sense if you don't have the cash on hand, and plan to spread the expense over time to eventually have a top notch instrument. But if your budget allows you to purchase a better bass at the outset, you'll get more for your money IMO, and as Jimmy said, you'll get more on resale too.
  10. BadB


    May 25, 2005
    AZ, USA
    Don't even consider a MIM model. Mine had all kinds of issues with the neck. Dead spots aplenty. Twisted neck. 12th fret bump. Fret buzz no matter how I set it up. I actually gave it away, and I don't regret doing it. I don't mean to sound angry, but I'm pretty passionate in my opposition to anything MIM.
  11. toad


    Jun 26, 2002
    I hear this stuff about inferior woods all the time on these boards to justify why MIM is better than Squier, why MIA is better than MIM, why high-end Fender clone is better than Fender, and I'm genuinely curious--what about the wood selection and treatment process do you (anyone, really) SPECIFICALLY know?

    Do you know that Fender actually rejects planks of alder, ash, and maple because they don't hold up to MIA standards? What is their criteria? I can't imagine that they throw anything away, but I'm willing to be educated. And please, no "you can see it for yourself"; just the facts, please.

    For the record, I have owned a couple of MIM and MIA Fender basses and IMHO the differences have been largely in feel, meaning details, not so much in sound.
  12. RobertUI

    RobertUI Thumper Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Herndon, VA - NoVa
    I couldn't agree more with you Jimmy, I too have been wanting to reach through and strangle some folks with all of these modding discussions.

    Don't get me wrong, modding a bass is fun and CAN (I said CAN) improve the sound and feel of a bass, but it's not going to turn a piece of crap into a great instrument. I had a MIM Jazz and liked it alright, but ended up selling it b/c it didn't feel like the better instruments that I had played. I debated about $300 in mods and realized that I was over the price of what I really wanted, so I sold it and got what I wanted (which in MY case was a '75 RI Jazz - MIJ).

    The real debate comes down to, do what you really want to do. If you're cheaping out by purchasing the MIM with thoughts of modding it when you get more money, then I say WAIT.

    Hope that helps. I've made LOTS of mistakes with instruments and amps, but the biggest mistake is buying something b/c it's cheaper than the alternatives.
  13. Ego


    Jan 10, 2004
    if you've got a specific MIM you really like, go for it. generally speaking, i agree with the others. i've played a MIM here and there that i like more than a MIA here and there, but if you're buying blind go for the American.
  14. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    The 60s issue reissues made in Mexico are wonderful. They are definitely in a class well above the MIM "Standard" fare.
  15. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    +1 JimmyM!!!

    Of those two choices, MIA is the much better call. I say take your $1000 bucks over to the classifieds forum and see how far it will go.

    This is the perfect example of the buy used principle, if this bass is anything like my '78 it will smoke a new MIA:

  16. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I played a butterscotch blonde MIA p bass the other day with a maple fb that had excellent fretwork, never wanted a p bass so badly.
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    To a certain extent, you're not wrong. But the better pieces of wood are most definitely used in American and CS basses, and they do pick and choose. I don't know exactly how they pick and choose, but I know they do.

    Plus Squiers use poplar, which is definitely a grade below alder. MIM Fenders used to use poplar, but now I hear they're using alder. Plus MIM Fenders aren't made to as strict tolerances as MIA's. Neck pockets aren't as tight, tuners may not be drilled perfectly even, etc.

    You are right that they all basically sound the same, but there are subtle differences in tone that you can hear if you listen to it unplugged. I've yet to hear a truly clear open E on a MIM bass. Other notes don't have the depth and complexity of tone as the MIA models. And no matter what the electronics are, they can't compensate for the acoustic tone, no matter what pickup salesmen tell you.

    BTW, Philbiker, glad to hear from someone who's been there and done it. People often think I'm full of s*** when I say stuff like that, and maybe they'll think more seriously about it when they hear from someone who's done it. BTW, I still liked the looks of your MIM even with all the mods ;)
  19. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    There is a lot of Poplar slander out there. It is in no way an inferior wood. I built a graphite neck fretless with a poplar body, and it absolutely sings. Now I've got a Zon Sonus 5/2 with a Poplar body, and I love it. And guess what the other name is for the tulipwood the Mike Tobias uses on MTD535s? You guessed it (look at his website).
  20. Indeed. :meh: