That Fender: is it genuine.....?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Rockin John, Mar 3, 2004.

  1. Hello folks.....

    Well, I've trawled the Search facility and I'm still not sure I could spot the genuine article from the fake. So I'm interested if there's any wisdom on how to spot that wrong 'un, for someone (like me) who's never owned a Fender, and knows little about them.

    There is a chance of me buying a second hand Fender Jazz (thread elsewhere on Basses) and I don't want to get ripped off if that's the route I eventually take. I understand Squiers have turned up as MIMs & MIJs whilst MIMs appear as MIAs, etc.

    The sort of info I think I'd need is a sort-of shopping list of things to look for and things to ask the vendor. I guess there's web sites to visit and books to read, too, to help my experience and general knowledge of the instrument. I guess, too, there must be ways to verify a serial number and so on.

    Help appreciated, as always.


  2. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    Go to a local store and play a few. You will notice the difference.

  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Rockin' - If I was in your shoes, I'd write down a list of criteria from this site -

    Even then, you MUST play the thing. Some of Leo's creations were just dawgs! Moreover, time has not been kind to many of the pre-CBS Fenders.
    I've tried multiple pre-CBS Fenders at guitar shows before finding just one that "had it all."

    As for CBS Fenders, you're on your own - they vary so much, IME.
  4. giantjerk


    Jan 18, 2003
    Allen, TX
    The Fender website has a reference section that lists their serial numbers and the are several other websites that have the same information. Keep in mind that the serial number will verify the origin of the neck but not necessarily the body.

    Do you have the ability to see the bass before you buy it? Squire bodies are easy to differentiate from MIA's. MIM & MIJ's are a little more difficult. Go look at new Squires, MIM's & MIA's to familiarize yourself with the differences.

    I bought was supposed to be a complete MIJ P bass based on the SN on the neck. I have recently learned that the body is probably not a MIJ but a good quality aftermarket body. I don't feel like I got ripped off because I paid less than $200 for it.

    I own a MIA Fender strat. I sold a MIM strat to buy it. There is a huge difference in the quality of these two instruments.

    Hope this helps.
  5. Hmm. Interesting stuff.

    First off, I would only consider a modern Jazz. Don't know exactly how the finances would pan out but I'd not look at anything more than 2?, 3?, 4? years old. It seems that (very roughly) used basses are about 1/2 the price of new ones depending on age, condition, etc. New ones are around the £800: add a bit for a 5er then add a bit more for a fretless and I might, therefore, be able to get a second hand USA Jazz for about £500, perhaps a little more. That's the theory at any rate. But if I'm wrong and I can't get what I'd hoped to get for my £££ then I look at something else, it's as simple as that!!

    The idea of playing Fenders to get used to the feel, is interesting. Sensible, I guess, but I'd not thought of that.

    Thanks for the link, Rick. I've had a look and there's some good stuff there: will pass it to a mate who's into Fender g/tars.

    So, Giant, the scam could be any body with a MIA neck? Or even any neck + Fender decal, with any body as a MIA? I really couldn't risk that. Phew. And the only sure way of telling the wrong-un is to be experienced with Fenders?

    I'd never buy a bass from the Bay. Ideally @ a shop. I might, at a pinch, buy from TB classified but only if I felt I could trust the seller :eek:

    I wonder, is faking MIAs still done: do people still bother forging them?

  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Vintage MIAs can be worth thousands so if someone can pass off a $300 MIM or a $500 Warmoth parts bass for a pre-CBS bass they stand to make a tidy profit.
  7. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Look at the headstock & serial number (get pics). Squier headstocks have Squier in huge lettering and Fender in small lettering.

    MIM basses have serial #s that start with MZ. That's all I know but that should help a little.
  8. Hmm. Fair point.

    I can see the logic for vintage stuff, but is worth doing for run-of-the-mill Fenders?
  9. giantjerk


    Jan 18, 2003
    Allen, TX
    A higher quality Fender neck can be fitted onto a lower quality Fender or Squire body or an aftermarket body for that matter.

    I look at the fit of the neck in the neck pocket and the overall finish on the body. Not all colors are available across each of the Fender lines, so sometimes that can be a give away to a mismatched neck & body combo. Everything on a Squire pretty much screams low cost and low quality.
  10. bwbass


    May 6, 2002
    Our necks and bodies have our turtle logo branded (burned) in the heel - you'd never mistake them for Fenders if you took 'em apart. Lots of other differences, too, if you know what to look for
  11. marklinca


    Nov 11, 2003
    So Cal
    You might want to invest in the book "Fender Basses: An llustrated History" - it has tons of information about the differences between years and other identifying features - up through about 2001, plus many photo samples. This book focuses on MIA basses for the most part.

    Of course, the same book could assist the forgers, but most of them aren't that smart anyway. The best forgers could probably fool even the most noted collectors and experts - but this is probably mostly associated with CBS basses altered to appear as pre-CBS, since pre-CBS prices are very high.

    You also might get familiar with the bass forum at the Fender Discussion Page, or FDP ( There are numerous Fender experts there who are quite generous in sharing their knowledge and experience.

    For recent Squier vs. MIM vs. MIA you should just get familiar with the hardware differences, serial number system, etc. After a while you can spot and feel the differences immediately.
  12. giantjerk


    Jan 18, 2003
    Allen, TX
    No offense to Fender but I'll take a Warmoth body over a Fender any day of the week. I have a Warmoth 51 slab cut and it is hands down the best bass I have ever played.