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What is it with MIM Fenders?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dave120, Jul 6, 2005.

  1. dave120


    Jun 27, 2005
    Central Florida
    Is it just me, or does everybody have bad experiences with Fenders at major guitar stores? I'm sure there's probably 500 threads on this already. I mean no matter which one I go to (Guitar Center, Sam Ash) the selection of Fenders is nice, but they're always setup HORRIBLY almost to the point of being unplayable.

    I don't know if it's the way they're sent from the factory or what. It's possible people that go there could screw with it, but I've never seen anybody take allen wrenches into the store and adjust them before. The bridge saddles are always way too high or bottomed out on the fretboard, or staggered for some sort of "step-action". I played 8 MIM Fenders (Ps and Js, even Geddy Lee Jazz's) today and not ONE was lacking massive fret buzz, way out of whack truss rods, or super high action. Now I am a fan of cheap basses so some high action or whatever doesn't bother me, but the way those things were was just ridiculous. Who would pay $440 for one of those when the $99 Carlo Robellis next to them play so much better? At least until you plug it in...:) I'm used to tweaking my cheap basses quite a bit but I'm just curious why these things seem so slapped together all the time. At least the Aerodyne Jazz I tried last was nice...now if only the price would drop a little I'd pick one of those up real fast...

    So I wandered over to the cheap rack filled with Squires which I expected to be even worse. Every Squire was setup reasonably! No obscure action setups or anything. Obviously the necks weren't finished the same way and weren't as fast to move around, but at least I could play them! Aside from that, if they weren't plugged in you'd swear these Squires were the higher quality instruments.

    I've found this to generally be the case at any Sam Ash or GC location I've been to. Not so much at smaller stores because the people that run those will fix them if they come in that bad of shape, but do they really spend THAT little time setting them up at the factory? And how come the Squires were so much nicer? I just thought this was interesting....my experiences for today. My SX P should be here on Saturday...it'll be interesting to see how it matches up to that.
  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    See if you can check out an MIM Fender at a Mom and Pop store or at least try to be the first to play a MIM at GC. I think that well set up MIM Fenders, espeically fours, are great bang for the buck, I damn near took a MIM Jazz over a Geddy Lee Jazz I'm due to pick up in August.
  3. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    Ok I'll try and give you the skinny.
    When you go to major stores to check out basses you will alway's find these problems. these thinks happen for a few reasons, one being store temps going up and down due to traffic in and out the door, humidty on rainy days sends all neck front back and sideway's, every 15 year old Jaco with no intentions on buying anything rips his whole reportiore after tuning it to what he thinks a E A D G string should sound like! leaving a neck with strings that are a foot away from it. The real culprit more than anything is the ever changing climate the basses are stored. Every Fender I bought new and took out the case, box or gigbag was set up perfect from the factory. I have never bought a new bass and had to tweek anything on it, That's why I tell people all the time you can't go by what's on the wall unless you ask the rep to set it up properly so you can play it. Bring all problems to their attention and see if they take care of it for you. If they don't walk out! that's your answer why everything is out of wack.
  4. dave120


    Jun 27, 2005
    Central Florida
    I agree that once they're setup right the Fenders are great basses, I like them a lot actually. I just thought it was odd how common it is for them to be setup like crap and feel so poorly made and then put on the rack for $440 vs a $170 Squire that plays a lot better. Of course I know Fender uses better materials and what not, but you'd expect the playability to be better also right?
  5. dave120


    Jun 27, 2005
    Central Florida

    I guess that sums a lot of it up, but how come the Squires on the wall next to it weren't as bad? That's what was so ironic to me really. I guess not as many people mess with the Squires.
  6. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    Because they are rarely handeled much less played, No little grubby fingers :)
  7. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Don't assume the Squire is that bad. I know Squire Precision Special Bass 5s are killer for the money. Also, kids want to play a "real" Fender, so the MIMs get handled more, I guess.
  8. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Ive played a few MIM fenders at my local sohp that were set up decently and played well.
  9. DrSmaggs


    Oct 15, 2003
    Endorsing Artist:
    I'm personally not a fan of MIM or ANY Fender... just personal preference.
  10. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    I once walked into Sam Ash and saw a used MIM p-bass hanging on the wall. It had a price of $250 bucks, I took it down and it was 3 years old in pristine condition. Some moe probably had it and only thought of it as a MIM P with a bad "E" or neck (who knows what they were thinking). I started to play it and the "E" string was on top of the neck (the saddle was all the way down). I asked my rep to give me a price and he told me $237 bucks and he'll throw in a gig bag. I laughed all the way home! I took out a small screwdriver and adjusted the saddle and thats it! A killer p-bass for $237 bucks. I got it just to have a P I could mod but it stayed that way until I accidentally broke one of the pots replacing a pickguard. It was the split shaft type and broke while I was opening it up to hold the knob. I replaced both pots with CTS pots and added a set of Lindy Fralins :) :) :) :) :) . It's a killer diller P now!
  11. dave120


    Jun 27, 2005
    Central Florida
    I saw a used P at Sam Ash today for $250. All the frets were oxidized and the poles on pickups and strings were rusty and the pots were crappy too. I wish it was a nice one like you found...I would have bought it up real quick too!
  12. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    This has basically been my experience too. Interestingly, whenever I've played a new MIM Fender at a GC or Sam Ash and really liked it, the salesman has told me it "just arrived," and I believe it. (These have usually been Teles and Strats though.)

    Unfortunately, I think some Fender bashers out there (you know who you are ;) ) have been influenced by the horrendous setups encountered routinely at GC, Sam Ash, and even some smaller shops. I recently played a used Roscoe Beck IV at a seemingly good shop, and the thing buzzed worse than the wasp nest on my roof! I've seen American Series P-basses with strings a half inch off the fretboard at one of my favorite mom and pop shops. I've seen others with dried out rosewood fretboards, and the list goes on from there.

    I'm sure other brands suffer from this too. I've encountered Pedullas at GC with atrocious setups, for example. But it seems to come up more with Fenders. Maybe it's because, as others have said, they get tried out more by folks looking to play a real Fender. I don't know, but once I've gotten my Fenders dialed in, they've stayed that way for a long time.
  13. dave120


    Jun 27, 2005
    Central Florida
    That makes sense too. A week and a half ago I went in there and played a fretless Fender Jazz and LOVED it. Was the best setup Fender I'd ever played. I went back in there today and played the very same one, and it didn't have the same feel to it at all.

    If I ever buy a real Fender I'm going to have to have them order me a brand new one, or buy it online. I think the copies more or less do it for me as far as desiring Fenders once I get them setup the way I like them. The Aerodyne is one no copy has duplicated even remotely close so far...that's gonna be the first real Fender I buy most likely. I love that look
  14. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think you would do better to buy an MIM in person. Having it set up is no big deal. a professional set up is something to have done any way, if you don't do that sort of thing yourself.
    BTW, the Aerodyne is CIJ, not MIM.
  15. psi


    Mar 11, 2005
    New Jersey
    I've been trying to get rid of my Fender MIM P-bass deluxe for a very long time. It was such a waste of money -- $550 I think it was. Guitar Center will give me $50 for it. Isn't that bull****?
  16. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    I'm lucky to never have dealt with big chains. My local place is Eastcoast Music Mall, and the luthier/tech there is fantastic. Almost everything there is set up very well, he really takes care of them.
  17. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I've found that the basses that are the most taken care of are the low end Squiers and sub-$350 types, because that's what they sell most of. Guitar Center and similar stores cater to the beginner guitarist/bassist who doesnt want to shell out a lot of money, etc.

    Might as well get the best sellers the most presentable right?

    That, and their vintage gear gets attention. Most of the in between basses are neglected.
  18. Beav

    Beav Graphics Whore

    Jul 17, 2003
    Middle Tennessee
    Designer: Beav's Graphics
    Of all the Fenders that are sent to the shop I work at, the American Fenders are the worst. Then the Mexicans, then Hiway 1s and the best set up basses from the factory.... Squier, hands down. Their truss rods are usually straight as an arrow. The action is generally very high and the strings aren't radiused, but for the price-point, they're killer. The MIM basses, however can be setup for some killer action and awesome playability. I was skeptical when I was setting some of ours up, but with about 10-15 minutes of work, they can play awesome.
  19. funkasaurus


    Apr 23, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I agree that finding a well setup bass in GC is next to impossible, whether it's a Fender, Music Man, or Warwick. I'd suggest going to a store that will provide better service if you want to find a good MIM Fender.

    I bought my MIM Jazz at Manny's in NYC five years ago. Gil, the salesman, let me try out new, unplayed basses from their backstock, and even tweaked the setups on them to my liking until I found "The One". So when it came time to buy, I willingly paid a little more than I could've at other stores because of the great service. I know Manny's isn't exactly a mom and pop, but they treated me right even though I was buying a budget bass, and they got my money.
  20. EricTheEZ1


    Nov 23, 2004
    Clawson, MI
    I think any bass you try out in a store has to be taken with a grain of salt. If I play a Fender Standard Jazz on a $150 Fender practice amp and it sounds OK at best. It's gonna sound OK at worst once I get a full setup/cleaning with new DR Strings and my SWR rig. Gotta keep things in perspective.

    I don't think anyone playing hard or badly on a bass is going to raise or lower the action noticeably so I think it's more of a humidity/temp thing, then factory setup/transportation issues.


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