The Fender Standard, Made in Mexico Stratocaster

Thus begins the task of writing about what is probably the most purchased guitar in the last 10 years. Ever since Fender got their Mexico factory, allowing them to charge a lot less for what is almost the same instrument as its American cousin, people have been jumping at the chance to own one. It’s the closest you can get to playing the same guitar as Hendrix, Clapton, Gilmour and Beck(the Jeff one) without spending more than 500 dollars. And the price has gone up, mind you. I remember about 6 years ago when I wanted one that it was 299 new at Guitar Center. I probably have one of their leaflets that showed a picture of a dark blue Made in Mexico strat which costs 299.99. But I’ll get to the price trend later, lets get to it!

The Specs: 21 Medium Jumbo frets on a Maple or a Rosewood board. Most people get maple, and I would too. If you’re going to buy something called a Strat, you might as well keep it a strat with a maple board. The Body is made out of Alder, a tonewood that many companies are using for their lower end guitars or guitars they know will not have a transparent finish. Fender uses alder on their American strats too, but I have a feeling that they come from better stock. I’m making an assumption, so it could be completely false. Alder isn’t exactly the prettiest of woods, but it’s similar to higher ones so they might as well use it if they got it. I have no idea about the state of Alder trees, so if you’re interested in that, go do some research and send it my way too. Satin poly finish on the neck, so it’ll last awhile. Vintage trem, 3 single coils. I’m trying to limit myself here considering there isn’t much about the strat people don’t know. I’m trying to point out the minor differences between one of these and the expensive ones. A few of the obvious ones are the size of the fretwire, the truss rod access being in the headstock, and the type of Alder.

The Neck: When I pick up a guitar, this is the first thing I go for. I wrap my left hand around the neck and feel the profile. This is a modern C, which means it’s a nice C shaped curve which is thinner. Reading Dan Erlewine’s book explaining the differences in neck profiles was a very informative thing. Through the 80’s and 90’s necks got REALLY thin, and even the standard Strat got pulled into the trend. I’ve heard thin necks promote fatigue, but the Fender modern C shape isn’t that thin, so it still fills the hand. As I said, poly satin finish so that will stay on for a good amount of time. On the other hand, it probably hinders the resonance of the guitar in comparison to a thin coat of Nitrocellulose. Then again, I could just be falling into the tribe of purists who claim Nitro is a better finish.  Judge for yourself, I think satin feels great play wise, but there is a certain feeling you get on a tinted poly finish.

The Body: The Alder thing is an interesting subject. Most of Fender’s guitars are made out of Alder with a few exceptions. They make special strats out of Ash, a wood near and dear to my heart, having spent time working with it. It’s a spectacular looking wood, and is a lighter colored, but more dense version of mahogany. Looks great with maple. Anyway, Alder is just another tonewood which people will try to describe with words like “poppy” or “warm” when in reality it doesn’t matter for the MIM strat. The polyurethane finish is so thick and there’s probably filler in some bad spots on the guitar, so the resonating properties one could associate with a thin finished Alder body are probably hindered by all of the coating. Personally, I can’t hear it, but i’m drawing conclusions from what I read and assume. It looks like a strat, and that’s probably why you bought one or are reading this. It’s made on a machine, every one of them is cut identically, but has different wood stocks. Minute differences which most people who would buy a MIM strat wouldn’t notice.

Electronics: If every strat guitar used the same electronics as the Eric Johnson signature strat, this would be a different paragraph and a different toned article. But since they use what they use, it’s merely a situation of “It sounds fine” and move on. 3 Single coils, volume and 2 tone knobs. I still dislike the wiring of the tone, to the middle and neck. I use middle pickups so infrequently, I would just rather have it wired to the bridge. I was going to say have a master tone knob, but once you find the joys of different tone settings, you never want to return. Maybe they treble change when doing a switch from Bridge to Mid to Neck is so annoying they’d rather keep it gradual? I don’t know why. Actually, come to think of it, a tone knob for the neck and mid, and one just for the bridge would be better. Or one for Mid and Bridge, and one for the neck. I’ve heard a lot of players modding their tone to just Neck and Bridge, so it’s something to think about when you want an easy modification for different sounds.

Hardware: The tuners are decent tuners. They work pretty well. I would like the ones with a center post just because they look coolers and have better string locking ability, but they are probably a little complicated for changing strings if you’re just a casual player.  The current tuners however, are standard ones which are easy to tune with. The output jack is fine, but there needs to be a standard solution for those things loosening and weakening. It’s a 5 dollar solution, and i’d pay that much to never have to open up that cavity for any reason. The bridge, same deal. There needs to be some type of thread locking mechanism. Small set screws so the height of the saddles doesn’t change over time. A bigger sustain block on the bridge would be nice too. Just a little extra sustain isn’t too much to ask for?

The Whole She-bang: You’re spending 400 dollars on a guitar which is outsourced for labor purposes. You’re going to get what you pay for. It will play, it will sound like a strat, and you’ll tell people you have a Fender strat. It’s true, you have one. But the guitar as an entity runs on pedigree, not on quality. You’re getting the name, the look and the label, not the playability. The frets and nut are created for all of the guitars, not just yours, so variation is common. The neck pocket is done on a machine, but it doesn’t account for the thickness that the painter applies finish or color, so the pocket isn’t really exact. It’s good, but it’s not amazing. The neck will shift in that pocket with the right force. The action is going to be alright, but you’ll never get it as low as you really want it. Playing a guitar which can have mind bogglingly low action is something few guitarists experience. That book I referenced before, he sets his high E string to be .009 inches off of the first fret. That’s ALMOST enough room to fit another high E under that. You could blow on that string and the note would go sharp. You won’t find that on the strat. Everything will be fine. It’s something that will work. The Fender MIM strat is like the Ikea furniture of guitars. You get it because it looks good and works, but it’s never going to be monetarily worth more than what you bought it for unless you become the next Stevie Ray Vaughn or it’s signed by a celebrity. We live in a mass production world, and there are a LOT of MIM strats out there. They are gifts, beginner guitars, backups, projects, parts, and played until the strings dissolve.

Also, from a perspective of upgrades, it’s THE guitar. It’s the standard, and there are more parts for it than any other guitar. Broken neck? Get a new one. Want to replace the pickups? Do it. Some guitars out there, you’re stuck with what you got unless you do some major repairs. Every single part on the strat has ten to hundreds of options for replacement. Warmoth, Allparts, Dimarzio, Seymour Duncan, Planet Waves, Schaller. All companies that make new parts for the guitar you want to upgrade. Also, it’s the guitar that repair people have the most experience with, so chances are if you want a fret recrown, the repair guy is going to be able to do it quickly, cheaply, and well.

Thinking about it, the Fender Standard Made in Mexico strat is not a great guitar. Looking at it from a workmans perspective, it’s fine. The ones on the shelf are fine guitars, and even sitting on the shelves I’m not a big fan. But for something to work on, it’s amazing. I’m thinking about getting one just to Frankenstein it. And looking at it for what it symbolizes, it’s absolute perfection. It’s what gets people to start playing guitar. Priced just low enough to tempt people, and named perfectly so people will want one. Someone will as, “What kind of Guitar do you have?” “A Fender strat”, they say. It’s a guitar people want and are proud to talk about. And for that, it’s perfect.

Never played guitar? Buy one. Screw the value and the depreciation, it’s your first guitar, and it’s a Fender Strat.

Have a bunch of expensive guitars? Buy one. Tear it to bits, learn about guitar, mod it, paint it, crank it.

I usually grade guitars on the guitar itself, but you can’t do it to this. Someday, I’ll rate an American strat like every other one i’ve reviewed, but this one is special and I don’t even own one.

The Pros: It’s a Fender strat. It’s just fine. It’ll work and play.

The Cons: That it’s just fine. Machinery is so fast and advanced now that even the lowest models of companies should be able to play as good or better than the cheap guitars of yesteryear.

The Grade:



Filed under electric guitar, Fender, Fender Guitars, Fender Mexico, fender standard, fender stratocaster, guitar, guitar player, guitar rant, guitar review, Guitar store, Made in Mexico, strat, stratocaster, Uncategorized

101 responses to “The Fender Standard, Made in Mexico Stratocaster

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  2. I own a Fender Mexican Strat too. It was my first electric guitar. It’s been good to me. Now I want VG Strat. But still beyond my ‘comfortable’ price range..

    Nice review as usual..

  3. Steve

    Try finding locking tuners that do not require drilling for a lefty version. It’s tricky. GFS only does righty pickguards…so lefties have to be pretty crafty to tweak it.

    As is (with new strings) there’s nothing about this guitar that would hold back Jimi Hendrix or any other talented Strat player. It sounds like a Strat.

  4. AJ

    the mexican stratocasters (MIM’S) were upgraded by the fender company in 2006. the body on the standards are alder the same wood that alot of the american strats are made from.the necks are cut and fretted in the usa,then sent to mexico to be finished. the bridge block has a much thicker mass.
    fender ping tuners. i personaly like the pings better than the vintage tuners because the pings are faster to tune and stay in tune alot better. the only thing i done to my 2006 standard was change the pick ups with seymoure duncan JB jr’s and a DUCKBUCKER. and i’ll tell ya this strat kicks my american strats right in the butt. if you have a mexican made standard strat made from 2006 to present you have a awesome guitar and the craftsmanship and quality are very good.

    • Jeff

      What is the location of your JB jr’s and Duckbucker? Neck, Middle, Bridge? What are you using for your 3rd pup. I also have a 2006, and am looking to change out the pups.

      • Mike

        I have a blizzard pearl 60th edition MIM strat and I also put Seymore Duncans in the neck and bridge and then installed a mega switch and
        a push/pull to the outter coils of the SD’s and a blender so I could go
        from neck to bridge as I choose. I had bought a 2010 american SSS
        the the neck was so much nicer, I was never going to play the MIM again, but because of it now sounding so nice, I play it more then the american.
        the neck on the american is 30-40% nicer feel then the MIM in my opinion.
        [img] [/img]

    • Helge Dahl

      the MIM are underrated. I think there is a lot of psychology going on.
      As the article suggest also.. Som 70% of costs in building a guitar is just finish. Saning, primer, layers of varnish. If you cut down on this some the price drops big time. The truth is that most on of the tests done on youtube both experienced players and all the rest do not hear that the US onces are better than the MIM. And if there is something you do not lie about the sound, it is probably in the pick ups but then again, Yamaha and others makes pick ups that again beat the fender us onces in blind tests. If it sounds good to you, it is. There is asian made copy guitars that beat Gibsons and fenders in these blindfolded tests.
      I have my self us made fenders and I went to vote a stratocaster better than another one in a test like that as clearly better than the other. I was voting for a Japanese made strat from the 60 ies over an US made…

      This is the land of hype.

      Helge Dahl

  5. Jose A Rodriguez

    dear ; my friend send me your new catalog and
    prices list

    Thank you
    Sincerely your friend

    Jose A Rodriguez

  6. josh hicks


    i bought an old mex strat last year

    i was wondering what year fender started its production in mexic as a guy on ebay has what he says is a 70s mexican

    with a serial number of

    MN 81174707
    whereas mine is

    MN 81 46990

    which is lower in digits so where agewise does this place my strat ?

    write back josh hicks

  7. dee

    i need a set of tuners for a saga tele kit i’m building. can you get me a source for the mx tuners, used? i don’t want to spend more than 20 u.s. or so for them.



  8. stevie k

    If I remember correctly the first 8 denotes a ’98 (mine is a 2 hence ’92). MIM early bodies poor routing leaving sharp edges after finishing. My neck is fast, never had sharp fret edges (you can file these just take your time or go to a guitar tech who WILL take the time AND your dinero. I had a Lead I with a great neck and this is as good but I would take that Lead I back in a heartbeat. I used a Hohner strat and a Hohner tele deluxe with HBs both MIJ (so is my early Electra LP copy which now has Kent Armstrong P90s). I have a great looking Karo syrup color Harmony tele copy MIK.
    Here again electronics were crap and so are tuners.
    Good place for Fender/Pings when I find Schallers for MIM strat which now will have silver Laces or two SLs and Duncan Hot Stack moved up front. I would recommend the Hot Rails for the bridge if you play slide/country rockish Brooks is Done or them Young Rascals/Lester Flatts boys, cue Sheriff Roscoe P Coltrane laff track. Pick em if ya got em.

  9. DW

    I’ve had a lot of guitars, most of them Fenders. I’ve had 3 MIM Strats and 2 MIM Tele’s and all were great guitars. They played good, looked good and sounded good. I’ve got a MIM Tele now that I really like and it sounds every bit as good as an American made Tele. I can’t really justify over a grand difference for an American made guitar when the difference is so negligible you can’t tell it. I asked the owner of the music store “If you were gonna buy a Tele, would you buy an American or MIM Tele?” He said he would go for the MIM Tele and maybe put some hotter pickups like Seymour Duncans.

  10. joey

    the MIM strat from 2006 to present has great
    craftmanship. its made from the same alder and maple woods that most MIA strats are made from.
    i have a 2006 standard MIM strat and the craftmanship on this guitar will match most MIA strats. i changed the pickups and this baby kicks my MIA strats right in the ass. tone/sustain on this strat is fantastic. recomend this strat to the pro player who wants a well crafted guitar with tons of sustain and great feel.

  11. johnny

    Hi!!! I want to buy a “FENDER ® STANDARD STRATOCASTER BLACK/MN” with maple neck and alder body made in Mexico.
    First: Can you explain me what’s the meaning of “MN”?
    Second: I want to take off the paint because I like the 70’s look (natural). It would be as 70’s? you know, alder and maple would be matched color?
    Third: What kind of finish you recommend?
    Four: Thanks a lot.

  12. robert plumb

    i have a 2006 mim fender fat strat.
    having played a 40th anniversary mia strat.
    and a 6 year old mij strat. all 3 compared on the same day by the 3 owners give me my mim any day the guy who had the jap strat also agreed the guy with the 40th anniv strat didnt but i suspect that was the fact that he paid £1000 i paid £150 for mine my advice if you want to contribute to the us pension fund buy the us strat. if u dont have more money than sense get the mexican

  13. while the mexican strats are probably the greatest values in any guitar shop, (as well as many of pwn shops) they simply don’t get offered in as many variations (stock) as their japanese or american counterparts. buying an american strat is much like choosing 7-11 over wal-mart for dinner….. the convenience of taking home an already master set-up, proffessional player grade guitar will always come out of your wallet. besides, I am a very busy man, and finding the time to mod my instruments or even shop around for parts is not at all convenient. why wait possibly several years to turn a rock into a diamond when you just buy the diamond and drink less beer for a while. in side by side comparissons I have made, I find that these instruments feel as cheap as they are. however, if my back-up axe had to be a cheaper version of my Lonestar 50t anniversary model, a mim fat strat might suffice for a bit. mim beats mij any day, hands down. and you really gotta play an american strat for more than a day to really pick up on what you just paid for. still, I own an american Lonestar, a custom shop Ruby Red strat, custom shop Tuxedo Tele, and a 1969 Competition Red Mustang guitar. the rythm guy in the band I’m in plays mim’ and has several. so I have given them a fair shake… believe me. worth every penny either way

  14. Hamilton

    Hi there, about a year ago i wanted to by a strat but i was new in the game and didnt really know what i was looking for, so this sales guy handed me this – well i dont know what the colour it is coz i cant find it out, but i would say its a dark plum colour maybe marron but has a mat finish and darkens in certain places and light, maybe its modified. he said its an 3 years old Mexican fender stratocaster so therefore i beleived him and paid £500. After having it about a year i relize that most Stratocaster have a serial number and country pianted on the head stock, after looking at mine from different angles, by my eyes, it looks like they have been sanded off, which make me feel like ive been done over and ive got a Jap or somthing else i duno, so i searched the internet to look for head stock with the same fender logo ive got and came across a 1983 Elite Stratocaster with the same logo (sliver with a thin black outline). is there anyway i can find out where my guitar comes from how old it is and other info, i would really apperciate it if anyone would get back to me. thanks for taking the time to read this. 🙂

  15. Hamilton

    Hi there, about a year ago i wanted to by a strat but i was new in the game and didnt really know what i was looking for, so this sales guy handed me this – well i dont know what the colour it is coz i cant find it out, but i would say its a dark plum colour maybe marron but has a mat finish and darkens in certain places and light, maybe its modified. he said its an 3 years old Mexican fender stratocaster so therefore i beleived him and paid £500. After having it about a year i relize that most Stratocaster have a serial number and country pianted on the head stock, after looking at mine from different angles, by my eyes, it looks like they have been sanded off, which make me feel like ive been done over and ive got a Jap or somthing else i duno, so i searched the internet to look for head stock with the same fender logo ive got and came across a 1983 Elite Stratocaster with the same logo (sliver with a thin black outline). is there anyway i can find out where my guitar comes from how old it is and other info, i would really apperciate it if anyone would get back to me. thanks for taking the time to read this. 🙂 sorry forthe double i forgot to clivk notify meof follow-up comments via email. lol

    • Mike

      April 26th 09 was over a year ago, so I just read your question and now am wondering if you took off the back plate or guts and found any info????

      Im hoping you got a really great expensive American made one and are happy !!!

      I have a breedlove 12 string and another 6 string and just seem to like electric folk guitars. I was looking through Craigslist one day and I happened across a picture of a pearl white Fender Strat (mim) that was a special 2006 60th Anniversary edition and I fell in love with it.

      I get some hum on my small Marshall Amp, but if I touch my finger to a string and hold it there, the hum goes away. Dont know if its the guitar or the cord or amp. I play the other guitars on a different Crate Acoustic amp, I guess I can try it out on that. IF its the guitar, would I have to replace pick-ups or internal electronics??


  16. farokh

    How much is the stratocaster made in mexic

  17. Such a nice review. I just bought a brand new MIM Fender Strat. In order to do so, I sold my Peavey EVH Model and I dont regret that. Here in Brazil even MIM`s ones are not so cheap but, as you said, they are the closest you can get to a real Fender. Wish I had read this review before. I would have bought this guitar really knowing what I was doing.


  18. Brad

    my MIM strat i got, i traded my friend my epi LesPaul; and i gotta say i’m loving the strats tone…my model number is MN 407085 so..wat year would that be? i’m gonna get some new pups though any suggestions?

  19. cox

    i have a fender stratocaster, serial number MN564352, made in mexico. It is on sale.

  20. Mark

    There shouldn’t be any mystery as to what year your MIM Strat was made if the serial# is intact. Search the Fender website – they are all listed.

  21. Useful information, many thanks to the author. It is puzzling to me now, but in general, the usefulness and importance is overwhelming. Very much thanks again and good luck!

  22. jim

    best upgrade next to pickups would be a steel tremolo block. really frees the mexi strat up harmonically.

  23. Tim

    I have a 2004 Fender Strat MIM I like it but I would like to know how to search the body and neck SN which are not the same as the SN on the head stock if pull off the neck it has a barcode and numbers if anyone know how to search this let me know at

  24. Marilyn

    I have a Fender Stratocaster, # 6230414, made in Mexico, most likely in the 1970’s. Does anyone know the resale value of this instrument?

  25. jj

    pooooooooooooooooooooooooooo apsalotly RUBISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. miguel

    people can talk all they want about this strat is better or that one`s worse, for real, any soulful guitar player could make any guitar sing,scream,cry or talk whatever they want.

    • Amen!Memphis up until around 2000(when they still had the park on Beale St.)was the best example of great players playing “junk” guitars(good amps though).These guys would sound good an any guitar and they do! Ty M.

    • Smavid

      Ha, You are right, the Mexi strats and American strats are so close that not even pro’s can tell the difference- really- Mexi and American are not much different,
      I have a 1965 sunburst/rosewood, a 1991 American sunburst/maple and a 2001 Mexi strat and guess what, the mexi strat plays better than any strat I have ever owned. I did have the frets crowned/filed and added better pickups, that’s all- It’s in the Player! Mexi and American are so close that the player is what makes the difference!

  27. stevo

    I recently got a 2009 built mexican strat, three colour sunburst, one peice maple neck, white scratch plate. its a classic. i love it. As the article suggests there are a million options to upgrade and try various funky changes, but I think this thing is awesome. I am used to humbuckers and trisonics and the like so this is just so fresh to me, the sparse clean tones are fantastic for blues. If there is a better strat out there (and there is!) I am now hunting it… out America. This guitar is an icon and I feel the mexican strat has only spread the love farther and wider…

    • My opinine doesn’t mean scratch but I’m gonna give it anyway.I repair,set-up and refret guitars often.The Mexican strat neck is “way too tiny”(I have small hands)and leaves me no place to put my hand(there’s this huge gap between the inside of my hand and the neck).The frets aren’t nearly tall enough(.036)for good string bending and the pups are wired wrong.On a strat the middle pup should have no tone control(no load pot is not the same)for maximum chime in 2 and 4 positions and tone controls should be on bridge(Callaham baseplate a big improvement for Tele tones)and neck pups.For maximum Mark Knopfler “quack” screw middle pup down lower than other pups.Get some titanium bridge saddles,a real machined steel tremelo block,get rid of those nasty Ping tuners(any other is an upgrade),make a real bone nut,bridge screws Callaham or SS,PRO refret with American Standard fretwire or equiv.,get a new ASH body as ash is far superior to alder in tone(straight from the mouth of Leo’s right hand man)and make sure 50’s or 60’s cut only,get a new quartersawn maple(only)huge V neck(1″ at 1st fret),The pickups when wired and adjusted correctly are suprisingly good on the Mex and I like the finish.No Fender nitro finish(not since early 60’s anyway)EVER breathed as “all bodies” were covered in thick plastic called Fullerplast(look it up),and then colored and sprayed with nitro.All these mods will cost you more than an American Standard(hunk of junk)but you will have Custom Shop(the only real Fenders)quality.Oh,I forgot get some Duncan Antiquities(pups)as they’re the best.

      • George Evans

        I liked your comments about the MIM Strat. I am a Mark Knopfler fan and picked up on your reference to his sound. I do not play professionaly, but when I do I want it to sound the best I can. Should I go for the real thing a MK signature , or a red MIM strat and upgrade. My thinking is that even with upgrades it will be very good but still a MIM strat. Many of your suggested upgrades are standard with this model. Thanks George

      • knopfler’s tone is in his fingers. i spent 3 years studying mk , duping his sound and learning the songs note for note. any single coil strat will do for the early stuff, one with hotter pups will do all his later (overdrive) stuff.

  28. Gramples Finch

    Wanting one of these, probably getting one for Christmas. Gonna go sexually assault a 90 year old woman now. Later.

  29. Roddy

    Remember that a Fender Strat no matter what country it was made is still a Fender and remember that is not the guitar the bad one when is come to playing is in fact the player, is you’re good your playing will be good no matter what guitar you’re playing with.

  30. Michael Abbott

    I find it is a difficult comparison between the MIM and MIA Strats. I own both a 2002 American ( which sounds absolutly fantastic ) and a 2008 Mexi. Out of the box the Mexi. was set up well and played pretty good. The sound of the pick-ups was much better when overdrive was used than clean played. The neck felt a little fatter than my American but was not to bad. I did upgrade the PUPs to Seymour Duncans and I do like the sound of them better than the stock MIM PUPs. Other than that Just changed out the stock tuners to Schaller locking and the guitar works out great. All and all I might have about $400.00 or so tied up in the guitar. I use it when I gig as much as my American Strat. There is a difference in feel and sound but if every guitar felt and sounded the same you would only need one guitar for every type of music. I have six guitars in my sonic arsenal ( 2 Stats, 1 Les Paul Custom, 1 Les Paul Standard, 1 Ibanez RG570 and 1 Hamer Centura ) they all have a diffent feel, sound and place in my playing. What it all means to me is that the Mexi strat works well for me. I would have no problem buying another. I do think some minor amd cost effective upgrades need to be done to the stock models. It’s well worth the money in my opinion.

  31. kazi mohiuddin iqbal

    i m contain two fender start. one of these are American and other one is Maxican. but it is true yet i dont get any moral difference between two ones. they are almost as same.

  32. Aron

    Got a mim strat from the guitar center, it sounds great did file the frets down smoothing the neck up a bit. I have a bunch of guitars and this one get the most play time. I agree with earlier comment, that it is the player that makes the guitar sound good not the other way around. I have some shitty guitars that have a terrible sound but sometimes that is just what i want to hear.

  33. Schadenfreudian_Slip

    Very much enjoyed your review. I decided recently to buy a MIM Standard Strat in lovely arctic white with the maple neck. Had it set up professionally and am very happy. I’ve got three amps (a 60-watt solid state; a 22-watt tube; and a 15-watt tube amp with digital effects) to tailor the voices from my guitars. They don’t necessarily alter the sound, but enhance or expand them. The point is that the Fender Strat still comes shining through in that famously clear and shimmering tone. Glad I added it to my inventory, for it fills a serious void: I write and record original compositions and noticed that a Fender Strat voice would add a much-needed pizzazz to fill-ins and chord/harmony lines.

  34. Sky

    If you cant play an “MiM” then you wont sound any better on an American Made strat. To people who need these reviews to help them purchase a guitar, those trivial differences between the the two nationalities of strat may as well not be acknowledged. After all, in an attempt to discredit your consumerism logic, I will acknowledge that Jack White became who he is playing on a Montgomery Ward Electric guitar made entirely of plastic.

  35. Rusty

    Can anybody point out where can I buy a left handed Strat thats made in Mexico thats not gonna too expensive.

    • Ted Jakovec

      Hi, You probably have one by now, this is 6/8/2013. I just found this site. I recently got one for a good deal. I was so exited I didn’t realize it was left handed. What a disapointment for me! I have a midnight blue, ser. mn9329253. for sale in great condition. Only scratch I can Find is above the pick guard and so small it dosn’t photograph well or at all. I will be listing it soon on CR . I would be happy to sell it for $200. My email is if you are interested. Thanks, Ted cell 6308180911

  36. Edson Salviano da Silva

    No doubts, a Fender MIM is really a great guitar. I have one made in 2008, and the only change that I had was substitute the original ceramics caps for alnico 3 ones! Not for necessity but for oportunity. I’m very satisfied with it.

  37. Aniel

    For Sale Electric Guitar Fender Stratocaster call me 786 231 4393 Aniel . hablo espanol my email is

  38. tim

    Hey cool website. Tell me if this would help you or not. You show up really well on Google for Mexican Strat or Stratocaster, so I don’t know if you like the idea of creating another position there. That strategy does increase visitors as you can imagine.

    Anyway, I own the domain (without a website attached yet)

    I put it up for sale at $450 but would be willing to sell to you for $375. If you’re interested, call me beforehand and I’ll reset the price to that amount. I would think it would pay itself off rather quickly, but you are the better judge of that. Either way, I wish you the best.

    Tim Wilson, St Louis MO ph 314 571 9649

    (I am also a guitarist and use the last name of Hillwood for that. Look up Tim Hillwood on Google if you’re curious.)

  39. Pingback: SMG TIPS: The Art of Acquiring Guitars, Part 1

  40. Nafi

    hi guys..
    I got a Fender. Its serial is MZ4143804..
    n e 1 can tell me plz what is the real price of this….machine…???

  41. James

    I had my MIM set up and modded by Bluemystguitar here in NJ. Jumbo frets, CS Fat 50’s, and Sperzel locking tuners. Sounds and plays unbelievable!

  42. Mike M

    Interesting review and comments. Although I don’t own a 2006 or newer strat, I try to buy based on feel and play and if I do ebay, I well anything that doesn’t feel good. I change pickups to suit my mood and available time and extra pickups I have sitting around. I am guitarded and have a house full of guitars. All 4 of my contemporary (mid 80’s) Jap strats play better than 4 of 5 of my MIM’s (my MIM Satin strat that plays very well). The USA necks / MIM body combos (two right now) play as well and perhaps a little and my USA strats play a little better, while my Strat Elite is superior to all if you can handle the weight (although I switched pickups to CS69’s versus the electronic stock stuff). The Jap bridges and the Elite bridge are much better than the MIM’s and regular Fender USA strats (these are not the cheaper Highway 1 models). Re: electronics, despite the reviews (which say the MIM’s are better – maybe I just got lucky with my Japs; electronics on 3 of my Japs sound better (they have coil cuts and individual switches for pickups and sound good). Re: other brands, my G&L is better than any of these other than the Elite. My Schecter USA strat and USA California Custom (less of a strat style) are better than the G&L and blow away all the others except the Elite. My USA Bolt’s (Wayne Bolt) match the Elite in quality and play. My Korean Brian Moore strat beats the MIM’s and is as good as the standard USA’s for a used price barely above the MIM’s. My Carvin Bolt is only a fraction of a step below the Elite, mainly because the pickups aren’t my favorites. The Peavey USA newer sort of strats are as good as any of these guitars at a used cost less than a used USA strat. My Warrior and Brubaker (K-4, kind of Tele style) are the best guitars I own and are superior to the expensive Fender USA Custom Shop guitars and Gibson high dollar LP’s.



  43. Daryl

    I’ve had several Strats and Teles. The ones I have now are both MIM and they play and sound great. The only trouble I’ve had is keeping them in tune so I’m getting some Sperzel Locking Tuners and maybe a different Trem. My Strat is Red/White PG and I’m wanting to change all the hardware over to black. Gold comes off too easy. I’ve had American Strats but I like my MIM ones just as well. I have a Spalted Maple Tele made in Indonesia and it is just great. Its got Seymour Duncan’s and it plays fantastic, has a great sound, stays in tune and it didn’t cost me a fortune. I’ve been playing for almost 47 years. I’m 62 now and I’m not a great guitarist, just your average bedroom guitar picker so I’m well satisfied with MIM Strats and Tele’s. On a scale of 1-10 I’ll give them a 9 which allows for the lemons you can get in anything.

  44. fretwear

    Mexican Strats are great guitars.Its stupid to think that the more expensive an instrument is – the better it will make you as a player,only practice can do that. I have a 69 strat and a 2001 mexican – both sound great but different.If you want a mellower sound from the mexican guitar get a set of alnico magnet pickups.

  45. Kelly Clark

    I bought a 2000-2001 MIM, H.S.S. (or “fat Strat”) for my son on ebay. Got a GREAT deal! ($230!!)
    We go to Guitar Center almost every saturday and play with all the toys. I must say, as far as build quality, fit and finish, playability, and overall sound and looks, I honestly can’t tell much of a diff (if any) between the American Standards or made in Mexico ‘Fender Standard’ guitars. And the new ones from Mexico even now come with American noiseless pickups! These are awesome guitars!

  46. Kelly Clark

    I also want to mention that I have noticed that in the guitar community there are soooo many brand ‘snobs’ and self proclaimed ‘purists’… I refer to them as ‘Mental masturbators’. My brother-in-law has played professionally for over 30 years and he can make almost ANY guitar sing beautifully, so alot of it really falls on the player. Granted, there is a huge diff. in sound and ease of playing, especially with acoustic guitars, which brings me to another point. I played a Taylor ‘Big Baby’ and the GA3, and the Big Baby actually sounded better to my ears. The Martin X series (made in mexico also) are another awesome sounding, easy to play, under $500 acoustic. The Martins are made of a high-pressure laminate with a real sitka spruce top and less vulnerable to dings. Don’t believe me?? Go try them and see for yourself! Modern mfg techniques have really changed the game.

  47. Mike

    I have a blizzard pearl 60th edition MIM strat and I also put Seymore Duncans in the neck and bridge and then installed a mega switch and
    a push/pull to the outter coils of the SD’s and a blender so I could go
    from neck to bridge as I choose. I had bought a 2010 american SSS
    the the neck was so much nicer, I was never going to play the MIM again, but because of it now sounding so nice, I play it more then the american.
    the neck on the american is 30-40% nicer feel then the MIM in my opinion.

  48. Chris

    Wow, I’d almost forgotten what mine started out as. I bought it new in 1998? Somewhere around there. Within months, I put EMG actives in with active EQ. A year after that, I had a neck idea and had a custom neck made. Graphite saddles, locking tuners and an Earvana nut and it has become a monster. Three years of hard road use and has JUST had its first problem. It turns out that a pot shattered (I can think of several possible causes, who knows). Would the American Standard have been better? Sure. Would I have been willing to hack together what I have NOW if I’d started with an American Standard? I seriously doubt it. That is where the MIMs to me are golden. Really solid platforms to goof around with. And every so often you end up with something really unusual that just *fits.*

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  51. angel nieto

    I had both (american and mexican),great feel and action but both got out of tune using the tremolo,so better tuners and brigde would be a nice idea

    • Mike

      What tremolo? This is a Telecaster thread…….. (confused.) Also Just polished and crowned my frets. Wow, as smooth as butter now.
      BTW, I am impressed with the E.B. Cobalt Slinky’s. Very gritty if you like that type of tone.

  52. I bought one this year and it’s a fine guitar…$500 new …there’s not one damn thing wrong with it…but I did try about 100 before I found a great one !!!

  53. Albucks

    i just bought a lake placid blue Strat HSS MIM.. sounds perfect than any guitars that i had b4.. i did some sound checking b4 i purchased it a MIM and the MIA.. i discover few things thats why i prefered MIM.. 1) almost same tone and feel ,,sometimes i find MIM a lil bit warmer than MIA 2) the wood and tuners are good 3) easy for my budget … and also the guy in the store told me that nowadays people who made the MIA are the ones crafting the MIM too cos his father is working in Fender company.. but i have both now MIA and MIM .. my MIA is a gift from my wife and i love it too.. Fenders are really cool i love it.. more power guys 🙂

  54. Louie Seven

    WAS this reviewer stoned ?? Who writes like that ?

  55. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been conducting a little research on this. And he actually ordered me dinner due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your blog.

  56. Tyrone

    I LOVE GIUTAR !!!! T that being said, I have handbuildt Les Pauls.and Strats, Replying to the part in this article that mentions MIM Strats necks will move as opposed to USA made.. ALL STRATS necks will move . there are NOT enough bolts holding the neck on, they WILL LOOSEN,so every once ina while check them . < ^ :

  57. Slocaster

    You can spend alot of time and money searching for the alnico pickup that sounds as good as the ceramics that came with the MIM. Now go ahead and flame me but most know it’s true and besides I’m fireproof.

    • My Mexi- Strat is great…plays well , sounds good…makes a little noise when recording….I’ll probably change the pickups eventually…other than that stays in tune fine …I have no complaints !

    • Mark Perry

      This is a great article not only for its realistic and practical tone but for its great writing style. Really enjoyed reading it.

  58. Slocaster

    If you have one strat that is too thin and one that is too muddy.
    Before trying pickups, try swapping the necks.
    A neck wood / body wood mismatch can cause this.
    Or, try swapping anyway, you may find a real keeper or two.

  59. Slocaster

    If you like your sound but wish it had more character, try slightly loosening your pickguard screws a little at a time.
    Sometimes this works and sometimes not.

    Be careful on this one!
    Make sure your neck is seated against the body by slightly loosening all your neck screws at full tension and re-tighten.

    Make sure all your saddle screws have pressure on the bridge plate.

    Make sure your jack plate is tight.

    Experiment with pickup height at both ends. Too high can get unpleasant fast.

    Still sucks? Order some boutique pups and spend that money!

  60. Slocaster

    I like more treble on Low E,A,D, and G but not B and high E.
    So I use graph tech saddles on B and High E to keep them warm and cozy.
    This makes midrange and treble controls on your amp more useable.
    This also may help if you break strings.

    If all else fails, spend your money on lessons like you and I should have in the first place!

  61. Jeff

    You made some good points, but are missing a big point about MIM Strats.
    These are the affordable little tuner cars that out youth love to tinker with as we did with those old 57 chevy’s and other cars we hot rodded threw the years as an example of changinging carbs, adding headers, and Super Tuning.

    We are indeed Hot Rodding these MIM Strat guitars to make them are own personal preferance or experiment of tone and performance.
    It makes the skill level, hobby, and just plain fun of keeping an interest of creativity that makes them fun to play and take the drive. Or should I say crank the drive.

    Definitly allot more fun than a fancy stereo and big speakers to see who’s is louder. When playing a Strat load is a much bigger reward for me.

  62. “I can also relate with you! I have encountered funny signs like those on your pictures.”

  63. “Love the no farting sticker, that’s pretty funny.”

  64. All the comments were great, as you live and learn in the fender world. I have three Mexican strats that I personally put together and I love them equally. I also have a couple fender squires, made in mexico, that I really like. I purchased the first squire neck thinking it was fender, made in mexico, great deal, I didn’t knowtice the squire. It was the same neck.

  65. Hello to any and all that can help anwer this question,
    My husband and grandson both have Stratocaster’s that are made of the 60th Anniversary series, but my grandsons model # MZ7326380, does not have the little token on the back like my husbands model # MZ6199924, Can anyone tell me if this is a fluk, or is it just the what happen? You can email me at Thank you for any help would be wonderful.
    Courous Mema in SC.

  66. brad....88

    I’v got a funny story about mim strats, i was trying out guitars in a shop with a few of my members from my band at the time. i was going through the fender rack when i picked up a guitar played it for a while and put it back, i said to the shop owner thats the best one by far. “I said to him that one must cost a fortune” my band mate noticed the price tag, it wasn’t untill then we relised it was a MIM so i broguht it straight away. Is funny how some time’s it works out. Moral to the story go of ear not price tag

  67. brock

    I’ve owned a few MIM and still own 2 right now. Just picked one up for $175 of a friend, and it’s practically brand new, even has shrink wrapping on PG and back plate lol… barely used, one of those satin finishes…. Anyway, I’ve touched/played/heard MIA ones too, and even done testing against MIM and a old cort strat, and there’s not much of a different for you to go and spend $600 more. Pick up a mint MIM and play it, and if any changes, just change the pick-ups, the rest is in your fingers.

  68. jim ting

    Hello. Strange why everyone seems to know all sorts of things about a lump of alder and a lump of maple…..Not one can really predict how one well set a vibration off in the other. You could make a maple and alder guitar on the moon and its the same combination. The micro structure of wood is made from water cell pulp wood and annual growth rings. I have matched up wood for years. I can also play to a very decent standard.. I get commissioned to put together a Fender guitar which has coincidental agreement from the maple and the Alder. Some alder will had large open cells and some small….some may have thicker annual growth rings than others. Its very much down to the actual tree the wood came from. To the alder is a lump of maple. Maple is a very dense heavy wood. When sawn the end grains and smooth and usualy scorch marked from the saw. Its impossible to imagine how it managed to suck water into it. . Alder can vary in weight from just over a kilo to just over 2k in average. Any relationship it has with resonance Is where it is joined…..The alder my be soft one side and hard the other…there are lots of variants from the efficient to the inefficient. Vibrations or frequency created by striking the string and the oscillations following the strike are mostly transmitted at the pocket / heel join…..Think about when u sound a note in a room and the instrument across the room goes ting That is because one vibration is causing another vibration because the frequency recipe is right….its the same with guitars…..for years I have been doing match ups for people….reshaped the back of necks….I don’t make myself busy over it but I have fixed a lot of people up with guitars. Some hugely respected players with serious industry notoriety to the guy at the end of the road. I do it as a vocational thing. I normally need to have Around 40 Guitars to get a few decent match ups.
    The difference is time/labour between MiM and USA…The MiM is less refined…ski slope rear, top contour. sawn off ! and a tidy up……USA is rounded over and has the saw line ground into the body for a smooth contour. USA necks have a bit of hand rolling to make the edges of the fret board agreeable Ive seen USA maple necks where there are gaps everywhere on the fret board finish and results in nasty hand grease and sweat penetrating these mini cracks….around frets is very common. Some bodies are ash and some are alder when the paint is removed. Those are a few examples from a host of senarios

    Ash is a compressed middle dominate sound and alder it airy and sweet….The alder is more dynamic…..the rest folks is pickups….USA standard….Mexican strat….guess what..?…they are the same…100% the same ALDER is ALDER and likewise for MAPLE.


  69. I had been wanting to add a Tele’ to my collection for a long time – a nice one. I was eying the American Deluxe. The Guitar Center had a ’52 hanging next to the Deluxe, so I decided to do a side by side. I went back and forth, playing through a Fender ’65 Reissue Deluxe Re-verb amp for over an hour. I can only differentiate by the raw feel, and for reference I found the Tele’ Deluxe to be a beautiful instrument. You know how sometimes when you sit down to play and you’ve got to think about what your playing – this riff, that song – guiding your playing, and then other times you sit down and hit a chord or a couple notes of a riff and suddenly you just start following a trail of music from the inside; creating on the spot; it just comes out of you? That was the difference. It was weird. Every time I picked up the Deluxe, I thought my way through what I was playing. Every time I picked up the ’52, music just flowed; my own unique, unplanned output, and I loved it. I lost all thought. There was a visceral resonance with the ’52, more so than with any other guitar I’ve ever played. Not only was the experience transcendent, it even smells good – old lacquer, found hiding at the back of some forgotten storeroom. I love this guitar; I think it’s got a living soul of it’s own.

  70. Mhumphrey

    Do you guys realize that the early Fenders were basically Mexican and American made…. When you pull the neck off an early fender strat what is the name of the inspector?… How about “T Gomez”… Have seen it many times… Sound American to you???… Fullerton was not far from Mexico…

  71. Jeff Bernat

    Your comments on wood.
    Alder is s species of North Western Birch that is also used as furniture grade and as stated a tonal wood.
    Working with wood first of all needs its moisture checked before working with.
    You can at that point literally “knock on Wood” to check it tonal quality before even starting on a build.
    It also makes a difference how many pieces or if it is what I call booked together when split and planed to thickness.
    Bottom line is your statement on Ash makes one believe there is no bad Ash.
    Selection does make a difference on Any Tonal Wood starting at beginning of my statement and proceeding on density selections of its own species since Fender uses North Western and North American Tree’s that are from their region as the Asian Guitars are sometimes using their own species or woods of similar species to Mahogany as an example.
    Now go out and pick out your guitar and get some wood.

  72. Thus begins the task of writing about what is probably the most purchased guitar in the last 10 years. Ever since Fender got their Mexico factory, …

  73. vernon moore

    What width is strat mexico neck width at nut

  74. Thanks for your review on mexican stratocaster excellent but you didn’t say the price of being bought in 1991

  75. Stanton Simms

    Mines worth a thousand at least

  76. I own a mexican and love it recently change my pickups for a 69 reissue and the sounds its amazing

  77. Jeff

    Fender Mexican strays and tele’ are actually closer to original and what Leo Fender had in mind than all the higher priced, American and American Deluxe.

    Leo Fender wanted an inexpensive guitar for the masses and also employed a certain amount of cheap labor to keep cost down.

    Even The Squier’s today have produced some impressive guitars for beginners to their own up scale models are every bit as good as good as the Mexican models.

    I have watched many guitarist from Asia and South America playing Squiers and the owns I asked tell me that’s what they grew up with.
    They didn’t have Fender models unless they came to the states or they say in guitar shops in Europe.
    So I say to the many that choices are out there, don’t let prices keep you from playing.

  78. K

    Would’ve been informative if you had given dimensions in the article, like pocket dimensions, fretboard radius, and ream dimensions on the headstock. Otherwise an interesting article!

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