Which MiJ stratocasters are worth a try?

clearance

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Hello,
I have a little experience with MiJ guitars, but only Les Pauls. My Orville LP standard is a great guitar.
After having a LP and a tele i decided to strum the strat from time to time. So i bought an american standard 2012 - everything is ok, it feels nice, plays well, good quality. But it lacks the magic my Orville LP has, sounds a little bit flat. Stock pickups are considered to be good in this model and my tech says it doesn't stand out unplugged.
I thought i could give a MiJ strat a chance and decide which one sounds better.
Which models are considered to be good quality? I'm not talking about the top end - just something around $700-800. I heard some good stuff about Tokai springy sound, but nothing specific - no model numbers or anything. Could you guys help me out a little bit?
 

wulfman

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For old stuff the 79 to early 80's Grecos and Tokais are pretty good bets in general. High end Tokais can be a bit pricey though.

If you will excuse the shameless pimping, Navigators and Bacchus make great newer MIJ strats.

The one I'm keeping is the VanZandt.
 

Steven

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If you are looking for "that magic" in a guitar, I'd suggest you go try some personally. You might not get the guitar with a very specific magic to it mail order, since all guitars are a bit different, have you tried enough of the Mexican strats, Even some of the Squire Classic vibe series ? If you try enough of them, you will likely find a strat with that magic to it ? Even try more American Standard strats. That way you will have a fairly decent concept as to whether or not it is the Strat guitar itself that doesn't suit your needs. Sounds like you should try to get to a large guitar shop and try MANY guitars, You might find what you are looking for in a different brand all together. JMHO. Trying enough strats, including some used strats with different pick ups in them may yield positive results, and you might wish to sell or trade your current 2012 Strat in for another strat that you like. My feelings are that mail ordering a guitar, chances aren't great you'll receive one with "that magic" to it, trying them personally is the route to take if possible. I understand where you are coming from. I had to play many Les Pauls before I found one with "that sound and feeling". Had I mail ordered the guitars chances are I wouldn't receive "the right" sounding and feeling guitar. Also keep in mind, "the magic" your LP has might just indicate you like the heavier humbucker equipped guitars compared to the single coil fenders.
 

Morgan R.K.

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I recently picked up an amazing sounding '94 maple board MIJ 57ri Strat. Yeah, it's probably a basswood body, but Sweet Satan Jesus, the tone !!! You could probably pick one up for around five bills. As an aside, I've been looking at all manner of Japanese Fenders on ebay lately and all the new ones are horrifically overpriced IMO. Plus, the 80's and 90's ones are now old enough that they're starting to acquire some genuine mojo.
 

Chadd

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I have an old photoflame strat that was MIJ, love that thing and the neck is huge. The MIJ ESP stuff is outstanding as well.
 

Emerald

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The '68 MIJ Fenders are awesome and some early Fender YJM's as well..
Emerald
 

needlespauls

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I want the burgandy mist 60's strat from pro guitar shop soooo bad!!!
 

Brocko

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i have a late 80s/early90s MIJ Fender Strat - it was my first ever electric and is still my ''go to'' guitar.
 

RaSTuS26

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This was originally posted by member "nicolasrivera" in the Fender Section on 04-01-13 (01-04-13 for those in the US) in the thread "Trade my PRS SE Custom for an MIJ Strat?", so all props to him.


Serial Number and Approximate Date of Manufacture of Fender Guitars Made in Japan and Crafted in Japan. Also Some History!

Among the Fender Japanese guitars, there were two different logos used: Crafted in Japan and Made in Japan, and both were being made at the same time from 1994 till 1997. This means that the the serial numbers starting in 1994 ran consecutively on both the MIJ and the CIJ models while the MIJ logo was being phased out. Mid 1997 the CIJ logo was the only one used on Fender guitars coming out of Japan (with exception the Squire series). I have more info on the MIJ Reissues page.

There are several theories about why some Japanese Fenders have MIJ and others CIJ. One is that there was a reorganizing of where the parts were being make in the large, expansive Fugi Gen Gakki company. The island of Matsumoto is where the Fugi plant is located. It houses 15-20 different smaller companies, Like Kawi, Gen Gakki Ten, Yamara, Gotoh, Yamoto, etc. I was told by a former Fender Rep that the necks were made one place and the bodies another, while the electronics were made in yet another. I was told that the contract with Yamoto stated if any major subcontractor was to be changed the weaning process would have to take place (MIJ to CIJ). They call it the "Squire countdown". Since Fuji was pressing hard to get the Epiphone contract, a change was made. Kawi was moving the bulk of their piano building to a new facility in China, and would also be making their own "harp" frames there. This freed up a lot of space in the plant. Yamara and Gotoh retooled to handle the woodwork and finish aspects of the guitars - thus the Crafted in Japan line was created.

The other story is, and maybe both are true and run consecutively, I really don't know, but the MIJ logo Fenders were for the USA market. USA Fender wanted to stop the import of these guitars to the USA due to firing up their Mexican plant and due to the "too good" quality Japan was creating which competed with the USA models.

Regarding quailty, I have owned many of both these Japanese guitars and it is a fallacy that the Made in Japan models are better than the Crafted in Japan or vice versa. As far as I am concerned, the quality of either is much better than the Mexican made guitars and rival many of the USA models. The JV and SQ guitars, as well as some of the E series, had USA parts (mostly pickups, switches, and potentiometers) that were shipped over to Japan to help speed up production while the new USA plant was being set up in Corona, California. The early series are the most popular for collectors. Also, some Crafted in Japan models came with Custom Shop parts, like special Limited Edition guitars and Signature guitars. The Japanese serial number can be confusing too. For instance, many of the MIJ/CIJ Telecasters have the serial number on the bridge and they start with an "A". Yet if you take the neck off they can be 1994-1997!

As you look at these serial numbers, please note that the same "letter-prefix" on the serial numbers are used for two different sets of dates. The first being the "Made in Japan" date and the second is the "Crafted in Japan" date. Most of the "Made in Japan" guitars have a 6 digit number, while the "Crafted in Japan" guitars us a 5 digit number (excluding the A prefix!) Confused? LOL! And then there are exceptions to the rule! AND now Japan as started making the MADE IN JAPAN guitars again and using old serial numbers. In another 5 years there is going to be sooo much confusion, it will not ne funny!


A + 6 DIGITS 1985-1987, 1997-1998 (Made in Japan) and (Crafted in Japan) This was one of the most confusing serial uber used by Japan. They placed the "A" on the bridge on the Telecasters and some of them could be as late as 1996 (as in the case with many JD Teles. Maybe the transitional guitars from MIJ to the CIJ??)

JV+ 5 digits 1982-1984
SQ + 5 digits 1983-1984
E + 6 digits 1984-1987
A + 6 digits 1985-1986
B + 6 digits 1985-1986
C + 6 digits 1985-1986
F + 6 digits 1986-1987
G + 6 digits 1987-1988
H + 6 digits 1988-1989
I + 6 digits 1989-1990
J + 6 digits 1989-1990
K + 6 digits 1990-1991
L + 6 digits 1991-1992
M + 6 digits 1992-1993
N + 6 digits 1993-1994
O + 6 digits 1993-1994
P + 6 digits 1993-1994
Q + 6 digits 1993-1994
S + 6 digits 1994-1995
T + 6 digits 1994-1995
U + 6 digits 1995-1996
N + 5 digits 1995-1996
V + 6 digits 1996-1997
Crafted in Japan A + 6 digits 1997-1998
Crafted in Japan O + 5 digits 1997-2000
Crafted in Japan P + 5 digits 1999-2002
Crafted in Japan Q + 5 digits 2002-2004
Crafted in Japan R + 5 digits 2004-2005
 

lunchie

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I currently have 4 Japanese Strats. 2x Squier 70's RI an '83 & '84 and 2x w/ System 1 bridge one Fender '86, one Squier '8X. I love them all! They are all top not players, built real well and sound great. 3 of the 4 are stock, sadly my '83 has been heavily modified.

My favorite strat is a '84 Squier 70's RI. It sounds good, it feels wonderful and it looks good as well. Its stock besides the pots and jack, I had to replace them they were too far gone. I paid $300 for it about 2 years ago which is probably quite a bit cheaper then a Tokai and more then half the price of a Fender.

 

MikeZito

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My 2-cents . . . as long as you are doing it in person, EVERY guitar is worth a 'try'. I have found some gems that by name and price alone, you would have thought would be good for nothing but but firewood - and by the same token, I have played some big-name, high-priced stuff that I wouldn't wish on my adversary in a battle-of-the-bands competition. (Well, maybe just for that competition - yes, I would.)
 

neflihim

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I have had a few Early 80's JV Strat's come through my possesion.. There was one I had and sold to a guy in Spain. It was a '62 reissue. Wish I kept that one. One on the left in my Avatar. Check Jauce.com and search for Fender JV. Have to know what your are looking at but there is deals to be had.
 

cynic79

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Most of it is pretty good. I have a 90's MIJ Precision Bass that is just excellent. It's up there with any MIA Fender bass made in the last 30 years.

I've been pretty lukewarm on Strats until I picked up a MIJ Squier a couple of years back. The pickups aren't the best, but the neck is fabulous, and it resonates beautifully.

Generally, if it's made in Japan it is worth a try. You're likely to find something that is just as nice as any instrument made in the US for much less money.
 

rknrollo

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1985-88 E series contemporary strats, hands down the best necks ever made.

I have three and would never sell them, 10's on them and they play easier than any guitar I own. 12" radius neck with a thin D shape.
 

TheWilly17

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I know this isn't really a Strat,,,,but,,,,my MIJ Ibanez RG140 kicks some serious tail.
 

Peter Mac

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This was originally posted by member "nicolasrivera" in the Fender Section on 04-01-13 (01-04-13 for those in the US) in the thread "Trade my PRS SE Custom for an MIJ Strat?", so all props to him.


Serial Number and Approximate Date of Manufacture of Fender Guitars Made in Japan and Crafted in Japan. Also Some History!

Among the Fender Japanese guitars, there were two different logos used: Crafted in Japan and Made in Japan, and both were being made at the same time from 1994 till 1997. This means that the the serial numbers starting in 1994 ran consecutively on both the MIJ and the CIJ models while the MIJ logo was being phased out. Mid 1997 the CIJ logo was the only one used on Fender guitars coming out of Japan (with exception the Squire series). I have more info on the MIJ Reissues page.

There are several theories about why some Japanese Fenders have MIJ and others CIJ. One is that there was a reorganizing of where the parts were being make in the large, expansive Fugi Gen Gakki company. The island of Matsumoto is where the Fugi plant is located. It houses 15-20 different smaller companies, Like Kawi, Gen Gakki Ten, Yamara, Gotoh, Yamoto, etc. I was told by a former Fender Rep that the necks were made one place and the bodies another, while the electronics were made in yet another. I was told that the contract with Yamoto stated if any major subcontractor was to be changed the weaning process would have to take place (MIJ to CIJ). They call it the "Squire countdown". Since Fuji was pressing hard to get the Epiphone contract, a change was made. Kawi was moving the bulk of their piano building to a new facility in China, and would also be making their own "harp" frames there. This freed up a lot of space in the plant. Yamara and Gotoh retooled to handle the woodwork and finish aspects of the guitars - thus the Crafted in Japan line was created.

The other story is, and maybe both are true and run consecutively, I really don't know, but the MIJ logo Fenders were for the USA market. USA Fender wanted to stop the import of these guitars to the USA due to firing up their Mexican plant and due to the "too good" quality Japan was creating which competed with the USA models.

Regarding quailty, I have owned many of both these Japanese guitars and it is a fallacy that the Made in Japan models are better than the Crafted in Japan or vice versa. As far as I am concerned, the quality of either is much better than the Mexican made guitars and rival many of the USA models. The JV and SQ guitars, as well as some of the E series, had USA parts (mostly pickups, switches, and potentiometers) that were shipped over to Japan to help speed up production while the new USA plant was being set up in Corona, California. The early series are the most popular for collectors. Also, some Crafted in Japan models came with Custom Shop parts, like special Limited Edition guitars and Signature guitars. The Japanese serial number can be confusing too. For instance, many of the MIJ/CIJ Telecasters have the serial number on the bridge and they start with an "A". Yet if you take the neck off they can be 1994-1997!

As you look at these serial numbers, please note that the same "letter-prefix" on the serial numbers are used for two different sets of dates. The first being the "Made in Japan" date and the second is the "Crafted in Japan" date. Most of the "Made in Japan" guitars have a 6 digit number, while the "Crafted in Japan" guitars us a 5 digit number (excluding the A prefix!) Confused? LOL! And then there are exceptions to the rule! AND now Japan as started making the MADE IN JAPAN guitars again and using old serial numbers. In another 5 years there is going to be sooo much confusion, it will not ne funny!


A + 6 DIGITS 1985-1987, 1997-1998 (Made in Japan) and (Crafted in Japan) This was one of the most confusing serial uber used by Japan. They placed the "A" on the bridge on the Telecasters and some of them could be as late as 1996 (as in the case with many JD Teles. Maybe the transitional guitars from MIJ to the CIJ??)

JV+ 5 digits 1982-1984
SQ + 5 digits 1983-1984
E + 6 digits 1984-1987
A + 6 digits 1985-1986
B + 6 digits 1985-1986
C + 6 digits 1985-1986
F + 6 digits 1986-1987
G + 6 digits 1987-1988
H + 6 digits 1988-1989
I + 6 digits 1989-1990
J + 6 digits 1989-1990
K + 6 digits 1990-1991
L + 6 digits 1991-1992
M + 6 digits 1992-1993
N + 6 digits 1993-1994
O + 6 digits 1993-1994
P + 6 digits 1993-1994
Q + 6 digits 1993-1994
S + 6 digits 1994-1995
T + 6 digits 1994-1995
U + 6 digits 1995-1996
N + 5 digits 1995-1996
V + 6 digits 1996-1997
Crafted in Japan A + 6 digits 1997-1998
Crafted in Japan O + 5 digits 1997-2000
Crafted in Japan P + 5 digits 1999-2002
Crafted in Japan Q + 5 digits 2002-2004
Crafted in Japan R + 5 digits 2004-2005
To add some clarity, MIJ Fenders were built in the Fuji-Gen factory and CIJ Fenders were built in the Tokai Factory at Hamamatsu. [This has been confirmed by Tokai-Gakki]
 
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