Does it really matter these days what country a Fender guitar is made in?

Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by spoonbill fish, Dec 14, 2018.

  1. spoonbill fish

    spoonbill fish Squier-Meister

    Oct 6, 2018
    Hiroshima, Japan
    For Squier guitars, at the music store here (Fukuoka, Japan) I get to see all the models of the Squiers and they are made in China. But I recently got a used Squier Stratocaster Standard made in Indonesia, which in my opinion the quality is far more superior then then new Chinese models. Maybe it is the wood, seems to be heavier, and the finishes seem to be thicker also.
    Here, the Made in Mexico Fender guitars are not so cheap. The Japanese Fender guitars (new ones) are fine guitars, but recently they just seem to be another well made guitar with the "Fender" name on it. Many fine guitars now are available that are coming out of all parts of Asia. Also the amps here are so dirt cheap and the companies finally understood one thing, "they finally are putting in some dang good speakers".
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  2. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    You'll likely get a wide range of opinions on this. Some based on personal experience. Some based on generally accepted wisdom.

    I've seen good instruments from many Asian countries. Some better than others, yes. But that, as far as I can tell, reflects more the standards set for that guitar by Fender.

    A less expensive guitar, for instance, will by necessity have less fine hardware and the like.

    Corporate sales and marketing schemes also come into play. The companies want there to be clear indicators as to this or that instrument being "better" -- that to justify upselling.

    For Fender that means there HAS to be seen and felt differences that make the US-made models stand out. -That along with things that we are told make the instrument "better" but in fact may in our opinion not make it so.

    I, for instance, prefer poly finishes that are tough as nails. Others want to see "patina" as the instrument agesa, or made to look like it has.

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  3. jvin248

    jvin248 Squier-Meister

    Jan 10, 2014

    Indonesian Squiers are often very well manufactured. Specs like a too-skinny neck and thin bodies are from Fender/Squier's specs. Guitar to guitar they are very repeatable.

    For a 'Fender' guitar the country of origin matters when you try to sell your used guitar, MIA > MIM > MIJ > Squier MIK > then about the same so far Squier MIC and Squier MII.

    squierbilly and dbrian66 like this.
  4. VealCutlet

    VealCutlet Squier-Nut

    Aug 9, 2011
    Brookyn, NYC
    I guess I agree, when talking about new Squiers. I don't see it as a country-based thing. As @duceditor says, Fender has set the bar pretty high for all of their guitars, regardless of country of origin.

    I see the qualitative differences something like this.
    US models have superior (almost all-US-made) hardware, electronics, and general fit-and-finish (though there are sometimes lapses).
    MIM models are consistently well-constructed. Most contain Asian-sourced parts. I have not needed to buy one, though I am tempted by that Classic 60's Jaguar.

    For Squiers, there is a caste system, so to speak. Compare Classic Vibe or VM hardware to that found on a Bullet or Affinity.

    Similarly, MIM switches and pots feel more solid than those on even the most expensive Squiers. Same goes for the vibrato on Jazzmasters and Jags. Even the Classic Vibe Strats have small, zinc blocks.

    But the bodies, fit and finish, paint, and general assembly standards for Squiers are pretty high regardless of where they are "crafted". If I had to be critical, I'll say that they could do a better job of polishing the frets, and put better strings on them before they leave the factory.
  5. nicod98

    nicod98 Squier-Nut

    Jul 9, 2014
    I don't care where a guitar is made. I just want a guitar that I like.

    In the Fender case: some Squier I've played could only be distinguished from MIM Fender guitars by looking at the decal, and NOT based on quality. And most Squier guitars are good enough for me, but I'm not a pro.
    I'm convinced however that marketing tries to create the perception that some minor differences between Squier and Fender are a lot bigger than they really are. Of course some components have to be lower quality to achieve a lower selling price, but some of those differences are pretty small, and IMHO negligible.

    I have a Jim Adkins Fender-branded (Indonesian) telecaster that I like... a lot! Just I like my Chinese Squier CV and Fender Modern Player guitars. Do I like my MIM's (I have a Standard and a Blacktop) better?... depends on my mood. Are they really that much better? I doubt it. The models are mentioned here are all pretty much similar in quality.

    I have no USA-made Fender guitars, so I cannot compare those, but the specs of the Elite are obviously a lot higher than the guitars Fender makes in Asia or Mexico.
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  6. platefire

    platefire Squier-Nut

    Sep 14, 2016
    North Louisiana
    Don has pretty well nailed the answer to your question. He mentioned cheaper hardware. I might add cheaper electronics. Another biggie is Quality Control. In most cases they inspect the USA guitars a lot closer for proper build quality where the foreign axes. Even at that I've heard a lot of horror stories about Gibson QC???

    IMHO---I now buy the foreign made Epi's and Squires because I can now discern quality better than I use to by looking and testing. So I was raised on American Instruments which gave me good background how an instrument should work. Again even cheap instruments are made 100% better now than in my younger days in the 5o's, 60's and 70's.

    I have a2009 IC Squire Deluxe Strat that the quality to me is really excellent. I hear they have better QC than most at the Cort Factory. I have several CY types 1o to 15 year old that also has really good quality. Haven't bought a newer model CY ax to report on. I'm really impressed with what I've got from Epiphone, good quality for what you pay. Platefire
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  7. squierbilly

    squierbilly Dr. Squier

    Apr 21, 2013
    sunny phoenix
    These days.. No..
    But US and japan models still command more money..
    IS it the wages,, probably,..
    Is it parts?,, probably..
    Mystique,, Mostly..
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  8. Hotrodleroy

    Hotrodleroy Squier-holic

    Dec 7, 2011
    I don't call any guitar a fender unless it says it on the headstock. Not by fender. With a few exceptions of the older ones. Squier sells budget guitar's by saving a little here and there and of course labor. If you want first class without mods you have to pay for it, otherwise by cheaper and mod. to your expectations. I personally like the older squier's they are what I call fender quality squier's. JMO
    dbrian66, Davey and surfrodguitar like this.
  9. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Squier-Axpert

    Dec 12, 2009
    Swanton Ohio
    Yes it matters a great deal (when it comes to buying and selling)..
  10. Eddie

    Eddie Dr. Squier

    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    Actually, the current best quality models are the CY - China Yako, Made in the Republic of China in Taiwan in the famed Yako factory.

    Indonesian models are very good also, and I often use that as a selling point when selling guitars.

    But other than the MIJ's and the gold label and ProTone MIK's ... the NC's and YN's are the overall best quality Squiers. Both lines manufactured in the Yako factory.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
  11. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer Squier-holic

    Nov 24, 2018
    Crappie fishing.
    I agree to a seller or some buyers I supposed it does matter, to me? Nope, I would play this....
    dbrian66 and squierbilly like this.
  12. jjudas

    jjudas Squier-holic

    Mar 23, 2016
    Metro New Orleans
    Newer Fender MIMs are great guitars! They have really raised the bar in quality.
    Indonesian made Squiers seem to be consistently well made.
    So far, I've had good luck with Chinese made Squiers.
    dbrian66 likes this.
  13. nicod98

    nicod98 Squier-Nut

    Jul 9, 2014
    Just out of curiosity, what current models have the CY-prefix? Any telecasters among them?
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  14. GEECEE

    GEECEE Squier-Meister

    Jan 11, 2017
    I've got a Muddy Waters MIM, a Protone strat, a VN5 and a Standard fat strat MII. IMO the MII is a tie with the Protone as far as fit and finish but comes in second because of overall quality of components in the Protone - mine is one-piece ash. The VN5 a very close third - absolutely nothing "wrong" with any of them. The VN5 has a thick poly finish whereas the MII has a more translucent finish and just looks better to me. As far as build quality, both are solid. The MIM is either first or tied with the Protone in terms of being an all-around better instrument - depends on what features you want to weigh. The MW has unique pickups and a great sound and neck but the build quality/fit is not up to the Protone. The Chinese models I've seen looked okay, but I have no experience with them. As a manufactured product built to a spec and probably on the same CNC machinery, my guess would be the build/quality differences between MII or MIC would be minimal and come down to component material used. BWTFDIKJMHO, YMMV.
    dbrian66 likes this.
  15. wildelectric

    wildelectric Squier-Meister

    Sep 23, 2016
    Western Illinois
    The material of the guitar featured in this video is made out of cardboard by a packaging company, with Fender employees admiring its sound and tone when finished.

    To say that the things which genuinely "matter" in modern guitar building are fewer and fewer is a tremendous understatement, IMHO.

    The conventional wisdom parts do still make for lively debate, though. ;)

    BlueSquirrel, duceditor and dbrian66 like this.
  16. Davey

    Davey Squier-holic

    Mar 31, 2015
    Monroe WA
    Yes it does, Don summed it up pretty well I think.

    For me, I appreciate a guitar on many levels... price being one of them which is one of the reasons I own a pile of Squier. Ok... it is the number one reason :)

    Actual real Fender offerings from other countries is a tough one for me. Mainly because I only own USA and MIM Fender guitars or a compilation of their parts, have not tried a Japanese one.

    In of itself, I see no logical reason the guitars can't be built anywhere and be the same quality as long as the specs for all materials, tolerances and skill of the assembler are equal. There are differences now for sure but only because Fender wants it that way.
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  17. dlew919

    dlew919 Squier Talker

    Apr 22, 2018
    Phil McKnight does a video in which he goes through what makes guitars cheaper. It’s not really wages but it’s the components - cheaper steel in the bridge plastic nuts, pickups etc.

    Having said that in terms of playability a good squier can be as good as a good fender (I’m talking classic vibe or the other model (not the affinity). Should add I think affinity’s are great at what they’re for.

    It’s not the country it’s the factory. And fender have found some good ones.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
    Taurus likes this.
  18. newscaster

    newscaster Squier Talker

    Aug 23, 2018
    As Papa says it certainly matters when buying or selling, but right now I'm only buying. So far I'm really pleased and surprised by two Squier Affinity Telecasters made in Indonesia. They were playable out of the box, and the fits and finishes are close to superb and the colors are great, Metallic Orange and Black with humbuckers and Competition Orange with a modern bridge. One has shaky tuners but they work. Would they hold up to a year of clubbing? Not sure, but I think they would.
    RetiredNSquired likes this.
  19. DougMen

    DougMen Squier-holic

    Jun 8, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    What current Squier guitars are CY? All the ones I see are CGS, both Affinity and CV. All the other Squiers I see are Indonesian ICS, but I don't actually remember where the new Contemporary series come from.
  20. jefffam

    jefffam Dr. Squier

    Jan 26, 2015
    Portland, TN
    Being made in country 'X' may not make a quality difference, but sometimes the semantics or style//idiosyncrasies do. It boils down to things the buyer prefers. different counties can make a difference to the buyer.. As an example the late 80's- nineties Korean have very popular neck profiles to some of but the bodies/electronics not so much.

    I, like @Eddie said prefer the Yako built nineties Squiers. I've had Indonesian Squiers that are/were perfectly serviceable with no particular faults. I know a large number of folks prefer the Indonesian. Nothing wrong with that. Personally I find the Indonesians kind of sterile, with no personalty. The thin necks, while certainly playable and serviceable, don't speak to me. I grab an NC (Nineties Chinese - Yako built in Taiwan) and it's immediately comfortable to me and it wants to make some music.

    I had an early nineties MIM Telecaster. Worst POS guitar I have ever owned, and that includes the Norma and Tiesco. While that was 25 years ago and quality changes, it certainly colored my thinking on MIM and Fender branded in general.

    It all boils down to personal preference.
    Taurus likes this.
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