FGN vs Cool Z?

Benlostforyears

Squier-holic
Aug 17, 2020
1,019
Western NC
So @Paruwi has pushed me down the FGN rabbit hole in my quest for a new Strat, and in this search I've come across Cool Z guitars as well. Both brands have some really great vintage style Strat's with some impressive specs. The FGN's seem to fetch a slightly higher price, but are there significant quality differences between say an FGN Neo Classic NST-10 and a Cool Z ZST-10? I know Cool Z is the Shimimura house brand made by Fujigen, also that there are lots of models with different nuances, but curious if it's worth spending the extra cash on an FGN?

Screenshot_20220121-152449_Chrome.jpg Screenshot_20220121-152317_Chrome.jpg
 

Paruwi

Squier-holic
Apr 28, 2019
1,503
Kraut-Territory
So @Paruwi has pushed me down the FGN rabbit hole in my quest for a new Strat,

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but are there significant quality differences between say an FGN Neo Classic NST-10 and a Cool Z ZST-10?

The 'entry level' CoolZ model might have hardware from outside Japan

the NeoClassic is at least one step above FGNs 'entry level' series, called Boundary which also has 'overseas' hardware
the NeoClassic would be worth more to me
 
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Benlostforyears

Squier-holic
Aug 17, 2020
1,019
Western NC
View attachment 224130



The 'entry level' CoolZ model might have hardware from outside Japan

the NeoClassic is at least one step above FGNs 'entry level' series, called Boundary which also has 'overseas' hardware
the NeoClassic would be worth more to me

Thanks for the info! I'm not well versed in these Japanese brands and their descriptions are a bit tough to decipher due to translation issues. The whole Neo Classic Series looks really enticing and there's more of a chance I'll find one in the US than the Cool Z's. I'm not sure how to handle importing a guitar from Japan.
 

Eddie

My Squier is on Fire !!!
Nov 5, 2016
18,864
New York
Thanks for the info! I'm not well versed in these Japanese brands and their descriptions are a bit tough to decipher due to translation issues. The whole Neo Classic Series looks really enticing and there's more of a chance I'll find one in the US than the Cool Z's. I'm not sure how to handle importing a guitar from Japan.


The Japanese sellers will deal with the exporting/importing. You'll just have to pay for shipping. I had my eyes on a used FNG NLC10 for about $500 US. But shipping would have added another $300 ... which still isn't a bad price. But I just couldn't pull the trigger on a guitar where shipping cost 60% of the guitar.

You can always check

https://fgnguitarsusa.com/
 

Benlostforyears

Squier-holic
Aug 17, 2020
1,019
Western NC
The Japanese sellers will deal with the exporting/importing. You'll just have to pay for shipping. I had my eyes on a used FNG NLC10 for about $500 US. But shipping would have added another $300 ... which still isn't a bad price. But I just couldn't pull the trigger on a guitar where shipping cost 60% of the guitar.

You can always check

https://fgnguitarsusa.com/

Thanks @Eddie that's good information to know. I read accounts of people having their guitars seized at customs for not paying the appropriate taxes and got scared off. Now to find a Neo Classic for a decent price.
 

Eddie

My Squier is on Fire !!!
Nov 5, 2016
18,864
New York
Thanks @Eddie that's good information to know. I read accounts of people having their guitars seized at customs for not paying the appropriate taxes and got scared off. Now to find a Neo Classic for a decent price.


I think the import taxes start at either $600 or $800. I can't remember. Fedex covered for me, and then billed me. I think it was $50.
 

Eddie

My Squier is on Fire !!!
Nov 5, 2016
18,864
New York
https://www.ikebe-gakki.com/c/c-/gt/gt01/gt010099/gt010099047/719422

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the_dude

Squier-Nut
Feb 17, 2021
604
Japan
Sorry I missed this one.

I am not sure if there were any orders made, but in my personal opinion (and a local one at that) I would go for the Cool Z. Not that the FGN branded stuff is bad in any way, but the Cool Z line is the best bang for the buck at the moment.

But with that said, that is from my 'local' opinion. I can find Cool Z's fairly easily here at second hand shops (some better than others) and they are priced very low. The brand was discontinued in 2017 - it was actually part of the History line, but a lower end and they recently added a 'Z' series to the history line.

I got my ZST-1R (Lake Placid Blue) for 25,000 yen (about $250) and my ZST-10M (Blackie) for 33,000 yen ($330). Alder bodies, full steel block, stamped steel saddles, bone nut, Alnico pickups and even clothed wires in my ZST-10M :cool:

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Benlostforyears

Squier-holic
Aug 17, 2020
1,019
Western NC
Sorry I missed this one.

I am not sure if there were any orders made, but in my personal opinion (and a local one at that) I would go for the Cool Z. Not that the FGN branded stuff is bad in any way, but the Cool Z line is the best bang for the buck at the moment.

But with that said, that is from my 'local' opinion. I can find Cool Z's fairly easily here at second hand shops (some better than others) and they are priced very low. The brand was discontinued in 2017 - it was actually part of the History line, but a lower end and they recently added a 'Z' series to the history line.

I got my ZST-1R (Lake Placid Blue) for 25,000 yen (about $250) and my ZST-10M (Blackie) for 33,000 yen ($330). Alder bodies, full steel block, stamped steel saddles, bone nut, Alnico pickups and even clothed wires in my ZST-10M :cool:

View attachment 226138 View attachment 226139 View attachment 226140 View attachment 226141 View attachment 226142

Thanks for the info. I'm still being indecisive about whether I want to go for a Cool Z/FGN or Fender Classic Player 60's. The FGN would likely be better quality, but shipping and import taxes make it pretty expensive. There are occasionally FGN's that pop up used here in the states, but they're expensive, and you never see Cool Z's.
 

the_dude

Squier-Nut
Feb 17, 2021
604
Japan
I would reckon they are both excellent guitars. Slight differences in design more than quality.

The Cool Z stuff is more in line of a traditional strat. 3 single coils with standard wiring (tone is attached to the bridge pickup), 6 point trem and a fixed 9.5" radius. They are mostly made of 2 or 3 piece bodies, but I have yet to find a reason why that is 'bad' other that the looks (my Cool Z Les Paul has a 3 piece body and they matched the grains up so well it is hard to even see).

The FGN offers some more modern features, like a compound radius (250mm at the nut and 350 and the end of the fret board), 2 point trem (same block and size and material). They also have a push/pull pots for some advanced wiring (i.e run two single coils as a humbucker). And a stainless steel neck plate :cool:

In terms of build quality, I am sure they are both well built, I wouldn't think one is better than the other. I can often find used Cool Z strats for about 30,000 yen and used FGN Neo Classic NSTs for about 50,000 yen.

Some examples from one of my fav second hand shops....

FGN

https://netmall.hardoff.co.jp/product/2410562/

https://netmall.hardoff.co.jp/product/1704362/

Cool Z

https://netmall.hardoff.co.jp/product/2337724/

https://netmall.hardoff.co.jp/product/1260831/

(Sorry in Japanese.....)

Also love my Cool Z ZLS-1

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