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captainate
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#1
22nd January 2010
Old 22nd January 2010
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MIM vs. MIA

Hey guys, I didn't even realize there was an instruments section to this forum. You have no idea how excited I was!!

Recently I bought a 2007 MIM Strat used that was in perfect condition. I have since been upgrading every part I didn't like -- which turned out to be close to everything! Graph tech bridge saddles, new electronics, fretwork, smoother string tree, and I've got a set of Lindy Fralin Blues Specials on order that should be here any day.

When I bought the guitar, I went to my local hole-in-the-wall guitar shop to buy some parts and the two very condescending employees told me I will never get the sound out of that guitar that I want because the body and neck are sub-par. I continued to argue that while the body is comprised of slightly lower-quality wood and likely three pieces instead of two, and that I had fretwork done by a professional luthier whom I trust, that all the other modifications and adjustments I made would have a far greater impact on overall tone quality.

So... after I put the pickups in, I'll decide whether I'm done or not, but perhaps all you more experienced players could weigh in on the benefits of a new body and neck. Fortunately all the fancy parts I bought will convert just fine to an American version. Thanks in advance for the advice.
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22nd January 2010
Old 22nd January 2010
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So you bought a MIM Strat and are looking to upgrade every single part, including the body and neck, to American parts? Why didn't you start with an American guitar in the first place? Your FrankenStrat will definitely be worth less than what you paid for parts; so, on an economic level, either cut your losses and stay with what you have, or start over with a new guitar that's closer to what you want.

If you want to know the differences between guitars, you just have to play them. If you can feel and hear the differences, then they should be obvious. If you can't tell the difference, then it doesn't make any sense to pay more.

Is your MIM guitar playable? Does it stay in tune? Everything after that is a question of taste. Some people would be fine with the MIM; it may be a fine guitar. Others won't get what they're looking for until they've paid $25k for a pre-CBS Strat. The only questions are whether you can see the differences, and whether they're worth it to you.

Sorry, but that's honestly the best advice anyone is going to give you on the subject. There are perfectly good MIM Strats out there. I like my EJ Strat well enough, but it's just not in the same league as the best Strats I've played. It's certainly better than many that cost more, though, so I'm happy with it. My use of the word "better", though, is relative to me. Beyond playability and tuning, it's all a question of personal taste.
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captainate
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22nd January 2010
Old 22nd January 2010
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I fear you have misunderstood my motives, Kafka.

I started with a MIM because of my original budget. I have been upgrading things as I felt they were the next priority and I had the cash. I also didn't upgrade to "American Strat" parts, I went beyond that IMO. Better pickups, better electronics, body cavity shielding, etc. I never really intended for it to turn into a frankenstrat.

But now that it has, I suppose what I'm asking is: for those of you who know more about the differences in build quality, how greatly would that affect the tone?
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22nd January 2010
Old 22nd January 2010
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Right. Keep rockin. But next time you should just replace all the parts with those from a 59 strat.
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23rd January 2010
Old 23rd January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captainate View Post
I fear you have misunderstood my motives, Kafka.

I started with a MIM because of my original budget. I have been upgrading things as I felt they were the next priority and I had the cash. I also didn't upgrade to "American Strat" parts, I went beyond that IMO. Better pickups, better electronics, body cavity shielding, etc. I never really intended for it to turn into a frankenstrat.

But now that it has, I suppose what I'm asking is: for those of you who know more about the differences in build quality, how greatly would that affect the tone?
What Kafka said..
almost everything will effect the tone but how much... is debatable ...and if it's good..... is subjective.

Build quality is more important to the stability than the "timbre" IMO.The MIA body or neck could have been from a tree that was cut down a month ago and dried quickly (and not completely ) so it could twist and do all sortsa of fun acrobatics...but might sound great!!

In other words if it sounds good to you ..it is good.....IMO the PU are the main timbre producers followed by the neck.The boutique PU are fairly consistent ( but they may not be as boutique as you think either!!)
A well made neck by a qualified builder can be a dream but theres no guarentee of bell tones.It's a serindiptious interaction between all the parts.
Since if you keep replacing parts (especiallythe neck and body ) you have whittled away the whole gtr it makes no sense to me.Unless the neck is warped or you hate the frets and they won't stay seated or you could drive a truck in the neck pocket gap keep them be happy with what it does...and save up for a custom boutique gtr.You can get a very crafted one for a very reasonable price(under 2k) especilay if it's not from the usual suspects.

You'd be very suprised how few of the boutique builders make their guitars from start to finish.It takes a village...or two sometimes.

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#6
23rd January 2010
Old 23rd January 2010
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I bought a MIM Tele last year, the proverbial $100.00 Tele from C'list. I've owned pre-CBS and CBS Strats and Teles, and the MIM plays just as well as any of them. The pups are a weak spot, but I can't see any point in changing anything else.

You can change out all the parts if you want, I've done it myself on a '74 Strat--but if the neck and body don't feel comfortable, the mods will be a change, but not something that brings everything together.
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23rd January 2010
Old 23rd January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ButchP View Post
Since if you keep replacing parts (especiallythe neck and body ) you have whittled away the whole gtr it makes no sense to me.
I guess I have fallen into the GS trap of asking for a definitive solution to a subjective problem... I SWORE I would never do that!!!!

Perhaps what I am failing to communicate is that it would be nice to hear from someone who has had experience with many MIM fenders vs. MIA ones. I realize each guitar is its own beast, and there will be no sure-fire solution.

But part of me wants to get closer to discovering the intricacies of guitar resonance and devise a one-size-fits-all remark about the differences between the two. Another part of me just wants to be able to say F*** YOU fuuck to those guys in my local guitar store
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23rd January 2010
Old 23rd January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captainate View Post
I guess I have fallen into the GS trap of asking for a definitive solution to a subjective problem... I SWORE I would never do that!!!!

Perhaps what I am failing to communicate is that it would be nice to hear from someone who has had experience with many MIM fenders vs. MIA ones. I realize each guitar is its own beast, and there will be no sure-fire solution.

But part of me wants to get closer to discovering the intricacies of guitar resonance and devise a one-size-fits-all remark about the differences between the two. Another part of me just wants to be able to say F*** YOU fuuck to those guys in my local guitar store
Totally understandable. However, quality is not just a question of the individual parts. It's the sum of how they work together, including setup. And even then, it's a question of how you respond to them.

When I play, I'm often looking for a little edge to a note, or a resonance, or something like that. I'm trying to get that out of a phrase as I play a whole section. One guitar may have it, while another guitar, even of the same model, may have something else that it does. It is a question of gear, because some guitars have what I may be looking for, and others don't. It's not a question of gear, because it's up to me to find something musical to do with the guitar I happen to be holding.

On the MIM vs. MIA question, I'll tell you definitively that the vast majority of MIM's are dead, cheap feeling, poorly aligned and poorly finished instruments. Except, of course, a significant number of them which are not. MIA's are clearly a step above. The wood is better, they're more carefully machined, and they're more resonant. Except, of course, a significant number of them that aren't.
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24th January 2010
Old 24th January 2010
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The wood of the body has a "HUGE" effect on the sound. I certainly think you can get a MIM Strat to sound great with right upgrades. But no matter what replaceable parts are upgraded, nothing you can do about the wood. I think a MIM is fine for live work, but if I'd take an American Strat over any other, no question.
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24th January 2010
Old 24th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
...

On the MIM vs. MIA question, I'll tell you definitively that the vast majority of MIM's are dead, cheap feeling, poorly aligned and poorly finished instruments. Except, of course, a significant number of them which are not. MIA's are clearly a step above. The wood is better, they're more carefully machined, and they're more resonant. Except, of course, a significant number of them that aren't.
this is the bottom line....You never know....The dudes at that store don't know ...only the Fender builders and QC knows and they probably don't care just like the majority of guitar buyers out there don't"really" care or would even know what "quality of the wood is.

Its mostly an expectation thing.If you think it's suppose to have a superior quality sound for recording because it's a made in USA and you paid the big bucks for it ....then it will.Again I think many folks are misinformed on how those guitars are made.It ain't rocket surgery.I have some no name MIA guitars with neck pockets tighter than a mosquitoes ass....definitely tighter than my Fenders!!.Solid straight neck..ringing balanced timbre.The hardware was cheap ...so what ..new hardware..

IMO it's much ado about nothing for the most part.A well made gtr just is crafted better with better quality hardware...it doesn't necsassarily sound better.If you've got an arm and a leg to sacrifce to bragging rights to own a name instrument ...cool...Im positive no one can tell the difference between the "sound quallity" of my $30 knockoffs and ones that are 100x that price...they all sound good to me or I wouldn't play and record with them.

BP
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26th January 2010
Old 26th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
Except, of course, a significant number of them that aren't.
The key statement in this post. Sound is relative; different guitars sound different, no big surprise. Fretwork, however, is not relative. I've yet to play a US Fender that has a $1k-ish dollar difference in fretwork from a Mexi. I'd much rather fix up a Mexi-strat I liked than pay 2-3 times as much for a US strat with a marginally better fretjob.

I think it's tragic that Fender has fallen so far.
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26th January 2010
Old 26th January 2010
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Random thoughts:

It is all down to how you like the neck.
I've never found a MIM I like so I wouldn't be doing what you are.

Be careful of overcapitalising on what is a budget guitar.

A $300 guitar that has $400 of new parts on it isn't a $700 guitar.
It isn't even a $500 guitar in terms of resale.

In most cases you are better of finding a guitar you like and then selling the one you have and adding more cash to get it.

Just my 2c.
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captainate
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27th January 2010
Old 27th January 2010
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Does nobody else follow my logic that all these fancy parts I'm buying can be put on a better strat for the future? It doesn't play like a $2k guitar but I didn't expect it to. I figure that when I have enough money to blow on an artist series or something custom I can put the new pickups in and perhaps the saddles and tremolo block. What's wrong with that?
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27th January 2010
Old 27th January 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captainate View Post
Does nobody else follow my logic that all these fancy parts I'm buying can be put on a better strat for the future? It doesn't play like a $2k guitar but I didn't expect it to. I figure that when I have enough money to blow on an artist series or something custom I can put the new pickups in and perhaps the saddles and tremolo block. What's wrong with that?
We get it (well, I do) but still cautioning against it.

It is a bit of a waste of money now and there is no guarantee your aftermarket parts are going to improve whatever strat you get in the future.

Machine heads is a good example- there is 3 or 4 different diameter for tuner holes.

I'd return the parts & get my money back.
Upgrade when you can afford it.

If you don't want that then fine, more power to ya.
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28th January 2010
Old 28th January 2010
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All I can say on the subject with certainty is that I have never turned a song off that was playing on my radio because I heard someone playing a MIM strat.
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