Are Mexican-Made Stratocasters Any Good?

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Written By Sarah Barlow

Chief Music Officer

The Fender Stratocaster is considered one of the top iconic electric guitars ever along with its main competitor, the Gibson Les Paul. 

Stratocasters have gained popularity due to their design and specifications. However, the main factor that contributed to its instant success was the support, usage, and collaboration of famous guitarists namely Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, and many more. 

Electric guitar manufacturers such as Ibanez and Jackson who were booming back in the 1980s owe their existence to the Fender Stratocaster. Their products were inspired by Fender models.

If you’re looking for an electric guitar with modern specifications and classic looks, then the Stratocaster might be for you. 

With its features and reputable brand, it is unquestionable that the Fender Stratocaster comes with an expensive price tag, which is its only drawback. One of the Stratocaster’s prestige models is the American Elite which will set you around $1,500 while entry-level models cost around $800 to $1,000. 

This pricing isn’t quite reasonable for all, especially for beginner and intermediate players who are still exploring their playing opportunities. 

This led to the creation of the Fender Mexican Stratocaster models which are of Fender’s standard, all the while being affordable. 

Made In Mexico (MiM)

To reduce the prices of Fender Stratocasters, the company has started to produce them in Mexico. These Stratocasters are made with alternative materials which are of quality but are cheaper. This is so the company can sell the guitars at a reasonable price. 

There is no need to be concerned because made-in-Mexico (MiM) models continue to be produced to meet Fender’s high standards for quality, performance, and specifications from the Stratocasters produced in Corona, California, the company’s primary production facility. Despite arguments rising regarding the made-in-Mexico Stratocasters’ quality, many guitarists who have purchased them are undeniably satisfied.  

Electric guitars are composed of strings, tuners, accessories, amplifiers, pedals, stands, cases, etc. When you tally all these components’ prices, it will likely sum up in an expensive value. But because of the state of the economy, most guitarists can only work with a little budget. Someone on a tight budget won’t pass up the opportunity to get a $500–$600 Fender Stratocaster, which is half the price of most of them.

Whenever you are planning to purchase any item, an affordable price tag is always captivating. In the case of Stratocasters, made-in-Mexico (MiM) models are cheaper compared to USA-made models. Due to their affordability, MiM models often receive criticism regarding their quality and capability to keep up with Stratocasters made in the USA.

 Made-in-Mexico (MiM) Stratocasters feature the following:

  • Alder Body with flame maple tops
  • Maple Neck
  • C-shaped Neck
  • Maple or Rosewood fretboards
  • 21 medium jumbo frets
  • Wide array of Pickup arrangements
  • 3-way or 5-way selector switches
  • Tremolo bridge

Fender Stratocaster Made-In-Mexico (MiM) Features

Colors

Mexico-made Stratocasters are available in a variety of colors namely cherry red, tobacco sunbursts, white, silver, black, blue, brown, etc. Regardless of its stock colors, MiM Stratocasters look amazing with any color making them ideal for customization. 

In addition, MiM Stratocasters have a neck material option of either maple or rosewood, as well as a white or black scratch guard. 

Therefore, if you are a guitarist on a budget and desire a specific colored electric guitar that will match your preference, then checking out a Fender Stratocaster MiM is perfect for you. 

Models

The major distinction between made-in-Mexico and USA-made Stratocaster models in terms of hardware is their pickup arrangements, hand-orientation model, and bridges. Some Mexico-made Stratocasters also feature a licensed Floyd Rose tremolo bridge which typically costs an additional $100.

Floyd Rose is a successful American musician and engineer who invented Tremolo Systems, which are renowned for their durability and reliability with regard to playing styles. His reputable name along with the success of his product will surely add value to the cost of Stratocasters that feature them. 

Although the standard Fender Bridge performs well, applying whammy tricks with them is limited compared to Floyd Rose tremolo bridges which provide users freedom.

A factor you should also check out with Mexico-made Stratocasters is the fretboard’s material. Some feature a rosewood fretboard while some have maple fretboard, feeling both and evaluating which one feels comfortable to you is a must.

Performance

In choosing the perfect electric guitar, the primary aspect to be considered is its performance. It is what separates an excellent electric guitar from a weak electric guitar. One of the factors that impact an electric guitar’s performance is the materials used in construction. For instance, lighter wood produces thinner and brighter tones while thicker woods produce fuller and richer tones. 

In terms of sound production, Stratocasters made in Mexico sound inferior compared to USA-made Stratocasters. This is mainly because American Stratocasters are made of superior wood compared to the ones in Mexico-made variants. However, this doesn’t mean that made-in-Mexico models sound bad, they are just of lower quality than USA-made ones but are still of Fender’s quality.

There will undoubtedly be differences in the caliber of materials used in the finest American Fender Stratocaster, which costs between $1,000 and $1,500, and a Mexican Fender Stratocaster, which costs half as much. The issue should instead be: Does its lower price come at the expense of a significant reduction in playability? This will assist you in deciding whether purchasing is worthwhile. In such a scenario, buying a made-in-Mexico Fender Stratocaster is reasonable, particularly given the cost.

Key Takeaway

Comparing the Fender Stratocaster Mexico variant against a USA variant will only reveal how superior the latter is. In order to appreciate the Mexico-made Stratocaster, it is better to compare them against electric guitars with similar prices such as Jackson, PRS, Schecter, etc. These electric guitars share a similar classic design and sound production as a Stratocaster.

In addition, Fender is a renowned company that has established a reputable and reliable brand for decades. The legacy of the Fender brand adds to the price range but they also factor in the materials they’ve used and their instrument’s features. Every product released by the company is guaranteed to be of high quality to enable its consumers to have the best playing experience. 

Purchasing an affordable Fender Stratocaster made in Mexico (MiM) is ensured to possess the company’s expertise, craftsmanship, standard, and quality that allowed it to establish itself as the top manufacturer of electric guitars for years.