How To Tell If A Stratocaster Is Made In America

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Written By Sarah Barlow

Chief Music Officer

The first Stratocaster was manufactured in the USA in 1954 as Fender’s newest top-of-the-line guitar. Indeed, premium Stratocasters are made in their home of origin – the USA. However, the only issue is that made-in-America Stratocasters are expensive and out of most people’s budget. 

So to make them affordable for the general public, Fender began manufacturing their famous Stratocasters in 5 other nations outside the USA, including Mexico, China, Korea, Indonesia, and Japan. This is so they could lower the labor and material cost for these guitars. You may rest assured that Stratocasters manufactured outside of the United States are still of excellent quality since Fender ensured that its other manufacturing facilities uphold the Fender standard.

Determining the country where your Stratocaster was manufactured is quite simple. In this article, I’ll be talking about the ways to tell if your Fender Stratocaster is made in the United States.

Serial Number On The Headstock

The serial number located at the back part of the headstock of Fender USA guitars is the best way to identify where it was manufactured. A Mexican model, for example, would have MX as a prefix, whereas an American-made guitar would have US as the serial number prefix.

American manufacturers produce Performer, Professional, Original, and Ultra guitars. Mexican manufacturers produce the Vintera, Player, and Artist series of guitars. Squier by Fender guitars is created in China or Indonesia, while the Deluxe and Boxer lines are produced in Japan.

Type Of Wood

The American and Mexican-made Stratocasters are two of the most popular manufacturers of Fender Stratocasters that are well-loved by many. 

The specific type of wood used in making the Mexican and American Stratocaster is one of the key distinctions between them. The wood used in USA models has better quality than those used in Mexican models. This is because American-made Stratocasters are often made from ash or alder. 

Ash is a robust and sturdy hardwood that often has a light hue and a straight grain. It is also highly dense. It has a brighter and more prominent tone due to its high treble and strong sustain. A robust bass, a distinct midrange, and chiming highs are also produced by ash. In general, the wood highlights more harmonic content and allows higher overtones to be heard.

Alder has a pale tone, a solid upper midrange resonance, and a long sustain. This wood is often treated in solid colors since it has a closed grain and closed ports.

Mexican Stratocasters, on the other hand, are made of five pieces of wood as opposed to the three pieces used in the American ones. It has been claimed that this distinction also affects the tone since USA models are said to be of superior quality than its other manufacturers. A modified tone known as the delta tone is seen in American Stratocasters.


The guitar’s neck is one of the main distinctions between USA-made Stratocasters and its other leading manufacturer – Mexico. The American has 22 frets, compared to 21 for the Mexican. Fenders originally only had 21, but the shredders demanded more fret in the 1980s, so another fret was added. The length of the neck board is naturally increased to accommodate the 22nd fret.

The American’s bridge contacts a two-screw saddle in the antique fashion, and the assembly rocks easily on the fulcrum points. Additionally, the pickup selector is a conventional 5-way variety.

Lastly, a superior polyurethane body finish is seen on American-made Stratocasters. It is commonly known that polyurethane should last a little longer, feel nicer to the touch, and have a more aesthetic appearance.

Fender Stratocasters That Are Manufactured In America

Fender American Performer 

The Fender American Performer series is the most affordable USA-made Fender Stratocaster. The costumes and furnishings of the American Performer remain timeless. The Yosemite pickups, which have strong output and low feedback, also deserve special notes.

Even though the American Performer is priced at over $1,000 – which means that it’s still not inexpensive. But it represents value for money in comparison to other USA-made Fender Stratocasters.

Fender American Professional

The American Professional series is a step up from the Performer line. As the name implies, Fender targets professional guitarists when marketing these types of electric guitars. These guitars use V Mod II pickups, which give them a contemporary spin on vintage sounds.

In the Professional series, the necks have undergone an evolution. The Deep C profile, refined from vintage designs, has a gentle edge. You’ll find it simple to travel over the frets thanks to the smooth finish. However, it also comes with a high price. The American Professional guitars are known to be studio-ready instruments and cost roughly $1,500.

Fender American Original

The Original models, which were created using blueprints from designs from the 1950s and 1960s, exemplify the legacy of Fender.

The original designs from the Fullerton factory are replicated in the 1950s models. With V and U profiles, even the necks have the same feel. The C profile neck on the 60s models offers an alternative to the 50s styles.

The Fender Original models look and feel retro and have warm tones that are expertly recreated by the Pure Vintage ’59 pickups.

Every guitar in the Original series has a nitro finish. This enables the wood of the guitar to breathe, resulting in graceful aging. 

A vintage Fender from the 1950s or 1960s is very expensive. The Fender American Original series are exact replicas and remnants of these styles but with considerably better affordability and contemporary dependability.

Fender American Ultra

The Fender American Ultra series offers a contemporary feel because of its distinctive modern D-profile cut. When examined closely, the finish on some guitars has a contemporary glitter.

The Ultra series, according to Fender, is the “most sophisticated” one in their collection. Indeed, it’s hard to disagree with their smooth playability. There are rounded corners and silky timbers everywhere.

The noiseless pickups provide a hot-rod improvement above the standard. Fender produces vintage qualities, but with contemporary clarity and without the signal hum that older pickups produce.

The Ultra series has the feel of an expensive, handcrafted American guitar. But at this cost, they might be beyond the means of the majority. A typical price for an Ultra is $2,000 or more.

Key Takeaway

It is widely acknowledged that American-made guitars are of a more outstanding caliber than those produced in other nations due to a vnumber of factors, including the expertise of American labor, superior materials, and stricter quality control.

However, this does not preclude foreign-made Fender guitars from being as good as those produced in the United States.

For instance, a Fender guitar built in Mexico by a licensed manufacturer should be of excellent quality because Fender takes care in its craftsmanship regardless of where it is created. 

American-made Fender Stratocasters are the pinnacle of design quality. Some of the most well-known guitarists in the world play these high-end guitars. So, American-made Stratocasters will cost you a lot of money, but they are indeed worth it for their price.