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#2445235 - 10/14/12 01:17 AM MIM Strat as a Project Guitar
02R96 Offline
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Has anyone ever considered buying a MIM Strat, and upgrading it to American Strat standards? Here's what I'm thinking...

I've been surfing eBay looking at Stratocasters. There are a lot of really nice looking MIM's (in colors not available on the US versions) at decent prices. So...

I thought about looking for a good deal on a MIM as a upgrade project. I would replace everything that is not wood or a fret! The thing is, by the time I'd be done, I could simply purchase an American model. However the advantage would be spreading the cost out over a year or so, plus the fun of picking out and installing the parts. And, it would truly be, a Custom Strat!

Has anyone else considered this? I'll bet there is! grin love laugh
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#2445264 - 10/14/12 06:16 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: 02R96]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Originally Posted By: 02R96
I thought about looking for a good deal on a MIM as a upgrade project. I would replace everything that is not wood or a fret! The thing is, by the time I'd be done, I could simply purchase an American model.

Has anyone else considered this? I'll bet there is! grin love laugh



I have thought about this, particularly since I don't have a real Strat-type guitar - the Squier Mini really doesn't count, even though it's fun. I'd also come to pretty much the same conclusion, about the relative costs. I see used MIM Strats for around $300, fairly often - then I start calculating, $X for tuners, $XX for pickups, and so on. Maybe if I were a dedicated Strat player, it would be worth the time and expense to come up with something unique. OTOH, I see Squier Strats going for around $75-80, and I wonder if $100 or so worth of parts would give me something worthwhile. Maybe I'll start there . . .
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#2445270 - 10/14/12 07:54 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Winston Psmith]
simus35 Offline
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for me i will say keep your money and buy a real americain. why i said that because when you will decide to sell you Upgrade MIM you will lost money. Doesn't matter if you put the high stuff inside it will say made in mexico on the neck. i saw alot of people try to sell upgrade MIM on Kijiji or grailist at 500 or 600$ and after few week or month they sold at 300$. for me keep you money and buy used MIA
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#2445272 - 10/14/12 07:58 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: simus35]
A String Administrator Offline
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I agree with simus35. Not only do they have poor resale value, but the quality of the work can vary greatly from "complete gem" to "complete trash". If you buy an American Strat, you know what you are getting.
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#2445287 - 10/14/12 09:08 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: A String]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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I don't know that I would buy a guitar SPECIFICALLY to use it as a project guitar, but having a guitar that is going to be getting upgraded pickups soon, I can say that if I KNEW the guitar was well made, and felt good, I would have no qualms about going down tht road.

Take that from me with a grain of salt, however: I have neither the skills nor the tools to do something like this. As a result, I'd either have to invest in enough tools to guarantee it would be ridiculously expensive or take it to a pro to do.

(I envy teh doodz who can do this.)
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#2445300 - 10/14/12 09:58 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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I can understand the above posters who think it'd be better to save up and buy the US Strat to begin with; they make excellent and sound points.

However, IF you find a MIM Strat that has an exceptionally good ring, sustain and tone to it UNPLUGGED, then it could be a worthwhile project, IF a project is just as much what you're after as having a good Strat. And, yeah, it'd largely be tailor-made to suit YOU.

Making one single change at a time as you go would give you the best perception of the results, as well, as opposed to making many changes at once or building it 'from the ground up'.
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#2445307 - 10/14/12 10:23 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Originally Posted By: Dannyalcatraz
Take that from me with a grain of salt, however: I have neither the skills nor the tools to do something like this. As a result, I'd either have to invest in enough tools to guarantee it would be ridiculously expensive or take it to a pro to do.

(I envy teh doodz who can do this.)


Part of the appeal of creating a custom Strat this way is that the Strat can be pretty much dismantled & re-assembled with a Phillips-head screwdriver, and a couple of solder joints - you can even buy pre-wired pickguard assemblies, so you only have to solder the ground wire, and you're done.

While I completely agree about the re-sale aspect, the original question seemed to be more about whether you would have a better-sounding, possibly better-playing guitar, rather than a more valuable guitar. Is the whole (guitar) greater than the sum of its parts? I'd have to give a qualified 'yes'.

It's certainly possible to find a nicely-made, good-feeling MIM Strat, and then set about choosing replacement parts of an even higher quality than those used in U.S.-made Strats. GP is full of ads for after-market parts, and there are even more, out there. Finally, you can have the whole thing set up to your specs by a skilled luthier, but I expect by that point, you'll have spent upwards of $500-600 total, for what's still a used MIM Strat. Still, if you feel like you've gotten the guitar of your dreams, or as close to it as you can realistically afford, who am I to argue?
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#2445334 - 10/14/12 01:46 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Winston Psmith]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Originally Posted By: WinstonPsmith
Originally Posted By: Dannyalcatraz
Take that from me with a grain of salt, however: I have neither the skills nor the tools to do something like this. As a result, I'd either have to invest in enough tools to guarantee it would be ridiculously expensive or take it to a pro to do.

(I envy teh doodz who can do this.)


Part of the appeal of creating a custom Strat this way is that the Strat can be pretty much dismantled & re-assembled with a Phillips-head screwdriver, and a couple of solder joints - you can even buy pre-wired pickguard assemblies, so you only have to solder the ground wire, and you're done.


Yeah, I get that, but the last time I held a soldering iron in my hand, it was because someone put it in the wrong cart. I don't own one and have never used one.

(Honestly, I suspect the only reason I still have a Man Card is I have faced death many times and not flinched.)

Even if I did have the skills, though, I'd probably still pass: as I've said in the past, I haven't really found but a couple of Strats in my life that felt good to me. Godins? Yes. G&L? Yes. But actual Fender Strats? I can remember a beauty of a red Fender with a tortoiseshell pickguard and black hardware back in the early 1990s that felt good, and another medium blue with white pickguard about 5 years later, and that's it.

Quote:
While I completely agree about the re-sale aspect, the original question seemed to be more about whether you would have a better-sounding, possibly better-playing guitar, rather than a more valuable guitar. Is the whole (guitar) greater than the sum of its parts? I'd have to give a qualified 'yes'.
I agree with that 100%!


Edited by Dannyalcatraz (10/14/12 02:00 PM)
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#2445382 - 10/14/12 06:00 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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Originally Posted By: Dannyalcatraz
Yeah, I get that, but the last time I held a soldering iron in my hand, it was because someone put it in the wrong cart. I don't own one and have never used one.

(Honestly, I suspect the only reason I still have a Man Card is I have faced death many times and not flinched.)


Oh man, that's funny!! grin laugh grin
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#2445400 - 10/14/12 08:31 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Caevan O'Shite]
02R96 Offline
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I've been considering a MIM Strat for several reasons:

1. They are plentiful at good prices. I just browsed eBay and most of the used ones are going for around $300.00.

2. Nothing I own remains stock for very long. I'm a hobby musician so a big part of the fun for me is building/modifying my gear. So I'm not looking for any kind of ROI other than the fun factor.

3. The Fender American series is BORING! Why does Fender offer MIM's in many different colors, but the US line seems to be stuck with the same ones year after year (well, relatively speaking).

I gotta say, all of the MIM's I've looked at and played were of very good quality. The fit and finish was clean and tight, and the tone and playability was acceptable to my level of playing and expectations. A buddy of mine had a cobalt blue MIM Jazz Bass that sounded great. Perhaps past quality issues keep the stigma of Mexican made Fender products alive... idk
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#2445445 - 10/15/12 06:16 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: 02R96]
A String Administrator Offline
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In the past, Japanese Strats were actually quite good. A few professional musicians used them. When the MIM strats came out, I tried a few of them and they were terrible. The neck was like a 2x4 and they felt like they had been built by monkeys. I hear they have gotten better, but in the end, if I was going to go with a cheap guitar to fix up, I'd be more inclined to grab a MIJ.
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#2445505 - 10/15/12 08:48 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: A String]
simus35 Offline
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Registered: 10/09/08
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Originally Posted By: A String
In the past, Japanese Strats were actually quite good. A few professional musicians used them. When the MIM strats came out, I tried a few of them and they were terrible. The neck was like a 2x4 and they felt like they had been built by monkeys. I hear they have gotten better, but in the end, if I was going to go with a cheap guitar to fix up, I'd be more inclined to grab a MIJ.

I agree with A String. and why paid 300$ used for a MIM when brand new is 450$ and buying a guitar only for the color for me is finish. you need to try and is not because you like the red one(exemple)it will play better than the pink one. you need to try in person to see if you like the feeling. look at my post i did few week before on my first MIA strat. first my eyes was on the blue metal gun 1988 and i try and i didn't like the feeling and i try a 1999 blond strat and it was not my favorite color but when i try i fall in love with it. I was like you before O2R96 i was just looking on the color and the look but not the feeling and i'm not a great guitar player. i sold almost my cheap guitar (nice looking killer guitar and nice color)but now when i buy a guitar i go to my local music store or look on Kijiji or graiglist and i try before to buy. if you wait you can get good deal on nice Fender Strat MIA for 700$ or 800$.if you make some calcul for you Fender Strat MIM (300$ + the cost of shipping after that custom fee(depend if you buy from another country) after the price of the Pup you want to put in you guitar and all the stuff and you guitar will cost more than a brand new fender Strat MIA)is just my 2 cent. and some people know me here i was the guy they buy everything like look my new guitar or look my new amp etc. but now i took my time. with all the money i spend on music gear and tech adjustment. i will probably get a new car with all the money i spend


Edited by simus35 (10/15/12 08:49 AM)
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#2445513 - 10/15/12 09:12 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: simus35]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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Let me ask THIS question: are Strats just that much more simply constructed that they're ideal for modding, or do Strat clones also have similarly easy to work with construction techniques? So, for instance, would a used G&L be as likely a tempting modding project as a similarly priced used Fender?
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#2445526 - 10/15/12 09:41 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
pinkjimiphoton Offline
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fwiw, i've sold every american strat i've owned over the last 43 years, and the only ones i've kept in the long run are an off the rack burgandy phat strat, mim...bone stock, other than the gk2 on it.... an older "squire II" indonesian strat from the way back days... i also have a couple other "mutts" made out of various parts, and love them.
but live, my go-to guitar for the last 15 years has been that mexican strat, despite having 20 other good guitars to choose from.
if you're looking at an investment piece, sure, buy an american. don't expect it to appreciate in value when you try to sell it unless it's really old by then.
if you're looking for a player, go to the evil empire (gc) and go thru 40-100 strats and see what resonates best with YOU. it may well be a cheaper variant, i would put my red strat up against any other on the planet...i played a "lenny" and my cheap 400$ mim was a better guitar both tonally and in term of action.
so...getting a cheap guitar and upgrading is a fairly realistic option imho, i know a lot of guys that tour with squires upgraded with good parts (bass players in particular) so if anything happens on the road, they don't lose their beloved axe.
it all comes down to what YOU like..not us.

a serious, real caveat however: american made strats have slightly different hardware from all the others...and an american style trem bridge will be too big for the more "vintage" style strats out there.

but for real...my "red" (mim) and "wigglestick" (squire II) have seen more work than all my other guitars combined over the last 20 years. wigglestick is retired, usually...and red's getting close to needing a refret after all these years...but other than that, great guitar.

remember, your tone is in your head and fingers more than the plank you spank.

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#2445533 - 10/15/12 10:02 AM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: 02R96]
Larryz Offline
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Originally Posted By: 02R96
I've been considering a MIM Strat for several reasons:

1. They are plentiful at good prices. I just browsed eBay and most of the used ones are going for around $300.00.

2. Nothing I own remains stock for very long. I'm a hobby musician so a big part of the fun for me is building/modifying my gear. So I'm not looking for any kind of ROI other than the fun factor.

3. The Fender American series is BORING! Why does Fender offer MIM's in many different colors, but the US line seems to be stuck with the same ones year after year (well, relatively speaking).

I gotta say, all of the MIM's I've looked at and played were of very good quality. The fit and finish was clean and tight, and the tone and playability was acceptable to my level of playing and expectations. A buddy of mine had a cobalt blue MIM Jazz Bass that sounded great. Perhaps past quality issues keep the stigma of Mexican made Fender products alive... idk


I think the reason you can get so many colors in old Mexico is due to the EPA painting restrictions in California. It's a lot easier to paint cars and guitars where there are fewer enviro cops sniffing around. Labor is cheaper down-under in Baja and they can assemble some very nice guitars and pass the savings on to American consumers. Many guitar players like to upgrade their basic Fender Strats and are more inclined to do so if they can start off cheap with some nice feel and quality at a lower price (in a wilder color if they prefer the old metal flake days). If guitar players put out the bigger bucks for the American model, they are a little less inclined to risk screwing up a more expensive guitar as a DIY'er...


Edited by Larryz (10/15/12 11:41 AM)

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#2445600 - 10/15/12 12:31 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Larryz]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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FWIW, my previous post here was written with said MIM Strats being tried out live and in person very discriminatingly and selectively before purchase, not ordered 'site un-scene via internet or telephone...
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#2445625 - 10/15/12 01:33 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Caevan O'Shite]
A String Administrator Offline
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Originally Posted By: Caevan O'Shite
FWIW, my previous post here was written with said MIM Strats being tried out live and in person very discriminatingly and selectively before purchase, not ordered 'site un-scene via internet or telephone...


I think this rule stands for any "lesser" brand guitars. There ARE gems out there. You can get a MIM or MIJ Strat that is every bit as good as a MIA Strat. They are just harder to come by. In this case, trying them out first is essential.
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#2445626 - 10/15/12 01:34 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: A String]
A String Administrator Offline
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Of course, I'm referring to the guitar itself (body and neck). Not the hardware.
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#2445650 - 10/15/12 03:11 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: A String]
A McLeod III Offline
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Here's my take on this. MIM Strats are amongst my favorites. I like the standards for that very reason.......they remind me of an old Volkswagon Beetle. Mix and match till you get what you want. Considering that I could give a rat's ass about resale.....I play my guitars, hoard them....share them with friends, etc. Sometimes I get deals, use ebay, upgrade on the cheap and sell some but.....making money on them for me is not the end result. Seeing others get a good deal and a bit of "Uniqueness" from something I customized-that does it for me.

And when you speak of MIM's, I hope the O.P. was speaking of "standards" because some of the other mex models like the deluxes, hot rods, etc. are pretty much "Hot Rodded Americans" in most respects any way. And if you remember the "Korean Lite Ash" Natural Strat a few years ago with the SD pickups in it? That was one of the sweetest sounding Strats IMHO that Fender ever sold. Back to the o.p.

An excellent Strat to me be it a Mex or even a Squier has the following qualities:

1. Got to stay in tune (or it ain't worth s**t) and the stock tuners are notorious for not doing that so I always install on my own strats either Grover Mini Lockers (when you can find them), Sperzels (even though their gear ratio is sllllloooooooowwwwww), Planet Waves for the string cutter and my new fav, HipShot lockers. They just got that "hot-rodded" look, very good quality and that 16:1 ratio I like. Kind of like installing a Pete Jackson gear drive in a small block Chevy. (All the car guys got that one.)

2. I just love Seymour Duncan pickups.....especially AlNiCo II's because I love my Strats clean, low string pull and right on the edge of break up for my "blue moods". On my Strats with Hummer bridges, it's all about TB5's for me (or Custom 5's in non-trem bucker trim)

3. MIM narrow spacing doesn't bother me a bit (spent a lot of years playing the violin/viola). Got to have a full size trem block on it and those GFS Brass blocks sound superb to my ears

4. Reliable electronics. CTS, Switchcraft stuff and orange caps give my stuff it's own unique flavor

If you know you way around evil bay (and you do your own mods), you can have a MIM Strat that plays like a dream and rivals most of the "boutique" versions....and totally annihilate anything you can get stock from Fender aside from Custom Shop stuff. (That's all Henry Garza/Los Lonely Boys will play) And......you won't have have to take out a loan to buy it either. cool


Edited by A McLeod III (10/15/12 03:19 PM)
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#2445653 - 10/15/12 03:26 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: A McLeod III]
Guitarzan Offline
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i had a few older MIM Strats and i am not a fan of older models but the newer ones seem to have gotten a lot better. keep in mind you only get 21 frets instead of 22. Mexi's are more vintage style and the Am Std series has the modern improvements like 2 point trems and 22 fret necks.
the Squier classic vibe Strats are great axes and cheaper than a mexi. check those out. i am serious.

if you can get a highway one used you won't be sorry. but upgrading a mexi would be cool. but i would shoot for a newer one.
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#2445655 - 10/15/12 03:35 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Guitarzan]
CEB Offline
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My main gigging guitar is a MIM Tele. Bought it used for $250 played great. The electronics were terrible. I couldn't play it through an amp at any volume the bridge pickup was so microphonic.

New pickups, pickguard, switch, pots, switchcraft jack and it is a really nice guitar. I mod most of my guitars.
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#2445656 - 10/15/12 03:38 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Guitarzan]
simus35 Offline
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I don't want to flame the post, and i don't want to say MIM are bab guitar but what i try to said to this guy. with all the upgrade he want to do, it will cost more than a brand new MIA. And i know that because i did it before and you can not sound even close to a real MIA. I don't know if is the wood process they use on a MIM but you sound will not come close to a MIA
i hope now the people will understand me.
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#2445657 - 10/15/12 03:40 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: simus35]
A McLeod III Offline
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Registered: 01/21/03
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Originally Posted By: simus35
I don't want to flame the post, and i don't want to say MIM are bab guitar but what i try to said to this guy. with all the upgrade he want to do, it will cost more than a brand new MIA. And i know that because i did it before and you can not sound even close to a real MIA. I don't know if is the wood process they use on a MIM but you sound will not come close to a MIA
i hope now the people will understand me.


Respectfully, I must disagree. whistle
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#2445692 - 10/15/12 06:56 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: A McLeod III]
02R96 Offline
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simus35 I'm not taking any comments as flaming. I asked for opinions, good or bad. No worries.

Because I'm a DIYer, my intentions are to lower the entry point on a guitar I love, to have a good base to start with, and in the end have a guitar that pleases me in both looks and sound. I'm a basement musician. Sometimes a couple of buddies come over and we make some noise, but that's about it. I play to please me. With that said, I truly appreciate all that has been said. That's why I'm a member here.

Now about the guitar, I'm keeping my eyes open. I frequent my local music shop and GC. I've checked out MIM's and found the newer ones to quite good even though I HATE the cheap tuners that are used. Those would be the first things to go LOL!

I supposed I could go the ultimate DIY and order everything from Warmoth. I priced out my "dream" Strat and it fell right in between a MIA and a Deluxe MIA.

Yeah baby, now that would be fun! grin
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#2445700 - 10/15/12 07:29 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: 02R96]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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Originally Posted By: 02R96
I supposed I could go the ultimate DIY and order everything from Warmoth. I priced out my "dream" Strat and it fell right in between a MIA and a Deluxe MIA.

Yeah baby, now that would be fun! grin


If you find a decent MIM Strat- or, for that matter, just a decent enough inexpensive Strat-style body- you could always swap-out for or add a killer Warmoth neck. Their necks are fantabulous! (Their "Compound Radius" fretboard-option is KILLER, too.)

Get a particularly good MIM Strat, upgrade and customize it one bit at a time, have fun doing it, and maybe even put a Warmoth neck on it eventually.

As usual, I highly recommend installing an EMG EXG "Expander" in place of one of the Tone-pots...
_________________________
Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~
_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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#2445739 - 10/15/12 10:08 PM Re: MIM Strat as a Project Guitar [Re: Caevan O'Shite]
p90jr Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 2027
My strats are:

A MIJ, mid-80s, E-serial #... paid $100 for it in '92, maybe, from a lefty who'd installed a Bill Lawrence blade humbucker at the bridge by taking what looked like a steak knife to the single-ply pickguard. Wiring was screwed. Played nice, though. New nut, loaded pickguard someone practically gave me that I have no idea what brand anything is... it's a good feeling strat. I'll put good pu's and a single-ply on it again someday.

MIM, '92 I think... I'd loaned out above strat to a friend out of town and needed a strat for a few gigs. Bought the cheapest one in good shape I could find on eBay, $200 + $25 shipping. Nothing wrong with it, sounds good... so I haven't sold it, yet, like I'd planned to...

'02 Highway One. Turned up fairly cheap locally a few years ago. Like the neck, and the body... the two American components. Everything else drove me crazy, so I swapped tuners, trem, pickguard+pickups+electronics... I like it a lot, now. As original it didn't sound as good (or stay in tune was well) as the MIM, so I won't assume it's just the Mexican origin of the original electronics and hardware. I have the original parts and if I sell it they go back on and the other stuff gets sold separately.

The MIM was fine as it was from the get go (after being played by someone else for a decade, plus). The American/MIM hybrid Highway One wasn't... it drove me crazy on the gigs I tried to use it on before I upgraded parts and the MIM replaced it within a couple of songs, relegating it to back up position.

Buy a MIM if that's your inclination... if you're worried about resale value and getting back what you spend on upgrades (you probably won't on the guitar) just preserve the original parts and put them back on and sell the other components separately.

A friend of my stepdad is a locally well-known player who ONLY plays upgraded MIM Fenders at gigs after decades of having guitars stolen or mangled in mishaps at gigs or on the way to them. "I just buy a new neck, body, whatever and I'm fine."

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