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Best Japanese Fender Years?

akstrat61

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Feb 16, 2004
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I remember hearing that there was a period of time in the 80's where the Fenders made in Japan where considered to be great guitars. Maybe it was a particular series?? Anyone care to shead some light on this topic? Maybe some examples/pics and why they were considered as such nice guitars?
 

akstrat61

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Maybe there weren't any? :##

For some reason, I thought there was a late 80's series of guitars that came from Japan that were stellar? I could have been mistaken?:hank
 

samsdad

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Aug 21, 2015
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Maybe there weren't any? :##

For some reason, I thought there was a late 80's series of guitars that came from Japan that were stellar? I could have been mistaken?:hank

1982-1988 Where Great Years For Japanese Fenders All Models
In Some Instances They Are More Correct And Feel Better
Than AVRI American Vintage Reissues
But there Electronics Are Weak You need To Upgrade Pickups And Pots Sometimes the Bridges As Well
The You Have A Great Sounding And Playing Guitar
Good Luck
 

Big Al

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That was the Squire Strats from early 80's. At that there were no US Fenders while the new Fender, (post CBS), was being established. Nice for the dough but very, very thick finish, poor pickups and electronics. 82/83ish, I still have the 60's style I bought in 83.

The Mexican Classic Series, IMO, are much better guitars in every way.
 

Wilko

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Some of my favorites were MIJ Fenders/Squiers. I still seek out the classic style 80s squires as the necks are very authentic feeling and have the correct transition from neck to headstock. Fender still can't get it right very often on ANY current models.

The "e" series models are great and the electronics are of poor quality but aren't "weak". The strat pickups with the big ceramic magnets glued to the bottoms are actually quite hot and are great for rock and blues. Most yank them before even playing the guitar. The weak points are the thin wire guage and the cheap switches.

The Fender branded MIJ guitars with the serial number near the heel are really great guitars. They are the same as the USA in build quality, the only difference being the wiring, the serial under the finish near the heel, and the headstock decal being under the finish.
 

sonar

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The Japanese Reissues made in the early to mid 90's and sold in the US market are also really well made guitars with good hardware. Basswood was mostly used instead of alder or ash. Electronics sucked (specifically the switch which seemed to have a 100% failure rate) but the majority of players swapped out at least the switch and pu's. A lot of players from the burgeoning "alternative" scene (Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, etc.) used these as their stage guitars.

I bought a recent Made in Japan ST-62 (62 Reissue) floor model from Ishibashi a couple years ago. Same Basswood body, poly finish, 60's profile rosewood neck, is relatively lightweight and features the same crappy electronics as the 90's era. It's a great guitar (after an electronic/PU swap).
 

samsdad

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That was the Squire Strats from early 80's. At that there were no US Fenders while the new Fender, (post CBS), was being established. Nice for the dough but very, very thick finish, poor pickups and electronics. 82/83ish, I still have the 60's style I bought in 83.

The Mexican Classic Series, IMO, are much better guitars in every way.

Al
All the Fender Japanese Strats From the 80's I ever Had did Have crappy Electronics But They
Felt Better And where more authentic to the original Than Any Fender AVRI I Ever Had
When The Stratocaster 62 Reissues And 57 Reissues Came Out From Fullerton In 82
I started buying them then They Always Sounded Great And over the years i had Many of them
But they Never Had the Same feel as The Japan Models Those just Felt More like the real deal
In 1982 A 62 Stratocaster Was only 20 years old and still inexpensive Compared to the Prices
Nowadays I used to travel to Texas Shows and buy Slabboard Strats For Good Prices
Then sold them to buy More it was fun and i was young and had the money
These Days All i have is a 83 Fullerton 1962 reissue Strat i bought new
i am used to it since i had it over half my life and it still plays fine
 

Ed Driscoll

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Apr 24, 2002
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Back in the '80s, when I had my college-era band, I had a white MIJ Strat with a maple fretboard that I bought around 1987 as a backup to my '84 '57 reissue Strat after I had worn the frets down on the latter guitar. I thought I was simply buying a cheap spare Strat, but I was very surprised at its build quality and playability. Great guitar for the price. It's on the right in this terrible Polaroid Pronto photo from that "stone knives and bearskins" (and cave drawings) period. :laugh2:

i-4tLzB7k-L.jpg
 

Dynaman

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Feb 25, 2016
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Yes the E series from about 83-87 or so are great. As others said replace the puts and electronics but otherwise great gits.
 

akstrat61

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Wow! Some great info here. :jim

I am in the market for a new Strat and still undecided as to what I am going to get. I have two Strats now and am looking for a rosewood board. I like a larger neck and bell sounding pups? Any suggestions?:hank
 

deytookerjaabs

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Great guitars. I've had a good number of them, mostly 80's but the more recent ones are dandy too.


The ash/sapele/whateveritis bodies often do get a real thick finish, which is funny because the japan maple necks are just stellar in terms of having a very thin finish whereas AVRI's on the other hand are often way too thick on the neck. I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another at the right price, same goes for modern MIM's.
 

zombiwoof

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I remember there were some MIJ Squier Strats that were more vintage correct than the US Fenders at the time. Robin Trower used to use one in the early days, they were beautiful guitars with vintage specs. I don't know or remember the series designation but they have become highly prized over the years.
Al
 

sonar

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I remember there were some MIJ Squier Strats that were more vintage correct than the US Fenders at the time. Robin Trower used to use one in the early days, they were beautiful guitars with vintage specs. I don't know or remember the series designation but they have become highly prized over the years.
Al

I think you might be referring to the earliest Squire's with the Fender Spaghetti logo and serial number starting with JV. I've read that there weren't many of these made - somewhere around 3000 total production for all models, mostly sold in europe.
 

Ed Driscoll

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I remember there were some MIJ Squier Strats that were more vintage correct than the US Fenders at the time. Robin Trower used to use one in the early days, they were beautiful guitars with vintage specs. I don't know or remember the series designation but they have become highly prized over the years.
Al

My Squier Strat had the small non-CBS-era headstock, but it had modern string trees with posts instead of the '50s butterfly style, and a factory five-way switch, if I recall correctly.
 

Dave P

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Oct 13, 2001
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The early-mid 80's MIJ Squiers were pretty decent guitars, the electronics sucked but the build quality was nice. Swap out the electronics and you have yourself a nice guitar. The neck finishes on the MIJ Fenders were actually quite thin, it was the bodies where it was slathered on. I have a few 80's Squiers that I hot rodded that I play frequently.
sqr2.jpg
 

brandtkronholm

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... Nice for the dough but very, very thick finish, poor pickups and electronics.

+1 I have an '80s MIJ '52 Tele. It was my first back-up guitar when I started playing out regularly. The finish is astonishingly thick - like fondant on a wedding cake. I quickly overhauled the guts and put a humbucker in the neck.

It eventually became my "autograph guitar." It's now covered with the signatures of many pf the bands/players I opened for or played with in the early-middle '90s.
 

sonar

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Slightly related.

CME just sent me an email advertising MIJ Fender. Not quite the bargain they were in the 90's at almost twice the price players used to buy them for back in the day. They appear to be the "ST-**" vintage spec models with basswood bodies and (I assume) crappy electronics. Pretty much the same models that were imported into the States from the late 80's to mid 90's, although the hardware has been standardized with the MIM vintage spec line. So, if you wreck the whammy bar you can easily grab a replacement.

Compared to the MIM equivalent these MIJ's are about $25 more. The MIM have alder bodies and better electronics/pickups, but if you want a dark fingerboard MIM's use Pao Ferro, whereas MIJ are still advertised as Rosewood. Fwiw my MIJ (made in 2015) is considerably lighter than the majority of MIM Strat's I've picked up.
 

zombiwoof

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Slightly related.

CME just sent me an email advertising MIJ Fender. Not quite the bargain they were in the 90's at almost twice the price players used to buy them for back in the day. They appear to be the "ST-**" vintage spec models with basswood bodies and (I assume) crappy electronics. Pretty much the same models that were imported into the States from the late 80's to mid 90's, although the hardware has been standardized with the MIM vintage spec line. So, if you wreck the whammy bar you can easily grab a replacement.

Compared to the MIM equivalent these MIJ's are about $25 more. The MIM have alder bodies and better electronics/pickups, but if you want a dark fingerboard MIM's use Pao Ferro, whereas MIJ are still advertised as Rosewood. Fwiw my MIJ (made in 2015) is considerably lighter than the majority of MIM Strat's I've picked up.

I got that email too. These new MIJ models look pretty good if you like vintage spec fretboard radius and don't mind the basswood bodies. They are like $899 and there are a few colors. I think these will replace the Mexican Classic line, which I don't think is around any more. If they are lighter than the MIM's, that is a plus IMO. They have 60's and 70's models, I don't think I saw any 50's models though.
Al
 

sonar

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I got that email too. These new MIJ models look pretty good if you like vintage spec fretboard radius and don't mind the basswood bodies. They are like $899 and there are a few colors. I think these will replace the Mexican Classic line, which I don't think is around any more. If they are lighter than the MIM's, that is a plus IMO. They have 60's and 70's models, I don't think I saw any 50's models though.
Al

The kind of Strat I prefer tend to be a little darker, rounder, but with some bite. After buying more Strats than I care to digitally admit to, I do recognize it’s a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to tone. That said, I’ve had good luck finding the Strat tone I like (think veneer board era vintage) with basswood bodies and rosewood necks.

Not sure if the MIJ’s @ CME are going to be a constant or is just an anomaly?
 

BLuesGuitarMart

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May 11, 2016
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I have a 1982 Squier JV Strat that has had the original pickups replaced with Lindy Fralin Vintage Hots. I was looking for a "birth year" guitar and around the same time was also into Strats so when this came up for sale it seemed too good to miss. It's a lovely Strat, I'm sure there are better Strats out there but for my ability and needs this fits the bill perfectly.

The only thing to watch out for is sellers believing they are more valuable than they are. I've seen them listed for 2,000 USD+ although they never sell for that amount. Somewhere between 800 USD and 1,200 USD is where they should really be IMO.
 
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