The Fender Stratocaster has been a favourite of guitarists and an icon of pop culture since its introduction in 1954. For those interested in purchasing a Stratocaster, an understanding of the difference between American-made and Mexican-made models is an important step in the selection process.
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American Stratocasters are made from three pieces of alder wood, whereas the Mexican-made guitars use five pieces. Many guitarists contend this causes a difference in tone. The American version also offers an ash wood alternative.
American-made Stratocasters come standard with a hard shell carrying case included in the price. Mexican-made models do not include a case and are shipped in a cardboard box.
The American-made Stratocaster has 22 medium jumbo frets with a width at the nut of 1.685 inches. The Mexican model has 21 medium jumbo frets and a slightly narrower neck, with a width at the nut of 1.650 inches.
The American model offers a slightly modified tone knob known as Delta Tone. This modification allows for a high-output bridge pickup and special no-load tone control for middle and bridge pickups.
The Mexican-made Stratocaster uses Fender/Ping Standard Cast/Sealed Tuning Machines, where the American-made model uses Fender Deluxe Staggered Cast/Sealed Tuning Machines. Although a minor difference, the staggered design allows for easier access to the inline machine heads.
According to the 2009 retail price list published by Fender, the cost of an American Standard Stratocaster was £1,092. The Mexican model was listed at £448.
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