Older Fender Stratocasters were all made in the United States. However, as manufacturing costs rose, Fender began manufacturing some guitars in Japan, often under the Squire trade name. Eventually, Japanese production of some standard and special edition instruments began. Later, manufacturing of less expensive instruments for markets outside of Asia moved to Mexico. As the quality of the Mexican-made Stratocasters became known, a number of special edition Stratocasters were made in Mexico.
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Mexican-made bodies are made from a variety of woods, depending on the model and finish. In fact, some models are made from different woods, depending on the finish. Body woods include alder and poplar. Fret board woods include rosewood and maple.
The cosmetic aspects of Mexican-made Stratocasters are virtually identical to American- or Japanese-made Stratocasters. Pick guards will be the same, and will likely be defined by the specifications of models like signature models. Knobs will also be the same.
Unlike the Fender Stratocaster Standard, which is also Mexican-made, the pickups in the various special edition Stratocasters are very high-end pickups, often defined by the pickups used by the people lending their names to signature models. Pickups in special edition Stratocasters can range from dual coil noiseless to high-end humbuckers, depending on the model.
Finishes on Mexican-made Stratocasters, including special editions, are thicker polyurethane, rather than the thinner, more traditional nitrocellulose. Although long wearing, some players feel the thicker finishes affect tone and resonance of the instrument.
There are many special edition models of Fender Stratocasters made in Mexico. Post-1998 Roland Ready Stratocasters were all Mexican-made. The Powerhouse Stratocaster was also made in Mexico and featured active electronics and a pearloid pick guard. Other special edition model Stratocasters that were made in Mexico include the 60s Stratocaster Reissue, Ritchie Sambora signature model, the Jimmy Vaughan signature model, the 70s Stratocaster Reissue, the Tom DeLonge signature model and the Big Block Stratocaster.
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