In spite of rumors to the contrary, not all Fender guitars are made or painted in Mexico, just the Mexican ones. Due to cheaper labor costs and later environmental regulations, Fender produces some but not all of it’s guitars in Mexico.
Fender ships the guitar frets and bodies fom it’s man in plant in Corona, California to it’s plant just south of the border in Mexico. There the guitars are assembled and painted. Due to the kind of paint jobs Fender specializes in doing, Fender can paint guitars more easily in Mexico due to Califonias stringent anti-carcinogen and environmental regulations.
Video: Mexican vs. American Stratocaster
Via Guitar Muse:
What is the biggest difference between American and Mexican?
The answer wasn’t quite as elaborate or even as sexy as I was hoping, but never the less I was informed the biggest factor is simply the cost of labor. That doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination, but fortunately I had backup questions in case something like that happened and sure enough additional differences as well as similarities surfaced.
Fender Strat BodyAs I was informed the wood supplied for the guitars is the same through and through. It all comes from the same place, same type of trees grown the same way. There isn’t some esoteric, uber-organic, special breed of alder reserved for the American models.
The process of assembling the guitars is the same in both countries as well. Fender’s alder body and bolt-on neck approach is the same across the board in most cases, so the general feel isn’t going to be outlandishly different in that regard, though the finish that goes on the guitars is different.
In Mexico they apply a finish of polyester while the American models get polyurethane. Both finishes are known to be rather hard and durable with but a minor difference in density and cost. Some speculate these finishes can have an impact on the sound of the guitar, but my ears aren’t qualified to defend one side over another.
The Hardware and Electronics
1969 Fender Stratocaster PickupsFender’s standard procedure for all electronics, pickups, and hardware is to use their own designs. The only exception to this is in special cases where they would use someone else’s pickups, usually as seen in signature guitars. Apart from that all tuners, bridges, pots, pickups, everything is designed by their engineers.
Read more at Guitar Muse