Non-Import Japanese Strat

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Non-Import Japanese Strat

Postby Bluesrocker » Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:32 pm

Hello, here I go again,
The other day I was in a local music store and I came upon a beat up Strat hanging on the wall. It was Olympic White with a maple neck, large '68-'70's headstock with "Synchronized Tremolo". Nice Kluson tuners, too. Scratches on the finish, but the neck was in good shape and the hardware was o.k., too. No serial number, though, and no "made in Japan" on it, either. What got me excited was how it sounded. Wow, smooth as silk, sharp as a tack, melodic like a bell! I'm suspecting it's a Japanese non-import Strat from the '80's or so because of the quality of the pups. The strats that were imported into the U.S. and the U.K. had crappy pups, super shrill and tinny. The "non-import" Japanese Strats had pups manufactured in the U.S., or so the story goes. I didn't get a chance to really scrutinize it after I played it, had other places to go to, but I put it on layaway, anyway. When I view it again, are there any other things I should be looking for? (I've already read how the neck is thinner at the nut and the frets are thinner....frets didn't seem thinner to me.) Thanks for any info.
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Re: Non-Import Japanese Strat

Postby thunda1216 » Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:47 am

My friend has a similar strat, another pawn shop special - from what we have been able to discover about it is that it is an American made strat that was produced for export, but somehow never was! Plays really nice, sounds great. It does not have the jumbo frets, they are more like Gibson frets...

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Re: Non-Import Japanese Strat

Postby rustyslide » Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:01 pm

The export/non-export distinction isn't really what the pickup choice is based on; rather the intended price point. The lower/middling ones were the only models exported from Japan once FMIC had ramped up it's production in California. Nowadays it's only very occasional models that are exported (e.g. the pink paisley and blue flower ones, the aerodyne ones).

Frequently the model code will be stamped in the neck pocket, or at least a partial one— ST54, ST68, etc —which indicates the year that the model is based on.

If there is a second number, eg, ST68-50, then that second number is usually the MSRP in thousands of Yen, so an ST68-50 would have a MSRP of 50,000¥ and would have sold for ~40,000¥ new. Due to inflation, what you get for your Yen is less, so an older -50 model has better appointments than a newer one.

Fender has a serial number checker on its website:

Note that Fender Japan instruments are now saying 'Made in Japan' again, after being 'Crafted in Japan' for many years.
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Re: Non-Import Japanese Strat

Postby maxx england » Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:52 pm

Mine's an 87 reissue of a 73 3 bolt original. Tone? Definitely not tinny, quite the opposite, it sometimes feels as if I've got some sort of grand piano in front of me. Whether or not the string gauge (12s) affects it, I don't know.
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