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FDP Forum / Fender Guitars: Stratocasters / HM US vs Japan

Acidhouse

Metro ATL

'89 Squier HM3; 04' Cort Zenox Z44
Oct 10th, 2006 08:39 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have searched and can't find anything that I feel good about relying on. I am interested in the Fender HM series of strats but I am not sure how to tell the US vs the Japanese made. From what I can tell, most are Japanese made, which means basswood bodies but all have neck plates stating made in the USA. There is a wikepedia article that states US HM's weren't made until 1990 and had the stencil logo and I read somewhere else that US HM's only came in black. Anyone with actual knowledge want to clear it up for us HM fans. By the way, almost every HM on ebay is advertised as a US strat because of the neck plate.

hafadude
Contributing Member
**

Guam

Where America's Day Begins!
Oct 10th, 2006 09:41 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

As far as I know, most of the HMs were alder, not basswood, regardless of where they were made.

You can try by the serial number, but that is not always accurate either. For example, I have an '89 dual humbucker (see profile for pics) that has an I+7digit serial number, which according to Fender is "US Made for export" I+6digit is Japanese.

Many guitars made during the early years of the HM ('88 and '89 with the airbrushed logo) were assembled "elsewhere" since Fender was still getting their factory up and running. I think the '90 to '92 (when they were discontinued) might be easier to determine where they were built. Maybe not.

They are great guitars, no matter where they were made. I think most you see up for sale are well under $500 bucks so that is a great price for a Japanese, but especially a US. Doesn't really matter in my opinion.

There is a lot of misinformation out there on these guitars, and very little real information. It seems these were pretty much "forgotten" after '92 so most reliable info. disappeared with them.

Anyone else recall any details?

mike

A pretty good site, but not 100%accurate either

HankChinaski
Contributing Member

Idaho, USA

I done got over.
Oct 11th, 2006 04:21 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Most of the mid to top end MIJ Fenders had alder bodies. I have no idea whether the basswood myth got started other than Ibanez was making a lot of basswood guitars at that time.

Acidhouse

Metro ATL

'89 Squier HM3; 04' Cort Zenox Z44
Oct 11th, 2006 04:35 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

If it is a myth it is well spread. I have seen owners list them as basswood bodies. I am including a link to strat central that lists them that way. These strats seem to break the rules for indentifying American Strats. Vintage Rocker http://www.vintagerocker.com/fender/index.html
list HM Strats as only existing from 1989-1990. Other info I have read is that the Japanese HM's were Basswood. I would love to own an American HM but they are sort of the white elephant for Strats.

Strat Central

hafadude
Contributing Member
**

Guam

Where America's Day Begins!
Oct 11th, 2006 05:36 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

A lot of wrong information on both those pages you posted, even on the one I posted.

I know for a fact that the Airbrush logo was used from '88 to '90 and the block digital logo from '90-'92. On that strat central site I don't know how they can justify that some of those are US HMs. I know for a fact that the years on those double humbucker ones shown are either '88 or '89, I have one.

Just be careful what you read on the 'net. If you find one play it, I am sure you will love it, no matter where it was assembled.

mike

HankChinaski
Contributing Member

Idaho, USA

I done got over.
Oct 11th, 2006 06:21 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Acidhouse, if you can find any of the old manuals, they will usually list the wood that Fender Japan was using at the time. For the most part it was alder. Sometimes, but not always, the low end models were made out of basswood (which IMO sounds great) or birch. Sometimes, Fender Japan used ash. Often, the low end models were just MIJ Contemporary series guitars with a 2 point trem in place of the System trem that were made out of alder.

As Mike mentioned, there isn't a real accurate source of info on the net in regard to the MIJ models. There are a lot of well spread myths about MIJ guitars. For instance, most folks refer to the wierd trems as Kahler trems when all of the 'System' trems were made by Schaller (Fender Japan did sell some guitars with Floyd Rose and Kahler trems, but these were in the minority). Until someone actually conducts an interview with Fender Japan employees from that era, there will be a lot of misconceptions.

(This message was last edited by HankChinaski at 06:24 PM, Oct 11th, 2006)

ex-gibson
Contributing Member

coastal GA

...earache my eye!...!
Oct 12th, 2006 12:21 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

It has been MY experience that you find the international series, assembled in the US with Japanese parts, these are rare and have internationl series on the headstock.

Some have the serial # in Japanese format, made in Japan.

Some have the serial in US format, made in US.

There are export models also.

The international series has US format serial #'s.
They are all great guitars as to what they're made of I don't know. They ding easy if that helps you tell. Also every 1 I've ever seen has a Kahler locking trem.

I have 2 and love them, and they seem to be creeping up in price lately. definitely try to play 1 before you buy as many of these have been modded, abused and stored carelessly for many years, so getting 1 with serious issues is easy. And Kahler parts can be hard to come by.

(This message was last edited by ex-gibson at 02:32 PM, Oct 12th, 2006)

Acidhouse

Metro ATL

'89 Squier HM3; 04' Cort Zenox Z44
Oct 12th, 2006 05:56 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I appreciate all the info. Dinging easy is typical of basswood bodies. Basswood is a very soft wood. I actually own two Squier HM's but I really want to pull the plug on the Fender version. You are right about them creeping up in price. I have no real issues with Basswood as a wood but it does have a duller sound compared to alder, of course that is generally speaking as guitar woods vary from guitar to guitar. I have been looking on and off for one of these for a while but it really is amazing that with all the research I have done, there just isn't a clear way to tell an American from a Japanese.

(This message was last edited by Acidhouse at 04:10 PM, Oct 15th, 2006)

Gnarles

Wisconsin 53538 USA

BOOM, chucka-lucka!
Oct 12th, 2006 07:12 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I have 4 Fender HM Strats (both USA & MIJ) and they are all serious killing machines. The differences are so invisible that you have to have your eyes open to tell the difference. Trust me, I know these things inside & out.

The HMs made before about 92 all had Kahler Spyder 2700 series trems on them stock. A discontinued model that even Kahler doesn't carry parts for. I've seen bridge saddles for these trems going for $25 EACH. For $150 to freshen it up, you're better off just getting a real steel Floyd. Same feel as the Kahler Spyder and parts galore. The 92 & up came with different trems stock, my 92 has a Floyd on it and it came that way new from Fender.

From what I've found out over the last 18 years of owning & playing Fender HM Strats is that they're supposedly all alder bodies. The single coils are standard USA issue Strat singles and the humbuckers at the bridge are Dimarzio Super-3 Distortions.

Look on the headstock decal for a clue if it's a USA or Japanese HM in the early (script) guitars. If it says 'International Series' it's definitely MIJ. My #1 since 1988 is a MIJ HM Strat and I almost didn't buy it because it's pink. Not shell or Mary Kay pink, RASPBERRY FRIGGIN' SKITTLES PINK! ;) I will never sell this guitar. I've had guys like Milwaukee Slim, Elvin Bishop, Brad Gillis and Dave Meniketti play this guitar and they've all shook thier heads and said stuff like 'Wow' and 'Holy %%%%, nice guitar' when they play it. Seriously.

The poly finish on these guitars takes a serious beating with almost no wear. I've been trying to Mojo mine for 18 years and it looks like it's maybe 2 years old.
Well, maybe not the fretboard. =:^D

Cheers,
- JJ

Patsy :: 88 MIJ HM Strat, bought new 06-88

(This message was last edited by Gnarles at 07:18 PM, Oct 12th, 2006)

Acidhouse

Metro ATL

'89 Squier HM3; 04' Cort Zenox Z44
Oct 15th, 2006 04:06 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

You'll be proud Gnarles. I joined the club and with your color no less. I have been searching off and on for these guitars for a while. I would have liked to have tried it out before I bought but honestly trying to find one up close and personal isn't exactly easy. I have also been pricing these for a while and I am pretty happy with my winning bid. That was a good price regardless of whether it is USA or Japanese. The serial # starts E8 so I guess it is possible to be a USA model.

As for the color, the pink is my second favorite color behind the neon teal blue. It's an 80s metal guitar. It should have a Miami Vice color scheme to it. Normal Fender colors just don't do them justice.

My HM

(This message was last edited by Acidhouse at 02:39 PM, Jan 26th, 2007)

ex-gibson
Contributing Member

coastal GA

...earache my eye!...!
Oct 16th, 2006 05:02 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Congrats man,

That is a good price, I checked the completed auctions the other day and they were all over 400. I like the pink ones as well. I have 1 but its not the hot pink, more of a shell pink but darker and its starting to get a little orange around the edges.

The info I have would make me think that that guitar is US made w/ E8 ser#. But as has been stated its near impossible to be 100% sure. they are great guitars at any rate ENJOY!

Acidhouse

Metro ATL

'89 Squier HM3; 04' Cort Zenox Z44
Oct 16th, 2006 06:39 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Thanks,
Yeah I had been following the auctions for a while too and it seemed that between $400 to $500 would be a good price for an HM with no designation and that over $500 would be good for a US HM. He started the auction at $325 and I put in the first bid with 45 seconds left in the auction. The shell pink that is also listed started the auction somewhere around a dollar. (It was at $11 when I found it)and it is already at $357 with 3 days left. It's hard to do but I have learned that if you start an auction out real low, your final sales price is much higher.

Acidhouse

Metro ATL

'89 Squier HM3; 04' Cort Zenox Z44
Oct 19th, 2006 09:08 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I think I may have solved the mystery. I went right to the main Fender page of all things. Japanese guitars from 88 to 91 started with G - L on the serial numbers. There were Japanese guitars that had an E with six digits but that was for the years 84-87. So, since the HM was 88-91 if it begins with an E or an N it should be a US HM Strat but if it starts with a G through an L it would be a Japanese HM. I don't know how accurate that is but hey it did come from Fender so you would think it would be reliable.

Dating Japanese Fenders

(This message was last edited by Acidhouse at 09:09 PM, Oct 19th, 2006)

hafadude
Contributing Member
**

Guam

Where America's Day Begins!
Oct 19th, 2006 09:39 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Yeah, but even that gets confusing. As I stated earlier, I have an I + 7 digit serial which according to that same site on the USA page:

"A limited number of these "I" series guitars were made in '89 and '90. They were made for the export market and have Made in USA stamped on the heel of the neck."

mike

BruceF

USA

Jan 2nd, 2018 10:06 AM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

I own a USA 1st version HM Strat. This may clear things up a bit.

Japanese made Power Strat 1st version: Can be recognized by it having a single humbucker pickup,2 controls,1 coil switch and no pickguard.
24 frets,dot markers,large Strat logo.

Japanese made power strat 2nd version: Has humbucker 2 single coils,a large strat logo,3 controls,a 5-way selector,1 coil switch.24 frets, dot markers.

USA made HM Strats (1989-92)

HM Strat, 1st version: 2 single coils, 1 humbucker,3 controls, 5 way switch,a coil switch, no pick guard. Maple or rosewood fingerboard,large Strat logo,24 fret maple neck,dot markers,Basswood body, double locking Floyd Rose tremoloblack hardware with gotoh tuners.

HM Strat 2nd version: One tilted lace sensor pickup, 1 humbucker,TELECASTER pick guard,big swooshy strat logo,24 frets, dot markers.

HM Strat 3rd version: 2 humbuckers, digital strat logo, 2 controls, a 3 way switch, 1 coil switch,no pick guard,big swooshy strat logo.24 frets, dot markers.

HM StratUltra: 4 lace sensor pickups in ssh configuration (2 lace sensors together at the bridge). SMALL digital strat logo,3 controls, a 5-way switch,no pick guard, an ebony fingerboard,with split triangle (aka sharkfin markers),the fender logo on the headstock is mother of pearl.Has small fender strat logo "Made in USA". Special ebony fingerboard.

The best thing about myUSA 1st version is I paid only $135 at a pawn shop that didn't know what they had. That pawnshop is now out of business.

Hope this helps all you HM Strat lovers out there like me.

Acidhouse

Birmingham

Jun 18th, 2018 10:06 PM   Edit   Profile   Print Topic   Search Topic

Bruce, just curious what you are basing that on. There is a lot of misinformation about these Strats on the web but not much to back up a lot of these statements. I’m not challenging just wondering what your source is.

FDP Forum / Fender Guitars: Stratocasters / HM US vs Japan




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