Fender MIJ vs CIJ Jazzmaster

Published Categorized as Guitars No Comments on Fender MIJ vs CIJ Jazzmaster

In this post, you can find some additional info on my „Fender Made in Japan better than Crafted in Japan? A Jazzmaster Shootout“ Video.

The Guitars: MIJ vs CIJ Jazzmaster

– Fender Made in Japan or MIJ Jazzmaster in Olympic White. According to guitardaterproject.org it was produced at the Fuji-gen Plant in 1994 or 1995.

– Fender Crafted in Japan or CIJ Jazzmaster in Candy Apple Red with matching headstock. According to guitardaterproject this guitar was produced at Fuji-gen Plant between 2006 and 2008.

The Differences

The MIJ is a rather lightweight guitar and made from basswood. In contrast, The CIJ feels and plays differently. Not only because it’s noticeably heavier and features an alder body. The neck is also chunkier and more vintage spec’d than the MIJ’s slim neck.

In the pictures above you can see that the rosewood fretboard on the MIJ is darker than the one on the CIJ. In fact, it’s one of the darkest rosewood fretboards I’ve come across so far.

As far as the electronics are concerned, I didn’t open the guitars up. However, the CIJ’s Pickups have a bit more output. Due to the lower output, the MIJ has a more clean headroom. In the video, it’s interesting to hear how the Op-Amp Reissue Big Muff reacts to the MIJ. The differences are very subtle, but the higher output of the CIJ seems to make it sound a tiny bit more compressed. The MIJ in contrast has more space to „breathe“ especially in the low end. This makes it sound louder than the CIJ.

If you want to delve deeper into the MIJ and CIJ label’s usage over the years, you can find detailed timeline related info here. This info applies to most Japanese fender models, not only the Jazzmaster.

Modifications

My MIJ Jazzmaster has Kluson Deluxe tuners. While researching this article I found two other 1994/1995 MIJ Jazzmasters on Reverb. These were both fitted with unbranded tuning heads, so I guess the ones on my Jazzmaster have been swapped. The CIJ also has unbranded tuners.

My MIJ with Kluson Deluxe tuners vs CIJ with unbranded stock tuners

The tremolo tail plate looks the same on both guitars. The CIJ has been retrofitted with a Mustang Bridge and a Buzz Stop. The Mustang Bridge installment is probably the most common and easiest bridge up- or sidegrade you can perform on the Jazzmaster to keep the strings in their slots. However, you lose the ability to set the individual height of the string barrels, as the Mustang Bridge does not offer this possibility. Some argue that the Mustang Bridge alters the sound and adds emphasis to the attack of a strum.

The bridge on the MIJ is all stock. I don’t experience issues with buzz or strings jumping slots during playing with my style. However, I constantly have to readjust the height of the barrel of the lower E string which is probably down to a lack of downward tension. This is especially an issue after I swapped strings before the shootout video. Before this swap, the Jazzmaster had light gauge flat wounds on it.

As mentioned in the video I didn’t include a spec sheet in this video because it’s hard to find any viable information, especially on the MIJ. I might add these the next time the MIJ is at the guitar repair shop or when I have proper measurement tools.

Individual History

The MIJ replaced my ’92 Gibson Les Paul Standard as my main guitar in the early 2000s. It fulfilled this duty up until around 2015. From that point on I didn’t have a „main“ guitar anymore as there were always different guitars around from people coming through my studio. You can hear one of the releases I recorded with the MIJ in this video.

From what I know the MIJ Jazzmaster was purchased in the San Francisco area and then picked up second hand by a friend of mine in the late nineties. When he relocated to Munich the Jazzmaster traveled along. Here in Germany, we formed the electro duo Polcid AC and I had the MIJ pretty much on permanent loan ever since before I was finally able to purchase it in 2019.

The CIJ is owned by Munich jazz trumpet player Matthias Lindermayr. He’s also a member of the Sepalot Quartet, where he uses the CIJ as his live guitar. I remember seeing the „Crafted in Japan“ Fender Jazzmasters quite often at local music retailers before the Mexican Classic Players took over from 2008 on. Today, Japanese made Fenders are not that common at german music stores. However, contemporary line of models such as the Hybrid series is available online as of the writing of this article (early 2021).

My Pedalboard

Me and my MIJ Jazzmaster in the late 2000s, hovering above a tasty selection of pedals

In the 2000s I used a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp. It’s one of the early ones with the “quick” volume issue on the gain pot of the clean channel. This means that you get a lot of volume increase between the 1 and 2 marker, making it hard to set consistent levels. In the video, I played over a ’77 Fender Princeton.

Before I replaced the stock speaker of the Hot Rod with a Jensen one in 2014 I was always discontent with how the distorted channel sounded. To overcome this I ran the signal only into the clean channel while utilizing an A-B-Y Pedal to create a two-channel setup from around 2009 onwards.

A snapshot of the recreation of that pedal setup as used in the shootout video:

Here’s a table juxtaposing the original pedal lineup with the 2021 setup:

2021 Pedals2010 Pedals
Boss TU-3 TunerKorg GA-30 Tuner
Boss LS-2 Line SelectorLEEM AB200 A-B Switcher
Elektron Analog Drive on “Mid Drive” settingIbanez Tube Screamer
MXR Phase 90 Script LogoMXR Phase 90 Script Logo
Boss DD-8 Digital Delay on “Analog” setting.Ibanez AD-80 Analog Delay
Op-Amp Reissue Big MuffSmall Black Russian Big Muff
Harley Benton Vintage PhaseIbanez Bi-Stage Phaser
Electro Harmonix Pulsar
Electro Harmonic Mini Q-Tron

If you are an owner of a Made in Japan Jazzmaster, and know something on the history and the specs of these guitars first hand, feel free to contact me! I might update this Blogpost with more general info in the future.

By Paul Reno

Hi there, I'm Paul (@paulrenogram), and I am a music producer / sound designer and live in Munich.

Leave a Reply