Hey guys,
I'm in the market for a used Tele and found a great deal on a Mexican model. I was originally planning on buying an MIA Tele, but this deal has me questioning if I swap out the pickups (to Fralins most likely), change the pots/switches, and deal with some of the minor aesthetic/craftsmanship details, if the end product would be a quality, well playing/sounding guitar, or if I should just go American. My other electrics are an LP standard, and MIA Strat, so I am rather partial to American made, but I don't want to pass up a solid opportunity if it makes the most sense.
Thanks a lot!
The pickups and electronics are the only significant difference between a Mexican Fender and an American anyway (unless you're looking at a really high end American model, like a Select or a Custom Shop). If you're going to replace that stuff anyway, then you're not likely to notice any difference. They use the same woods and usually the same hardware, too, depending on the model, of course. Only other difference is that the US made ones usually have a better factory setup, just because they're more attentive to detail and get paid more in the US factories. But the Mexican ones still feel fine more often than not. They're just a bit more likely to need some setup work before they're golden. If the mexi tele you're looking at is at a store or something, and you can play it before buying, just try it out. It it doesn't feel like shit, get it. Once you replace the pickups and electronics, it might as well be American.
I have a Mexican Tele that I picked up second-hand a few years back and it's consistently been my most stable/reliable electric since (I also own an American LP Standard, a Korean Sheraton II, and several cheap-but-well-made Chinese & Indonesian Epiphones and LTDs). The guy I bought it from had hot-rodded it a bit with Texas Special pickups, a four-way switch, and upgraded pots, but it still only cost me ~$350. It sounds phenomenal through my TA-30 with those Specials, so I can only imagine that it would sound even better with Fralins. Although I will say I really dig the stock pickups in Mexican Teles - they have a sort of unique flavor to them, but I wouldn't dissuade anyone from swapping them out if that's what they wanted to do.

Given my experience with my MIM Tele and the stock Mexican Teles I've played, I'd say don't hesitate to pull the trigger. Mexican Fenders as a whole, even stock, are immense value for money in my opinion
Quality is really hit and miss with the Mexican ones. I've seen a lot of incredibly sloppy uneven fretwork and a lot of really sharp edges
I know MIA strats have better hardware, but I think once you upgrade the pickups in a tele it can basically be a MIA.

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It's not even that big of a difference. But if you already have plans to swap tings out, then YES! GO FOR IT!
Made in Mexico has no guarantee of being a really good guitar. Some of them really kick ass, some of them are shit. I would recommend you trying it first and carefully inspect for anything that might cause (future) problems.
if the MIM is a good playing guitar and feels good when you play it then go for it. I have MIM and US strats and honestly there isn't that huge of a difference. as mentioned you do have to check out the MIM as some aren't that good.
I used to have a MIM Tele back in 2000 and I ended up selling it. To this day I regret doing that. It was one of the best sounding guitars I've ever had in my 42 years of playing.