What are the real differences between the American and Standard Stratocasters?

I know that they are made in different countries, but is there anything else different about them?
Quality of wood, hardware, electronic components, quality control, paint
Hi, I'm Peter
Is there anyone who has used both who can say whether there is any difference in the playability or quality of sound?
"Quality of wood, hardware, electronic components, quality control, paint"

Those all change the quiality of the sound, mate.. :-D
Quote by fimbulwinter
Is there anyone who has used both who can say whether there is any difference in the playability or quality of sound?

There are so many different Mexican and American Fenders that you should just go out and try a few. Playability is completely subjective. I personally only like U-shaped Fender necks, but that's because I have really big hands. Quality of sound is the same way, too. A lot of different pickups floating around out there. On just the Standards (Mexi v. US), I prefer the US, but they're still a little characterless to me.
Hi, I'm Peter
I think the biggest real difference is simply quality control, because there are a lot of MIM's that play nearly as well as MIA's for half the price- still significantly cheaper if you want to upgrade the pickups and tuners or something. IMO, Mexican strats are great guitars as long as you pick out one at a store that you know isn't a dud.

As for all the technical differences, the MIA strats have better tuners and pickups, and different bridges are available and the string and screw spacing is different, etc.
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They use DIFFERENT wood; it doesn't necessarily mean better. All strats are hit-or-miss as far as bodies are concerned unless you go custom shop.

A lot of the hardware is shared between the two factories, and I have reports from personal sources (nothing "official", I'm afraid) that seem to agree that the Mexican factory is cleaner and is well run.

It is my opinion that while it may be logical to charge a nominal extra fee for the US strats (they have to pay the (largely mexican immigrant) workers more by law) they are certainly not worth the amount over the standards fender charges with them

But that's fine with me because people will continue to buy american strats for whatever reason, be it ignorance or a misplaced sense of patriotism, and that has no bearing on what I do.
^ Actually, most Fenders, both Mexican and US, are made out of alder, so the only difference would be number of body pieces and the quality of the wood.
Hi, I'm Peter

And number of pieces in the body is a stupid point to contend for quality

It's almost as bad as people who think there's something wrong with bolt-on necks