I wonder what is the difference between the guitars manufactured in Mexico and the guitars manufactured in the United States.
I want to know everything about the guitars and i want to know whats your favourite.
Walked into a guitar shop in Portland, OR. First thing I grabbed, a MIM Strat. First thing I did, bend the 'B' string,*pop* the 'G' string pops out the nut.
Asked the store clerk what was up, his response, "QC on MIM is poor".
Picked up another MIM - poor action.
Picked up an American Standard. The difference was night and day. Picked up a Deluxe and it was better than the Standard - mostly because of the compound radius neck.
To be honest, one of the things that you are shelling out more money for is QC. Guitars are built quickly on an assembly line, the more time it takes to build and inspect one the more that cost is pushed down to you, the consumer. You could find a MIM strat that plays as well as a MIA but your odds are just that, a potential string popping out a nut or poor action, to a lucky specimen of MIM strat that plays superbly. It would likely take many trips to many different shops and then I would suggest finding ones on Craiglist too. A MIM Strat on CL usually goes for $250 - $350. Many of these are just as good as buying one in a shop, as the owner bought it and stopped playing after a month.
As a new player, a poor guitar can be your biggest adversary. If you don't enjoy playing a guitar you bought because it's cheap, you'll be less enthusiastic about picking it up and playing.
One of the things that keeps me playing is that Deluxe strat went home with me. Her names Darla and I'm pretty sure she's a lesbian as she likes to talk about women with big butts. Sometimes I don't even feel like playing, I just can't keep my fingers off her fretboard.
Good luck and if you decide to do a MIM - play A LOT of them in many different shops. Find the one you Ike th best. Play every note, listen for buzz, bend strings, use the tremolo, ask for a tuner, see if it stays in tune after playing it for 15 minutes or so.
Pickups can be replaced - the way the guitar plays is most important IMO. Good luck!