Look at its color. Mexican-made and American-made Stratocasters are made in specific colors. The strictly Mexican colors are: Arctic White, Midnight Wine, Lake Placid Blue and Candy Apple Red. The strictly American colors are: Sienna Sunburst, Candy Cola, Charcoal Frost Metallic, Olympic White and Blizzard Pearl.
Look at the head. The Mexican-made Stratocasters have the words ‘Made in Mexico’ printed under the Fender logo on the front of the main log. The American-made Stratocasters have the words ‘Made in USA’ printed under the Fender logo.
Look at the serial numbers. The serial number of Fender guitars is usually found on the back of the main deck. If your serial number starts with an ‘M’, it’s a Mexican-made Stratocaster. If your serial number starts with a ‘Z’ or a ‘DZ’, it’s an American made Stratocaster.
Look at his case. Mexican-made Stratocasters come with gig-bag soft-shell cases. American-made Stratocasters come with molded hard shell cases. While a Mexican Stratocaster owner could easily have bought a hard case for his guitar (which would be misleading at first glance), if they still have the soft case, it’s probably a Mexican Stratocaster.
Fender makes several types of Stratocaster guitars, but they can all be broken down into two main groups: American Made (MIA) and Mexican Made (MIM). The differences, while bountiful, are hard to see just by looking at each of them. There are a few ways to determine if the guitar you are holding is a Mexican-made Stratocaster.