My main axe is a MIM Fat Strat (HSS). Simply put, it's the best guitar I've ever played, but that's me. I do think they are outstanding for the money. The build quality runs circles around many guitars of the same price level from other manufacturers. I agree that the pickups may leave something to be desired, I swapped mine. With Evo and a Virtual 2 Neck, it's sound is easily up to par with much higher end guitars, and much more versatile imo.
If you buy American, no doubt you will get your money's worth. Made in the USA, it just sounds good. Feature wise, you'll get better pup's, the locking tuners, abalone dots, 2 point tremolo, an extra fret
, and the hand rolled fretboard edges, yum. Not bad at all imo.
Either way, you will get a well made, quality instrument. No doubt in my mind.
But let me reccomend, the Highway 1 Strat. It's made in the USA, but priced like a MIM or MIK. It's simply a stripped down American strat, or at least that's how they pitch it
. The 60s style headstock is the deal maker, methinks, plus it's HSS! Check it out... and good luck.
Im actually deciding right now b/w Highway 1 or an American Deluxe, lol. My bday is Thursday, and it's my present to myself