August 22, 2013 in Historic Fenders

The Fender Mustang

mustangFender’s Mustang is one of the most popular electric guitars ever made by the company. It was introduced in 1965 as the basis of a major redesign of Fender’s student models, which used to consist of the Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic. It is one of the most collectible of all the short-scale Fender guitars.

The ’65 Mustang featured a larger headstock compared to the Mustangs that came before it. The tuners were changed to “F-keys” with square, white plastic pegs. The neck plate was also changed to “F-series” plates. The pickups’ base plate was gray and an additional patent number appeared on the headstock. It also had two single-coil pickups with an unusual switching configuration and a distinctive tremolo arm. It was only originally available in two scale lengths.

As for the body, it was largely made of poplar. It had Kluson tuners with plastic oval knobs, white dot fingerboard markers, white pearl neck side markers, and a brass shielding plate in the backup, slider switch, and control cavity. It also had a 12-screw pick guard, 3-screw control plate, Dynamic Fender Vibrato, White Tremolo Bar Tio, and an L-series neck plate.

The 1990 Reissues

The ’65 Mustang was produced until 1982 and was then reissued in 1990, mainly as a result of the prevailing vintage movement at that time. Fender’s discontinued models, the budget Duo-Sonic and the more high-end Jazzmaster and Jaguar were extremely popular. The ’65 Mustang also became popular as it became the guitar of choice by many grunge and punk rock guitarists, such as Todd Rundgren, Adrian Belew, John Frusciante, and Kurt Cobain. The caused the guitar to quickly rise in popularity, achieving a cult-like following.

The reissued Mustang was made in Japan on the 24-inch scale, which is smaller than the more expensive Stratocaster and Telecaster. The original Mustang used mostly poplar wood for the body, while the reissues used basswood, which is of a similar quality. Newer versions switched back to poplar, and some were made with ash.

The More Recent Reissues

Decades later, another reissue came to the market, proving again that the ’65 Mustang still has the punch that made it a trademark rock guitar. These new reissues featured rosewood necks with 22 frets and vintage white-tipped tuners. They have a poplar body that has two Mustang single-coil pickups with their traditional slider controls. The guitar only has one master volume and one master tone, which are black plastic knobs with while market lines.

It has a C-shaped maple neck, as well as a 4-ply pick guard with a classic control plate and chrome hardware. It has the original F-stamped neck plate and the correct vintage headstock and bridge plate logos. It comes in three vintage colors: Daphne Blue, Olympic White, and Dakota Red.

This latest reissue has a heightened level of period-correct detailing. If you take the guitar apart, you will see the brass/copper body shielding from the factory. The pickups are also period-correct, using vintage 60s style cloth-covered wire. This gives the guitar a great, classic vintage sound straight out of the box. It also has full-sized CTS pots and ceramic disc capacitors. The 1965 tremolo setup makes it hard to keep the guitar in tune, but this is part of the Japanese craftsmanship that the Mustang is known for.

Kurt Cobain’s Mustang

Just last year, Fender announced a Kurt Cobain Signature Mustang. This is based on the modified Mustang Cobain used during Nirvana’s In Utero tour.

Instead of having two single-coil pickups, it has a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker in the bridge and a normal Mustang single coil pickup in the neck. It also has an angled Fender adjust-matic bridge instead of the the standard Mustang bridge found on the vintage and reissue models. The Kurt Cobain Signature Mustang comes in three colors: Fiesta Red, Sonic Blue, and Dark Lake Placid.

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