Fender Mustang

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The Fender Mustang was a very popular model of electric guitar produced between 1964 and 1982. Originally an intermediate level model it has been popular with smaller handed guitarists as well as people who just like the unique tone and feel of a shortscale guitar. It has maintained strong popularity in Japan and reissues are now being produced in many varieties by Fender Japan.

1965 24" scale Mustang 1964 22.5" Fender Mustang


Fender Mustang: The Beginning

The Fender Mustang was put into production in August of 1964. It evolved from the need to have an intermediate level guitar between their popular student model guitars, the Musicmaster and Duo Sonic and the more "professional" models of the Telecaster, Jaguar, et al. The body design was reminiscent of the Musicmaster and Duo Sonic but had the addition of an offset body similar to a Jaguar. It also had a brand new tremolo system known as the Dynamic Fender Vibrato and two pickups with a switch for each (ON/OFF/OUT OF PHASE). It was offered as both a 24" and 22.5" scale guitar. It was originally offered in the colors red, white and blue. Later these colors became known as Dakota Red, Olympic White and Daphne Blue.

The Mustang of this period was a slab body with no contours made of either poplar or mahogany. The neck was maple with a rosewood fretboard and the fingerdots on the fretboard were clay. The walnut "skunk stripe" commonly found on Fender's long scale guitars was never present on shortscale Fenders. It had slot head Kluson Deluxe tuners with white plastic buttons.


The Early Headstock

In 1964, before the sale of the Fender company to CBS, all Fender guitars were equipped with Kluson Deluxe tuners with white buttons, and this student guitar was no exception. As for the decal, this small headstock had the "Transition Fender Logo" decal.right

The End Of An Era

In January of 1965, CBS bought the Fender company and started making changes right away, however the complete change-over would take until late summer/early fall. No longer would Fender/CBS continue to use the Kluson tuner and would replace it with the F-tuner (aka "F-keys"), larger headstocks would now crown the Mustang and the "L" series of serial number plates would now begin with an "F."

1969 Competition Mustang

Introduction of the 69 Comp Stang

In May 1969, Fender introduced the Competition Series Mustang. These guitars brought the addition of arm and body contours to the mustang body as well as a racing stripe added below the newly appointed arm contour. These guitars came in bright new colors and for a short time matching headstocks. The guitars came in Red Competition (w/cream stripes), Orange Competition (w/dark orange stripes), and Blue Competition (w/light blue stripes), although the plain red, white and blue Mustangs were also available at this time. Also, about this time (1969-1971) Fender finally phased out the 22.5" scale neck.

Sometime in 1970, Fender discontinued the regular Mustang and continued to produce the Competition Mustang. In this same year, the neck dating was discontinued and a completely, and more confusing, method of dating was adopted. (More on this later).

In 1972, month unknown, the Competition Mustang ceased to be produced. In it's stead, the Mustang was now finished in 3-Tone Sunburst, Natural, Walnut, Black, White, and Blonde. With the Sunburst and Blonde Mustangs, enter the Ash body.

1976 to 1982

In the year of the American Bicentennial, the Mustang goes all ash with black pickguards and black-tipped whammy bars. CBS, ever seeking to streamline production, makes the knobs common with that of the Stratocaster and the tuners now have chrome buttons like the rest of Fender's models. One-piece maple necks are also now available as an option. 1977 saw the introduction of the antigua mustang and serial numbers were moved to the headstock. Due to declining sales, 1982 saw the end of the production line for Mustang. It was replaced with the Fender Bullet and Fender Lead models.

Note the Stratocaster knobs and extra string tree.


Sometime between 1988-1991, Fender Japan resurrected the Mustang. The '69 Fender Mustang and were offered in Vintage Olympic White and Sonic Blue. Available only in 24" scale with the "A" width neck, (more on this later), the Mustang was a near perfect replication. However, the wood used, Basswood, was far less superior to the previously used poplar, mahogany and ash. Tone and sustain were greatly compromised in this author's opinion. The necks were shot in poly instead of nitro, and the brandished the "Made In Japan" logo, under the poly on the back of the neck, just above the neck pocket.

Fender Japan didn't stop there. Later, the Custom Mustang, the '66 Reissue Mustang, the '69 Competition Reissue Mustang, the reissue Mustang Bass, the "Silver Mustang" and finally, the Fender Japan Limited Edition Kurt Cobain Mustangs.



Model Name MustangĀ®

Body Solid, 2-piece basswood, ash, poplar or mahogany
Finish nitrocellulose lacquer
Neck 1-piece maple, bolt-on
Fingerboard Brazilian rosewood; pearloid dot markers, (clay dots for Pre-CBS)
Number of Frets 22, (21 for 22.5" scale)
Pickguard White pearloid/black/white plastic laminate
Bridge Fender steel; Dynamic Vibrato tailpiece, chrome
Nut Plastic
Tuners Kluson Deluxe, enclosed, Nickel
Pickups Two, Fender single coil
Controls Master tone, master volume, two 3-way pick-up selectors
Scale Length 24" and 22.5"
Neck Width at Nut "A" width - 1.5", "B" width - 1 5/8"
Body Width at Lower Bout 12 inches
Body Depth 1 1/2 inches

Related Topics

Mustang Setup

Wiring A Fender Mustang

External Links

The Fender Mustang Story by Mr. Maxima

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