Fender Mustang Guitars – The Real “Alternative”!

The Mustangs are one of the most legendary and well-loved guitars Fender ever made, being popularized in the early 90’s by “alternative rock” bands such as Nirvana (the Mustang was Kurt Cobain’s favourite guitar) and Britpop icons such as Graham Coxon (Blur).

But fact is the Mustangs have been quite popular since Fender started making them in the mid-60’s, and this new reissue, which is faithful to its original design, serves as a proof of that.

The Mustang features two single coil pickups with an unusual switching configuration, and a unique tremolo arm shared with only its derivative the Jag-Stang. It was originally available in two scale lengths, but the reissue opted for teh most popular of them, the 22 fret 24-inch neck.

24 inches is a relatively short neck, the same as the Fender Jaguar but a full inch and a half shorter than the Stratocaster and three-quarters of an inch shorter than the Gibson Les Paul. The short scale neck makes this guitar perfect for people with small hands, and also enhances the ability to use the tremolo arm for upbends.

This short scale, combined with a unique and extremely direct tremolo arm would make the Mustang a cult guitar in the 1990s. Before that, its relatively low cost and marketing as a student guitar made it an obvious candidate for aftermarket upgrades, particularly pickup changes and also amateur finishes. Its wiring with the original pickups also led itself to custom modifications.

Kurt Cobain and one of his (customized) Fender Mustangs

 The Mustang has two angled single-coil pickups, each with an adjacent on-off-on switch, and a master tone and volume control.

The Mustang is unusual in having neither a pickup selector nor a circuit selector switch, instead just using the two pickup switches to allow the pickups to be used either singly or in parallel. The second on position reverses the phase of the selected pickup, allowing the pickups to be either in or out of phase when in parallel. This phasing option was also unusual for 1964/65 when they were originally made.

The Mustang introduced the Fender Dynamic Vibrato tailpiece, which together with a floating bridge forms the Mustang trem or ‘stang trem system. The floating bridge concept is common to the Fender floating tremolo developed for the Jazzmaster, but on the Mustang the saddles have only a single string slot, while on other Fender guitars there are multiple slots to allow limited adjustment of the string spacing.

The tailpiece was unique when introduced and remains the most unusual feature of the Mustang.

A shame that Fender just stops here, with the Mustang…why not more cheap Cyclones, Duo-Sonics etc?


click to enlarge click to enlarge


  • Model Name ‘65 Mustang®
  • Model Number 027-3706-(Color#)
  • Series Classic Series
  • Colors (504) Daphne Blue, (505) Olympic White, (554) Dakota Red, (Polyurethane Finish)
  • Body Poplar
  • Neck Maple, “C” Shape, (Gloss Polyurethane Finish)
  • Fingerboard Rosewood, 7.25” Radius (184mm)
  • No. of Frets 22 Vintage
  • Pickups 2 Mustang Single-Coil Pickups (Neck & Bridge)
  • Controls Master Volume, Master Tone
  • Pickup Switching On/Off Slider, In/Out Phase Switch for Each Pickup
  • Bridge Floating Bridge with “Dynamic” Vibrato Tail-piece
  • Machine Heads Fender/Gotoh® Vintage Style Tuning Machines with White Buttons
  • Hardware Chrome
  • Pickguard 3-Ply White Pearloid on (504) Daphne Blue (554) Dakota Red, 4-Ply Tortoise Shell on (505) Olympic White
  • Scale Length 24” (610 mm)
  • Width at Nut 1.625” (41 mm)
  • Unique Features Vintage Correct Styling that Includes: ‘65 Mustang Headstock and Bridge Plate Logos, White Tipped Vintage Tuning Machines, Vintage Appropriate Gap Between the Control Plate and the Pickguard
  • Strings Super 250R, NPS, #073-0250-006, (.010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046)
  • Accessories None
  • Case None

~ by dolphinblog on April 30, 2008.

3 Responses to “Fender Mustang Guitars – The Real “Alternative”!”

  1. Gibson les paul…

    Meanwhile, Kyle takes up a job playing“ Guitar Hero” at a local bowling alley as entertainment for the customers. After his meltdown, Stan seeks out Kyle, and after a brief confrontation admits that he was wrong and that he only enjoyed being a video g…

  2. I just purchased one of these about two weeks ago. What a great instrument. They are underated for Jazz and Blues!

  3. i want a fender mustang desperately but sadly i dont have the money and the specs on these things are perfect for me not to mention nirvana is my favorite band lol

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