Late 1970’s Fender Mustang


The Mustang’s from tail end of the 70’s were a different beast from the early ones, but are still great instruments…

Mustang’s were Fender’s premium student guitars, developed from the Musicmaster & Duo-Sonic guitars. With it’s small body, easy to play neck & unique tremelo system, they were quite popular in their heyday. Through the CBS years, the design changed over the years and the example shown here is actually pretty close to being a baby Stratocaster.


The body is a one piece ash body, which rumour has it were made from pieces of ash too small for Stratocasters. It’s got beautiful grain running through it and is a feather weight. No 70’s boat anchor Fender here. Another feature that puts this Mustang close to the Stratocaster is the sunburst finish. Mustang’s up to this time were mainly custom colours, so the sunburst, along with the 70’s black Strat knobs help give it the baby Strat vibe. The 70’s black scratchplate suits the look too.



The body has been contoured like a Stratocaster, with a rib cage carve. The front has no forearm contour though, so it still has that Mustang ‘slab’ look from front on.


The headstock has the cool 70’s fat Fender shape, and has turned that awesome blood orange colour that 70’s Fender necks sometimes do. The neck itself is really comfortable, sort of a deep C shape with a narrow width. The shorter scale length makes rhythm work on this pretty easy, and the frets are still nice and tall so the notes ring out clear. A lot of 70’s Fender’s I’ve played have basically flat frets, so the notes choke out if not fretted EXACTLY right. I really hate that…

The pickups have that nice under powered single coil sound I like, which let’s you drive your amp harder and is full of character. This is a twang machine. I’ve never been a great fan of micro switches on old Fenders, but the sounds you can get out of this guitar are fantastic.

The tremelo itself was a bit of a surprise. I’ve always been dismissive of Mustang tremelos, as they look like a technical nightmare compared to the Stratocaster unit. But playing this example, I was amazed how smooth it worked. It was like the best Bigsby ever, really loose but returning to pitch every time. Then I figured out WHY I was so surprised that Mustang tremelos worked so well… I’d never actually USED one before. Every Mustang I’ve ever played has always had it’s tremelo arm missing. This is the first one I’ve seen with it’s original arm (complete with Stratocaster tip) and it further pushes this into the baby Strat camp.

All in all, this is a great guitar. It’s a vintage Fender, it’s light (which is a big tick in my book), the neck is like butter and it sounds great. Don’t sniff your nose at the later Mustangs. While they’re different from the sixties-era guitars with the racing stripes and bakelite looking knobs, they’re a great axe in their own right.