1959 Fender Musicmaster

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Diminutive size, weight, old wood resonance and tone, single coil pickup, simple electronics, Bulwin case, vintage values

Thumbs down: Short scale, limited inbuilt versatility, colour may not be for everyone, student reputation

Decree: A fantastic entry‑level vintage guitar with a very cool vibe and inspiringly fun to play

Model Description:

In the mid‑1950s, Fender sought to increase its consumer popularity with beginners by introducing a range of student models over the following decade. These ‘budget’ models had to be cheaper to manufacture and simpler to play in order to sell to learners, many of whom were young and eager to emulate their idols. Fender also wanted to differentiate the low cost guitars from their professional level instruments. Fender’s hope was that these pupils would remain loyal to the brand and migrate up to the more expensive models in their line‑up. The earliest of these ‘student’ models to appear were the Musicmaster and Duo‑Sonic, followed by the Mustang and Bronco in the mid‑1960s. The solid body offset single‑pickup Fender Musicmaster was the first ¾‑size ‘student’ guitar produced by the company, released in April 1956, followed a couple of months later by the dual‑pickup Duo-Sonic. Both models had a simple slab body with a fixed non-vibrato bridge/tailpieces. Both models had a 1‑piece maple neck with a 22½” scale and 21 frets. Fender revamped both the Musicmaster and Duo‑Sonic in 1959 with plastic scratchplates to replace the previous anodized aluminium and rosewood fingerboards. From 1964, the Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic were again redesigned to match the general style of the newly introduced Fender Mustang with the more popular 24” scale as standard and the short 22½” scale as an option. The Fender Musicmaster was discontinued by 1982. To‑date, the Musicmaster has not been reissued since they were withdrawn in 1982, unlike the Duo‑Sonic and Mustang. This means that the only Musicmasters generally available are original now‑vintage models. The Fender Musicmaster is well and truly an affordable vintage bargain for the time being.

Guitar Description:

Now… is this an ugly duckling or a beautiful swan in disguise? I think you know which side of the fence I’m on. Here is a 1959 Musicmaster in all‑original and very good condition for its age. The wear through the top coat to the white undercoat indicates this is the original finish. These 1950s Musicmasters were designed and built by the same people who worked on the Stratocasters and Telecasters of the time, using the same materials in the same Fender factory in Fullerton, California. What’s not to like? The distinctive Desert Sand colour may not be to everyone’s taste (one might wonder what Fender were thinking), although the mix of coffee and cream does grow on one. The diminutive ¾-size body and short 22½” scale length neck may also put some off but it is still a quality built, ‘Made in U.S.A.’ Fender guitar. The slab rosewood fingerboard with clay dots is just right for the period and the offset slab alder body is very in‑vogue in the 21st Century. The sole single coil pickup, unique to Fender ‘student’ guitars, sounds very funky and the guitar is very resonant, even acoustically, partly due to the low tension on the strings. The simple electrics work perfectly and don’t impede the signal one iota, just pure 1950s Fender tone. This guitar was bought from the original owner in Boston, Massachusetts, USA and imported into the UK around 2007 before it found its new home with CRAVE Guitars. Even the guitar case is interesting, made by Bulwin and offered as an original case by retailers at the time. All in all, this groovy little guitar is a surprisingly cool delight. OK, so the purists don’t rate the baby (sorry, student model) Fenders but I disagree; they are great fun and woefully underrated. It amazes me that all this can be had at a fraction of the price of an equivalent‑year Stratocaster or Telecaster – or even a Jaguar or Jazzmaster. The Fender Musicmaster is ideal for the individualist not wanting to look or sound like the majority.


  • Made in Fullerton, California, U.S.A. in 1959
  • Alder slab body
  • Original Desert Sand nitrocellulose finish
  • Maple bolt-on neck
  • Unbound rosewood slab fingerboard with 21 frets and clay dot markers
  • Scale length 22½” (571mm)
  • Original Kluson Deluxe tuners with white plastic buttons
  • Original chrome hardware
  • Original single ply white (actually cream) plastic scratchplate
  • Original covered single coil neck pickup, pots, knobs and jack socket
  • Original chrome hardtail bridge with 3 steel saddles and complete with original ‘ashtray’ bridge cover
  • Vintage Bulwin hard shell case

Detail Gallery:

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