1965 Fender Musicmaster II

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Simple design and construction, lovely colour, all‑original, great single coil pickup, light weight, OHSC

Thumbs down: Apprentice status, single pickup, short scale, basic appointments

Decree: Don’t be deterred by its humble origins, the Musicmaster II is a very capable, straightforward vintage Fender

Model Description:

The low‑cost Fender Musicmaster was originally released in 1956 and was the company’s first ‘student’ model. Fender’s head of sales, Don Randall, believed in establishing a ‘step-up’ program in which beginners could follow a clear upgrade path to their higher quality guitars as their guitar skills improved. The Musicmaster began as a ¾‑size guitar with a fixed non-vibrato integrated bridge/tailpiece on a simple slab body with a solitary single coil neck pickup. The 1‑piece maple neck comprised 22½” scale and 21 frets. In 1964, the Musicmaster was given a design facelift to match the general style of the newly introduced slightly offset‑body Fender Mustang. The Musicmaster’s alder slab bodies still had no body contours and came in basic Red, White or Blue nitrocellulose finishes. The volume and tone controls were moved to a separate chrome plate adjacent to the main scratchplate. Neck construction was also changed with the option of 22½” scale with 21 frets or 24” scale with 22 frets – the latter becoming by far the most popular option – with a choice of rosewood or maple fingerboards. The headstock was also redesigned with a distinctive larger (CBS-era style) profile and the model decal now carried a ‘II’ after the model name. The Musicmaster continued in various forms until 1982, when it was superseded by the budget Fender Bullet. Probably because of its low-priced origins, the Musicmaster doesn’t have the prestige of its professional grate bigger brothers. However, the Musicmaster was designed and manufactured by the same people in the same factory, using the same materials as their more upmarket models. While the 2‑pickup Duo‑Sonic and Mustang guitars have been reissued, the Musicmaster has yet to reappear as a mainstream model. As a consequence of its ‘novice’ reputation and straightforward build, vintage Musicmasters still tend to be a bit of a bargain vintage guitar.

Guitar Description:

For your delectation is a fantastic 1965 Fender Musicmaster II in ‘faded’ white which has become a lovely buttery colour as the clear top coat has yellowed. There is little, if any, difference between the ‘student’ model’s standard ‘white’ colour and Olympic White used on other Fender models. Even better, this diminutive guitar has the all‑important Pre-CBS ‘L’ serial number, which is so sought after by collectors. If you didn’t know, CRAVE Guitars has a penchant for single-pickup guitars. Musicmasters may have been the cheapest of Fender’s low-cost ‘student’ guitars with a single pickup and no switches to get in the way of pure tone (unlike the dual pickup Duo-Sonic and Mustang). The simple specification gives the guitar a back‑to‑basics approach that is a major strength in terms of clarity and playing experience. It is both simple and inspiring to pick up and play. The single coil pickup sounds sublime when plugged straight into a vintage valve amp. The original nitrocellulose lacquer on the body has some lovely old crazing, which is totally authentic, unlike modern ‘relics’. In addition, the tortoiseshell scratchplate, white pickup cover and maple/rosewood neck looks great against the body’s faded white colour. It is incredibly light at just 5lbs and is very resonant thanks to the old wood and the low string tension as a result of the 24” scale. As a complete package, the Musicmaster II is very, very cool. This example is in untouched, all‑original condition and has that just-right, retro patina brought about by being used to make music over many years. It seems criminal to me that the Musicmasters are under‑appreciated, as they really deserve a much better standing in Fender’s heritage.


  • Made in Fullerton, California, U.S.A. in 1965
  • Alder slab body
  • White finish, faded to cream
  • Maple bolt-on neck
  • Original Kluson Deluxe tuners
  • Unbound rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 24” (609mm)
  • Original chrome hardware
  • Original brown tortoiseshell scratchplate
  • Original covered single coil neck pickup, pots, knobs and jack socket
  • Original chrome hardtail bridge
  • Weight: 5Lb (2.27Kg)
  • Original Fender hard shell case


The plain patriotic colours of Fender’s ‘student’ guitars from 1964 were designated simply Red, White and Blue, not as often erroneously described as Dakota Red, Olympic White and Daphne Blue, although the shades were often very similar.

Detail Gallery:

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