1965 Fender Mustang

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Offset body looks, great neck, pickups, electrics and vibrato, light weight, originality, condition, OHSC, vintage values

Thumbs down: Budget beginner reputation, early CBS‑era features, shorter scale may deter some

Decree: A fantastic little 1960s Fender guitar that performs well above its ‘student’ expectation

Model Description:

The original Fender Mustang model was made in the USA between 1964 and 1982. The introduction of the Mustang shortly before Leo Fender sold his company to the CBS Corporation heralded a major redesign of existing ‘student’ hardtail models including the single pickup Musicmaster and the dual pickup Duo-Sonic, which had been around since 1956. The new offset solid‑body short‑scale guitars proved popular with both beginners and seasoned players. While available in both 21-fret 22½” and 22-fret 24” necks, the latter was far more popular with players. The pickup switching is unique, comprising two small 3‑way slide switches to achieve a wide range of in or out of phase sounds from the two covered single coil pickups. The Mustang was the first Fender ‘student’ model to feature a vibrato system. The all‑new Fender Dynamic Vibrato and floating bridge are also unique, used only on the Mustang and as an option on the hollow body Coronado. Colours were plain red, white and blue – very patriotic. Fender went on to update the Mustang from 1969 including contoured bodies and a wider range of colour options. By 1982, Fender had replaced all the offset ‘student’ models with the low cost budget Fender Bullet. Fender reintroduced the Mustang in 1990, due partly to the growing interest in vintage guitars and also because used Mustangs were gaining cult status as the go‑to guitar for many indie/alternative and punk/garage/grunge bands. The venerable and increasingly popular Mustang continues in production, proving to be very trendy and available in a range of configurations. Mustangs are becoming well‑deserved cool cult collectables, especially when considered against a market of sky-high prices for equivalent Stratocasters and Telecasters of the same period, as well as the increasing values in offset Jazzmasters and Jaguars.

Guitar Description:

For your delectation, an all-original early CBS-era late‑1965 Fender Mustang in classic Red (commonly mistakenly described as Dakota Red), with its double cutaway slab solid body, lovely white pearloid scratchplate, gleaming chrome hardware and black pickup covers/selector switches/knobs. This particular Mustang has the rarer early ‘slab’ rosewood fingerboard atop the maple bolt‑on neck, with the more common 24” scale length. This particular Mustang has many features of the pre‑CBS Mustangs such as the ‘Offset Contour Body’ headstock decal and ‘Pat. Pend.’ vibrato plate alongside some early CBS appointments such as the large headstock, ‘F’ tuners and ‘F’ neck plate with the 6‑digit serial number. It is the epitome of mid‑1960s Americana and exudes pure vintage cool. There are the usual nicks, scuffs and scrapes one would expect of a decades-old guitar but nothing of any consequence. Despite being classified as a ‘student’ model, the Fender Mustang is a very flexible, distinctive guitar because of the shorter scale, the innovative pickup switching and the unique vibrato. The playing feel and range of tones available make the Mustang (and Duo‑Sonic) sound unlike any other Fender guitar before or since, aided by a resonant body and lower string tension. The tight 7¼” fingerboard radius means a relatively high action is needed to avoid string bends choking out further up the neck. All in all, this is a very nice example of a classic early CBS‑era ‘F‑plate’ Fender Mustang. These little ‘student’ guitars have been largely overlooked and remain woefully underrated for many years. However, at long last, the Mustang and its peers are beginning to get some of the respect they deserve. Go on, take one of these precocious prancing ponies for a gallop while you still can.


  • Made in Fullerton, California, U.S.A. in late 1965
  • Ash double cutaway slab solid body
  • Red nitrocellulose finish
  • Maple bolt-on neck with ‘F’ series neck plate
  • Fender ‘F’ tuners on large headstock
  • Unbound rosewood ‘slab’ fingerboard with 22 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 24” (609mm)
  • Original chrome hardware
  • Original white pearloid scratchplate
  • Original dual covered single-coil pickups, 3‑way slide pickup selector switches, pots, knobs and jack socket
  • Original floating bridge and Fender Dynamic vibrato
  • Weight: 6Lb (2.72Kg)
  • Original Fender hard shell case


  • Mark Arm (Mudhoney)
  • Adrian Belew (King Crimson)
  • Bilinda Butcher (My Bloody Valentine)
  • David Byrne (Talking Heads)
  • Nels Cline (Wilco)
  • Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
  • Graham Coxon (Blur)
  • John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
  • Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie)
  • Matthew Healey (The 1975)
  • Norah Jones
  • Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth)
  • Jim Root (Slipknot, Stone Sour)
  • Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine)
  • Brendon Urie (Panic! At The Disco)
  • Theresa Wayman (Warpaint)


Although very similar to Fender’s ‘patriotic’ custom colours of the time: Dakota Red, Olympic White and Daphne Blue, these labels were never used in relation to the Mustang; they were marketed as just plain Red, White and Blue.

Red and Blue Mustangs came with white pearl scratchplates, black pickup covers and black slider switches while White Mustangs came with red tortoiseshell scratchplates, white pickup covers and white slider switches. Vibrato arm tips were white plastic for all models until the late 1970s.

Detail Gallery:

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