1971 Fender Bronco

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Great plug ‘n’ play guitar, stripped back simplicity, low weight, bridge pickup, unique vibrato, vintage style, full of character and something that not many other guitarists will have

Thumbs down: Perception of a ‘one trick pony’, short scale, ‘student’ prejudice, old school fingerboard radius, not a ‘classic’ Fender model and not one in the current Fender line up

Decree: Hugely underrated, this ‘forgotten Fender’ is a hidden gem for those in the know who appreciate something cool, rare and different compared to the familiar mainstream models from the Big ‘F’

Model Description:

Fender announced the arrival of the Fender Bronco in November 1967 and it stayed in production right through the 1970s until 1981 when it was discontinued. The Bronco was Fender’s final offset‑body ‘student’ guitar of the 1960s and was part of a wider family that included the Musicmaster, Duo‑Sonic and Mustang. Although it was originally designed in 1964 and intended to replace the Musicmaster, it was the only of the four ‘student’ models introduced during Fender’s post‑1965 CBS‑era. It shared the body and 24” scale neck with other models in the range but that’s where the similarity ends. The Bronco was a single‑pickup guitar like the Musicmaster and like the Mustang it had a Leo Fender‑designed vibrato, one that was, and still is, unique to the Bronco. To help market the new model, it could be bought as a package with a matching ‘silverface’ Bronco amp (1967‑1975), which in fact was just a re‑badged Fender Vibro Champ with red screen printed ‘Bronco’ logo. Early Fender Broncos (1967‑1971) were finished in bright red, similar to Fiesta Red, with white scratchplates and unusual silver and black ‘F’ branded control knobs. Later Broncos were finished in black, white, dark red or wine red, with more traditional knobs. Although the Bronco sold relatively well, it remains scarce compared to, say, Mustangs of the same period. Despite being a good quality guitar, it is often overlooked and generally falls under the description of ‘forgotten Fenders’. Vintage market prices had a boost when Alex Turner of indie rockers Arctic Monkeys was seen regularly sporting a late black Bronco. The combination of relative rarity and the artist association now makes the unpretentious Bronco more appealing to collectors and enthusiasts. Unlike its close relatives, the Bronco has not (yet) been reissued by Fender USA.


Guitar Description:

Just as Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “though this be madness, yet there is method in’t”, there is a reason for this unassuming little 1971 Fender Bronco joining the CRAVE Guitars’ family. I really like purity and simplicity of so‑called ‘student’ offset models, basically because there is very little to them. This Bronco completes the set, along with CRAVE Guitars’ Fender Musicmasters, Duo‑Sonic and Mustangs. People tend to talk in glowing terms about the Bronco’s peers and then leave the Bronco out altogether. The under‑appreciated Bronco is often seen as a lesser model, possibly because it is the baby of the bunch and it didn’t have enough to differentiate it from established models, even though its features make it unique in the Fender ‘student’ guitar canon. The fact that the single pickup was located near the bridge and the vibrato was exclusive to the Bronco gives it a very different vibe and tone to its closest relations. This example is light as a feather and very resonant, so it feels very lively to play. The bridge pickup has extra bite compared to the Musicmaster’s neck pickup, so it has a more incisive, treble‑oriented timbre to start off with, while retaining the characteristic funky Fender single coil sounds. This one was imported into the UK from Russia by the previous owner, adding something intriguing to its back story, although I don’t know any more about its history. Condition‑wise, it certainly isn’t museum grade; it has a fair degree of lacquer crazing to the finish, as well as numerous nicks, bumps and scratches but this just adds to its genuine road worn mojo that modern ‘relic’ guitars try so hard to imitate. This all‑original example comes complete with its often‑mislaid vibrato arm, cool and rare ‘F’ knobs and its original short‑scale Fender hard shell case.

Features:

  • Offset double cutaway slab body in Red finish
  • Maple bolt-on neck
  • Original ‘F’ tuners with white plastic buttons
  • 7¼” radius rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium frets and pearl dot markers
  • Nut width: 1 5/8″ (41mm)
  • Scale length: 24” (609mm)
  • Original chrome hardware
  • Original 3-py white/black/white plastic scratchplate
  • Original covered single coil bridge pickup
  • Original vibrato bridge/tailpiece
  • Original pots, knobs and jack socket
  • Weight: 5½“lb  (2.5Kg)
  • Original Fender hard shell case

Artists:

  • Alex Turner – Arctic Monkeys

Trivia:

Fender still uses the Bronco name for the Far Eastern produced Squier Bronco bass.


Detail Gallery:


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