1978 Fender Mustang

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Mustang’s trendy offset looks and flexibility, weight, pickups, range of sounds, vibrato, vintage feel

Thumbs down: Short scale neck, confusing pickup selection, polyester finish, non‑original hard shell case

Decree: If you buy into Fender’s offset ‘student’ guitar charms, as I do, then you’ll need no convincing. If not, you’ll probably look elsewhere. The later guitars are not as collectable as the early ones but they are just as much fun.

Model Description:

The original Fender Mustang model was made in the USA between 1964 and 1982. The introduction of the Mustang heralded a review of existing offset-body short‑scale ‘student’ models including the single pickup Musicmaster and the dual pickup hardtail Duo‑Sonic. While available in both a 21‑fret 22½” and 22‑fret 24” scale lengths, the latter was far more popular with players. The pickup switching is unique, using two small 3‑way slide switches to achieve different sounds from the two covered single coil pickups. The Fender Dynamic Vibrato and floating bridge are also unique, used only on Mustangs and some Coronado models. In 1969, Fender refined the model from ‘slab’ to contoured bodies. At the same time, Fender replaced the plain red, white and blue finishes with new colours and distinctive ‘competition stripes’ inspired by Shelby Mustang muscle cars. From 1973, finishes were mainly natural and sunburst. By 1982, Fender had replaced all the ‘student’ models with the unsuccessful Bullet line. Fender reintroduced the Mustang in 1990, due partly to the emerging vintage market and also because used Mustangs were gaining cult status as the go‑to guitar for many indie/alternative and punk/grunge bands. The venerable and increasingly popular Mustang continues in production, although in a different format to the originals.

Guitar Description:

Right… first off, I bought this guitar at well over market value. Why? It is a result of rose‑tinted sentimentality, pure and simple – it also marks CRAVE Guitars’ 10th Anniversary (2007‑2017). My first serious guitar was a 1978 natural Mustang with rosewood fingerboard. Although I adored it, I was conned into thinking it wasn’t a ’proper’ guitar and that I should get a ‘real’ one, so I traded it for a 1977 Fender Stratocaster of the same style which, incidentally, I still have. However, I have long regretted that naïve decision and it has taken decades to get around to acquiring another, comparable, Mustang. I also get seriously hacked off with ‘vintage snobs’ who dismiss the Mustangs et al, often out of hand. I believe such lemming‑like disdain to be either misguided or just plain wrong. I love Mustangs… and so do many pro guitarists who look for alternatives to the mainstream. My message is simple? Don’t listen to others’ tired dogma, make your own mind up and, perhaps, give these great little guitars the credit they deserve. I may be in the minority but I am drawn to the Mustang’s unique, cool and funky approach. Fender’s quality control wasn’t great in the late 1970s, so finding a really good one takes patience (as with any other serious guitar). It was worth the (long) wait; this one is all original and in good condition for its age, understandably after a 4 decade gap. Tone‑wise, it sounds fantastic and much better than the elitists will admit. OK, I’ll grant you that the style is evocative of its time, but that resonates with my youth. These offset cuties will become really fashionable at some point and vintage prices will increase more in line with their more revered siblings. The vintage market is fickle and these later Mustangs can still be considered as good value (except for this one)… just about. Sorry, this one’s not for sale.


  • Made in Fullerton, California, U.S.A. in 1978
  • Ash contoured body with natural polyester finish
  • Maple bolt‑on neck
  • Unbound rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 24” (609mm)
  • Original tuners
  • Original chrome hardware
  • Original single‑coil pickups
  • Original 3‑ply black/white/black scratchplate
  • Original switches, pots, knobs and jack socket
  • Original bridge and vibrato tailpiece
  • Weight: 6.9lb (3.1kg)
  • Non‑original hard shell case


  • Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys)
  • Adrian Belew (King Crimson)
  • Bilinda Butcher (My Bloody Valentine)
  • David Byrne (Talking Heads)
  • Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
  • Graham Coxon (Blur)
  • John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
  • PJ Harvey
  • Norah Jones
  • Brian Molko (Placebo)
  • Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth)
  • Liz Phair
  • Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth)
  • Todd Rundgren
  • Theresa Wayman (Warpaint)

Detail Gallery:

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