How the Fender Mustang went from student guitar to cult classic

1970 Fender Mustang
(Image credit: Richard Ecclestone/Redferns)

Fender’s practice of branding products in an effort to appeal to aspiring students goes back to the very early days of the 1940s with the Princeton lap steel and guitar amp. And in the mid-’50s, following the groundbreaking success of the pro-level Telecaster and Stratocaster models, the firm turned its attention towards producing solidbody electric guitars for students.

Appearing in the 1956 catalogue alongside the Harvard amp, the single-pickup Musicmaster was partnered with the dual-pickup Duo-Sonic. Advertised “for adults and young musicians with small hands”, both were touted as “¾ size” and featured a short 22.5-inch scale length (Strats, Teles and Jazzmasters have a full 25.5-inch scale).

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Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.