Are Fender Mustangs Worth the Price? Yes They Are!

Fender guitars are music industry titans. For decades, their distinct form and sound have set the bar for guitars. That said, Fender Mustangs are in a class of their own with their distinct design and tone.

Fender Mustangs sound different than the super-popular Fender Jaguars, Stratocasters and Telecasters. However, Mustangs have their own upsides that cause musicians to flock to them.

To understand the specialty of the Mustang, we must go back in time. In the 1940s, Fender began creating “Woodie” amps in California. These amps, consisting of wooden cabinets, provided players with a distinct and booming sound that paved the way for amps and electric guitar sounds.

The Fender Mustang rose to prominence in the 1960s. Fender originally designed the guitar to complement their “student” line, which was designed to assist store owners in teaching new players how to play guitar.

Fender distinguished itself from other musical instrument producers at the time by designing instruments with the working American in mind. It was a blue-collar guitar with substantially lower costs than the market’s pricier offerings. Fender wanted musicians of all backgrounds to play its guitars, and the lower costs made that attainable.

Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang HH Short Scale Beginner Electric Guitar

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The original Mustang featured a medium scale of 24 inches, 22 frets, and a twin pickup. In addition, the guitar included a vibrato mechanism allowing a wide range of pitch adjustments and sounds. Today’s Mustang is quite similar to its original electric guitar form.

While Fender initially intended to make an inexpensive student guitar, the Mustang eventually took on its own life in the music business. The instrument gained popularity in the 1990s when grunge bands favored the Fender Mustang and numerous independent rock and country performers followed suit throughout the decade.

Best Fender Mustang Guitars

The sturdy-bodied Fender Mustang electric guitar debuted in 1964 and was manufactured until 1982. It was reintroduced in 1990, where it soon gained cult status owing to its employment by various alternative music bands, most notably the grunge band Nirvana with frontman Kurt Cobain.

The Mustang has two single-coil pickups, an innovative pickup switching mechanism, and a one-of-a-kind vibrato system. It was first offered in two scale lengths: 24 and 22.5 inches.

Let’s explore the most common types of Fender Mustang guitars.

Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang HH Short Scale Beginner Electric Guitar – Blue

The Squier Bullet Mustang is undoubtedly one of the best electric guitars for anybody wishing to get started on the right foot. Despite being geared for novices, it is capable of producing refined tones and provides a pleasant, simple playing experience. Squier is well-known for producing excellent electrics on a budget, and the Bullet Mustang is no exception. Squier, Fender’s more affordable brand, has produced some of the greatest beginner electric guitars available.

Squier offers numerous distinct ranges, with the ‘Bullet’ being the entry-level option. Coming in on the ground floor with a Squier guitar is a good move, with some amazing build quality and a value-for-money show. If you’re looking for a great place to start with an electric guitar and have smaller hands, the Squier Bullet Mustang might be the one for you.

The Bullet looks the part right out of the box. It comes in Imperial Blue, Sonic Gray or a regular Black gloss finish. The Imperial Blue model under testing is certainly eye-catching. The finish is bold, even and almost faultless for a guitar that costs much less than $200. In addition, it appears ready for combat when paired with the white pickguard and two Squier humbuckers.

The Bullet is an excellent piece of gear for the price. It looks, sounds, feels and plays great — everything a novice electric guitar should accomplish. Yes, it does have the appearance of a low-cost instrument in certain places, but with a target audience of youngsters, novices and people on a tight budget, the good exceeds the bad.

Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang HH Short Scale Beginner Electric Guitar - Blue

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Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60’s Mustang Electric Guitar – Laurel – Sonic Blue

The Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster is incredibly well-made for its price. Externally, it’s a stunning instrument. Unfortunately, the fret edges of the Classic Vibe guitars are quite harsh, probably the most noticeable fault on Squier Affinity Series guitars.

Whether you like a modern or thinner neck, one thing is certain: these necks are gorgeous! In addition, Squier upgraded the neck finish with a light layer of poly that makes it feel nice without feeling sticky.

The neck finish is an obvious improvement from the Affinity series range. In terms of how comfortable the neck feels in hand and the quality, you can compare them to the pre-Player series Fender Stratocasters built in Mexico.

The Classic Vibes differ from the cheaper Squier models by using high-quality pickups. While the pickups are satisfactory, it’s advised to modify your guitars using Emerson Pro Pots. They’re long-lasting, feel wonderful and are a clear improvement over the onboard controls on the Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster. They function perfectly, and most people will probably choose not to alter anything until it fails. The switch works, but may be a bit stiff.

Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60's Mustang Electric Guitar - Laurel - Sonic Blue

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Fender Mustang Bass – PJ – Maple Fingerboard – Sienna Sunburst

There is no denying that short-scale basses are popular. This guitar’s unusual harmonic response, rubber-band feel and simple playing are all the rage.

Fender released the Mustang bass in 1964. Although it never achieved the fame of its genre-defining Precision and Jazz brethren, it always had a devoted following. Recognizing the emerging short-scale trend and having a renowned short-scale in its historic arsenal, Fender wisely opted to modernize and relaunch the Mustang to a new generation of players.

While some short scales seem to be overlooked in terms of components and overall attention to detail, Fender adopted a different approach with its new Mustang. As a result, it’s a serious instrument with the hardware and fit-and-finish that any pro-level bass should have.

Unlike the original, which had a single P-like split-coil pickup, the new Mustang has full-size P and J pickups and a three-position switch with volume and tone controls. Other strong elements include an etched neck plate, a Pau Ferro fingerboard, and a four-saddle hardtail bridge for fine intonation and excellent, resonant transmission into the body.

The bass sounds amazing, and including a J pickup in the bridge position significantly increases sonic versatility. It lacks the harmonic color of a full-scale bass, which adds to its glamor with the neck pickup chant, the tester could easily go from dark and dubby to throaty and midrange-y, with the J preferred.

The tone is full and thick, with both pickups engaged, but with a strange hollowness in the low mids. That’s a familiar aspect of the short-scale sound. It’s also an excellent bass to experiment with because of its diminished harmonic vitality, which allows it to produce highly low tones.

If you are confused about whether or not to add a short-scale to your arsenal, the Mustang PJ should be sufficient to convince you. It is not a one-trick pony, and its distinct acoustic identity would complement any collection of more traditional instruments. 

Fender Mustang Bass - PJ - Maple Fingerboard - Sienna Sunburst

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Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60’s Mustang Bass – Laurel – Olympic White

The Squier Classic Vibe line maintains the authenticity of original Fender designs in a various “best hits” collection that are beautiful, have an excellent sound, simple to play, and are difficult to put down.

All Classic Vibe models are inspired by old examples of Fender staples and include Fender-designed pickups, period-correct colors and headstock marks, a vintage-tinted gloss neck finish, and nickel-plated hardware.

This instrument has a slender “C”-shaped neck profile for a pleasant playing feel. In addition, this model’s neck has a vintage-tint gloss finish for a nice aged appearance. Although small, the Classic Vibe ’60s Mustang Bass delivers a powerful punch of great tone thanks to the Fender-designed alnico split-coil pickup. In addition, the short 30″ scale length and slender, efficient “C”-shaped neck profile (with an easy-playing 9.5″-radius fingerboard), and narrow-tall frets are ideal for little hands.

This retro-inspired Squier model also has 1960s-inspired headstock insignia, rich nickel-plated hardware and a smooth vintage-tint gloss neck finish for a vintage feel. The case is offered separately. 

For true Fender tone, this model has a Fender-designed alnico split-coil pickup. The slotted barrel saddles on this bass bridge provide excellent string stability and a period-correct design.

These vintage-style tuning devices have a classic appearance and deliver rock-solid tuning stability and smooth movement. In addition, the instrument’s robust nickel-plated hardware offers a deep, rich vintage aesthetic.

Squier by Fender Classic Vibe 60's Mustang Bass - Laurel - Olympic White

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Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang – HH – Laurel Fingerboard – Sonic Gray 

It was popular among alternative bands and players, such as Kurt Cobain, in the 1990s due to its small size, low cost, and modding possibilities. Now that we are in the 2020s, and the style has been upgraded, is there still any interest in a Mustang, Sally?

Squier believes so, as shown by this new low-cost, HH-configured Bullet Mustang.

This nice small guitar comes in black or imperial blue with a metallic finish. Like Squier’s other entry-level models, the Bullet Mustang has a basswood body that gives it a wonderfully slender, lightweight feel. However, if you’re accustomed to the muscular heaviness of a Les Paul, the Mustang’s 24-inch scale length might make it seem almost toy-like when you first take it up.

One intriguing idea is that this instrument may be used as a basis for modification. It’s simple to see how those with a DIY bent might upgrade the pickups, switch out the tuners, or practice the setup and maintenance abilities without risking or destroying a more costly instrument. 

Squier by Fender Bullet Mustang - HH - Laurel Fingerboard - Sonic Gray 

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Fender 311220506 Squier by Bullet Mustang Electric Guitar – HH – Rosewood Fingerboard – Black

The Bullet Mustang HH is ideal for the loud sound of indie music, and also a lot of fun to play. It has a comfortable “C”-shaped neck with a contemporary 12″-radius fingerboard, a modern six-saddle hardtail bridge, and is powered by a pair of massive-sounding humbucking pickups. This tonal powerhouse that punches well beyond its weight is the right instrument to propel your next smash.

 It gets delivered quickly and in excellent condition, and it is fantastic. It required small adjustments out of the box (saddle screws and string height) but performs wonderfully. The humbuckers sound fantastic and are quite light. The blue shine is gorgeous, and there is nothing negative to say about the instrument.

It is an excellent guitar for the price. The bodywork looked stunning and the neck was smooth and free of the harsh fret ends, but the two of the bridge saddles may need modification.

The hardware was acceptable. The tuners look good and tune nicely. The knobs and selector also function well. The pickup sound is amazing in all settings. With a little amplification, you get a nice heavy rock guitar with a lot of sustain.

The body is light and slender, shaped like a Strat, with a chamfered front edge and a sculptured rear. With a 1968 Strat headstock, the neck is smooth and highly playable, similar to that found on the more costly Squier Strat.

Fender 311220506 Squier by Bullet Mustang Electric Guitar - HH - Rosewood Fingerboard - Black

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Fender Mustang – Maple Fingerboard – Sonic Blue

With a rich history extending back to 1946, Fender has influenced and revolutionized music in the genres of rock ‘n’ roll, country & western, jazz, rhythm & blues, and many others. Fender instruments and amps have been utilized by novices, amateurs and the world’s most recognized musicians and performers, making the brand a respected music industry name and a cultural icon.

Fender’s goal is to continue supporting THE SPIRIT OF ROCK-N-ROLL globally, with a desire to surpass the expectations of music fans everywhere.

For almost 60 years the music industry’s legendary performers have been using the Mustang guitar to bring the Fender sound and flair to stage and studio. The new Mustang, upgraded with performance-oriented features, combines traditional design with current technology in an ultra-comfortable short-scale size that’s simple to play all night.

This Mustang is the ideal size but makes a mean sound. The bridge pickup has that old-school country/rockabilly twang, while the neck pickup offers a deep sound that is great for blues and rock. It’s quite light, and the maple neck makes it a breeze to play. The sonic blue is really lovely — an immediate classic. 

Fender Mustang - Maple Fingerboard - Sonic Blue



Characteristics To Look For When Buying A Guitar?

The first consideration is construction quality.

When evaluating a new six-string, every part of the instrument is extensively inspected to ensure it feels solid. If it’s a bolt-on design, like a Strat or Tele, the neck connection is checked to verify it’s tight and free of gaps.

Next, check if the machine heads are responsive, the volume and tone controls are smooth, and the pickups are in good working order.

The overall polish of the instrument is the next thing to evaluate. Are there any finishing flaws, and is the instrument polished to a good quality for its price?

The next consideration is playability. Again, you can look at how well the guitar performs right out of the box. The grip comfortability of the neck is the most interesting part. Still, people are also interested in whether there are any sharp frets, tall frets, or intonation concerns and whether the instrument requires multiple setups.

Finally, consider the instrument’s tone. This is somewhat subjective, but it’s important to know whether the instrument lives up to the manufacturer’s promises and is suited for its purpose.

For example, if a guitar is meant for heavy metal, does it offer the bone-crushing tone you’d anticipate, or does it fall flat? That being said, you can evaluate guitars in various genres to see what they can accomplish – you never know that EMG-loaded Flying V could have a wonderful blues tone buried within.

Final Thoughts

Finding the greatest electric guitar is tough but also a thrilling hunt.

That word “best” means different things to different people. Music being largely a subjective pursuit, makes that hunt for the “best” — as well as the process of putting together this guide — a difficult endeavor.

For some players, the greatest electric guitar is something basic and useful. Others look for a gorgeous paint job and an instrument equipped with all the newest technology.

Guitars are very personal items, and for that reason the purchaser/musician must be the one to determine what they need and then search for the instrument that best suits those needs.


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