Saturday, December 12, 2015

New Guitar Day: 1966 Fender Mustang!

Meet the newest member of our family! This is actually a bit belated - I bought this and then immediately jetted off to Japan, and I've just been swamped ever since. But I can't not write about it.

This is my first vintage Fender - a 1966 Mustang:

All original except for the missing tremolo bar (I've since replaced it with a modern one) and input jack. The previous owner kept that in a little baggie so I at least still have it. The tremolo did at least still have its original set screw, so all I needed to do was plug in a new trem bar and lock it in.

This guitar has been well used but not abused - exactly what you want to see in a vintage guitar. The seller was selling it for her son, who she said is a big Mustang fan and owns a bunch more. He obviously loved this one - it's been played a lot and has great wear but it's been taken well care of.

Just look at that freakin' finish checking. This thing has it throughout the entire guitar. It's amazing!

I've honestly never seen such perfect checking.

I know how checking in general happens (expansion and contraction of the wood) but I've never really understood how this particular pattern happens to the backs of headstocks. This isn't uncommon, but it's always weird! Nature is not supposed to move at 90 degree angles like that.

The decal is still in pretty much factory shape. I know some don't mind worn decals, but I really like it when they're well preserved.

The neck, fretboard and frets are in great playing condition. The frets are a bit low but still feel fine. I polished them up and they're like mirrors now. No divots, no roughness. This thing is like butter.

One thing I never realized is how subtle vintage pearloid is. I've got a modern Jazz Bass with a pearloid pickguard (oops, never did do a New Bass Day post for that one) and it's got a lot more contrast. Of course it's whiter too. The light is affecting these photos a little bit, but this pickguard definitely is a bit yellower than it probably was when new. It's also shrunk a tiny bit, but there's no cracking or warping.

It's a little hard to see in these photos but this guard is also quite thick, and it's got this amazing hand cut look to it. I don't know how they actually cut these in 1966, but it's got a slight roughness to the edge, and curves that aren't entirely precise. But that gives it a little more of an organic look to me. It's not a computer-guided, laser-cut piece of plastic like modern pickguards (probably) are.

One part that's basically at the end of its useful life: the nut. The slots have been dug in over the years and are way too low. I could fill them and recut, but I'd rather not do that to a vintage nut - I actually replaced this already. (Don't worry, I kept the original one and threw it in the case for safekeeping.) I'll probably do a separate post about that.

The pickups were also a little spotty when I got it - the neck basically didn't work at all unless I pressed and held the switch really hard. A little Deoxit 5 cleaned that right up, though. They work perfectly now.

Case is in beautiful shape too - looks just like how you want a 1966 case to look! Latches still work. No keys, though. If I ever took this guitar out to play, I'd probably buy a cheap modern case to do it with. These cases don't provide a hell of a lot of protection to begin with, and the guitar flops around a bit inside.

When I started looking for one of these, I actually wanted a Competition Mustang - after owning my SCANDAL Tomomi Bluetus bass, I've decided I need more competition stripes in my life. But CompStangs in the color I'm smitten with (orange with matching headstock) are quite rare and therefore expensive. I'm still on the lookout for a reissue Beck Mustang from Japan, which are virtually identical to the original orange CompStangs. I've got the vintage angle covered already, so I don't mind a reissue CompStang. I just need those stripes - they make the guitar go faster.

Nice thing about buying an original Mustang: it weighs 6.6 lbs! I can throw it around like it's nothing. That was kinda the point of these in the beginning, but I've seen later iterations (even from the late 60's and 70's) that weigh 7 or even more than 8 lbs. I've read that if you want yours light, your best chance is with one of the first iteration: that means plain red, white or blue.

I'm sure I'll be posting more about this thing in the future as I work on it. Soon: nuts!

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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