Musicmaster/Duo-Sonic Gallery

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Third version (1964-1968)

American music: '64 MM (red), '65 Duo (white), and a '66 MM (blue). (c/o T. Pershing)

     In August 1964, Fender premiered the Mustang, its first student guitar with a vibrato arm tailpiece. The basic design of the Musicmaster/Duo-Sonic was substantially revised to match the new Mustang, and these versions were rechristened as the Duo-Sonic II and the Musicmaster II. The body was now slightly offset; the size of the headstock (previously identical to the Strat) increased slightly, and the pickguard came in two pieces: a plastic guard holding the pickup(s), and a smaller metal one holding the potentiometers and output jack. The Duo-Sonic II was virtually identical to the Mustang save for its fixed tailpiece (which probably contributed to its demise ca. 1968). The majority of these late-'64 student model guitars seem to have "A" (narrow) width fingerboards at the nut. During this time period, all three models were offered in your choice of 22.5" (so-called 3/4 scale) and 24" (full-size) scale length necks [pic c/o T. Pershing]. Mr. Pershing's image also illustrates that contrary to popular belief, the "II" designation is NOT exclusive to the 24" scale length.

     Like all other Fender guitars, the new student models first featured thin "veneer" rosewood fingerboards. However, a number of 24" scale student guitars with "slab" rosewood fingerboards were made from late '65 to early '66. Many Fender collectors had speculated that these guitars used leftover necks from '62 Jaguars (then-current Jaguars had "veneer" necks). The difference is most obvious at the butt end of the neck. [examples: my '65 MM2's "slab board" neck | '67 DS2 neck with "veneer board" (source: unknown)] However, recent evidence from Fender enthusiast Bernardo Cocco suggests they were not leftover Jaguar necks at all. Mr. Cocco compared the slab boards on his '65 Musicmaster II and on his '61 Musicmaster with those on '62 Jaguars, and found his '65 MM II to have a noticeably thinner "slab" (it does not touch the truss rod cavity, unlike his '61 Musicmaster, '62 Jaguars, or this '62 Duo-Sonic). In his book ["Fender: The Inside Story," Miller-Freeman (1994); p. 155], then-Fender plant manager Forrest White describes how they were able to increase their "3/4-size" guitar production almost overnight at the end of summer 1965. Based on this information, the slab 'board student necks were probably a means to achieve that rapid increase in production. As Mr. Cocco notes, "slab boards were somewhat cheaper to make as they required one manufacturing step less: Fender did not have to 'carve' the bottom side of the board as in the regular rosewood veneer (non-slab) boards." It was much faster to make slab-board necks as well.

     The sale of Fender to CBS became official the first week of 1965. So-called "transitional" features found in Fender guitars in general leading up to the sale (such as the "transitional" Fender headstock logo, in gold script with a black background) also appear on Musicmaster IIs and Duo-Sonic IIs. In 1965 the headstock on the 24" scale necks changed again, becoming larger and more exaggerated, and once again looked the same as the Strat. [examples: '67 Musicmaster II and Duo-Sonic II headstocks (sources: unknown)] Finally, all student guitars were offered in red, white, and blue finishes, which (according to an article on Fender's short-scale basses in Vintage Guitar, April 1995) were identical to the previous Dakota Red, Olympic White, and Daphne Blue finishes, respectively. I've seen pictures of a few examples of black finishes near the beginning of this period, but I doubt that they were original. Overall, there is a definite perception that quality level declined as production increased in the mid- to late-1960s, but they're still some pretty cool guitars.


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Above: mid-'60s Fender promo photo (go team!) | Below: 1966 Fender postcard
Source: eBay


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