Certainly, refinished guitars aren't exclusive to the Musicmaster or Duo-Sonic. Because they were available in so few colors, MM/DS refins are usually easier to spot, and perhaps because they were (are) so low-regarded, there seem to be more folks eager to "practice" refinishing on them. This page is divided into 3 sections: correct, custom, and natural refins. (Refinished guitars with other mods are listed in the other mods galleries.) While the line between "correct" and "custom" refins might not always be clear, for the purposes of this webpage, "correct" will be defined as anything that matches known colors offered for the MM/DS for that year, and "custom" will refer to other colors.
"Natural" refins offer insight into what types of wood were used for bodies. Fender usually saved ash for semi-transparent "blonde" Teles, etc., because ash tended to have more of a figure than alder. The least desirable wood for bodies (i.e., wood with knots, made of 3 pieces of scrap, etc.) went to solid-color guitars. Student guitars were usually stuck with "plain"-looking alder (late '50s, early '60s) and yellow poplar with dark streaks (mid-'60s to early '70s), but there are plenty of exceptions. For example, a small number of Fenders were made with mahogany bodies and see-thru red finishes ca. '63-'64. The "mahogany red" finish was also offered on guitars with other body woods before it was discontinued. Not many were made because the finish didn't stick very well. Finally, several late-'70s Musicmasters had ash bodies.
- '59 Musicmaster
"I re-finished it using Re-Ranch Desert Sand Nitro which they say was blended from his original '59 Musicmaster. The neck had some heavy craters from years of string bending and a few chunks out of the side of the fret board, but I repaired them with tinted epoxy and you can barely see the repairs. Unfortunately the original pickup and pots were long gone, but it now has a Seymour Duncan Antiquity pickup."
Owned by Denis McGuinness
- '63 Musicmaster, nicely refinished in Olympic White
"The body has been restored to its original olympic white and the tuners replaced with original style Klusons. Apart from that and two control knobs it is original, just cleaned up. The neck date is December 63."
Owned by Phil Clay
- '65 Mustang, dead-perfect white refinish
I had the opportunity to see this guitar in person in the late 1990s: the finish was a nice white/cream color, with a surface like glass. They couldn't prove it was a refin, but it was "too perfect" not to be one, so it was priced accordingly.
Source: Rod & Hank's Guitars (Memphis, TN)
- Case study: '67 Duo-Sonic II, refinished in a glossy white/cream (SN 194210):
front | body, front | back | headstock
- '58 red Musicmaster, collage
- '58 Musicmaster, in very light blue
Is this really a refin? Collector Dale Harley told me that Fender made these guitars in "girls colors" (pink, sky blue, seafoam green, and pale yellow) ca. '59-'61, as part of Fender's effort at marketing towards young women. However, I have not seen any confirmed examples of original finishes in these colors.
- Case study: '59 Duo-Sonic in Seafoam Green or a blue finish that's "greened" with age (SN 38xxx):
front | body | bridge | headstock | headstock, back | in case
Paint wear: body, treble side contours | body, treble side front | body, treble side back | neck, back
Again, is this really a refin? "Last year I got a call from a friend asking if I knew how much his dad's old guitars were worth. I asked him to send me photos and it turned out to be a well-worn Duo-Sonic that was used as a teaching instrument for his dad's time as a private music tutor. I got to see it in person and I believe it's a transition '59 in either Seafoam Green or Sky Blue that has gone greener with age." As shown in the paint wear photos, Dan reports "The undercoat is definitely silver/gray. I was looking for tan or desert [sand] under there and did not see it," and I agree. A silver undercoat might be expected under a Lake Placid Blue finish, but unfortunately there are no photos available of underneath the pickguard (which would show the original finish with less yellowing of the final nitrocellulose lacquer clearcoat as well as nail holes used for drying) or in the neck pocket. Like the guy from the X Files, "I want to believe" this is an original finish. However, I've never owned a vintage Fender with an original body finish, and based on the photos available, both Fender experts that I consulted doubted it was original.
Found by Dan Amrich; photos by Katrin Auch
- '59 Musicmaster, in "sherwood green":
front, in case | front | back | body, front | headstock
- '60 Musicmaster, in Dark Green Meta (with matching headstock!)
"2-piece alder (basswood?) body; 60-10 neck date. Original pickguard shrunk, reproduced as a Jaguar like Mac OS X."
Owned by Takayoshi
- '60 Duo-Sonic, in a teal blue
- Case study: '61 Duo-Sonic, in a dark brown:
front | body, front | body, even closer | body, back
headstock, front | headstock, back | neck, back
electronics | back of pickups | back of 'guard | body, minus 'guard
- '62 Duo-Sonic, in black with a flame job, plus Rob Zombie's signature on the 'guard!
- '61 or '63 Duo-Sonic, nicely refinished in a blue sparkle (SN 67402?):
front | body, front | front, in case | wiring harness
headstock | highly corroded original(?) neck plate
Pots stamped 304-6315. This guitar looks exactly like the early '60s sparkle blue Duo-Sonic that appeared on eBay a few years prior!
- Case study: '66 Duo-Sonic, professionally refinished in Candy Apple Red:
The neck code (16 MAR 66 B) suggests it was originally meant to be a Mustang neck, but the neck does not look refinished. Note the thin, curved "veneer" fingerboard.
front | pickup routs (with shielding plates) | neck rout (with period-correct "stick" shadow)
electronics | back of pickups and switches
headstock, front | headstock, back | bottom of neck end | butt of neck
- '78 Musicmaster, with a cool blue flame job!
- '56 Musicmaster (SN 10592): front | back
Body is made of ash/alder/ash (alder center with ash "wings" glued on); neck code of XA-6-56. One of the first MMs made?
- Case study: '56 Musicmaster (SN 16901), with alder(?) body
front | body, back | headstock | headstock, back | heel
- '56 Musicmaster, alder(?) body with a big knot
Source: Gruhn Guitars
- Case study: '58 Duo-Sonic, with ash body
front | front, from bottom | back | in case, from bottom | in case, from side
- '58 Musicmaster, with alder(?) body:
front | body, front | back | headstock | decal
Other specs: "low serial number preceded by a hyphen," early '58 neck date
- '60 Duo-Sonic:
front | body, front | repaired headstock | headstock, back
"There's actually NO finish on the guitar right now. What you see is the bare wood. ... The neck, tuners, body and bridge and pickup selector switch are all, to the best of my knowledge, original to the guitar. The original neck pickup had some continuity issues, so I replaced that with a Fender Vintage Noiseless which, I have to say, I'm pretty impressed with. The bridge position pickup is a Duo Sonic/Musicmaster pickup dated 9/30/66 and initialed "AY," which may indicate that it was wound by Abigail Ybarra. I don't know whether that is authentic or not but I do know the pickup has AMAZING tone. A previous owner routed the bridge position to accomodate a humbucker, thus the original pickguard is trash. I have a replacement pickguard installed and may invest in a vintage pickguard at some point. I purchased the pickup covers on E-Bay and are reputed to be from 1963-1964. The pots are replacements as the originals were pretty sketchy."
Owned by Will Adams
- '60 Duo-Sonic, with alder body:
front | back | body, close-up
- '60 Duo-Sonic, with alder body (SN 48676):
front, in case | front | back | headstock | neckplate (SN on lower edge)
- Case study: '60 Duo-Sonic (SN 51803):
This was advertised as a '64, but the serial number (located on the lower end of the neckplate) suggests otherwise. The body appears to be made of ash.
front, in case | body, front | body, back
heel/back of neck | headstock, back | headstock, front
- Case study: '60 Duo-Sonic, with alder(?) body (SN 56209):
front, in case | body, front | heel | headstock | back of neck
Source: eBay (MosriteGuitars)
- '63 Duo-Sonic, with alder body
- '64 Musicmaster, with mahogany body
- '64 Duo-Sonic , with body made of ??? (but very nicely refinished; SN L28772):
lying in case | body, front | heel | headstock, front
- '64 Musicmaster II, with alder body
- '65 Duo-Sonic II, with yellow poplar body
This one was said to be stamped "demo" on the back of the headstock(?).
- '66 Musicmaster II, natural refinish
Owned by Randy Carlisle
- '70 Music Master (collage), with a yellow poplar body
- '77 or '78 Musicmaster, with an ash body (SN S809926):
front | back | headstock
- '78 Musicmaster, with an ash body (SN S811679):
body, front | front, in case | headstock | neckplate
- '78 Musicmaster, with a nicely figured ash body:
front | body | back