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November 28, 2011

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Welcome to This site was created to share, and expand my interest in collecting, assembling, and playing early original vintage short scale Fender guitars, and to help other collectors and players with this same interest. The majority of the Fender guitars and Fender guitar parts I have on this site, along with photos and technical information, pertain mainly to guitars manufactured from 1956 through 1966. My favorite Fender guitars to collect and play were built during this time period. They are the short scale Fender Musicmaster, Fender Duo-Sonic,  and Fender Mustang. My main objective, is to keep the guitar, especially a clean example, as original as possible. Having all the footprints (paint patches) from neck plate to body, neck to body pocket, pickguard to body, bridge plate to body, and some times even the neck finish to the body pocket, are all good indicators of an original condition guitar, and for me, adds to the value and collectibility of the guitar. The original factory fit between neck and body on an original condition guitar is usually flawless between the years 1956 though the early 1960’s. Even with a player guitar, it is beneficial to keep it as close to original, if just to try and retain the original fit between parts. Fortunately, if the guitar does need a repair or a replacement part, the construction method of a Fender solid body guitar, allows the owner to repair or replace a majority of the parts that makes the guitar. This includes the neck, body, pickups, pickguard, electronics, tuners, knobs, neck plate, various screws and other small hardware, which are usually interchangeable between the short scale model in the same year, sometimes for a number of different years. Neck plate’s, electronics, knobs, strap buttons, various screws, and other small hardware, can also interchange with Fender’s full scale models (Stratocaster, Telecaster, Jazzmaster, Bass, etc.) for the same year and some parts for a number of different years. The need to stay within the model year or version when replacing a part on a collector model, is critical to me. For putting together a bang around player, I can follow a different guideline.
At this time, I seem to enjoy playing the early short scales the most, particularly the mid 1956 through mid 1958 Musicmaster/Duo-Sonic. The mid 1956 through mid 1958 Musicmaster/Duo-Sonic model has a one-piece maple neck, with a walnut truss rod seam and plug, a 22 1/2” scale, a width of 1 5/8” at the nut, and a V profile. The V profile of the neck, I find can also vary slightly from one guitar to another in the same year, some sharp, some soft. The only body wood I have ever found used, was “knotty alder” (although a small amount of “first run” early 1956 body’s were made from ash). The alder body, is usually a two or three piece body, with off center seams, sometimes containing small knots, which were probably cast off pieces from the full scale models. This early period version, from 1956 through mid 1959, has a lacquer finished in “Desert Sand” (with no clear-coat), one or two pickups with white covers (the bodies from 1956 through 1966 are all routed for two pickups), and a gold anodized finished aluminum pickguard. 

The mid 1959 through early 1962 “Tan” finished Musicmaster/Duo-Sonic, with a slab rosewood fretboard/maple 22 1/2” scale neck, is also a favorite for me to play. They were now able to come with a very thin oval profile neck, due to the additional strength provided by the rosewood slab. On some of the early rosewood necks, there is some nice figuring in the maple and in the rosewood. The early rosewood necks were probably using Brazilian Rosewood, before switching to the less expensive though less impressive Indian Rosewood. The combination of the thinner profile, with the continuation of the width of the neck being narrowed to 1 1/2” at the nut (started in mid 1958), made for an easy full grasp on the new necks. This period has a lacquer finish, labeled by Fender as just “Tan”, on an alder body, with brown pickup covers, and a cream plastic/metal shielding pickguard. 

The version following the “Tan” models, was the Musicmaster/Duo-Sonic officially known as “Shaded Sunburst”, also know as the “Maroonburst”, starting around the Fall of 1961 and running into 1963. For this period, the majority of the maple necks were now made with a veneer rosewood fretboard (with an occasional slab rosewood board), and now formed to more of a thicker C shape for the neck profile. The “Maroonburst” was fitted with a stark white plastic/metal shielding pickguard, with brown pickup covers.

1963, in my opinion, brought a few of the prettiest Musicmaster/Duo-Sonics ever made. A “White” finish Musicmaster/Duo-Sonic version, with a multi-layered tortoise shell nitrocellulose pickguard and white pickup covers, was introduced around the spring of 1963. Made around the same period, but in lesser numbers, was a “White” finish Mm/Duo version, with a brown pickguard and white pickup covers. And then there was the Red Mahogany Mm/Duo, with the stark white pickguard and black pickup covers. This style originally came with a one piece mahogany body, and a red see-through type finish, that seemed to check badly and have a hard time staying on the mahogany body. I had thought at one time, that there might have been mahogany bodies finished in white, judging from the neck pocket’s exposed wood color. But I now believe they are probably just darker or red-ish  pieces of alder, without any evidence of the pitted grain of mahogany. The one piece Red Mahogany version eventually was produced with a multi-piece mahogany body, and then with the standard alder wood body, before being phased out in 1964. The Red Mahogany version, was probably the least produced of the styles during this period. 

The Musicmaster/Duo-Sonic II started in mid 1964, with a totally different look and feel. The neck for both models, was made of maple, a rosewood  fretboard, and a the 22 fret 24” scale, or the shorter 21 fret 22 1/2” scale. The B width neck (1 5/8” at the nut), only came in the 24” scale size, while the A width neck (1 1/2” at the nut), could come in either scale size. The two neck sizes, came with the proper layout of fret spacing in relation to the neck length, so that either neck had the ability to mount up with a Mm/Duo body and also be capable of proper intonation.

Another short scale I enjoy, is the 1964 Mustang with a A (1 1/2””) width neck. The 1964 Mustang is basically a 1964 Duo-Sonic, but has the extra benefit of a “Dynamic Tremolo”. They both have two sliding pickup switches with the ability to place each of its two pickups to an “on, off, parallel, or out of phase position, for a variety of different sounds and tones (the Duo-Sonic of 1964 through 1966 used the same electronics as the Mustang). The 1964 Mustang body, was usually a multi-piece poplar body. The  maple neck, had a rosewood  fretboard, and a choice of the 22 fret 24” scale, or the shorter 21 fret 22 1/2” scale. The B width neck (1 5/8” at the nut), only came in the 24” scale size, while the A width neck (1 1/2” at the nut), could come in either scale size.

The fit,  design, engineering, quality of the materials used, and the production line quality control, for guitars that were mass-produced in enormous quantities during this ten year span, was nothing short of amazing. The fact that a vast amount of these guitars from that time period, have been abused and beat to hell, left in attics or basements to wide swings in temperature and moisture, and can still be strung up and hold a tuning, is a testament to the strength and durability of the early short scale Fender’s. Sometimes, the abused make the best players. A neglected 1956-1966 Fender short scale can have a weathered look and feel, but if the frets have some good meat left, the electronics operate cleanly, and the fit between the parts is tight and set up properly, it plays beautiful. And it can make a great player you’re unafraid to play hard, travel with, or let other people play. Things I wouldn’t want to do with a pristine collectable.     

Some hardware, various plastic parts and electronics, can change in style and dimension from year to year, sometimes dramatically obvious, other times by just a fraction of an inch. To keep your Fender original, and to have the tightest fit between the pieces, I recommend staying within the model year or within the years noted in my description of when the item was used for that particular model. Forcing or using a wrong year tuner ferrule, neck screw, or pickguard screw, might not only decrease the value of your vintage Fender, but may also lead to problems of fit and appearance. Some parts are interchangeable  between other Fender models, including the Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Fender Jazzmaster, Fender Jaguar, Fender Precision Bass, and the Fender Jazz Bass from the same year or years that the style was manufactured. Most of the smaller hardware that Fender used from 1956 through 1966, such as pickguard screws, tuner screws, tuner ferrules, strap buttons and their mounting screws, neck plate’s, neck plate screws, string tree’s, plug jack, cloth covered pickup and control wire, and pickup rubber bushings or springs, are   interchangeable and compatible between all Fender models made during the same production year, and frequently for a number of years. On the Telecaster, all the above parts plus bridge saddles and their adjusting screws(1956 to mid 1964), control knobs, string tree’s and their adjusting screw’s, volume and tone controls with their jack, and some tone control caps, are also all interchangeable and compatible with the same part on a Fender Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic made in the same production year. All of the Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic parts from 1956 through 1966, are all interchangeable and compatible between themselves, in the same production year, and frequently for a number of years. (For instance, a pre mid 1964 Musicmaster, can become a Duo-Sonic in a matter of minutes, with a neck and loaded pickguard change.) Provided on this site, I will also point out through the use of photos or dimensions, the differences between the years of various parts that I know of. Over the years of my collecting, I’m constantly amazed of the amount of items for sale or auction, that are misrepresented in year or model, or that are outright fakes being sold as legitimate Fender vintage parts. When you know that a piece is supposed to look or measure a certain size, or contain a particular marking that is identifiable to authenticate the originality of the part, your chance of making a mistake in a purchase is greatly reduced. If you ever have a question about a specific short scale Fender hardware part made between 1956 through 1966, or crossover uses of various parts between other Fender models of those years, just ask. I would be happy to try and answer your question.
If you have a specific part that you need, or any questions or comments about model year specs, just email me, I might be able to help.
Some items on are available for purchase. All photos, unless noted otherwise, are property of and are not to be used without permission. 

1958 (2-58) Fender Musicmaster (“Desert Sand”) with case (changed tuners)

Fender Issued 1957 Duo-Sonic Information Sheet

1956 (XA-8-56) Duo-Sonic “Desert Sand”

1960 (11-60) Fender Duo-Sonic (“Tan”) with case

1956 (10-56) Musicmaster “Desert Sand”