Old School: 1967 Fender Mustang Bass
Bassist John Flynn shares his 1967 Fender Mustang bass with us, along with the story behind it.
Fender offers up the background on the history of the bass on their website:
Mustang Bass (1966-1981, 2002-). The first truly successful Fender bass that didn’t say “Precision” or “Jazz” on the headstock was 1966’s Mustang Bass. Leo Fender began development of the instrument in 1964 as the final element in a complete range of student instruments; indeed, it was the last Fender bass guitar designed by Leo himself. Based on that year’s highly successful Mustang guitar, the Mustang Bass was a split-pickup, short-scale (30?) student model that also found favor with pros including Bill Wyman, Trevor Bolder (Spiders from Mars), John Deacon, Colin Moulding (XTC), Fred Smith (Television) and Tina Weymouth. Discontinued in 1981, the Mustang Bass was resurrected in 2002 and remains in the line today…
Here’s John’s story about his own 1967 Fender Mustang bass.
How long have you owned it?
About 5 years.
How did you come across it?
A friend of mine had this bass sitting around in his basement. He was forming a band (I was about 13 at the time), and needed a bassist, so I started learning bass on it. I later found out that his uncle was actually the original owner of the bass, and despite knowing how much it was worth, he gave it to me. I was honored.
Stock or customized?
The only thing I’ve changed are the strings. All of the paint and electronics are original, and in working condition.
Any special characteristics?
It’s not actually all that special, but the thumb rest is on the opposite side of the body, by the knobs, which seemed to allow more thumb-oriented playing. I’ve never really used it that way though.
What’s your favorite story about the gear?
Just the fact that my friend’s uncle had given it to me meant a lot. He knew how much it was worth, and I think it meant a lot to him, but he said he saw a lot of bass playing prowess in me and that he wanted me to have it. His family and mine were always really close, so it was just really cool.
Any notable bassists (other than yourself, of course) play the same instrument/use the same gear?
I know Bill Wyman from the Stones used one for a while, and the guy from The Beach Boys had one. Dee Dee Ramone had the Musicman variation of it, which is pretty awesome. The Ramones were really bass-driven.
Any special history you know of?
From what I’ve read, it was the last bass designed by Leo Fender before he left the company. I think that’s really important, because it’s an amazing instrument.
Do you use it on gigs?
I’m in a metal band, but I do use it for jams and stuff on the side. Recently I started playing it during practices as a little joke (it doesn’t exactly fit in with the other instruments), and I was thinking about maybe playing a few songs from a gig with it for kicks. It still plays amazingly.
What else do you want to share?
Maybe it just changed over time, but this Mustang has some interesting tone. There’s a lot of boosted bass in it, and the high E is actually louder than all of the other strings. So either there’s a wicked amount of bass, or a wicked amount of treble. Kind of weird to work with, but it sounds good for slap bass.
Any other vintage gear?
Nope. This is my first vintage instrument, though I would like to own more. I’m a huge fan of odd finds.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m eighteen years old, and I have been playing bass for five years now. I play in a metal band out of Missouri called Seldon. We just finished up an EP titled Stitch Me To The Sun, which marks the first time I’ve recorded on a record. The title track is up on Youtube somewhere. I’m currently playing on a 5-String Steinberger Spirit, but I also own a 5-String Rogue bass and the Fender Mustang, besides a mandolin and various other guitars. I’m a new to No Treble, but it’s definitely my favorite thing to check up on.
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