Submitted March 18, 2019 by Jeannette F in Jacksonville, FL
"My most surprising purchase yet"
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The Fender Mustang is a shorter scale, 19 fret, double-cutaway bass guitar from Fender's Ensenada factory. It is light, yet well-balanced, has a remarkable tonal range, and after having used it aggressively for a variety of genres, I have found the build quality to be up to the standards I have come to expect from our friends at Fender south of the border. The hardware is solid, the finish is brilliant, and the MIM team has done a great job at quality control, particularly with nicely finished fret ends, solid wiring and electronics overall, and great attention to detail from the top of the headstock to the bottom strap button. This bass can range from surprisingly loud with a lot of pop to very warm and mellow, with all options in between easily located through a quick flip of the pickup selector and a roll of the tone. And to top it off, the price can't be beat. However, as glowing as I may sound about this bass, it is only fair to highlight a few noteworthy items for consideration. First, I am not a fan of pau ferro, and that was the only option I had when I ordered this bass. I have come to not mind it, but I have always been, and will always be a huge fan of solid maple necks. Nevertheless, it is a personal preference and only mentioned because, despite what Fender has tried to convince us of, I don't believe pau ferro is a suitable substitute for rosewood, and especially not for solid maple. For what it's worth, this is the only guitar or bass that I was willing to buy with a pau ferro board, and I don't regret doing so. Also, be aware that this is a 19 fret bass. That's great for me and those who share this Mustang with me, but some may have a desire for the other three frets. I've only played one song that really needed them, and I managed to work around it just fine. And finally, don't overlook the fact that this is an offset body. I prefer offset bodies on my guitars, but not my bass, except for this one instance because it makes the neck line up beautifully when sitting. Note that these are three notable mentions, not complaints. I have come to be okay with the pau ferro, I am just fine with 19 frets, and I love the offset.
The Mustang has three pickup options, each more unique than the next. Down is very bright and punchy for a bass guitar, quite suitable for those times when the lead and rhythm are drowning you out. It's very powerful in this position, much more pronounced, and perhaps worthy of rolling off the volume a touch depending on what you're playing. The middle position is warmer with more subtle highs and mids, but still a nice bang from the low end. This position is much more like the high end of a Jazz or Precision bass. Flip the selector up and you'll get an even warmer, softer tone, not overly dissimilar from bringing the tone down a touch on an Explorer bass. It's also quite noteworthy that the Mustang has much more acoustic presence than any other bass I've used. This adds another level of tonal range for those times when bass takes center stage or perhaps when you need to roll off the volume a bit without disappearing from the act. All pickup options are very powerful, louder than a typical bass, and range tremendously with tone adjustments.
The Mustang has an offset body with 19 frets. I always prefer offset body guitars, but not usually when it comes to bass guitars, In this case, I am very satisfied with how the offset creates a comfortable sitting position without feeling the constant need to push the guitar to my left when playing higher on the neck (right handed). The bass is quite similar in this regard to the 24" scale Mustang guitar, at least in the sitting position. When standing it might take a bit to get used to the position of the low frets if you're coming from a standard scale bass. Other features include a single volume, single tone, three-way pickup selector, solid four saddle bridge, and rather large tuners, which are a big standout on this bass.
Ease of Use
There's not a lot to contend with here. Just one volume, one tone, and a three-way pickup selector. The ease of use couldn't get much easier, especially with these very precise tuners, which are great for drop tuning because the gear ratio is excellent for dropping a step very quickly.
This bass is shared among three people in my family, and gets a rugged workout everyday. Thus far everything remains as solid, tight, and in order as when it arrived. The hardware is typical Ensenada factory quality, which i would rate much better than Fender's far east budget brands, but not up to the level of what comes out of Corona.But in this case, I see no difference in quality control from my U.S. Jazzmaster, just a bit more budget friendly hardware. One point I feel the need to share is that I am not a fan of pau ferro. The look and feel just don't fit me very well, though it is only fair to note that I am very partial to solid maple necks, and don't particularly care for rosewood either. In my opinion, pau ferro just doesn't make a suitable substitute for rosewood, however it works much better on this bass than on any other bass or guitar I have sampled.
If you are interested in a shorter scale bass, than yes, the Mustang is a fantastic value. If you're only looking for the offset feature, you might want to take a look at the deals zZounds offers on the Jazz bass. If you want something more passive, you might take a look at the Precision bass. If you fancy the punch and pop of the Mustang, but not so much the scale, take a stroll over the the Explorer bass. But if an offset, shorter scale bass with a lot of audible presence suits you, than you won't find a better value than this Mustang.
I have spoken with Fender customer service on multiple occasions, but not in relation to this guitar. I can say with certainty that the manufacturer support is top notch at Fender, and the customer service over the phone is always great.
The Wow Factor
I was wowed twice when this bass arrived. The first was when we unboxed it and noticed those brilliant tuners, then worked our way down through the rest of this gorgeous, familiar Fender design. But the biggest "wow" came when I plugged it in and went through the pickup selections and rolled the tone. I was stunned how much pop this bass has on one end, yet how warm and subtle it can be on the other. We use it for a variety of music from classic rock to metal, country to pop, jazz to grunge, and everything in between, and it can be set to fit ideally into everything we play with it. This is one of the very few bass guitars I have been able to say that about.
Semi-professional playing ten years. Primary rhythm with Jazzmaster, lead with Strat.
Rock, Classic Rock, Grunge, Metal, Country, Jazz, and just about anything else depending on how I feel.
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