Fender’s new Offset range offers a vibrant alternative to their long-time stalwarts, the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Precision and Jazz basses. Smaller, lighter bodies, shorter scale-lengths and minimalist feature-sets combine with cool retro surf colours to lend a fun, rebellious vibe to these Mexican-built guitars.
The original Duo-Sonics first appeared in 1956, the Mustangs later, in 1964. Fender’s new Offsets are neither replicas or reissues, but modern takes on some old favourites. There a five models; a Duo-Sonic™, Duo-Sonic HS, Mustang®, Mustang 90 and Mustang Bass.
The Duo-Sonic has an alder body with gloss polyester finish and a satin polyurethane finished neck for smooth playability. The C-shape neck has 22 medium-jumbo frets, a 9.5″ radius and a short-24″ scale (most Strats and Teles have a 25.5″ scale length) and a maple fingerboard. The short scale and the flat radius make chord work a breeze and it’s surprising how soon you forget the compact dimensions.
A string-through body hardtail bridge ensures enough body-contact for good sustain and there’s a reasonable range of tones available from a pair of Duo-Sonic single-coil pickups.
Then you step up to the Duo-Sonic HS, which shares the specifications of its sibling but with the addition of a vintage-spec humbucking pickup in the bridge position. This really adds some punch for riffing and soloing, and there’s a further nice touch; a push/pull tone control splits the pickup for single coil operation so you have the best of both worlds.
The Mustang also features alder body, gloss polyester finish and a satin polyurethane neck, plus the same 24″ scale-length with 9.5″ neck radius. Here though we have a rosewood fingerboard, a pair of low-output Mustang single coil pickups and a six-saddle string-through-body hardtail Strat® bridge for increased sustain. The bridge carries bent steel saddles, adjustable for intonation and, according to Fender, these contribute a little ‘cut’ to the sound.
Mustang-lovers on a budget should check out the Squier Vintage Modified version. This has been in the range for a while and offers another nice twist on the Mustang theme.
Back to the new Offsets though, and here we have the GCHQ favourite, the Mustang 90.
Specification as per the Mustang (above) but this guitar is armed with a pair of snarling MP-90 pickups which add some real bite to the sound. They also somehow look right; like they belong on that guitar body.
Watch Patrick Droney demonstrate the Fender Mustang 90:
Finally, for low-frequency fiends who fancy a break for the sheer weight of a Jazz or Precision, there’s the Mustang Bass, a model whose previous incarnations found favour with the likes of The Rolling Stones and My Chemical Romance. This latter day version sports a 30″ scale length (compared to 34″ on a Jazz or Precision), 9.5″ radius satin neck with rosewood fingerboard, a gloss polyester-finished alder body and a top-loading bridge. The stand-out feature here is the best-of-both-world choice of pickups; a single coil P Bass® in the neck position and a growly J Bass® pickup in the bridge pljs a traditional three-way switch.
These instruments will surely prove popular with anyone who prefers a lighter, easier to handle instrument, but there’s also an undeniable cool factor here and the tacit endorsement of the late great Kurt Cobain, a long-time Mustang player, will add credibility.
For more retro inspiration see our recent post here.
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