While perhaps not as widespread as Telecaster and Stratocaster players around the world, there have always been passionate fans of the Fender Duo-Sonic and Mustang.
They originally debuted as student guitars – the Duo-Sonic in 1956 and the Mustang in 1964 – but their shorter scale lengths, offset bodies and affordable price tags made them popular among left-of-center musicians in the late 1970s and alt-rock artists of the ‘90s.
So to honor the launch of Fender’s new Offset Series of Duo-Sonic and Mustang models, we’re taking a look at five key tastemakers who loved these offbeat guitars.
The Talking Heads frontman favored a white Mustang during his band’s early years. Seen below performing the single “I Can Feel It in My Heart,” Byrne casually plays the short-scale strummer that he largely used on the Heads’ first two albums, Talking Heads: 77 and More Songs About Buildings and Food.
The indie legend loved her 1969 white Duo-Sonic with a red pickguard so much so that she featured it on the cover of her self-titled 2003 album. Playing it almost exclusively early in her career, Phair’s guitar was even included in a touring exhibit entitled “Women in Rock.” Watch her 1994 performance of the classic Exile in Guyville track “Never Said” with the Duo-Sonic on The Late Show with David Letterman below.
Hailed as a songwriting and producing virtuoso and technical innovator, Rundgren featured a black Mustang during live sets in the late ‘70s. Most notably, he brought it out on stage during his 1978 headlining gig at New York City’s Palladium for a benefit concert to raise awareness of Indochinese refugees. Check out “Love of the Common Man” from the event below.
We all typically remember Gallagher with a well-worn Strat slung across his chest, but did you know he also used a Duo-Sonic? The Irish bluesman had a 1978 model that saw frequent action on the road around ’82, as noted in the concert DVD Rory Gallagher: Live at Rockpalast from 2007. Drink in that Duo-Sonic action with “Nadine” below.
Immortalized in the game-changing music video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Cobain’s Sonic Blue Mustang is legendary. So much so that Fender announced a signature model based on the modified monster back in 2012. The guitar boasted a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker in the bridge and a Mustang single coil in the neck to achieve Nirvana’s crunchy and sometimes overdriven sounds. Check it out with a live performance of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” below.