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5 Iconic Offset Guitar Players

Written by on October 4, 2016

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.


David Byrne

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.


Liz Phair

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.


Todd Rundgren

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.


Rory Gallagher

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.


Kurt Cobain

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.

  • newyou

    no Kevin Shields or other shoegazers?:c the Jag/jazzmaster are such an important part of shoegaze (that trem!)