Purchased from: Red Dog Music
Features — 8
This is a 2013 Made In Japan Fender Kurt Cobain Mustang. I have it in the Dark Lake Placid Blue with the racing stripe in lighter blue. The guitar has two pickups, a standard Mustang single coil in the neck position and a Seymour Duncan JP Humbucker in the bridge position. The bridge is a adjusto-matic similar to what is found on Gibson/Epiphones. The body is made of Alder, and the neck is made of Maple and the fingerboard is Rosewood. It has two pickup selectors, one above each pickup, which each have the options in phase/off/out of phase. The two knobs are simply volume and tone respectively. It has a short scale neck at 24" and 22 frets. The neck is bolt-on and strangely has access to the truss rod by the neck pickup, rather than up at the headstock. It has the Fender Dynamic Vibrato tailpiece which came with a whammy bar. Chrome hardware. It is equipped with classic Mustang Vintage style tuners.
Sound — 8
My setup: Kurt Cobain Fender Mustang > Jim Dunlop Cry Baby > Boss BF-2 > Dr Tone DS-101 > EHX Small Clone > Fender Mustang IV Amplifier.
One of the main things I love about this guitar is how versatile it is - having a humbucker and a single coil allow for many varied tones. One thing I find to be a slight disappointment is the functionality of the tone knob - it sure as hell adds tone, but with it on any less than 75% it sounds flat and dead. This may be to some's tastes, but I feel that with the tone knob down the guitar almost sounds broken.
The JP humbucker sounds fat, full, and is lovely with nearly any amount of gain. This pickup is good for the kind of things I play, which would be grunge, pop punk, generic rock, and occasionally metal or classic rock. The sound is full and bright. I rarely mix the two pickups together, however the single coil functions well enough on its own - I use it for cleans and lighter songs. I find that while this pickup - a standard Mustang pickup - sounds good enough, it does not match up to say, a Fender Strat or Tele for lighter tones - it falls short on emphasising the treble sometimes. If, like myself, your seldom interested in making music that needs to be clean, then this shouldn't bother you.
If you leave your amp on a clean tone, and play with the single coil, you get the nice clean tone I previously described - but when you switch to the Humbucker it can get reasonably dirty - even without any distortion applied. I think this is a testament to the JP's ferociusness.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar was set up near perfectly when I received it however the first thing I'd with it was restring it with a fresh set of Ernie Ball Slinky Beefy strings - if I don't use something thick enough, I usually end up snapping them. The action was set up just how I like it - medium height. There was a tiny dent in the paint on the top horn of the guitar, but I didn't mind this, its barely noticeable and it only makes the guitar feel more personal. This guitar feels TIGHT. No rattles, no unsourceable shaking or vibrations. Everything is put together as closely as could be possible, and it feels like a quality guitar. I think the Adjusto-matic bridge that is equipped is much more reliable and steadfast than the standard Mustang bridge and I can see why Kurt would have swapped it - I own the Squier Vintage Modified Mustang and the original bridge on that - which is similar to a Fender Mustang's - was simply awful; I ended up swapping it out. The pickup selectors differ slightly from the standard ones as they are "trimmed" - in that they aren't as tall. This reduces the chances of you catching them accidentally as you play to almost 0%. The bridge unfortunately comes out of tuning almost instantaneously upon even light usage of the whammy bar but I don't use this so not a worry for me. The tuners - standard Mustang Vintage Style tuners - hold tuning exactly as would be wanted (so long as the whammy bar isn't being used) and allow easy switching onstage to similar tuning variations, I often swap between standard and drop D at gigs and have no problems; don't expect to be able to move between tunings that are too far apart without difficulty however - tuning down to half a step requires at least a few minutes of playing and say, 3 "tunes" to ensure that the strings stay in position. This could be considered a testament to how much the tuners want to stay in the tuning that they are accustomed to at the time! The posts on the tuners are 'split' in that they differ from a Strat or most other Fenders - they do not have a head and I find them much easier to string. They also look much tidier.
A small bonus - I find that whenever I snap a string with this guitar, it doesn't fully "snap" - it breaks at the bridge and its simply the core of the string coming loose from the outer, resulting in it becoming unusably loose. This has probably saved me from the string whipping my hand and cutting me numberous times. I have no idea if its even the guitar that's doing this, but I'd like to think its the bridge and so far, I've had not a single string break any other way besides this.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I have played multiple times live with this guitar, mostly without a backup, and never had any problems. This guitar is small, handy, and I don't feel scared to thrash about and really play the guitar. The hardware seems solid and I wouldn't expect it to break any time soon or through old age. The coating is solid, I've owned this guitar around 6 months and it hasn't worn off at all - I understand this isn't long to judge it, but for a high end Fender I'd be surpirsed and pretty miffed off if the paint starting flaking any time within the next half century. The only bad thing about the finish, perhaps because its in Dark Lake Placid Blue, which is slightly sparkly, and not a plan colour - it seems to "scratch" quite easily. Nothing major, and you can only see it when the guitar is tilted correctly in the light. I'm presuming this is simply the nature of the colour of the guitar. The colour makes up for this by looking different in a simply spectacular fashion under different lights - most of the time it looks the colour it appears as, but sometimes it looks purple or even dark green. The guitar has tiny dents in it from playing, but this is just natural wear and I don't believe any guitar is immune to this. Even when dented, the paint remains in place, making it much harder to notice.
The strap locks are reliable - nothing much to say about this. They don't wobble, like basically any other moderate plus guitar you've ever played.
Overall Impression — 9
My verdict - I love this guitar. It matches my music playing to the T. I'd like to think I've been playing long enough to judge well, at 2 and a 1/2 years, and I've tried to remain unbias in my judgements! This guitar smashes the hell out of my Squier Vintage Modified Mustang. If this guitar were stolen, I would probably buy something different - but through no fault of the guitar; solely because I don't have enough money to afford unlimited guitars and I would want to try something else out. The guitar is seriously top quality though. The main features that draw me to this guitar are the tonal variety that can be achieved with the mix of pickups, the beautiful finish, and the general sheen of "quality" that surrounds the guitar. If I had to pick three things that I dislike about the guitar it would be that the Truss Rod adjustor is near the neck pickup rather than near the headstock, that the bridge is a Fender issue rip of the the Gotoh Tune-O-Matic, and that The Tone knob seems to sound broken when down low.
If I had the opportunity to add to this guitar, I would probably swap out the Neck Pickup - not because it isn't good, but just because it could be better. I don't know what I would switch it to without thought. Overall, great guitar.