Price paid: $ 945
Sound — 8
When I first got this guitar, I was only learning to play and stuggled with the strange set up. I found it hard to contain the hum and crackle of the pickups when they're left idle on a distorted channel, and couldn't get anything other than muffled too-deep grumbling tones from it. This had a lot to do me not knowing what the hell I was at with my amp and pedals. I still use all the same gear, A Peavey Bandit 112 100w Guitar amp (the modern section on the clean channel is almost as good as a Fender bassman for about 1/5th the price, if you set it up right). Into this channel I run a Boss DS-2. After this I use various chorus, delay and flanger pedals and a tuner pedal. This set up gives me the most amazing vibrant distortion that sounds great live and in studio. Some people might find it a little harsh, but that's why I love it. The guitar can make some really nice clean tones but with little or no sustain. You'd need a lot of reverb or chorus to fatten up the sound, unless a crispy twang is exactly what you're after. Fiddling with the gut switches allows several different tones, many of them quite unique to the Mustang, to be created. I usually just use the neck pick up (in phase) on it's own. The guitar has lovely warmth but still a crispy edge to it in this position.
Overall Impression — 10
I play up tempo alt rock with a grungy edge. The guitar is perfect for the tones I want, but that has a lot to do with my amp and pedal settings, as my Tele and Strat sound great too. The best thing about this guitar is the way it looks. Just on it's stand it's gorgeous, but under some good stage lights the guitar just shimmers. Plus, there aren't too many people using Mustangs these days so the whole "stand out" factor plays a large part too. My favourite features are the weird shape and the pickups. My Mustang just seems to fit me properly and while I can get similar tones from a Strat or Tele, the noise from the Mustang pick-ups cannot be replicated, and add a real edge to my sound. If this guitar was stolen. I'd find the guy Who took it and kill him. Failing that, I'd buy one the same.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I use this guitar live all the time. But recently, I've been using it less often. This is because I have on a few occasions hit the gut switch and turned the guitar completely off in the middle of a song. It could be my habit of strumming up near the neck of the guitar that causes this, perhaps other players wouldn't have any trouble. I've been meaning to put some tape over the switch to stop it from moving, but don't want to ruin the aesthetics of the instrument. I still use it, but not on any harder/faster tracks to try and prevent this from happening again. Because of this, I keep a Mexican Strat ('70s reissue with large headstock, fantastic guitar) or an American Ash Telecaster (this one's given me nothing but trouble) onstage for at all times, and Switch between the two (always the Mustang and one other guitar) throught my set as appropriate.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The finish is flawless, sparkley metallic red with a dazzling white pearloid pickguard and gleaming chrome hardware. The tones weren't great out of the box, but it's that long ago that I honestly can't remember what I did to the set up. I'm sure I adjusted the pick-ups at some stage, but the action was always fine. The jack input has come very loose a couple of times but that's just a lack of proper maintenance on my part.
Features — 10
This might have been before the Euro came in, so It could have been about 750 old Irish pounds. I can't really remember. Fender Japan 1969 Competition Mustang in Candy Apple Red with white Racing Stripe. Made in 2002/3. 22 fret short scale neck. Neck is made of maple with a rosewood fretboard. The body is either basswood or alder.