1976 Fender Mustang

This came in looking for quite a bit of lovin'. It had been sat around for years and the owner wanted to know if it was worth fixing up. Apart from the fact that I have a soft spot for these 70's Mustangs it felt good and looked like it just needed some work, so I said a definite yes.


It's always a good sign for me when an older guitar has lots of player wear. It means that either someone loved it a lot, or it's a great player or both. I'm always dubious of old guitars that are unplayed. Sure, they're great for collectors who want to look at them but if they haven't been played, they usually just bad guitars that no-one could ever come to terms with. I've seen plenty of them over the years.

The pickups didn't work at all and one wasn't original anyway so I ordered a set of Brierley pickups for it and got to work on some other parts that needed attention.


The electrics and fretboard needed a good work over so while I waited for the new pickups I cleaned the guitar and got to work on these points. With older worn guitars like this I don't like to "clean" them too much unless the customer asks for it. Apart from the obvious that when you start cleaning it's hard to know where to stop and a half clean guitar (or anything) just looks wrong but also with wear like this you're essentially entering into a restoration if you want it perfect.

This wasn't worth a lot of money but the customer wanted a good playing guitar and because he already owned it the price of fixing it up would get him a better guitar than spending that money on something new.

I tried to keep as much of the original wiring and electronics in place as I could. The newer pickup had been badly fitted with electrical tape and the switches and pots all needed cleaning out.

Everything except the output jack cleaned up well. I'm not into "saving" original output jacks as it's a part that gets used a lot and needs changing to keep the guitar working properly. Believe me, I've had people say "oh it crackles a lot and cuts out sometimes, but it's the original jack so don't change it" .................


After a fret dress I fitted a new bone nut. I didn't patch up any of the fretboard wear for the reasons I said before and although the frets were low, they dressed up alright and will get more playing before a re-fret is needed.

The trussrod worked very well and the end result was a very impressive neck that came up really well for action, even though it's a short scale.

The new pickups went in and as always, Mick's pickups never fail to impress. These had great tone and were really punchy for a Mustang.

So back home it went to be played and loved once again. There's probably heaps of guitars out there like this sitting in cupboards or under beds that owners don't realize are actually worth fixing up over buying something new. They will almost undoubtedly end up with a better guitar for the money they spend and they save the earth from more unnecessary manufacturing and use of materials.


Aug 07 2013 Written By: Tim Brennan