PHOTO: Skip Bolen / Getty Images
6 Iconic Fender Offset Players
There are a few that will surprise you, for sure.
By Mike Duffy
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.
In light of Fender's new Offset Film Series celebrating how artists get creative with the Mustang, Mustang 90, Duo-Sonic, Duo-Sonic HS, and Mustang Bass, here is a look at six key tastemakers who loved these offbeat guitars:
Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/ewY34GqbRkA?rel=0 The Talking Heads frontman favored a white Mustang during his band’s early years. Seen above 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.
Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/arQC1MdDm8k?rel=0 Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was rarely seen without an offset guitar, if ever. And the Mustang played a key role for a very important part of his band's career, as he nearly exclusively used one during the iconic In Utero tour. In 2012, Fender honored that guitar with a Kurt Cobain signature model, which boasted a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker in the bridge position and normal Mustan single-coil pickup in the neck position. See one of Cobain play a Fiesta Red Mustang on the classic "Pennyroyal Tea" above.
Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/qUALb0sGdto?rel=0 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 play this beloved Duo-Sonic in the official music video for Phair's hit 2003 single, "Why Can't I?" above.
Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/HyQ9hFcvkP0?rel=0 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 in the clip above.
Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/embed/a3aY3xboyEk?rel=0 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” above.