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Mustang Bass body shape - vintage vs reissues

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by KenB, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. KenB


    Jul 15, 2008
    Yellow Springs, OH
    I recently bought a new JMJ Road Worn Mustang. Great bass! The Fender design team and Justin Mendal-Johnsen did a phenomenal job of recreating a 1966 vintage instrument, but with just the right modern improvements.

    The JMJ model is about as close to a vintage 1966 mustang as reasonably possible, but one thing stands out to me: The body shape on this bass, and ALL of the reissue Mustangs (starting with the 2002 models), is different from the 1966 to 1981 originals.
    (I'm referring to the actual outline, not the contouring of the later vintage basses and some of the Japanese reissues.)

    The reissue bodies are about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch longer, resulting in more of a bulge in the "butt" end behind the bridge, and the upper horn is fatter and less curved on the reissues:

    Mustang Bass Outline.
    The relationship between the neck pocket, pickup, control plate and bridge are the same between the originals and reissues, but you can easily distinguish a vintage bass from any reissue because of the additional 1/2 inch or so of body "bulge" behind the bridge (the upper horn shape is more subtle):

    Bass - Copy.

    I'm wondering if there was any particular reason why the body shape was changed? I know that the first 2002 reissues had thinner bodies, and the new outline appeared at that time. But why has the "new" shape been maintained up to current day?

    I can't be the only one that has noticed the difference!
    Does the current shape give better balance/less neck dive?
    Was the shape difference discussed when developing the JMJ reissue?

    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
    pudge, HD007 and BassHappy like this.
  2. geof_


    Apr 25, 2015
    Phoenix, AZ
    I never noticed this before.
  3. KenB


    Jul 15, 2008
    Yellow Springs, OH
    Yep, you can tell any vintage (1966 - 1981) Mustang from a post-2002 reissue easily, by checking out the "bigger butt" of the new ones!

    Just wondering if the new shape was intentional (perhaps to help with neck dive?), or just due to a drafting error...
  4. David Lee

    David Lee Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2019
    I know this is an older thread, but I'll chime in anyway. I hadn't noticed this before, either, and I own five Mustang basses from different eras! The newer ones ARE sexy. I still prefer the classic outline of the stubby vintage bodies. Plus, the 69 through 81's had the contoured bodies which I think makes them just a little bit sexier. You say some of the Japanese RI's have contoured bodies??? Now I have to go looking for them on eBay and Reverb. :bawl: Anyway, thanks for posting the pics!
  5. KenB


    Jul 15, 2008
    Yellow Springs, OH
    I think it's interesting how this obvious and significant change in the Mustang's body shape is never mentioned or discussed.

    If Fender slightly changes the bridge pickup location on the Jazz Bass, moves a pickguard screw on the Strat or slightly changes a neck-pocket rout folks are all over it.

    But a major change in body shape on the Mustang? Crickets!
  6. That is some CSI stuff right there.

  7. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Pretty interesting - the string ferrules got bigger too. Details details... but the Mustang was made during the CBS years and then basses/guitars started to be made in Japan in the early 80's so it may have been altered there. I've read where they actually had to buy back vintage (pre CBS) guitars/basses when they began doing their retro redux after regaining control of the company, but since they already had the 'mould' from Japan they may have figured one-less-thing to worry about. Most likely there isn't a definitive explanation as it was a transitional time for Fender.
  8. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    Never noticed. Mildly interesting to see but I don't care since it doesn't really affect anything.
  9. David Lee

    David Lee Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2019
    May not seem like a significant issue but they've probably altered the body profile on the P and J basses at some point, without telling anyone (outside of the reissue and signature models). I tremble to think that they've also done it with the hallowed Strats and Tele's over the years. If the masses knew the real truth they'd be marching on Fender HQ with pitchforks and torches, but very few in the crowd would likely mention the lowly Mustang.
  10. David Lee

    David Lee Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2019
    Well, the only CIJ Mustangs I've been able to find with the contoured body are the 6-string models. All the CIJ basses I've seen have the slab bodies. Now I have to go inspecting string ferrules. This may be getting a bit ridiculous, but still fun.

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