FENDER | DUO-SONIC

Fender Duo-Sonic electric guitar

Six string short scale solid-body

The Fender Duo-Sonic in the 1958 Fender catalog
The Fender Duo-Sonic in the 1958 Fender catalog, alongside the Fender Vibrolux amplifier

The Fender Duo-Sonic in the 1960 Fender catalog
The updated Duo-Sonic in the 1960 Fender catalog, with sunburst finish, and white plastic scratchplate.

Fender launched two student guitars in 1956, the single pickup Musicmaster and a few months later, the dual pickup Duo-Sonic. These guitars were described as 3/4 size, though the scale length was actually 22 1/2" - a little shorter than the standard 25" of most Fender guitars. The guitars were smaller; great for younger guitarists, and those with smaller hands. But the Duo-Sonic build quality was every bit as good as the more expensive models.

The Duo-Sonic remained in the Fender line for the next 13 years, evolving slightly as time went by; most notably in 1964; at which point a longer 24" scale version became available alongside the 22 1/2" three-quarter size. These post-1964 guitars were designated the Fender Duo-Sonic II.

Due to their comparatively early demise, the Fender Duo-Sonic is one of the least well-known Fender solid body guitars, but they have found favour with many musicians, especially those that appreciate the simplicity and stability of a guitar with simple controls, easy-playing action, and no tremolo.

Fender Duo-Sonic, 1956-64

Available: 1956-59
Scale: 22 1/2"
Neck: maple, with 21 fret maple (1956-61) or rosewood (1959-64) fretboard
Controls: Single volume and tone control. Three-way pickup selector switch.
Finishes: Desert Sand 1956-61, Sunburst 1959-64. In mid 1964, finishes are described as White or Red Mahogany

The first version of the Duo-Sonic was a tan brown 'Desert Sand', with gold scratchplate. This was actually Anodized aluminum, giving the guitar a quite distinct appearance. Controls were simple, but the guitar was well-built effective instrument. Note the bridge, with cover.

The aim of an inexpensive, but high quality student model was always to instill a level of brand loyalty. Today's Duo-Sonic players would be tomorrows Stratocaster players. At launch, the Duo-Sonic was listed in the US at $149.50, compared to $274.50 for the Stratocaster.

There were gradual changes over the first few years of production, including the change from the gold metal pickguard, with white covered pickups to a single ply plastic pickguard with black pickups in 1959. At the same time, rosewood fretboards were also offered, though maple boards do not seem to have been discontinued immediately.

Jimi Hendrix and his first Fender Duo-Sonic - with the Isley brothers

Jimi Hendrix and the Fender Duo-Sonic

Jimi Hendrix used two late fifties or early sixties Fender Duo-Sonics. The first, shown here with the Isley brothers, was a (most likely) 1959 or 1960 example in light colored (White or Desert Sand) finish - with an aftermarket Maestro tremolo. Later he played an early 1960s example with Curtis Knight. Interestingly, both were 21 fret, short scale (22 1/2") examples. Hendrix certainly didn't have small hands.

1961 Fender Duo Sonic Image Heritage auctions

Fender Duo-Sonic II

Available: 1964-69
Scale: 22 1/2" or 24" scale rosewood fretboard
Neck: maple, with 21 or 22 fret rosewood fretboard
Controls: master volume and tone, plus separate on/off/tone switch for each pickup
Finishes: White, Red and Blue

In late 1964, the Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic were re-styled, with the new Mustang having the same body style. All three guitars were available either with a 21 fret, 22 1/2" scale student model, or a larger 22 fret 24" scale. Body colors were now solid Red, White or Blue, with white pearloid scratchplates on Red and Blue instruments, and red tortoiseshell on White instruments. An extra on/off and tone control for each pickup was mounted onto the scratchplate above each pickup. There were also some hardware changes - note the separate control plate holding the master volume and tone controls, and new design bridge without cover.

Fender Facts 8

The final redesign of the Duo-Sonic and Musicmaster was described in the November 1964 edition of Fender newsletter Fender Facts

The Musicmaster and Duo-Sonic have recently undergone changes which we believe their performance and appearance. The bodies of both instruments are now contoured similar to that of the Mustang. They are available in red, white or blue finishes with either a 22 1/2 or 24 inch neck.
Both guitars have a full range tone control and in addition, the Duo-Sonic is provided with a three-position switch for each pickup. The middle position turns the pickups off and tone changes will be made on either side of the off position. Eight different tone selections are therefor available, plus the normal tone and volume controls.
The Duo-Sonic dual pickup and Musicmaster single pickup 3/4 or regular size guitars are truly outstanding instruments in their price range and will provide top performance and appearance.


1966 Fender catalogue - Fender Mustang, Musicmaster, Duo-Sonic

The Fender Musicmaster / Duo-Sonic II / Mustang series as shown in the 1966 Fender catalogue. The Mustang and Musicmaster were popular guitars that remained in the Fender line throughout the 1970s. The Duo-Sonic, however, was last included in the May 1969 price list, with a final tag of $189.50.

Fender Duo-Sonic reissues

The Fender Duo-Sonic has been reissued occasionally from the 1980s onwards, in various incarnations, including the rather nice Fender Duo-Sonic HS. The Fender Squier Duo-Sonic or 'Classic Vibe Duo-Sonic' is a great replica of the original 1950s guitar - though with the longer 24" scale of most post-1964 Duo-Sonics.

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Fender Duo-Sonic guitars for sale

1957 Fender Duo Sonic Electric Guitar 22 5" W / Original Hard Case! SN: 22847

GREENSBURG, KENTUCKY, 42743, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$4249

This guitar was bought buy it's owner in 1957 and he's had it ever since! He is having us sell it for him because he's 80 years old now and never plays it. He also has a 1948 Premier 88N Tube Amplifier that he purchased with it that he'd like to sell as well. Here's the link to that ad: https: / / www ebay com / itm / 233269791392 We're taking offers on both! The pictures are of this actual guitar. It's condition is used, it has some fret board indention's from finger nails over the years and ... more

1963 Fender Duo-Sonic

LOVELAND, OHIO, 45140, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $3303

1963 Fender Duo-Sonic, Sunburst, Brazilian Rosewood Fingerboard, Clay dots, Spaghetti Logo, Original single coil pickups, Feather light, Rings out!, Very good plus condition, Original hard case, $2, 495 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE “At Gary’s Classic Guitars we professionally clean setup & pro pack for safe transit to your door! Your business would be appreciated ”... more

1960 Fender Duo-Sonic (FEE0789)

LOVELAND, OHIO, 45140, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$3295

1960 Fender Duo-Sonic, Desert Sand, Flamed Maple neck, Brazilian Rosewood slab board, Clay dots, Spaghetti logo, Bridge Cover, Vintage Strap, Excellent condition with original hard case, $3, 295 “At Gary’s Classic Guitars we professionally clean, setup & pro pack for safe transit of your new guitar to your door! We would love to earn your business ”... more

1961 Fender Duo-Sonic (#FEE0773)

LOVELAND, OHIO, 45140, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$3295

1961 Fender Duo-Sonic, Slab Board, Desert Sand finish, Clay dots, Spaghetti logo, Two pickups, Light weight, Low action, Very good plus condition, Original hard case, $3, 295 There are no cracks or damages. The guitar has weather checking… There is a heavy weather check line on the back thru the finish… .where the burgundy lining of the case set in to that checked area. Not selling to certain countries. International customers must contact us for shipping rates. International Sales are ... more

1961 Fender Duo-Sonic, Slab board (#FEE0851)

LOVELAND, OHIO, 45140, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2995

1961 Fender Duo-Sonic, Slab board, Sunburst finish, Clay dots, Spaghetti logo, Single line Kluson tuners, Bridge cover, Cool guitar! Very Good Plus condition, Original hard case, $2, 995 “At Gary’s Classic Guitars we professionally clean, setup & pro pack for safe transit of your new guitar to your door! We would love to earn your business ”... more

Vintage 1966 Fender Duo Sonic II Electric Guitar Olympic White w / Original Case

NEW YORK, NEW YORK, 10002, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $2645

Vintage 1966 Fender Duo-Sonic II. A great playing example with tons of vibe. Original white finish has faded into a super cool looking yellow shade. You can't get age like this from the custom shop! The neck feels fantastic and plays great all the way up and down. It is a "B" neck that feels just right in your hands, like an old baseball glove. Original pickups are super warm, clear and punchy. Very jangly with a round, focused tone. Excellent playing condition with signs of normal, honest ... more

1959 Fender Duo-Sonic Desert Sand w / Gig Bag Pre CBS Gold Guard

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, 98126, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2599

1959 Fender Duo-Sonic Up for sale is a fantastic sounding 1959 Fender Duo-Sonic electric guitar in its original Desert Sand finish complete with the coveted gold anodized pickguard. This instrument features a dual pickup design with a late '50s rounded neck profile, 22 5 inch scale length, and a seriously cool vibe. Neck is pencil dated 1 / 59. Overall this guitar is very original with the exception of the nut, a faded area on the front of the body where we assume a sticker was, and tuners which... more

1966 Fender Duo Sonic II Vintage Electric Guitar Daphne Blue

SPRINGFIELD, OHIO, 45505, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2299

Great piece for any collection, please see photos and judge condition for yourself. Please feel free to message me with any questions you may have. Thank you... more

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