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

VINTAGE 1965 USA FENDER DUO SONIC GUITAR PICKUP ORIGINAL CBS ERA MUSTANG

PLANO, TEXAS, 75025, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$449

FROM A PARTED DUO SONIC, ALL ORIGINAL, FLAT POLES, BLACK BOTTOM, 3" WHITE & BLACK CLOTH LEAD WIRES, HEAVY VINTAGE PATINA, READS A STRONG 5 68K ON METER, NORTH POLARITY, NICE ORIGINAL VINTAGE CONDITION .THANKS FOR LOOKING!... more

1964 Fender Duo-Sonic Hang Tag Case Candy

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA, 70605, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$75

1964 Fender Hang Tag from original dealer archive Duo-Sonic w / original price!!! $159 50 Great case candy for your Duo-Sonic These tags were used 1963-67 with the introduction of the acoustic line Signs of age Creasing Light stains #vintage #fender #precbs #fineelectricinstruments #telecaster #custom #dealer #ephemera #casecandy... more

VINTAGE 1965 USA FENDER DUO SONIC MUSICMASTER GUITAR BODY DAPHNE BLUE 1966

PLANO, TEXAS, 75025, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$995

ORIGINAL MID 1960'S FENDER DUO SONIC / MUSICMASTER GUITAR BODY IN ORIGINAL CUSTOM COLOR DAPHNE BLUE. ALDER, NITRO FINISH, FACTORY EC STAMP. FINISH AGED NICELY, NO ROUTES OR REPAIRS, NO POCKET CRACKS, NICE. NORMAL LIGHT VINTAGE WEAR, ONE HEAVIER DING ON END OF UPPER HORN. ALL ORIGINAL NO ISSUE CUSTOM COLOR BODY, INCLUDES COPPER SHIELDING AND STRAP BUTTONS . WEIGHS JUST UNDER 4 5 LBS .THANKS FOR LOOKING!... 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

1963 Fender Duo Sonic Vintage Electric Guitar 100% Original w' Fender Hard Case

BUFFALO, NEW YORK, 14225, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2299

1963 Vintage Fender Duo Sonic Rare Sunburst Finish This is 100% , Very clean condition for a 1963. April 1963 neck date. Rare Sunburst finish . This has a maroon look the guitar has some checking. Little chipping, buckle rash on back and play wear . all electronics are working all components are original. Could use strings and set up . The case is a Fender molded for 1980 the inserts were switched on the case ... more

1964 Fender Duo Sonic II Olympic White Vintage Electric Guitar w / OHSC

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA, 91506, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

£1485

1964 Fender Duo Sonic II Original Olympic White Finish In Very Good Overall Condition With Surface Scratches, Dings, And Playwear Throughout(See All Photos Below) Original Olympic White Finish Shows Finish Checking All Original Original Frets In Very Good Condition All Original Parts Original Pickups Sound Great Original Hard Shell Case Is Included Made In USA We ship worldwide with NO ISSUES as we are a CERTIFIED exporter and importer of instruments made from CITES restricted woods, including ... more

1966 Fender Duo Sonic II Vintage Offset Electric Guitar Dakota Red, Mustang

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, 98117, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1799

Up for sale, a 1966 Fender Duo Sonic II in excellent condition with the original Dakota Red nitro lacquer finish. Essentially a hardtail version of the Mustang, this short scale Duo Sonic II has a prominent acoustic voice that translates well through the original pickups with great jangle and clarity. Since the pickups are in essence flat pole Stratocaster pickups with covers concealing the pole pieces, the tones are surprisingly similar, although the Duo Sonic II has the added benefit of a pair... more

VINTAGE 1963 USA FENDER DUO SONIC GUITAR PICKUP ORIGINAL PRE CBS 1964 MUSTANG

PLANO, TEXAS, 75025, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

C $657

I AM UNABLE TO SHIP TO ANY DESTINATION THAT USPS CANNOT INSURE, SORRY. ALL AUCTIONS PAYPAL ONLY, WILL SHIP TO YOUR PAYPAL MATCHING ADDRESS ONLY, NO ALTERNATE SHIP ADDRESS. WINNING BIDDER TO PAY WITHIN 2 DAYS OF AUCTION CLOSE. ANY NEW EBAYERS ( LESS THAN 5 POSITIVE TRANSACTIONS) EMAIL ME BEFORE BIDDING, OR YOUR BID WILL BE CANCELLED. TEXAS RESIDENTS ARE REQUIRED TO PAY 8 25% SALES TAX. PLEASE ASK ALL QUESTIONS EARLY…SOMETIMES I AM REQUIRED TO BE AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER. INTERNATIONAL EBAYERS: ... more

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