1969 Fender Competition Mustang bass

Solid-body short scale electric bass guitar

Fender Mustang Bass | Catalog Appearances
1969 Competition Mustang Bass
1969 Fender Competition Red Mustang bass with Fender Bassman 100 amplifier - front view
1969 Fender Competition Red Mustang bass with Fender Bassman 100 amplifier - reverse view
Fender Mustang bass pickup detail
Model: 1969 Fender Competition Mustang
Pickups: One split coil pickup
Scale: 30"
Body: Laminate poplar body, polyester finish with stripes
Neck: Maple neck. Rosewood fingerboard. 19 frets. Width at nut 1 5/8". Bolt-on, four screws.
Hardware: Open gear tuning keys. 1 volume and tone control. Chrome hardware throughout.
Weight: 3.39 kg

The Fender Mustang bass was the four string counterpart to the Mustang guitar that debuted in 1964. The bass version followed in 1966, although the competition finishes (red, burgundy and orange) were only available between 1969 and 1973. This was on of Fender's first (along with the Coronado) shorter scale bass (just 30" compared to the 34 1/2" scale of the Fender Jazz and Precision. The Competition finish refers to the stripes on the top corner of the body, a feature (like the Mustang name) of American sports cars that certainly appealed to the US guitar buying public. Have a listen to this bass through various vintage amps here.

Fender Mustang bass parts

The Mustang, in true Fender tradition was a simple bass: a poplar or ash body with bolt-on maple neck and (initially) rosewood fingerboard, one single coil pickup like the Precision, a Mustang bridge and Fender open gear tuning keys. The pots on this bass have the code 3046617 which dates them to the 17th week of 1966, manufactured by Stackpole (304); Fender bought a lot of 1966 pots that were gradually used over the following few years. Like all Fenders it was made from easily assembled parts, not requiring any skilled luthiery whatsoever. See the 1969 Fender Mustang parts list.

Fender Mustang bass control knobs
The Fender Mustang bass had the simplest of controls for it's single pickup: one volume and one tone. Pots are 250K audio taper, both mounted to a chromed metal plate.
Fender Mustang bass neckplate
The serial numbers for Mustang basses were stamped into the neckplate as shown here. From mid-1976 this changed to a decal on the headstock. All Mustang basses had four bolts holding the neck to the body.
Fender Mustang bass rosewood fingerboard
The truss rod adjustment can be seen at the base of the neck, and is to some extent accessible, although it best adjusted when the neck is removed. Note the thumbrest positioned below the strings rather than above, as was the case for later Mustangs.
Fender Mustang bass bridge
The Mustang bass is strung through the body, via the heavy duty bridge. Note also the string mute (without felt mutes).
Fender Mustang bass pickups reverse view
Although somewhat faded, note the 1969 datestamp on the reverse of the pickups

1969 Competition Mustang bass pricing

ManufacturerModelPickupsScale1969 Price
FenderPrecision134"from $279.50
 Jazz234"from $339.50
 Melody Maker bass130"$240
GuildJetstar bass130"$245

The 1969 US list price for the Fender Competition Mustang bass was $229.50, a great price for a bass of this quality, especially when compared to other models available at this time.

Prices above come from the Harmony 1969 catalogue, Gibson price list 1-9-69, Fender price list 15-5-69, Guild price list 15-6-69, Rickenbacker price list 1-2-69

Although the Mustang bass was included in all Fender catalogues during it's production, and several in Competition finish, only the 1970 catalogue showed it with matching coloured headstock (here); the 1969 Fender catalogue still described the standard Red, White and Blue finishes.

Fender Competition Mustang bass headstock
The Competition finish included a matching coloured headstock in 1969. The vast majority of Mustang basses before and after this time simply had a natural finished headstock.
Fender Competition Mustang bass reverse headstock
Reverse headstock detail.
Fender open gear tuning keys
The Mustang was fitted with Fender-branded open gear tuning keys, with eliptical keys.
1973 Fender Musicmaster bass with Fender Bassman 100 amplifier
1973 Fender Musicmaster bass with Fender Bassman 100 amplifier

Note the neck code 17MAR69B. 17 is the model code for the Mustang bass, not part of the date - just March 1969. The letter B indicates a neck type, in this case a width at nut of 1 5/8"

Fender Mustang bass soundclips

Here are some soundclips of this bass through a few of my favourite vintage bass amps:

1969 Fender Competition Mustang bass
through a
1964 Ampeg B-15N

1969 Fender Competition Mustang bass
1964 Ampeg B-15N

B15 channel 1, volume 5 bass 5 treble 5, mic'd up with a Shure SM57 microphone, into an M-audio mobile pre USB portable soundcard. Bass strung with Rotosound RS77M flatwound strings.

more vintage guitar soundclips

Played fingerstyle

Guitar: volume 10, tone 10. Even played fingerstyle with flatwound strings, the Mustang has plenty of midrange snarl.
Guitar: volume 10, tone 0. Turn the tone down and you still get a very useable tone, but about as fat as this bass can go.

And with a pick

Guitar: volume 10, tone 10. With a pick the Mustang grunts and snarls... probably what most players want from it!
Guitar: volume 10, tone 0.
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