Fender styles up a short-scale signature Mustang for Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie

Fender Ben Gibbard Mustang
(Image credit: Fender)

GEAR 2021: The Mustang is often overlooked in the Fender lineup. A compact offset, it is either seen as a budget instrument, originally marketed to students like the Duo-Sonic, or a niche instrument with a salvaged vibe that you might use for grunge or suchlike.

One of the latest signature electric guitars from Fender, the Ben Gibbard Mustang might just change that perception. 

The Death Cab For Cutie guitarist has long been an advocate of the Mustang, using an array of modded 70s models on tour. Speaking to MusicRadar in 2019, Gibbard explained that he used a number of them in alternate tunings, and how it was playability that drew him to the model.

“I got a Mustang in a trade, and I just really liked that the neck was so easy to move around on,“ he said. “It was very similar to the Fender Bullet I played when the band started, so I found my hands moving around the neck in a similar fashion as I did in some of the older material and that re-inspired me to play more guitar.“

Gibbard's 2021 signature model features a number of very practical appointments that goes to show that you can design a compact electric guitar with a short 24" scale and make it wholly practical for the working musician. And those proportions would make it a very attractive proposition for players with smaller frames and hands.

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The Gibbard Mustang has a chambered ash body that will surely be kind to your lower back, and quite possibly a guitar you can actually move with on stage. It has a bolt-on one-piece maple neck that's carved into a modern C profile, with a 9.5” radius maple fingerboard and 22 medium jumbo frets.

There are two custom-wound single-coil pickups that are controlled by a volume knob and a 3-way rotary pickup selector that masquerades as a tone control.

Taking out the tone control is a mod Gibbard has applied to his touring Mustangs. But here it is applied a little differently. While this new signature model offers players the opportunity to use either pickup, Gibbard does away with his entirely and wires his Mustang so both pickups are used at all times.

The hardware is similarly inventive, with a modified Mustang hardtail engineered to enhance sustain and intonation.

Priced £599 / $1099 / €699, the Ben Gibbard Mustang is available in a Natural finish, and should be with retailers worldwide in March.

See Fender for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.