The ultimate modern Mustang? A closer look at the new Fender Ben Gibbard signature

Is the Mustang Fender's dark horse electric guitar? It's certainly got the name for it. We were wowed by the Player Series iteration of it last year but perhaps it's the new signature for Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard that will really fly the flag for the short-scale stallion with a new generation. Because it looks and sounds really promising from the demo above. Which gets extra marks for the complete lack of the blues noodling that often plagues so many demos. 


(Image credit: Fender)

As we saw in our Death Cab For Cutie rig tour a few years ago, Gibbard has been at the Mustang rodeo a while, using modified 70s models and these personal touches have equated to features on his signature guitar that could have wide appeal. 


(Image credit: Fender)

Firstly, this has a chambered ash body – a desirable tonewood you won't see much of in the Fender lineup these days. So it's light and resonant. And what looks like a vintage-style Mustand bridge isn't – it's a modified hardtail. Looks, sustain and stability? We'll take all three, please. 

"Creating a custom version that is a replica of what I play on stage was an opportunity I could never pass up"

The neck is a one-piece 22-fret modern 'C'-shaped maple neck with 9.5” radius fingerboard and medium jumbo frets. The pickups are a pair of custom 'vintage-inspired' Ben Gibbard Mustang single-coils with black covers that blend in with the scratchplate. There's a three-way rotary selector too – something you don't often see in this world of toggles.

Ben Gibbard

(Image credit: Barry Brecheisen)
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Death Cab For Cutie

(Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)

Rig tour: Death Cab For Cutie 

“Growing up as a kid I always wanted to own a Fender but I couldn’t afford one until much later in life," says Gibbard. I"t’s a dream come true to design my own signature model. 

“Over the years I’ve owned many different guitars, but my Mustang models have always been my favourites. Creating a custom version that is a replica of what I play on stage was an opportunity I could never pass up. 

"I wanted to create something that would mimic all the augmentations I’ve made on my live instruments, something you can just pick up off the rack and everything is intuitive. Maybe this player wants to sing and play guitar at the same time, or perhaps they just want to play a guitar that makes navigating tone simple.” 


(Image credit: Fender)

The Fender Ben Gibbard Mustang is available now and retails at £979/€1,099. 

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.