1978 Fender Musicmaster Review

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The Fender Musicmaster was originally offered as a student guitar as from 1956. However the guitar quickly caught on with student and professional players alike.

Players such as Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Rory Gallagher have been spotted playing this unlikely guitar, possibly because of its easily playable neck and comfortably sized body.

We are reviewing a 1978 Musicmaster which was purchased online through eBay. It comes with a period correct case and is in good condition.


Text Box:  The instrument features a slightly offset body style (feature introduced in 1964) and is contoured unlike the earlier slab models. A one-piece plastic guard, as opposed to the earlier two-piece version, holds all the electronics. These changes were bought around to bring the Musicmaster in-line with the new Mustang its more “grown-up” sibling.

The neck is 24” in scale (early versions were offered with a ¾ size 22 ½” scale necks) has a veneered rosewood fingerboard. The headstock is the enlarged 70s type with the Musicmaster logo. It also sports chrome Kluson tuners with the “F” logo stamped on the back

Electronics are kept simple, one pickup in the bridge position, one volume and one tone control. The knobs are numbered Stratocaster style and the pickup has flush pole pieces and a black cover. The input socket is also located on the pickguard.

Fit & Finish

Text Box:       Musicmasters of this period were offered in white or black, with the thick skin gloss finish also normal for the CBS era. Everything seems to fit correctly with a narrow neck gap and good join to the body. Interesting though are the notches in the neck pocket and the slightly over wide area under the pocket below the neck, as shown in the photo to the right.


Text Box:  The Musicmaster feels right at home with its Strat like contours and although it is appreciable smaller it doesn’t seem so when one is playing. The neck is quite chunky but manageable. The action is set slightly high, but this I am sure, can be accommodated to taste.

Sounds are pretty straightforward with its one slanted pickup in the neck position. The tone is very Fender but rather warm than sparkly when played clean. With distortion however things change drastically and this little guitar becomes a grungy beast. One can see how Kurt Cobain and others used guitars of this style to suit their style.

The “F” stamped tuners are smooth to use and the bridge is a three saddle non-compensated type reminiscent of the original Telecaster.


A great vintage guitar which although now seemly forgot will surely rise to prominence in a few years time. A great purchase, for the equivalent price of a contemporary mid-range guitar.