Reader Guitar of the Month: Fender Mustang 90 “Violet”

A reader uses Lego pieces to make his Frankenstang unique, but his tone simple.


Name: Art Cheng

Hometown: Cedar Park, Texas
Guitar: Fender Mustang 90 “Violet”

I picked up this Mustang with P-90s in 2016, as I was looking for a short-scale electric with a different sound. She has since become my go-to axe.

Initially, I liked the mellow sound of the stock Korean neck pickup, but the bridge lacked the expected P-90 rawness. There was also that ever-present hum that was arguably charming when played clean and at low volumes, but unbearable when played with cascading gain through headphones at night in an effort to not wake up my family.

Some noiseless P-90s would’ve been nice, but I wanted to work with what I had. I swapped out the unidentified bridge magnets with a set of alnico 2 bars and installed them in reverse. Then I flipped the coil to make the combined pickups hum cancelling.

I was thrilled with the charged, spinning, textured sound. However, I hated having to choose between tone and silence. In the quiet of the middle position, the desperate treble bite of the bridge pup was completely diluted out. It became a characterless pseudo-humbucker. So, I decided to convert my neck pickup into a dummy coil.

I replaced the neck magnets with two flat, long Lego pieces hot glued to the baseplate as spacers, but left the pickups wired in parallel. The resulting tone was almost perfect. No hum. Very slight treble loss. I use my boost to compensate for volume.

What to do with my now vestigial toggle switch? Since I committed to creating a Frankenstang, I removed the switch, widened the mounting hole, and secured a violet amp lamp jewel from underneath the pickguard. Got some chrome pickup covers and chrome knobs to top it off.

Having one effective pickup isn’t for everyone, but as for me, I just plug in and there’s my signature sound. After all, I’m a one-pair-of-jeans kind of guy. I have one “nice” T-shirt that I wear to church every Sunday. Life is complicated enough. I like to keep things simple when I play.

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