Aka. How I Setup My Mustang/Jag-Stang for Heavy Whammy Use, 2023 Edition
This is an update to the ORIGINAL page which is found at here. It looks like photobucket has given me back my photos too (nice). Overview - The Dynamic Fender Vibrato, aka. the Fender Mustang Whammy, or Mustang Trem, is one of the most misunderstood and maligned vibrato units in guitar ever made, at least, to westerners (apparently Japan's Char B. did not get the memo, lol). I totally attribute this to the Mustang not being a premier guitar until Kurt Cobain became popular,, and then did that article in 1992 where he spoke lowly of the Mustang, saying the bridge was designed by a dork, and then people getting the whole question about using a whammy bar (on any guitar) right afterward with Kurt's answer "everyone knows Jimi Hendrix was the only guy who could keep one of those things in tune" mixed in nwith that - so then "Fender Mustang = Crappy, Small, Cheap, Inefficient guitar that won't stay in tune and has a bridge designed by a dork". And by extention, that's why you never saw anyone, at least in the west, using a Jag-Stang or Maverick/Custom - the other two guitars with this vibrato, in the same way. The truth is, it's actually a VERY good vibrato, even in the realm of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock, it's just highly misunderstood and shrouded in a big cloud of Celebrity Fanboyism. Look, I'm a fan of Kurt Cobain too, but you have to take a step back and think for yourself, I don't agree with him on vibratos and the Mustang. Of course, he could have just been talking shit to keep them cheap, which IS a good thing. But enough speculation.
Dynamic Fender Vibrato History
The Dynamic Fender Vibrato was released in 1964 1/2 as a part of the Fender Mustang student electric guitar. At that time, this was the only "student" model with a vibrato. At almost $300 in sixties money it was not a cheap guitar to buy, unlike what a lot of literature and books tell you. The Mustang became a very popular model with students and people with small hands.

In 1969, Fender had an overstock of Electric XII bodies and necks, and decided to make up a new, quick, model to use up the parts. The result was the Fender Maverick/Custom - it went by both names - which was a 25.5" scale guitar, with Electric XII electronics, a filled and redrilled XII neck, and a sunburst painted body with the back paintted black to hide the through body string block the 12-string model required. The body was reshaped into something similar to an Alembic bass of the time - an odd choice. Why they chose the Mustang vibrato was anyone's guess, prrobalby because they had a lot of them or they were inexpensive to make - or both. Anyway, that was the second Fender model to use that tremolo.

During the course of the 1970's, asian guitar makers started making clones of the Mustang as it was a very popular guitar in Japan, due to a guitarist named "Char B". Makers included Fresher, Greco, and Fernandez. These likely were the guitars that were the ancestors of the later Fujigen Gakki and Dyna Gakki built Fender Mustang 69' reissues that started being manufactured much later. Char B made EXTENSIVE use of the Dynamic Vibrato unit.

Around the same time, in America, Todd Rundgren in his band Utopia started using a Mustang araound 1978 or so, a modified one. Todd also made extensive use of the vibrato unit. The thing is, here, that kind of whammy use on a Mustang did not catch on at all. Firstly, Todd Rundgren was more of a B-C-list guy, and not as well known for his superb guitar work, but here he is playing "Trapped" in 1979 on a Mustang and tearing it up with the vibrato unit on the same scale Edward Van-Halen was doing with the Strat vibrato at the time.

But the majority of western Mustang players were not using the vibrato at all. Not because it was maligned, there's actually an interview of Brad Gillis of Night Ranger - one of the Kings of the Whammy Bar - saying good (enough) things of the MUSTANG at one point, yes, Mr. Whammy himself said he would have been "fine with a Mustang". So this shows that this whole malignment of the Dynamic Fender Vibrato is a RECENT thing and not some old wives tale from the 1960's. But the truth was, who in the west cared at thhe time? Nobody, we were in pointy-Superstrat with a Floyd Rose land at the time. Mustangs and MAvericks were $50 guitars you'd find in the bargain bin and use in your indie band that wrote deep, introspective music, not used by a poodle haired shredder in an LA hair metal band, or a leather clad metalhead in a bay area thrash band. They did not fit the image nor the aesthetic, not that some unknowns did not try as e-bay auctions have shown.

In 1981, the Fender Mustang was discontinued, and thusly, no more Dynamic Fender Vibrato equipped guitars were on the market from Fender at that point. By then, the Mustang was seen as an "obsolete" model by Fender, and as a "student" model to everyone else.

However, in Japan, Char B had apparently inspired so many people to pick up Mustangs, as well as many others (another band with a Mustang player is the New Wave band The Plastics, who shared the scene with P-Model and Hikashu at the time). So much so Fender did a special run of US Mustangs for the Japanese market in 1984 called "Mustang 84'".

However, we did not have a Fender model with a Dynamic Vibrato until 1990, when Fender started importing the Fujigen Gakki MG-69 guitars from over seas. These guitars used import style vibratos and were wound a little hotter than original Mustangs. These Mustangs were only availible via Mail Order (mostly), so most shops had to custom order you a Mustang as they were not considered a "safe" product at the time (ie. would it sell).

In 1991, Nirvana's Nevermind was released, their first major label album, and along with it, a music video for the song "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which featured frontman and guitairst Kurt Cobain with a 1969 Comeptition Fender Mustang. This sparked interest in Mustangs but surprisingly Fender did not put too much effort into it at the time, they were more focused on selling to bluesmen and shredders still.

In late 1995, a new model featuring this vibrato unit was released, the Fender Jag-Stang, a collaborative joint effort between Kurt Cobain and Larry Brooks. The Jag-stang was basically a thicker, more angular Fender Mustang with a humbucker in the bridge. The guitar was released quickly, likely cash-in on Cobain's legacy, but failed to take off, with production runs in Japan running from 1995-2001, 2003-2005, and the new Mexican production in 2021-present.

The Fender Mustang product line did not expand until 2013 when the Squier VM Mustang jjoined the product line with a new vibrato featuring an adjustable bridge. Many other variants of Mustang have been released since, including a new version of a Dynamic Fender Vibrato on a Professional version of the Mustang released in recent years. Not to toot my own horn too much but I also helped contribute to awareness of the Mustang's true vibratot capabilities on my "creepingnet" YouTube channel in 2006-present as I have played a 1995 Fender Jag-Stang with EMG's, a 1966 Fender Mustang, and a Musicmaster with a Mustang Vibrato on my channel showing what these vibratos can do in a hard rock context.
The Basic Design - How It Works
The basic Dynamic Fender Vibrato design as it is understood to be is actually a 2 assembly setup consisting of a bridge that sits in a pair of thimbles in the wood, and a vibrato unit.