1975 Fender Music Master

It's Alive!

This was one of the first guitars that I acquired with the intention of restoring it to its former glory. This was the 3rd guitar I purchased on eBay after my initial foray into the world of buying sight unseen after the purchase of my 1978 and 1976 Strats. I watched the auction carefully, prepared to jump in at the last minute thinking that this would somehow guarantee a winning bid. Unfortunately someone else had the same idea.

A short time later, the winning bidder posted the guitar for sale again after making some modifications. This time I was the winning bidder. I purchased the guitar for about $50 more than its previous selling price. After I received the guitar, I disassembled it and proceeded to ignore it for almost 14 years as I became a little too obsessed with adding more guitars to my collection.

Sad but true. That 2nd pickup cavity was truly a work of art.

Sad but true. That 2nd pickup cavity was truly a work of art.

This guitar looked like a real basket case, but I thought it had some potential. It had a pretty hilarious “custom” paint job – black with silver rays across the front of the body. It was all silver on the back. The original seller confessed that he knew nothing about guitars, and described it as a guitar from the 1960s or 1970s, and that “The neck seems to be in great cosmetic condition with 6 keys marked F.” The original pickup appeared to be missing, but a 2nd pickup had been added in a very rough cutout in the pickguard surrounded by white tape. The pickup looked as if it could have been a mini-humbucker, but back in the days of tiny images on eBay it was impossible to be sure. The listing also stated that the original Fender case was included.

When the guitar reappeared for sale in the 2nd listing, it was now described as a 1974 model. The previous seller simply described it as “old.” The pickguard had now been replaced, and there was now a single pickup in the correct loaction. The pickup cover was missing, although it did appear to be broken in the previous listing. The original knobs had been replaced with what appeared to be Telecaster style knobs, but everything else seemed the same as before. The 2nd seller did include a better photo of the fretboard, and it did look like it was in very nice condition. This is the actual description from the listing:

The guitar has been refinished and has some changed parts, but it is still a great sounding, fun little guitar. The frets have recently been dressed and polished, and are in immaculate condition! This guitar has been professionally set up and restrung, and comes with original Fender case.

Here’s the rundown of the ACTUAL condition of the guitar once I received it. The paint job was even more entertaining in person. The photos didn’t do it justice. I kept imagining a 12 year old kid expressing his creative urge with a couple of cans of Krylon, and the look of satisfaction on his face as he gazed upon the final result. The back side of the guitar had what I would describe as a crackle finish. I’m not sure if this was intentional, or the result of bad surface prep. I noticed that there was a variety of replacement screws used everywhere on the guitar. The pickguard and control plate were attached with flat head slotted wood screws from the local hardware store, and among the four screws attaching the neck, there were three different types. The replacement pickguard was poorly executed. It was missing a few screw holes, and the truss rod notch at the neck was pretty large and oddly shaped. Once I removed the guard, I was confronted by the body modifications made to accommodate the long lost 2nd pickup. The new hole in the body was so rough, I thought it must have been carved with a butter knife! I detected some kind of unknown substance on the bottom of the hole. There was also a groove carved between this hole and the original pickup cavity to accommodate the wiring for the extra pickup. A Jackson pickup had been installed, which had a visible break in one end of the winding. The brass shielding was in place under the pickup, but it wasn’t attached to the body. I could see that it had been stapled at some point, but the staple was missing. The shielding was painted black along with the body. Upon closer inspection of the control plate, I noticed that it had a worn brass finish – not chrome plated as expected. The Telecaster style knobs had the same type of worn brass finish. When I looked under the plate, I could see that the non-original electronics were connected by some pretty sloppy soldering. The brass control cavity shielding was missing altogether. Seller number two had removed the original Fender “F” neck plate with the stamped serial number, and had replaced it with a generic plain one. It was pretty much impossible to see this when looking at the low resolution photos in the eBay listing, so… buyer beware. On a more positive note, the neck, frets and tuners were in very nice shape although the nut had become so worn over time that the strings were cutting grooves into the headstock end of the rosewood. I assume the case was actually original to the guitar after all. Although it was only a chipboard case, it was imprinted with a silver Fender logo on the top. Could it be more of a rarity than a hardshell case from the same era?

Rex Poole