Monday, February 1, 2010


Over the next few months, I'll be covering my efforts to change the above bass guitar, the Fender Squier Bronco, into a more hot rodded bass guitar styled after it's near twin, the venerable and long out of production Fender MusicMaster bass guitar.
I can't find a good pic that will fit here on this blog, but here's a link to a vintage MusicMaster to give you an idea of the similarity.
I'm not the first to attempt this project, as the Fender MusicMaster was a popular bass in the 1970's for beginning bass students like me. Although drums have always been my primary instrument, the 1974 Dakota Red Fender MusicMaster bass was an instrument I always regretted selling.
Silly mistakes of youth, for sure, because now they sell for premium prices.
The Bronco overseas version shares the body shape with the venerable MusicMaster, but near everything else is different. The two saddle bridge is another feature they share, and it is just as bad on the Bronco as on the original. It's near impossible to get good intonation with a two saddle bridge, so that will be the first thing to go.
I've accumulated some parts to begin working on the Bronco. First off, I do still have to buy a single coil bass pickup, although the MusicMaster used a single coil guitar instead of a bass pickup. I want a j-bass sound coming from the pickup, and several of the Seymour Duncan pickups will drop right in. Now it's just up to finding a deal on one on ebay, as well as some better tuning heads.
I've got a four saddle bridge that will require drilling two holes. I have the wiring, the sheilding tape for the control cavity, two new pots for the volume and tone and some quality wiring. I've got some genuine black Fender knobs and finger rest. I have a 3 layer pickguard and a higher quality nut.
I'll do everything but the nut, and I'll take the bass to my Houston friend Woody Oakes, noted bassist and very good at shimming and adjusting bass necks and adjusting bridge saddles to obtain as perfect of intonation as can be had. And he'll do it for a few beers.
So the plan is to get a short scale bass guitar that sounds better than the original, but still does tribute to the look and the comfort of a Fender short scale. I lucked out and got a Bronco that sounds good when unplugged, a key feature according to Woody. The neck is very nice and the frets have only needed minor deburring. It actually intones better than either of the Dakota Red MusicMasters I have owned in my life, but that does not mean that I have come to accept the two saddle bridge.
Squire has been producing some fairly excellent guitars the past few years, with big upgrades in QC and higher end parts. They would be well served to consider doing something with the Bronco other than the Hello Kitty model, which is just artwork on the pickguard of a standard Bronco.
If Squire was smart, they'd make an upgraded Bronco for all the guitar players who like playing bass on a short scale, and for all the bass players who occasionally like strapping on a good sounding short scale bass for less weight and more comfort. Call it a Custom Shop Bronco and they could sell tons of them for $400.

1 comment:

  1. Hey - I love the old Musicmasters - and their guitar pickups. I actually have a 66 Mustang bass - and I think my 73 musicmaster sounds better!

    But curious to see what you end up putting together. The biggest beef I have with the current Broncos is the heavy bodies they often have - there was a squire musicmaster out about 12 years ago that I believe had a lightweight basswood body - thats the one I'd use as the basis for your project!

    by the way - I'm the guy who write the guitargarage blog - glad ya liked the post!