Fender guitars designed and marketed towards younger players have a history almost as long as Fender itself. In 1956, just two years after the launch of the Stratocaster, Fender introduced the Duo-Sonic and Musicmaster which used the same construction techniques as other Fender guitars, but included more basic components and a shorter scale length (22.5" compared to 25.5"). These models were essentially the same, though the Duo-Sonic included a second pickup. In 1965, the company introduced the Mustang and reworked the earlier student guitars with body shapes more akin to this new design. The Duo-Sonic was phased out in 1968, and a new model dubbed the Bronco was launched as part of a package with a basic amp.

For years, these guitars floated under the vintage collector radar, and were seen as junior novelties more than serious instruments. More recently, however, interest has been on the rise due to the high prices of more mainstream Fenders, and the undeniable retro charm these guitars deliver. Early '60s Duo-Sonics, after all, carry the same "slab" Brazilian rosewood fingerboards as Strats of the era, and were products of the same mythic factory line. When shopping for a vintage student Fender on Reverb, be sure to look at all pictures and details as these lower-end guitars will very often be found with swapped parts, unoriginal finishes and other battle-scars.