How bad is the Squier Sonic Mustang? Well, no burying the lede here, it’s the good kind of bad! This is the most comprehensive and unbiased review of a Squier Sonic Mustang that you will find and includes two accompanying videos, including this full review. As always, I bought this guitar with my own money from a major retailer (in this case, Sweetwater).
The Sonic series is the new budget lineup from Squier / Fender, essentially replacing the Bullet series. They did a few fun things with the Sonic guitars, including new colors like this Torino Red Mustang.
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Table of Contents
Why You Should Trust Us
Hey, I’m Karol (like Karl not Carol). I’ve been playing guitar for 20+ years, but I’m still an amateur and learning every day. In my younger years I played in a band, but nowadays it’s for fun. I’m not a guitar snob, and I think everybody should just have fun with it.
Why should you listen to this Squier Sonic Mustang review? Because I don’t care about selling you anything and I want to help you make an informed choice about this and every other guitar I review. I started Art Of Shred because I was unimpressed with the obviously biased paid for guitar and musical equipment reviews online. I only get paid if you use one of my referral links to buy a guitar. Everything I write here is unbiased. Keep in mind, of course, that these are just my views. I don’t know everything and my opinions are my opinions.
Squier by Fender Sonic Mustang
Squier Sonic Mustang in Torino red
Weight: 6.8 lbs
Made in: Indonesia
Based on vintage Mustangs
Fun to play!
Squier quality control is not always great (although this one was fine)
No belly carve like the Bullet Mustang
Squier Sonic Mustang Video Review
Don’t want to read? No worries. This nearly 15 minute video review on ArtOfShred’s YouTube channel covers most of what you need to know, including an extensive sound demo. The sound demo includes a semi-produced track with drums as well as guitar-only segments with clean and dirty sounds using the various pickup options.
Want to watch my unboxing and very first impressions of this guitar as well?
The Basics of the Sonic Mustang
The Fender Mustang is an iconic guitar originally made as a sort of student model. It has a shorter scale length which children and adults with small hands sometimes find useful. And they’re generally not priced like more expensive models from Fender (or in this case, Squier).
But then grunge happened and the Mustang became iconic. Kurt Cobain used them. The member of Sonic Youth used them. A resurgence from a pawn shop guitar to a sought after professional guitar ensued. Thankfully Squier decided to give us all the fun at a budget price.
The Sonic Mustang is more true to vintage Fender Mustangs than the old Squier Bullet Mustangs. It has the same fretboard radius (9.5″ vs the Bullet’s 12″) and iconic Mustang single coil pickup covers.
The regular price of this guitar is $199.99, but I do often see it on sale for 10% off. I purchased it at full price:
The spec breakdown:
- Short 24″ scale length
- Squier ceramic single-coil pickups
- 6-saddle hardtail bridge
- Poplar body
- Maple neck with skunk stripe
- 22 narrow tall frets
- 9.5″ fretboard radius
- Synthetic bone nut
- 1 volume and 1 tone control
- 3 way pickup switch
I’ve stated this before and I’ll state it until things change, but when you buy a Squier guitar new online it can sometimes be a crapshoot due to Squier’s quality control. The biggest problem you might find is fret sprout and/or sharp frets, which, sadly, is not an uncommon problem on even more expensive guitars. This should not dissuade you from buying online, it is just something you should keep in mind.
But good news! This guitar didn’t have any major issues. No fret sprout or sharp frets and even the action (string height) was good (although high for my tastes as you can see in my first impressions video). There were multiple high frets on my Mustang, but thankfully they didn’t cause any fret buzz so I didn’t need to do major fret work like I thought in that first impressions video. Once I gave the guitar a setup it played and sounded really nice!
One of the many reasons I implore guitar players to learn how to do basic setups is because when you learn how to set up action and intonation and simple things like that it really makes your guitar your own. Guitars are not really complex instruments, and unless something is majorly wrong (a missing fret, or a broken headstock, for example) you can usually fix it up with just a few basic tools. It feels great!
This guitar does come with the 2 allen wrenches you need for adjustments (truss rod adjustment and string height adjustment).
Not much negative to say. If you’d like a vintage Fender Mustang style budget guitar then this gets you there.
But! A lot of folks complain that these Sonic Mustangs don’t have a belly carve like their Bullet Mustang cousins. The flatter 12″ fretboard radius of the Bullet is also something people complain about with the Sonic. I personally don’t have a preference for either of those things, but if you do then keep that in mind.
And one complaint which is common amongst nearly every sub $200 guitar is the cheap tuners aren’t great and the guitar doesn’t stay in tune as well as a guitar with better tuners. It’s not egregious though so I wouldn’t worry to much about this.
Lots to like about this cheap $200 guitar!
- Plays well
- Sounds good
- Looks good
- Really cheap and you can often find it on sale
The most important thing is it plays well and sounds good. You can’t ask for much more in a budget guitar, tbh. When a guitar is fun to play you’ll pick it up more often. When a guitar sounds good you’ll pick it up more often. Perfect for a beginner!
But this isn’t just a beginners guitar as far as I’m concerned. If you’re looking for a 2nd or 3rd or 4th guitar in a shorter scale length or you want a fun mod guitar then this is a nice choice.
Beyond that, this Torino Red is a nice color. And the Sonic series has other fun colors for their Mustangs (as well as the other guitar models).
What Kind of Setup Did I Do?
This guitar did not need an extensive setup. I expected I’d need to do a fret level based on the high frets, but once set the string height how I wanted it, tuned it up and intonated it, there was no fret buzz. Woohoo! Always nice when there is no need for a time consuming fret level.
But, of course I did need to set the intonation.
Here is what I did:
- Polished all the frets with 9 grits of micromesh.
- Restrung it with new strings (of course)
- Set the action to ~1.75mm
- Set the intonation (very easy to do)
That might sound like a lot if you’ve never played guitar before, but I promise you wouldn’t need to do any of these things to get enjoyment out of this guitar so don’t worry too much. (But once you’ve been playing for a year or so I do recommend you learn how to do basic setups.)
How Does A Sonic Mustang Sound?
I’ve already said it but I really like these pickups. I’ve played a lot of cheap guitars and these just might be my favorite single coil pickups on any budget guitar I’ve played. Please check the YouTube review of this guitar to get the full sound demo.
What Would I Upgrade?
As much as I love these pickups, especially for a budget guitar, I would swap them out for something with a little more clarity. If I was working with a limited budget I’d start with just the bridge pickup and go from there. Absolutely necessary upgrade? Nope! But if I wanted to record or play live with this guitar that’s what I’d do.
I’d also replace the cheap tuners with locking tuners. Locking tuners make string changes a breeze and upgrading from cheap tuners will help with tuning stability.
Lastly, I might replace the nut with a GraphTech nut since it’s only $15. But I’d only do that if GraphTech has a direct drop in replacement. I have no interest in cutting my own nut. (Insert your own joke here, I deserve it.)
Sometimes I think I might be nitpicking so let me be clear. If you don’t do any upgrades on the Sonic Mustang, I think you’ll still be happy with it. I am!
Squier Sonic Mustang Photo Gallery
Final Thoughts on the Sonic Mustang
This is a sweet choice of budget guitar if you’re looking for something a little different. It’s a good choice for beginners or modders alike.
Overall: 8.6 / 10. I don’t think you’ll regret buying one if it’s what you want.
Do you own a Squier Sonic Mustang? Please let me know below what you like and dislike about it.