Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ Review: Affordable, Versatile Short-Scale

Released in 1966, the Fender Mustang Bass is an attractive and unique bass guitar, featuring a slim waist and offset curvature designed by the legendary Leo Fender himself.

When I looked at the price of the original models from the '60s, these bass guitars fetch over $4000 at auction – which isn't quite as appealing as the bass itself.

Thankfully, Fender is still producing Mustang basses. These enduring bass designs give you that classic thunderous bass tone at a very reasonable price. In this review, I'll be sharing my experience of the Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ, which is their mid-priced Mustang Bass option.

The Mustang Bass PJ is an especially versatile short-scale option, owing to its PJ pickup configuration. If you're looking for a compact, affordable bass that works for just about any application, you can't really go wrong with this model.

We'll also cover a few alternative models you should consider if the PJ isn't speaking to you. We will say, though, that the Fender Mustang PJ came at the top of our guide to the best short scale basses (which you shouldn't miss if you're in the market for a smaller instrument to learn on or take with you on the road).

Let's take a closer look.

Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ: Overview & Specs

Overall Average Rating: 4.5/5

Why I Like It

  • The slick visual style looks cool but is also comfortable to hold.
  • Nice versatility between the precision and jazz pickups.
  • Professional build quality throughout

What I Think Could Be Improved

  • I'm not a fan of these saddle-style bridges, sometimes they're unstable.
  • Stock pickups lack depth and character, and may need to be upgraded for more professional situations.
  • The shorter scale length might not be suitable for larger players. (Although this is one of the main unique attractions of the Mustang design).


  • Design:
    • Body Shape - Player Mustang
    • Neck Shape - Modern C, with four bolt neck plate
    • Scale Length - 30"
    • Fretboard - 19 Medium Jumbo Frets
  • Pickups:
    • Bridge Pickup - Fender Vintage-Style Jazz Single-coil
    • Middle/Neck Pickup - Fender Vintage-Style Precision Split Single-coil
    • Controls - master volume knob, master tone knob, 3-way toggle pickup selector switch
  • Colors - Aged Natural, Sienna Sunburst or Firemist Gold
  • Materials:
    • Neck - Maple neck
    • Body - Alder body

The Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ is a compact, versatile bass guitar that promises a comfortable playing experience with a bunch of retro appeal – albeit with a few modern design approaches.

Unlike the original Mustang basses, which came with a single precision-styled pickup, this Fender Mustang PJ uses a PJ pickup configuration – so it comes with one J-bass (jazz) bridge pickup and a precision middle pickup.

I think it's nice to have this combo of pickups, as they each have unique sonic characteristics, and you can blend between the two. P-bass pickups provide a warm, punchy tone with strong mids, while J-bass pickups offer a brighter, clearer sound with a wide tonal range and more pronounced treble. I love having the best of both worlds in this Mustang PJ bass.

Compared to the market leader, the Fender Precision Bass, this Mustang offers a short-scale neck and lighter weight, making it more nimble, and easier to play for players of smaller stature and as a beginners' bass guitar.

I'll also compare the Player Mustang to the Squier Classic Vibe '60s Mustang Bass, and the Fender American Performer Mustang Bass (the Player model is priced in the middle of these two electric bass models).

Now, let me share my thoughts on this bass in detail!

Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ: Features & Benefits

Build Quality 4/5

When it comes to build quality, the Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ impressed me with its attention to detail and solid construction. The vintage-style tuners, in particular, were a highlight. They not only added a touch of classic Fender aesthetics but also held tuning remarkably well during extended playing sessions, which I know is essential for serious players.

All the electronics worked perfectly and had smooth and clean operation – there was no crackle on the volume or tone controls, and the pickup switcher was clean.

The body also felt nicely refined, and I could easily tell that it has the signature high quality of the Fender Player instrument range. Obviously, it's not as nice as their more premium models like the American Performers, but you can quickly feel that it's miles above a Squier or cheaper model.

My only real criticism in terms of build is the type of bridge they've used. I think it's called a saddle bridge, and I'm really not a fan of these. I've actually swapped them out in other guitars before for tune-o-matic style bridges (which I would recommend doing here). It's not a deal breaker, and it is faithful to the original models. I just find that strings can pop out of the saddle seat during aggressive playing. Maybe I'm just plucking it too hard though...

Feel and Playability 5/5

One of the standout features of the Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ is its feel and playability.

As a short-scale bass, it has a scale length of 30 inches, which is shorter than the standard 34 inches found on most full-scale basses. This makes a significant difference in terms of playability.

I found navigating the fretboard to be much easier compared to larger basses like the Fender Precision Bass. The shorter scale length means less stretching for your fingers, which is particularly beneficial for players with smaller hands (like me) or those who prefer a more relaxed playing style.

Whether I was playing fast, intricate lines or laying down simple, steady grooves, the Mustang Bass felt comfortable and responsive.

Additionally, the overall balance of the instrument was excellent. It didn't feel neck-heavy, which can sometimes be an issue with other basses, especially offset models like this. This balance made it easier to play for extended periods without experiencing fatigue.

In terms of playability, I think the Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ is top-notch and very nimble.

Tone, Pickups, and Sonic Versatility 5/5

The tone and sonic versatility of the Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ are among its most attractive features.

The combination of the P-Bass and J-Bass pickups offers a wide range of tonal options that I find very attractive as a more tonally diverse player.

The P Bass split-coil pickup delivers that classic, punchy midrange tone that is perfect for rock, punk, and other genres that require a strong, driving bassline. On the other hand, the J Bass single-coil pickup provides a brighter, clearer sound with a more pronounced treble, which is ideal for funk, jazz, and other styles that benefit from a more articulate, defined bass sound.

Switching between the pickups, I was able to dial in a variety of tones to suit different musical contexts.

However, while the pickups offer versatility, I did notice that the stock bass pickups lacked some depth and character compared to higher-end Fender or custom models. For recording or critical listening, this might be more noticeable, and upgrading the pickups could be a worthwhile investment for those seeking the best possible sound.

Although, I'm just making a more nuanced criticism here, and I think these are largely perfect for most situations.

Value for Money 4/5

In terms of value for money, the Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ is an excellent option.

Priced competitively within the mid-range market, it offers professional build quality, versatile tones, and great playability that can rival more expensive models.

For the price, you get a reliable instrument that is suitable for both beginners and experienced players looking for a high-quality, affordable bass.

While there are areas where the Mustang Bass PJ could be improved – such as the depth of the stock pickups and the bridge setup – I think you get a great amount of bang for your buck here.

If you can stretch your budget by an extra 50%, I would suggest looking at the Fender American Performer Mustang Bass for a more future-proofed model, but I still think you'll be happy with the Player Series.

Best Alternatives to Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ

While this Fender Player Mustang Bass is clearly a short-scale underground hero, with a delightfully smooth playing feel, it's clear that this bass might not be the best for all players. It's definitely reasonably priced, but it's in the middle ground. Meaning it's not the most affordable, nor does it offer the most uncompromising quality. So here are some of my top alternatives.

Fender American Performer Mustang Bass vs Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ

If you know your Fenders, then you'll be aware of the various different quality steps across their ranges. The American Performer series is one of their more premium grades of instruments, offering improved components and craftsmanship, resulting in a better feeling and sounding bass guitar.

If you're a pro recording or touring bassist, I think this range is a better investment, if you have the spare cash.

Fender Vintera II '70s Mustang Bass vs Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ

For something a little more vintage, the Fender Vintera Mustang bass might be more up your street. This is incredibly authentic and uses a nearly identical design methodology to the original '70s Fender Mustang basses. I think this just looks gorgeous too, in a garish orange, finished with a sweet set of racing stripes.

Squier Classic Vibe '60s Mustang Bass vs Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ

Many musicians are on tight budgets these days, but that doesn't mean they have to make massive compromises on quality. This Squier Classic Vibe Mustang bass offers excellent value for money. Coming in around half the price of the Player model, it still has a decent quality that will be good enough for many situations. Just expect a bit of snobbery from more affluent pro musicians...

Final Verdict

If you're looking for a vintage-styled, short-scale bass guitar with a ton of versatility, tonal range, and a very comfortable feel I think you're going to love the Fender Player Mustang Bass PJ.

It gives you two drastically different pickups to blend between, helping you dial in a broad range of tones, it's nice and nimble on the hands, and it looks pretty groovy if you ask me.

Check out the other options I shared above in case you have more room in your budget, and even have a look at our full comparison of the best short scale bass guitars for even more choices!

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