Didn’t expect this in-between guitar project, I didn’t even know of the existence of this particular reissue. I came across this guitar when browsing the local Craigslist-variant on the look-out for a neck for my Fender Jaguar. Unfortunately, still haven’t found one but more on that later. The Duo-Sonic parts were pretty cheap, so I figured why not? If I don’t like it in the long run I could probably sell it for a nice profit.
These Duo-Sonics were introduced in 1993 by Fender Mexico and made until 1997. The color options were Arctic White, Black or Torino Red, although there was also a (very limited?) series featuring the ‘Competition’ colors with the racing stripes. The body is made from poplar like most guitars from Mexico at the time. This ‘reissue’ is a weird mix from the different years of the original run of the Duo-Sonic from the 50s and 60s. The neck is the strangest thing on this guitar. It has a scale length of 22.7 inches, 20 frets and has a rather big nut width compared to its shortscale size. I’d almost compare it to the nut width of a modern Stratocaster.
As you can see in the pictures the Duo-Sonic was missing a few parts; I only got the body, neck, pickguard and bridge. Luckily, the electronics were few and the Kluson tuners cheap. I decided to use the two Lace Sensor single coil pickups I originally intended to use in my Billy Corgan tribute Strat which is still in the works. More on that later as well.
The original 90s reissue had Stratocaster-style pickups and a matching set of Strat volume and tone knobs, as seen above on the page header. I’m really used to the black Jazz Bass-style knobs on my Fender Mustangs so I opted for these instead. The three-way toggle I bought is a more heavy-duty toggle compared to the mini toggles found on most Duo-Sonics, which are rather flimsy and small. The body rout is a bit small to accommodate some larger switches, bit of advice if someone wants to switch these out. The tuners used on these 90s Duo-Sonics are crappy and have a strange shape and size. Finding replacement tuners that fit exactly is impossible. The bushings are also very small (didn’t come with the guitar) and I had to rout the tuner holes to fit the Kluson bushings. I couldn’t find any smaller bushings, but I had to drill new holes for the tuners so I figured modding the neck for new bushings wasn’t that big of a deal.
The sound of this particular Duo-Sonic is very interesting because of its super-shortscale size and the Lace pickups. It packs quite a punch for its diminutive size and I’m really loving the neck profile. The string tension is quite low with a regular set of .010’s, I’d recommend something a bit thicker if you’re going to play in E standard. I was also worried about the intonation because of the two-strings-per-saddle bridge design and the shorter scale in general. The strings haven’t settled in perfectly but the intonation and tuning stability is definitely far better than I expected. I also really, really like the color combination of the red, white and black with the maple fretboard on this guitar!
A small update on the Ronald Jones Jaguar and Billy Corgan Stratocaster: I still haven’t found a neck for this guitar. It really bums me out as I would have liked to have finished it months ago. If I can’t find one in the area in the next month I guess I’ll have to try eBay but that’s pricey… The Stratocaster body will be refinished in the next few weeks, hoping I can get the electronics done by then. Although I just cannibalized two of these Lace Sensors for this Duo-Sonic I found an original 90s set of Red, Silver and Blue Laces like Corgan used! I’ll post some pics when I finish the body and install the new hardware.