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Ask Smitch: As per a request I’m banging out an article on the old Fender Malibu acoustics from the days of yore since passed.
The Malibu was originally manufactured from 1965 to 1971 and has since been re-released and is available as more of a budget acoustic. The model itself came about when Fender applied the concepts that made their electrics famous to their acoustic guitars what with a bolt-on neck and a general setup to match their electrics.
What gave them the idea to try this out? Well. This part is entirely speculation completely unencumbered by facts, but I postulate that it was CBS. In 1965 CBS bought Fender out and had started tinkering with various concepts. Two piece maple necks, rosewood fretboards, simple things like that. I’m guessing it was also them that said throw a bolt-on neck electric neck on an acoustic and see what happens. Anyone is welcome to argue against me on that, though.
The response? Mixed. Some people enjoyed them, but others would bust out the holy water at a passing glance. As far as I can tell those that preferred it were primarily electric guitarists, but the primarily acoustic demographic didn’t get into it much. That withstanding the Malibu did get reasonable attention from various guitarists most notably probably being Eric Clapton and Johnny Cash. Even with guys like them playing Malibus… Malibues? Malibi? Whatever. The guitar just sorta phased out as new guitars came along and was largely forgotten, but then Fender wasn’t put on the map for their acoustics anyway.
Because of its lacking impact it hasn’t become any more favorable in the eyes of vintage collectors. I found a few on Ebay which are going for about $300 give or take. I’ve read that for one in mint condition you’re lucky to get about $600 out of them which isn’t much of a price difference from when they were brand new. If you want a cheapie vintage instrument, though, and you don’t give squat about what others think, then you might very well have found what you’re looking for.
After seeing a Youtube video or two I honestly don’t think they’re that bad sounding. I mean, come on. Wal-Mart guitars sound bad. Something like the Malibu just sounds different. Different is good. When I was a kid my parents always told me I was different and I happen to be awesome so by extension the Fender Malibu is awesome because it’s different.
- Just for kicks if you’re interested here are some of the reissued Malibus.
- Dick Dale has one too, that you can find here.
This article was requested using the Ask Smitch page on our site. Fell free to click here and Ask Smitch to cover anything guitar related for you!