What happened to the Fender Cyclone?

Since earlier this year when it became clear the Fender Cyclones were no longer being manufactured, that is the question I asked myself. “What happened to the Fender Cyclone?” We’ll put down some cyclone facts and see what kind of conclusions we can make.

Graffiti Yellow Fender Cyclone

First a quick overview of the history… The original Cyclone was introduced at Summer NAMM 1998. (press release) Just for reference, the jag-stang was introduced at Winter NAMM 1996. The Cyclone II, which added jaguar like switching and jaguar pickups, was introduced at Summer NAMM 2002. (press release) Summer NAMM 2003 saw the new Cyclone HH model with dual humbuckers. (press release) Also in 2003 a Squier model of the Cyclone was introduced.

Daphne Blue Fender Cyclone II

When you consider the features of the Cyclone, and then consider what was being said in many of the jag-stang reviews prior to the Cyclone’s release, it makes you think that Fender tried to appease many of the major complaints seen in the jag-stang reviews. The most notable cyclone features being:

  • larger 24 3/4″ scale neck – Many jag-stang reviews complained about how tiny the neck felt which was the 24″ scale neck.
  • contoured body – many jag-stang complaints about lack of contours.
  • Synchronized tremelo – the floating bridge/tremelo system on jag-stangs/mustangs/etc can be pretty daunting to new guitar players/owners.
  • Single 3 way switch – another common complaint of the jag-stang/mustang was the switches positioned above each pickup.
  • straight humbucker in bridge position – the jag-stang’s angled humbucker was another common issue.
  • jaguar-like electronics (with Cyclone II) – alternative guitar fans should automatically like anything with jaguar parts on it, right??
  • competition stripe paint jobs (with Cyclone II) – another feature aimed at the alternative guitar crowd.

So considering the feature set and how it addressed so many jag-stang and mustang complaints how is it that the cyclone is no more and the mustang is still available? Why didn’t it catch on?

Candy Apple Red Fender Cyclone II

An issue may have been visibility of the cyclone in guitar shops. Between 1999 and 2005 I rarely recall seeing a cyclone in any of the guitar shops I visited at all. This may have just been a geographical or coincidental thing, but even many of the sales folks wouldn’t know anything about the cyclone.

Possibly the most important issue with the popularity of the Cyclone was it’s lack of being identified with any popular guitarist or group. As popular as Artist Series guitars have become for Fender and Gibson that kind of artist recognition would have obviously been a huge benefit.

Kurt Cobain playing Fender MustangIt really makes you wonder if it were not for Kurt Cobain, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, etc… and the alternative guitar popularity of the 90s would the Mustang, Jaguar, or Jazzmaster be available today?

If you have any thoughts on what happened to the Cyclone, please feel free to post em in the comments.

34 thoughts on “What happened to the Fender Cyclone?

  1. I own a Cyclone of the first (S/H) variety, bought used from a guitar store, and I love it. I only know of two bands who use Cyclones, neither especially well known and both Japanese – the pillows and Noodles. I probably would not have been aware that the guitar existed if it wasn’t for these bands, especially since they’re no longer being made or sold in the US. I very much want a daphne blue Cyclone II, but can’t find an affordable one anywhere.

    I think you’re on to something with the point about the lack of association with any particular band. Jaguars and Jazzmasters were fading into total obscurity before indie bands of the late 80s and early 90s started playing them, precisely because they were cheap. Look at what that’s done to their popularity. And of course, the Strat and Tele are ubiquitous.

    I miss the Cyclone. Kinda wish they’d bring it back. It has such a cool vibe to it.

  2. a lot of bands from the 90’s were using mustangs and jaguars, it just so happens it took Kurt Cobain to really make them mainstream. just look at what he did for unvox, boss ds-1’s and EH smallclone pedals.

    funny thing is that Kurt played Strats an awful lot too and people over look that. i guess its cause everyone since Jimi Hendrix plays a Strat these days.

  3. Two reasons why I never bought a Cyclone, and will probably never buy another FMI product:

    1. They never offered the Cyclone left-handed. How can you sell what you don’t make? In respect to this web site, I’m trying really hard to refrain from typing a long Tourette syndrome-like spew of expletives aimed at Fender about this issue.

    2. Even if they did make it lefty, I didn’t like their “modern” fat frets and flatter neck radius. The vintage frets & radius are much more comfortable. Note to FMI: that’s why people still buy the vintage reissues.

  4. The Fender cyclone is an excellent guitar.
    I think it practically measured up to a US strat I played after I had it professionally set up.

    Very comfortable to play and seems perfectly suited to my smaller hands.
    I’ve played it through a multitude of valve and solid state amps and it sounded great through everyone.

    As a fan of grunge music and alternative rock, I find it perfect in achieving the sounds I want.

    I agree with the writer of this article that it wasn’t very well advertised and promoted. They could have really put it out there with the jazzmaster and mustang in a strong ad campaign. The fact that it has a decent bridge and not the awkward bridge designs of other short scale fenders is fantastic and saves customisation.

    On forums I saw mized reception.
    I think some gave it a bad rap for it not being a US model.
    Quite frankly I couldn’t understand the bad criticism I read of the guitar. Snobbery came to mind and, like the author of the article suggested, no link to bands. People saying it was badly made must have been either unlucky and picked up either faulty models or not been used to short scale guitars.
    Maybe they didn’t figure that the whole “student” guitar (like the mustang) vibe is the point and its not going to be like a prs or something like that.

    The stock pickups on the guitar are excellent; the zebra stripe humbucker adds a real character to the look of the guitar too.

    I believe it will make comeback through an artist endorsement in the future.
    I’m just glad I have a great Fender guitar that is unusual that I really love.
    Everyone that sees my cyclone asks me about it and say it looks classic and if they hear it they say it sounds fantastic 🙂
    It plays great as well. It has a really fast neck. I could wail away on mine all day.

  5. Funny thing is, while it had no DIRECT artist endorsment, the Cyclone II was derived from Thurston Moores modified mustang w/ 3 pick-ups. I can’t remember where I read it, but it was an interview w/ a Fender rep who said it. I would imagine the cyclone was a derividive of Kurt’s mustangs as they very closely resemble them.

  6. After lots of hmmm-ing and hah-ing and reading reviews I have just ordered a Cyclone HH! – the last one in stock from a mail order place at a mark down price. I had a mustang which I bought years ago and did up and sold and it was great but the neck was a little too small for me, and I have a Fender Squier Strat 92 Korean which has served me well for years. Now it is time to try the Cyclone – I’m joining the 21st guitar century only 9 months after this guitar was discontinued! A web search revealed 3 places where they still stock these guitars in U.K. I’m looking forward to playing it soon!

  7. I just bought a daphne blue cyclone 2 for $560 dollars yesterday. I am only 15, and I am just starting out. It is a great guitar for me. I am wondering if this guitar is rare or what. I read Guitar World mag. and never seen anything about it. I was suprised to see that Ian up at the top was searching for one. I didn’t know anything about it before yesterday. I bought it in South Carolina. It is so nice and hase a great sound and feel to it. I don’t know why they quit making them. It also makes me happy too because it makes me feel like I have something special that not many people have.

  8. i demo’d the cyclone extensively. It’s problems: hummy, pickup volume differential, no marketing, and no artist assoc. never bought it.

    cyclone II: i bought this, and sold it. pro:cool looks, slide switches, distinct sound. con: hummy, no bass. i sold it due to no bass response whatsoever.

  9. I have had the HH model for about a year now. I bought it used for 270 at pro sound in the colorado springs area. I was totally puzzled by this guitar. Its like nothing else fender sells and the fact no one else plays it was why I bought it. The first thing I did was replace the bridge pick up. The atomic pickups are thin and tinny. I’ve replaced two of these things already. One fat strat and the cyclone. I put a seymour duncan dis pickup in it. I do love the neck pickup. I find myself using all the time. And I had to get the thing setup by a tech. The tuning heads drove me crazy at first then I figured them out and there alright. Now this is my main guitar. I’ve been playing for over 20 years, And am a firm believer in moding cheap guitars instead of pay for stupid over priced stuff. Its not the guitar that you play its how you play it…..

  10. I purchased a Cyclone HH about 3 yrs. ago. I love the sound. I happen to prefer the 24 3/4″ scale (vs. the 24″). As an amateur player & collector, I like the sound (esp. the bottom end for those Keith Richards-like rhythm riffs). I also play a Gibson Les Paul Studio and it sounds nothing like the Cyclone HH. The LP is my main axe, but the Cyclone has a really distinctive & unique bottom-middle sound which I use often. The Cyclone is a bit heavy, but I prefer it that way. It’s well balanced. The only reason I can think of as to why it wasn’t a fast seller is simply b/c of a lack of big-name players. Mine came directly from the online dealer and it was set-up beautifully for my taste. I might consider changing the bridge pup to something that brings a tad more top-end. I’m not a shredder, so we’ll see.

  11. I found the Cyclone at a local pawn shop about a year or two ago and will have it sent for repair sometime soon(Needs new single coil and humbucker). Eventhough I own a 1974 Fender Stratocaster; it was a bargin and I decided to buy it anyway with the idea of re-selling it. However; after reading the very helpful info I found here; I just might hold on to it a little while longer. Mine is black with a dark red tourtise shell pickguard.

  12. I have had my cyclone II for six years. I love it. When I got it, I was in the market for a mid-range guitar, an upgrade. I really wanted a mustang or a jaguar. I couldnt afford a jaguar, and, after playing a mustang, I found a cyclone II. I always thought the cyclone II was what the jag-stang was trying to be. I have never had it professionally set up, but it stands up against most anything. Of course, the main complaint of most is that the switches have to be switched up to turn them on, and so if you accidentally brush them down, you lose your sound. I have inverted the switch. I have played it through various heads and it never fails to sound great. It’s perfect for me. I hope to one day own a jaguar, but,for now, I am content.

  13. Well, I think I have a Cyclone HH in daphne blue. Im 16, and bought this guitar a year ago as my first major ax. I was fricking shocked to hear (as I googled fender cyclone instantly on my return home) that its discontinued! Its AMAZING! It literally plays anything, walked into a shop in basildon (near london) and there it was in the window reduced to 350 smakeroons. played it, saw a gibson sg sitting there, and i didnt need to play it. Its the nuts, i play in a band stuff like metallica, u2, the killers, snow patrol, blink 182, megadeth, foo fighters, and it does it all! no problems at all, fret buzz on the 9th fret, which started about 9 months after i bought it, but one go with the allen key and its all dandy. it can take a beating, aand is pretty heavy, but i like its sturdy feel and awesome shape. Bring it back fender you nubs!

  14. My friends dad has one of these and I recently fell in love with it, and I was gonna try and find a TV yellow cyclone next time I get some money, so this is actually crushing to find that it’s out of production.

    I wanted a Fender Cyclone.

  15. I love the cyclone 2 ,I played a ’96 MIM strat for awhile, so it took me awhile to get use to the hugeness but what i loved about it was the jag pickups because I wanted a jag but couldn’t find one so i chose this.

    I’m also left handed so the guitar has a flipped nut and i find the switches better in a higher position then the bottom so you don’t turn the guitar off when your strumming.

  16. My wife just bought me a Cyclone II for my birthday. It is an awesome axe. I have an American Strat and Tele and peferr playing the cyclone over both of them. Its a great guitar for anyone and any style.

  17. The Cyclone was failed largely because it was behind the times. If it had been released in ’93 or ’94, it would’ve probably fared better. But by 1999, the alternative mainstream (not intentionally oxymoronic) had moved on from Seattle grunge to post-grunge and nu metal, and those kinds of bands were more drawn toward modern manufacturers like Schecter and ESP. Then the garage rock revival hit, and the raw crowd wants guitars that look like 60s pawnshop junkers- hence the Ibanez Jet King and Eastwood Guitars. Fender themselves didn’t do the guitar’s image much good by having the sound sample on their old website sound like a ripoff of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

    I never really had a chance to play a Cyclone, but I always thought it looked cool. Maybe someday 90s alt rock will come back in style and Fender’ll give it another chance.

  18. I own a Candy Apple red Cyclone H/S. I picked it up for about 300 at my local music store. I went in that day to find a guitar to replace my squire strat. (I also had gotten a gibson les paul standard about 4 months prior to that date, but i like tremolo systems so I always like having one guitar with a hard tail and one with a trem.) I was looking around the used section of the store and this guitar caught my eye. At first I thought it was a Jas-Stang, but once i picked it up and examined it i figured out it wasnt one. I plugged it into a Marshall DSL50 head and just started and the guitar was just screaming. I bought it 15 min after seeing it. I would never sell this guitar and if it were stolen, i would find the person and kill them after i get it back.

  19. I bought the last new Cyclone my local Fender dealer had. It was a rare Caramel Metallic color. Loved the looks, it played nice (not as nice as my Jag Stang or Squier Supersonic) I sold it earlier this year and I am happy with my USA Strat and SuperSonic for sound.

  20. I have one, absolutely love the thing, my favorite guitar and am looking for another one…I think I must have been the only person who got one in Sunburst…I have not seen or heard of anyone anywhere having one in that color..I had a mic stand fall on mine so it has a nice flaw in the finish, but hey..adds character right?

  21. I had a yellow one. I saw a candy apple red one in my local guitar store. I would have probably prefered the red although if I got another one the yellow would be like the one that got away so to speak. I found it a very clunky guitar to use. I think Fenders are really unplayable compared to any of the 20 or so Gibsons I have owned. That was why I sold it as it just felt very awkward. I did however own a Fender American Standard Strat very briefly and then got a Samick Valley Arts Strat model which I kept for about 8 years and played almost exclusively with brief usage of my Samick Blues Saraceno TV 20 with floyd rose. The Wilkinson tremolo on the Samick was a lot better than on the Fender. I am thinking about getting another Cyclone and just trying to get used to it. Although in all honestly I don’t like Fender single coils much. They are just so thin sounding. It’s like when people split humbuckers to get a single coil sound, when you switch back to the humbucker it sounds like it’s working properly again. I can’t imagine why, other than because of Jimi Hendrix, anyone would play a Strat. Incedently the Cyclone neck sound is nothing like a Strat. I much prefer P90’s in an ES-135 or a Les Paul Junior to anything Fender sounding. I think Leo Fender knew nothing about guitars whereas Gibson came from a musical instrument making passion, not a production line manufacturing mentality. I also have a Godin Freeway SA which literally lives in the cupboard. I bought it new for using it with MIDI on my Boss GI-20. So I’m thinking because I can cope with how that plays maybe the Cyclone will be getting another go around. I think a Toranado would suit me better as I like the control layout more than the Cyclone. For me the idea of the Cyclone is to get that Tex Mex single coil sound happening. It doesn’t hurt to try and I like the Cyclone as it’s a poplar bodied single coil sounding beastie which differs from my Gibsons. Also it’s been a number of years since I had a Cyclone so I might say hey I’m actually loving this Fender single sound? I just didn’t like how it felt, sounded or looked. Who knows? it doesn’t hurt to try.

  22. to the last poster (chris) shame on you dissing leo fender. I happen to think gibsons are overpriced and have uncomfortable necks…..let alone all the douchebags that play them…i guess opinions are like @ssholes….

  23. I purchased a Red Cyclone II from Craiglist for 150.00. This thing is beautiful (red with stripes). After cleaning it up,and setting it up. This guitar plays like butter, the single coils sound fantastic. I would buy another one in a minute. Love it!!

  24. The Fender Cyclone has been my favorite guitar since i bought five years ago. It truly is the boy walks into a pawn shop story it had everything i loved about fender guitars, the surf vibe, the mustang look and the crunch i need. I orginally walked in the pawn shop looking for a Fender Stratocaster like John Frusciante’s and walked out with a dream.

  25. Iv had a cyclone near enough from when they were introduced, and i love it to bits, its covered in stickers and been knocked about and still holding on strong. I agree that the pickups are a little weak but, just turn up the amp a little. I run it through a Marshall JCM2000 50 watt head and 4×12 cab with predominantly a Proco deucetone rat distortion and iv never had any problems getting a decent sound. Its my main and favorite guitar to play. Not played a jaguar for long but the cyclone has a jag neck and its tempting to get a jag next. There is currently a cyclone on ebay.co.uk if you are after one. Wishing i had the cash coz id go for it at the drop of a hat.

  26. I bought my MIM Cyclone 5 years ago from a session player in Florida. He rarely played it and bought it direct from a friend of his who happened to work for Fender at the time. They shipped the guitar to him at the hotel he was staying at in Canada at the time. After I got it home, I went through the gig bag and found the factory receipt. It was the 6th one made in 97, but the guy didn’t get it until 98. Weird. Anyway I love my Cyclone. Out of all my guitars and basses, I use the Cyclone the most. Its tone is so versatile and its comfortable to play, and I play it for hours. I do 100% of my writing with it, and I record with it as well. Its absolutely my favorite guitar, my best tool, and love of my life.

  27. Hi,
    I own a red Cyclone II in like new conditon.
    There is a band which uses those red Cyclone II. They are called The Good The Bad. They play with 2 guitars and a drum kit, that`s it. in their early days the played both Cycylones, which looked very cool! Meanwhile one of them is playing Tele…
    check out:

  28. I hace a black MIM Cyclone. It used to belong to a good friend I was in a band with, and all my life I swooned over it and really wished I could have it.

    Once he left for college I was able to snap it up from him for a mere $90 and it was one of the best purchases of my life. I do however agree with the volume differential problem mentioned above, it is truly the only downside of this axe. It is my favorite guitar of my collection and one of my favorite guitar designs ever made.

  29. not just Kurt but what about the guitar Courtney was playing? both of those are nice guitars maybe these are something Fender hopes to be “Valuable” to collectors some day

  30. As an old geezer I’ve had a lot of guitars and quite a few Fenders. A Jaguar in the 60s, a Competition Mustang in the 70s, and a CBS era Strat that really sucked. I still have a hardtail Japanese Strat from the 80s, a Nashville Tele, a VI(Overgrown Jaguar, really a bass guitar[you can do bar chords and it has a tremolo] and not an electrified string bass replacement like the P and Jazz basses.) and a Series 1 Cyclone. The Cyclone is my favorite Fender with a short scale that makes long pinky stretches easier and the Strat tremolo that works better than any other Fender system.

  31. I’ve been playing a candy apple red Cyclone professionally for 7 years now. Can’t remember exactly when I purchased it but sometime in the mid 2000’s. I was a fan of the Mustang since playing a borrowed one in the early 80’s. I then realized that the Fender Musicmaster also had a similar body style if not identical. So when looking for either a Mustang or Musicmaster I came across a used black Cyclone in a store for sale tried it out and liked it. I held out for a while before I found a red one. I do admit I changed out the bridge humbucker for one of those PAF brown sound pickups but the original pickup wasn’t bad either. I own 14 other guitars and this is the one I play most. Love it!

  32. I’m not sure but in my little area of upstate NY, I loved the concept of the Cyclone II being a Jag & Jag Stang player, but everyone I played was heavier than a Les Paul. They had no resonance, they were heavy planks, that I could never play for hour gig or longer.

  33. Zachary Cole Smith plays a black Cyclone HH for DIIV, a really successful shoegaze band from Brooklyn NYC.

    Fender should latch on they’re in demand ?

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