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?

An issue may have been visibility of the Cyclone in guitar shops. Between 1999 and 2005 I rarely recall seeing a Fender 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 Mustang
It 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.