Fender Solid Body Electric Mandolin (1957)

Fender  Solid Body Electric Mandolin  (1957)
$5,250.00 + shipping
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Item # 11554
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Fender Solid Body Electric Mandolin (1957), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 01302, Blonde lacquer finish, ash body, maple neck, original tweed hard shell case.

One of the Fender company's more obscure but entertaining creations, the diminutive solidbody Electric Mandolin was in production from 1956 until the 1970's still a relatively rare item. This beautiful blonde example was made in mid-1957, the second production year; most appear to date to the first couple of years. This neck is dated 7-57, the body 4-57 and the one visible pot date is to the 45th week of 1956. Compared to other Fender products the Electric Mandolin never really took off, but the market for such instruments is small at the best of times. Fender's effort was fairly well received initially and has been considered at least a minor classic since.

Leo Fender's mandolin differs from most electrics (and all acoustic mandolins) in having only four strings instead of the usual doubled courses. This follows the ideas of the western swing players (especially Tiny Moore) who were helping to develop Fender instruments, and is also sometimes seen with Paul Bigsby's electric mandolins. This single stringing results in a clearer more brilliant electric sound without the natural "chorusing" effect of doubled strings, albeit one that sounds more like a high-tuned octave guitar than a true mandolin.

Aside from the practical attributes this instrument is also just ridiculously cute, resembling more than anything else a "just hatched" baby Precision Bass. All the coolest mid-1950's Fender features are there in miniature. The one-piece maple neck has a slim "V" contour and black dot inlay. The beautiful blonde finished, grained ash body is topped with a gold anodized aluminum pickguard. The plastic-covered single coil pickup is controlled by chrome knurled tone and volume knobs.

The serrated bridge saddles were shared with the Telecaster and Musicmaster, hidden under a chromed snap-on cover. The tuners are single line plastic-button strip Kluson Deluxes. The gold Fender logo decal has no model designation; "Mandocaster" is the collectors' slang term for these but not an official Fender designation. The red-lined tweed case is also a miniature version of the standard guitar case. This is a really lovely example of an unsung Fender classic, a great looking, playing and sounding instrument if a somewhat eccentric one.
Overall length is 27 7/8 in. (70.8 cm.), 10 1/4 in. (26 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 13 3/4 in. (349 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/16 in. (30 mm.).
This is beautiful original and very attractive instrument, showing only light wear for over 65+ years on earth. The plastic buttons have been replaced on the original Kluson deluxe tuners, the originals likely crumbled long ago as they are wont to do. The fingerboard has been very neatly refretted with wire just slightly larger than the original spec, which if not absolutely authentic can be more comfortable to many modern players.

Other than this the instrument is all original shows just very minor general wear. The original finish has some lateral checking and some very small dings, chips and scrapes to the finish, with one long scratch into but not through the lacquer on the back. There are two small divots on the first position of the fingerboard, and a rub mark (likely from a hanger) on the treble side of the back of the headstock just above the nut.

There is some minor loss to the anodized pickguard just starting to wear down to the natural aluminum from strumming, and some light corrosion on the bridge cover. Internally the instrument remains original and untouched. The later frets show virtually no wear and this is a fine playing and sounding '50s Fender Mandolin, complete in a nice original tweed HSC with some general wear. Overall Excellent Condition.