1956-1976 Fender Electric Mandolin (Fender Mandocaster)

Description: 1956-1969 Fender Electric Mandolin, AKA Fender Mandocaster
Available: 1956 to 1976.
Collectibility Rating: 1956-1959: C, 1959-1965: D-.
Production: no official (or unofficial) production numbers available.
General Comments:

First introduced in spring 1956, the Electric Mandolin looks like a mini Stratocaster. This is were it derives its value. As an instrument, it has limited usability because it has only four strings and a solid body instead of the usual eight strings for a mandolin. Oblong pickup with reddish brown cover, no visible poles, "Fender" decal with no other markings. These Mandocasters were probably made in batches, so often the body and neck dates can be up to a year or more apart. Also features like an Ash body can be seen as late as 1959, even Fender stopped using Ash on sunburst instruments in mid-1956. The first years of Fender Electric Mandolin production (1956, 1957) used a slab body style, much like a Telecaster. This changed in 1958 to a more Stratocaster style body with contours. Sunburst was the standard finish, though Blond is also seen. Custom color Fender Mandocasters also exist. The Mandocaster also used a metal anodized gold pickguard until mid-1959, like the pre-1959 Precision Bass. Usually they are strung with .008, .012, .019w and .028w strings, and tuned like a mandolin.

If you have a vintage pre-CBS Fender Electric Mandolin (Fender Mandocaster) for sale, please let me know. I am a private vintage guitar collector (not a store), and you can contact me at cfh@provide.net

    1956 Fender Electric Mandolin specs:
    • Slab ash body (no rear contour relief), two-color sunburst or blond finish.
    • Anodized aluminum pickguard.
    • Serial number on neck plate (numbers do not follow standard Fender conventions).
    • One piece maple neck.

    1957 Fender Electric Mandolin specs:

    • Contoured ash body replaces slab (has rear contour and slight top forearm relief, like a Stratocaster).

      1958 Fender Electric Mandolin specs:

      • Contoured alder body replaces ash.
      • Three color sunburst finish (red added).

      Mid-1959 Fender Electric Mandolin specs:

      • Slab Rosewood fingerboard.
      • Celluloid tortoise three layer pickguard.
      • "Original Contour Body" decal added to peghead.

      1965 Fender Electric Mandolin specs:

      • Gold Fender decal thicker than previous "spaghetti" logo.
      • Plastic tortoise three layer pickguard replaces celluloid.

      1970 Fender Electric Mandolin specs:

      • No "Original Contour Body" decal on peghead.

      1972 Fender Electric Mandolin specs:

      • Sunburst finish only.

      1974 Fender Electric Mandolin specs:

      • Black 3 ply pickguard replaces white.

      1976 Fender Electric Mandolin (Fender Mandocaster) discontinued.

A 1958 Fender Electric Mandolin with an ash body, original tweed case.

The Fender Mandocaster used their own serial number format which did not match the guitars.

Replaced tuner buttons are very common, because the originals shrink and fall apart.

Note the hand routing in the body around the output jack. This is factory original. Body date 11/58.

Three Fender Mandocaster electric mandolins. The top blond model has a slab body and
is from 1956. The middle Fender mandolin has a contoured body and is from 1958.
The bottom Mandocaster is from 1965 and has a celluloid pickguard and rosewood fingerboard.
Picture by J.Bevan.

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