Unable to find a vintage Mandocaster (or to
afford one)? Fear not; you can get the Fender
name on a reasonably priced mandolin. The company is now importing
electrics from Korea: the hollow, 8-string FM-52E; the semihollow FM-60E
and FM-61E (5 and 8 strings, respectively); and the piezo-sporting
FM-62SE, whose resemblance to a certain other (and, in my opinion,
superior) brand of acoustic/electric mandolins has been well noted and may
or may not be more than purely coincidental.
Here's a sad tale: Early in 2002, the
Arbiter Group, Fender's distributor in the UK, issued a very limited
number of copies of the Mandocaster-ish SB-4. It was available in
"Sonic Blue" as well as the "Fiesta Red" pictured at
right; there was also an 8-string version. Do you think it's still being
made? Ha! Do you think they'll make any more? Ha!
Do you think anyone at Fender UK or the Arbiter Group will even tell me
how many of them exist? Ha! Then there's the FM-60S, an acoustic/electric
that's available only in Japan.
Back to the above axes: I've heard from several
players, and the response is mixed. Some folks have reported intonation
problems with the C string on the FM-60E. The FM-52E isn't much as an
acoustic mandolin, but does hold its own as an electric, considering its
very reasonable cost. If you can't find these at your local guitar shop,