Informally known as the "Mandocaster," but appearing in the catalog as the Electric Mandolin, Leo's solid-body take on the mandolin is an interesting piece of Fender history. Outfitted with four strings (so you can bend them like an electric guitar!) and a single-coil pickup, the Fender Electric Mandolin is a bright, chimey little beast.
The Electric Mandolin was made through the mid-'70s, but the earlier pre-CBS Mandocasters are truly special. They were never popular in their own time, so they were made in extremely limited quantities. Nowadays, they're rare. But you occasionally see them on-stage, in the hands of top mandolin players such as Sam Bush who uses his late-'50s model to rock out with a high-gain electric guitar sound but with the mandolin register.
This Fender Electric Mandolin may have been made as early as 1963, but the source codes on both potentiometers dates it to 1964. It has been beautifully preserved over the years since, and it's hard to imagine there are many examples in this condition. The volume pot seized at one time and was replaced (the original pot is included). Apart from an occasional restring and setup, that appears to be the only repair. Everything else—down to the pickguard screws—is pre-CBS appropriate and appears to be original.
1963 is an especially desirable year for Pre-CBS Fender gear because of the rare blonde tolex cases used that year. Although those pots date to '64, this Mandocaster includes its original case, which is the '63 blonde tolex version. For any Fender fan, it's so cool to see this rare case in miniature form. There's also a period strap and some fun case candy to complete the package (who remembers Mapes strings?).
As for playability, the setup is low and inviting, and the original frets are in great shape. As for tone, it is every bit as bright, chimed, and cutting as you'd expect. The volume and tone knob give you a lot of ability to tweak the tone, too. It's a lot of fun with pedals. Crank your amp up and don't look back!