View Full Version : Upgraded Fender Mando Strat

Nov-20-2013, 8:57pm
So I purchased a stock fender Mando Strat from Sam Ash and I made the following upgrades. The sound improvement is very noticeable and overall the mando is much more playable. Here is what I did.

Moongazer Bridge with independent saddles - drop in replacement.
Almuse S4 pickup for mando strat - available from Moongazer.
RS Guitar Works pre-wired Modern Les Paul Jr. harness (volume, tone, and input jack)
And a new set of fender strat knobs to match the pickup.

Overall, the upgrades were roughly $165 and the improvement was night and day. I highly suggest making these upgrades. Maybe sometime I will get a recording out so you can listen to it. Keep on pickin!


Nov-20-2013, 9:10pm
What is "Moongazer"? Got any links?

Nov-20-2013, 9:25pm

F-2 Dave
Nov-20-2013, 10:48pm
Looks great TJ.

Vernon Hughes
Nov-21-2013, 7:43am
Where did you get the knobs? I'm doing the same upgrades to mine.

Nov-21-2013, 9:16pm
Amazon - like $6 for two tones and a volume.

Nov-22-2013, 12:17am
Mando-Strat looks cool.

I've got a couple of questions on the Bridge:
1)Improved intonation, & adjusting because of independent saddles?
2)You mentioned "more playable"? Because of the bridge?
3) The Moongazer fits right in place w/ no other adjustments?


Nov-26-2013, 9:56pm
Yeah, the bridge is a drop in replacement and it improves playability a ton. You can dial in string height and adjust intonation properly.

Nov-28-2013, 4:20pm
Hey TJe153,
One last question, which Moongazer bridge did you use? They have a few.
Thanx again,


Dean Cross
Nov-29-2013, 11:11am
Nice choice on upgrades. Those Mando-Strats are too cool.

Dec-01-2013, 4:34pm
Does the Moongazer bridge come with a teeny weeny allen wrench??? Is it adjustable the same way as the Stock Fender bridge? I am not a big Fender fan but they make several cool electric mandos.

Dec-01-2013, 6:39pm
I did the Moongazer OFM4UP bridge upgrade and am also very pleased! Mine was $54.75 shipped USPS Priority Mail.

You must use the screws (from the original bridge) to mount it and the hex key that comes with the Mando-Strat, to adjust the height screws.

Mine rattled and Tom Morici advised me that the saddles have to be level/have both screws touching the bridge plate. As soon as I did that, the rattle went away. I am very pleased with the intonation now and the action.

TJ - yours looks great! I think I will get the pickup, too.

Has anyone found a source for a hardshell "Fender" type case?

Dec-01-2013, 11:03pm
I think it was the 4 saddle bridge for the new mando strat, if you have any questions, just shoot an email to Tom at moongazer, he was quite helpful. So after checking the website, I'm going to go +1 for the OFM4UP since I can't find the email.

Dec-02-2013, 8:06am
YUP! That is the 4 saddle direct replacement bridge for the Fender Mando-Strat, that we both are using.

TJ How would you describe the difference in the pickups? Did you rewire it at the same time? Did you have to adjust the pickup's pole pieces or could you hear the difference just by changing the pickup?

Thanks Michael

Dec-02-2013, 8:28am
Here is the link to Moongazer's bridge page.

and the Almuse pickup page

I know I'm repeating it, but this makes it EZPZ

OOPS this is the Mando-Strat pickup replacement page


Dec-02-2013, 8:32am
Say TJ How did you get a white covered one? I didn't see that option on the Moongazer page. Did you get it from Almuse?

Ah, nevermind. I hadn't clicked on the next link below the pickup. Nice to know there are 4 color options;
Black, DK chocolate, cream, and white.

So, now the next step is what to do with my old bridge and pickup, when I replace that! LOL


Dec-15-2013, 5:38pm
TJ How would you describe the difference in the pickups??

The stock one was kinda flat and quacky on the high end, the Almuse is much more balanced over the four strings. Nothing sounds flat - it's hot across the board. I'll try to post a video or something soon so people can get a taste for it.

Say TJ How did you get a white covered one?

I went with the cream colored one, with the sunburst pickguard I thought it was the best choice. And it's easy to find the strat knobs to pull the whole thing together.

Dec-16-2013, 8:31am
I like the look that you chose! Very nice.
I haven't worked out which color yet, for the Almuse and the knobs. Thanks for the feedback on the pickup, too. I seem to remember a chrome dome knob in a smaller diameter and that might be interesting. The bigger question for me, is a case. I can't believe Fender isn't selling a "Fender" hardshell case for it, and no one else ? If anyone finds one, please post here.
I am really enjoying my Mando-Strat! I look forward to getting the pickup and defining it's look.

Jan-07-2014, 11:47pm
I found out that my martin backpacker mandolin gig-bag is a little tight, but it works. Hopefully someone will come up with something soon.

Good luck with your mando-strat!

Jan-08-2014, 2:39pm
It seems remarkably odd that Fender or someone else hasn't recognized this need. I've been checking all kinds of places and am waiting to hear back from someone, a Fender rep, or Elderly Instruments or???? ...sooner or later!

I like the saying "you will only find what you seek", so I am expecting to find/get a Fender type cream or tweed style case for it!


Jan-14-2014, 5:52pm
Just bought the Moongazer bridge and the Almuse pickup. The bridge is just perfect. Looking forward to insert the pickup.

What effect does the "RS Guitar Works pre-wired Modern Les Paul Jr. harness" have?

Thank you for helping me.

Jan-14-2014, 6:17pm
I would imagine the pots are much better and I suppose the wire and cap(s), too. I haven't pulled mine apart, yet, though I am going to swap out the pickup and check the wiring/pots/cap then. I am very pleased with the Moongazer bridge.

It dawned on me, finally, (!?) that the Mando-Strat might fit in my F style hardshell case. It can be smushed in (the upper horn is too tight) and there would need to be a pad of some sort under the body to have it sit better and allow the headstock to lay flatter.

I'm considering that, as I have a line on a used hardshell F case, though I would really prefer the Fender style case. You'd think with all the electric mandolin builders and electric ukes, too, that someone would make/sell a hardshell case. I checked out the Fender site thinking about their electric 5 string mandolin and that it's case might work, but that seems to be out of production.


Jan-14-2014, 6:23pm
the RS works will have a different value than stock in both the pot and caps, and almost certainly a better quality pot too, the values translate simply to 'better' ie more pronounced trebles and, the modern harness refers to a 'bypass' of the capacitor resulting in no loss of treble when dialing back the volume. Sometimes a good thing. Especailly once the tone pots work. It is also likely there is a different 'taper' , that is some pots go from off to full between 1 and 3, and audio tapers use the entire range of 1-10, adjusted for human perception of volume. again sometimes a good thing, sometimes not, (if you like volume swells with the knobs this becomes much harder) otoh, you get finer control over both tone and volume.

I looked at the site, wow, a 4 conductor pup, you get humbucker and single coil options, possibly even phase. bitchin!
hot rodding instruments can be extremely fun and rewarding, often making the difference as does no salt with a meal versus , salt, pepper and whatever else to bring out subtleties and latent wonders. not at all unlike messing with nuts, bridges, pins , saddles , tuners, etc for acoustics.

Vernon Hughes
Jan-18-2014, 11:32pm
I made all the same changes to mine and it kicks butt now!

Jan-19-2014, 9:12am
Well, I got a pretty good "temp" case; a Fender 099-6131-506, which is hardshell with nylon outer cover with a pouch the size of the top of the case. All 4 zipper "pulls" were missing, even though it is NOS, so I got a huge "clearance" mark down. This will work nicely, while I look for my "vintage flavor" case.
Now it's time for the Almuse and harness, and some keyrings to pull the zippers! I'll post a pic, when I don't have a cat on my lap! LOL

Jan-23-2014, 6:01pm
Thank you.

But. Can't find the LesPaul jr. pre-wired version on RSguitarworks website. Only "Premium Modern Les Paul Jr Electronics Upgrade".
After googling around I found two more producers of Pre-wired Les Paul jr harness:

Does anybody know anything about their products?

Jan-24-2014, 9:08am
I don't, but there is a guy near me in Traverse City MI who makes harnesses for all kinds of electric guitars and basses. His eBay store is called Paul's Parlor Guitars (popiel52) and he has an LP jr harness there for $37+shipping. I wondered if that one would fit.

I don't know if I can post that or not, but I am going to buy some pots from him and do my MandoStrat and maybe my Zone bass.


Jan-24-2014, 10:05am
Here are 2 pics of this Fender 099-6131-506 case.

I didn't explore a Gator GW-JM (Journeyman- streets @ $79) case that is F shaped but might also work for the Mando-Strat, as mine fits, though tightly into my very nice TKL case.

Jan-26-2014, 9:55am
RE the harness thing. I was just going through RS Guitarworks site and on page 15 and 22 there are a couple of LP jr type harnesses.

I am not affiliated nor have I bought anything from either of these places/guys, yet. I have been researching my options and appreciate when people post what they find, here.

Jan-26-2014, 1:25pm
I'm sure anyone can use any type of pots, 1/4" jack, and wiring. But I did business with RS in the past, and since I'm not very good at hooking up these types of setups, I called them up and they sent out the pre-wired kit. This eliminated the risk of me burning out a pot or screwing up the pickup. If someone was inclined, they could just purchase pots and a 1/4" jack from any guitar parts store and put it together themselves, but the goal was using quality parts.

@mcintalker - Having trouble finding that fender case you had pictured above. Where did you pick up yours? Thanks!

Jan-26-2014, 1:26pm
Mods, this was a double post. Please delete. Thanks!

Jan-26-2014, 1:45pm
My local shop was cleaning out their attic storage and the manager offered to let me go through the pile, since I was looking for 9 cases all together. I bought 6 (couple strats, Deluxe Fender Bass, one for my Epi Night Hawk and Schecter Hellcat VI baritone, and an acoustic), and he called me after I got home to say he found it, but thought it was a violin or went with something on the floor. It was there for 3-4 years and the zipper pulls were all off/gone, so he gave me a bargain price.

I have found it on the Fender site, but have no clue, if it is still available from them. Someone must have one for sale! I think it was for the electric thinline mandolin they had out back then. I bet you could find another!

That is the Fender part # and that might help you find one............ It has a hardshell case, inside of the nylon outer cover, though it only has one latch and closing the zippers is a must.

I sold all my tools and parts box (a 47 year collection!) when I was broke/going through Chapter7. So, I want to put a bench back together and do some of my own work. I took electronics courses in '84 and want to "refresh" that area, in addition to having done lots of repairs over the past 50+ years. I going to buy some pots and components to redo my Mando-Strat and some of my other instruments, so I found the RS site quite inspiring/useful. Thanks

Jan-26-2014, 2:09pm
The only ones that come up on Google are in France and Germany, so far. So, my case may be more like 10+ years old.

Here is an Ovation link.

and an Epiphone in stock for $79

this one I don't know what to think about....?!?!

and then there is Elderly Instruments

These are where I was looking when I went to buy the other cases and "lucked" into mine. Best of luck with your search! I will ask, if they have another one since they have 9 stores.

I am still looking for a case for my 1947 Gibson BR-4 Lap steel........ anyone?

Jan-27-2014, 1:23pm
I've been emailing Kurt at RondoMusic (Agile and Douglas guitars etc) RE cases and he wondered, if this would work for the MandoStrat.


Maybe will a bolster/pad on the right side? I don't know if the neck would clear the compartment. It's $55 plus shipping.

Maybe Fender will bring "my" case back, if enough people ask for it. I would still get a '50s-'60s style Fender case, WHEN I find one!

Again, I don't work for anyone! These are just links that I saved, as I looked for a case. I'm retired and working on my own songs and instrumentals, having a great time (when I'm not snowblowing!) in my little studio.

Jan-29-2014, 10:28pm
Hmm, I just ordered a used Mando Strat / Caster, used for $239.00. Looking foward to playing it. Noting the changes & mods listed here has me thinking about the product listed below as a link


I put one of these in a Les Paul Jr type guitar I resurected from the trash. The guitar has a GFS Dream 90 in and the multi steps on the tone styler bring out some great, great tones, far better than the regular, recomended tone pot. Sooooooo I'm thinking maybe this item would also work well on the Mando Strat / Caster ?

Has anybody heard of or tried this tone control on an electric mando?


Feb-01-2014, 4:30pm
Hello forum, I have encountered a problem with my frequent play with my mando-strat. I have a habit of resting the corner of my right hand palm on my solid-body guitars, and this habit has transferred to my fender mando-strat playing position. After some time, this causes the small allen wrench adjustable saddles to move and become unbalanced -> which leads to a saddle buzz when playing.

So...what do you think my options are? Cut down these small saddle bolts to they can be set below the saddle barrels? Different parts? Super Glue? Lock-Tite? I'm not sure what the best way to handle this. Advice needed. Thanks!

EDIT: Just measured the Bridge Height Screws installed on the moongazer bridge, and they are 3/8" long. Allparts is advertising 1/4" ones. But I'm not sure if they will fit. Might need to get some specs from moongazer.

Feb-01-2014, 5:06pm
I also play drums.......... the vibrations encountered on a kit and the slamming things get causes screws to back out/ in and all kinds of stuff. I have had success wrapping screws that move with teflon tape, as in the kind you use for PVC plumbing to make the threaded joints tight and leak proof. On drums this approach has worked like a charm.

The screws on the Mando Strat bridge arte pretty darn binsy but it mat work.

Let me know if it does and best of luck


The folks at Tone styler tell me some builders do use their product on electric mandos so what do you know, I had a goode idea

" Yesterdays' Technology............ TODAY "


Feb-01-2014, 5:19pm
You should be able to find shorter exact match screws for that! I did it on my first partsocaster in 1980 and used to keep a bin full of various lengths.

You could cut them from the bottom, also.

Don't know about the Loctite but that could work, I suppose.

Since you have a Moongazer..... email Tom Morici
- Tom@moongazermusic.com

I'm sure he'll respond and solve it quickly.

John Clay
Feb-02-2014, 6:45pm
Help! I just tried to install an Almuse pickup (single coil MS4 mando-strat upgrade)on a new Fender mandostrat but I am confused about what to connect to the pickup's red signal wire and its ground wire (there is one black cable out of the pickup and at the the end it splits into a red signal wire and bare copper ground wire). In other words, I do not know what they connect to--any photos, descriptions, etc. would help ("hey stupid, connect red wire here, attach or ground copper wire there"). I think I am messing this up . . . . :(

Feb-02-2014, 6:56pm
They might have a wiring diagram in the pdf at Almuse

Feb-03-2014, 8:37am
Try this basic schematic

shield = copper
red =hot or signal

Feb-03-2014, 10:52am
After contacting Tom at Moongazer and getting the correct specs for the bridge height screws (M3 - 10mm), I decided to order a set of M3's that were 6mm in length. I am hopeful that this will solve my problem. I was thinking about using the teflon tape, but I'm not sure how that would work on such a tight thread. Maybe that is a last resort. Also, Tom let me know that this is the first time he heard of this problem, so maybe it's just me. Just a heads up for everyone. Happy Monday!

Tom Wright
Feb-03-2014, 11:04am
After contacting Tom at Moongazer and getting the correct specs for the bridge height screws (M3 - 10mm), I decided to order a set of M3's that were 6mm in length. I am hopeful that this will solve my problem. I was thinking about using the teflon tape, but I'm not sure how that would work on such a tight thread. Maybe that is a last resort. Also, Tom let me know that this is the first time he heard of this problem, so maybe it's just me. Just a heads up for everyone. Happy Monday!

Use a drop of blue Loc-Tite on each set screw as you install the new ones.

Soundfarmer Pete
Feb-03-2014, 12:55pm
Use a drop of blue Loc-Tite on each set screw as you install the new ones.
Hey Tom, that seems a trifle permanent to me ;)
My favourite method is to squeeze the screw thread very gently with wire cutters......just enough to deform the thread slightly (obviously on part of the grub screw that coincides with the saddle).

Tom Wright
Feb-03-2014, 1:28pm
Anything to make it sticky, you could even use some maple syrup. My understanding is blue Loc-Tite is not permanent, just dries powdery for friction. There are locking nuts with intentionally deformed threads, but the Loc-Tite means you don't risk crunching too much trying to make those set screws behave.

Vernon Hughes
Feb-03-2014, 8:28pm
I used a drop of clear fingernail polish to lock the threads.

Feb-04-2014, 9:36am
for reference....


Feb-21-2014, 5:55pm
Hello all - first post here. I picked up one of these Mandostrats about a year ago when they came out, and I've been having fun with it. I'm a guitar player trying something new here. I had owned an 8 string electric mandolin previously and never really bonded with it, but couldn't resist when I saw these were being reissued. Someday I'll graduate back to an 8-string, but for now, I'm NotReady. I did put compensated brass saddles on it, but that's the only mod I've done.

I noticed a few people asking about cases for these. I stumbled onto this one at a local music store. Brand new, perfect condition. I'm sure it must have come with a Fender acoustic/electric mandolin originally, but they didn't have the matching mandolin, and couldn't tell me which model it was. Paid $80 for it, which was more than I wanted to, but I did it anyway. The Mandostrat fits perfectly.




Feb-21-2014, 6:19pm
Well, that fits like a glove! Congratulations.

Hey! Anyone know where I can find a HS case for my '47 Gibson BR4 lap steel? I found a guy who will sell me a new Gold Tone HSLS (for their LS6 and LS8 lap steels). My original chipboard case is beat! and if we move, I want to be confident about it.