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Thread: Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

  1. #1

    Question Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

    Hello! I've browsed this forum for many years, but never had anything worth while to contribute. I recently came across a vintage Fender Mandocaster (listed as '63), and was hoping in getting some thoughts on condition, date, etc.

    I've done my research, found the following information on websites, listings, etc to attempt as best as possible to date.

    The pots are CTS 137917, (16th week of '59) and as best I can tell, original with no work done to them. Fretboard is roseweood, indicating later than '58.

    I read this on one site, which is why I think maybe the seller listed it as a '63

    During the 1950's, Fender used mostly Stackpole (#304) pots. Then in roughly early 1963, they changed to CTS (#137) pots.
    But then found this on a listing on Reverb, which my neck also has no date either.

    Period correct 1959 no pencil date on neck

    There's a lot of different info out there, and any insight would be much appreciated!
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  2. #2
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

    I’m so jealous of the bridge cover. My later import is naked until I make a cover.
    Play it like you mean it

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  3. #3
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

    Neat little Fender there.

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  5. #4

    Default Re: Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

    Nothing written at the heel-end of the neck, as in this photo?

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    (There's also usually a (different) date in the pickup cavity, but obviously yours doesn't have one.)

  6. #5

    Default Re: Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

    Nothing on the heel-end of the neck. If you look really close - there's what appears to be an '8' in the pickup cavity area in the one photo, but really unsure about that.

  7. #6
    Teacher, luthier
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    Default Re: Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

    At first glance, it appears to be consistent with late '59 [or later] specs. According to Gruhn's Guide to Vintage Guitars, rosewood boards were available in '59, and the "Original Contour Body" decal appears in late '59.

    It would be somewhat unusual to install '59 pots in a Fender instrument made much later. I don't know when the "spaghetti" logo was last used on the mandolins, but the '62 bass I owned for 25+ years had the decal with the more modern logo and patent numbers. And if the fingerboard on yours is flat on the bottom, it indicates an instrument made no later than early '62. Later rosewood fingerboards were curved on the bottom.

    Since there is nothing on the instrument to indicate a much later build date, I would be comfortable dating it by the pots and calling it a late '59.

    I would expect that there is plenty of conflicting info on various websites. I have always use Gruhn's Guide, Spann's Guide to Gibson, the Martin history books, and Andre Duchossoir's book to date instruments from the major manufacturers. Usually, Gruhn's Guide is enough, and is probably more accurate than most of what you are likely to find on various websites and forums.

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  9. #7
    Registered User Timbofood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

    I was going in another direction...
    Bottle of wine, movie maybe dinner?

    Sorry, I’ll go to the corner now!
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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  11. #8

    Default Re: Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

    It seems to me that electric instruments are more likely to present strange anomalies with dating- more so with a bolt on neck. I have a Gibson guitar, and its registration number gives me 1970, 71 and 72 to choose from. The pots have identical serial numbers that date it to 1975. I bought it from a friend who bought it new in 1976. It seems that the value is significantly different between the very early 70s and the mid 70s with this model. This does not bother me- my friend who was a professional guitarist in some notable bands said he played plenty before he chose the guitar, as its tone was so good, and that's what matters. He gave me a photo of him onstage in 1977 with it which is nice to have.

  12. #9
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    ... And if the fingerboard on yours is flat on the bottom, it indicates an instrument made no later than early '62. Later rosewood fingerboards were curved on the bottom...
    Looks curved (Pic #2).
    Allen Hopkins
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  13. #10

    Default Re: Help dating a vintage Mandocaster

    My understanding is he's referring to the bottom of the slab, not the end of the fretboard. Similar to this photo: https://www.mylespaul.com/attachment...0-jpeg.359369/

    My slab is flat where it meets the neck, not rounded.

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