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Product 510461

Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin

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This little beauty features a solid spruce top, nato back and sides, and 4-ply ivory binding. It's gorgeous to behold and the sound quality is except...Click To Read More About This Product

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Pretty to look at; fun to play!

This little beauty features a solid spruce top, nato back and sides, and 4-ply ivory binding. It's gorgeous to behold and the sound quality is exceptional. 4-in-line gold tuners with white plastic tuning knobs.

FEATURES
Solid spruce top
Nato back and sides
4-ply ivory binding
Reviews
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Review Snapshot

by PowerReviews
FenderFM-53S Acoustic Mandolin
 
4.2

(based on 29 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (14)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (11)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (1)

90%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Good tone (7)
  • Well built / quality (4)
  • Consistent (3)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Practicing (7)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Experienced (4), Novice (4)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Great entry level starter or backup instrument for the price

I've wanted to add mandolin to some of the songs that our worship band plays but didn't want to drop a ton of cash on one just to see how it worked. This is...Read complete review

I've wanted to add mandolin to some of the songs that our worship band plays but didn't want to drop a ton of cash on one just to see how it worked. This is a good instrument for the amount of money spent. You might want to swap out the medium strings for some decent light ones if you are just starting out as the mediums are a bit harder to learn on but they'll last longer and project better than the lights. This mandolin has surprisingly good tone and stays in tune. It's not fancy at all but it seems to be made of quality materials (According to Fender it's Solid Spruce Top and laminate back and sides) and was easy to setup. I would definitely recommend it as a great entry level instrument. As a comparison my brother had bought an inexpensive Washburn mandolin a couple years ago that was at the similar price point and we've had a heck of a time setting that one up and keeping it in tune and it doesn't have nearly as good of tone as this Fender. So for the $$ I spent this Fender is a great mandolin to learn on.

The only gripe I could make was a super minor one but the crazy adhesive protective plastic wrap on the pick guard was nearly impossible to remove and had been applied before the pick guard was screwed down so I had to unscrew the pick guard simply to take the packaging off and then it left such a tenacious sticky residue on the pick guard that I had to use Goof Off liberally to get that off too. Not a big deal by any means in light of the rest of the qualities the instrument has but a bit of proper preparation on the Hunan Peninsula would've made that way easier to deal with.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

basic, no-frills with problems

This Fender FM-53S is a $$$ mandolin, and unfortunately in the world of mandolin luthery, I guess $$$ does not buy you much.Fit and Finish: The lacquer is unevenly applied...Read complete review

This Fender FM-53S is a $$$ mandolin, and unfortunately in the world of mandolin luthery, I guess $$$ does not buy you much.Fit and Finish: The lacquer is unevenly applied on my mando with spots where it is thick and other spots where it is thin. The sound holes were cut with little attention to detail as the hole edges do not appear to be sanded at all.Playability: As was previously mentioned, the frets need attention. Out of the box, both the 11th and 12th fret on the A-string gave me an "A." There was also lots and lots of fret noise on the D-string. The action needs to be set VERY high to eliminate the above problems. Additionally, after two trips to the luthier, the instrument is still out of tune with itself--(problem with luthier or instrument??).Sound: The sound (excepting fret noise and intonation problems) is louder and more warm than other mandos I have played in this price range.

Reviewed by 29 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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(5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

great mando at low price

By ktnwin99

from San Jose, CA

Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

I have been looking for one and found an used one which I bought for 80$ !!! I had to do some little fixing work (replace one broken tuning knob), re-polishing it. Now it looks clean and the sound is great, warm and loud compare to the brand new Savanah I have been playing with.One recommendation: ignore the bad rating from any buyer who complain about mandolin tuning. New mandolins must be setup before you can tune it. I had one in the closet for years that I can never tune until I learn how to setup mandolin (online) , then I start playing from that day.

(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

The Fender FM-53S is grrreat!

By StratsRule11

from USA

See all my reviews

Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

The Fender FM-53S is great in all aspects. Compared with a Breedlove Mandolin, it surpassed the sound and quality of the Breedlove.

(3 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

This thing is great

By PWFrocks

from Montgomery, AL

See all my reviews

Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

I love this mandolin. It is comfortable to play and sounds great. For anyone with a brain, it will be simple to pick up and easy to jam on immediately. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a new sound or a great mandolin.

(3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Pretty Good Mando

By Anonymous

from Undisclosed

Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

The finish and the warm sounding tone are much better then my kentucky although the kentucky has more volume. The action is better on this one too. This mando would probably be my first choice if I bought another one.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Very Fun Instrument

By Dave

from Florida

About Me Experienced

Verified Buyer

Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

I got this on the SDOTD for 1/2 off but even at the regular price I think I would have been pretty happy. I mostly play 6 string electrics but I thought I'd start working on my mando chops. The instrument is actually quite nice and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality level at this price. The one thing I will say is I had to lower the bridge all the way to get the action right. Intonation is pretty spot on across the fretboard and this sucker is loud. Fun little instrument to start playing mandolin at a great price.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Perfect for checking the mandolin out

By mmeade

from New Carlisle,OH

About Me Novice

See all my reviews

Verified Buyer

Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

After years of guitar playing I decided to try out the mandolin. SDOTD price for this one was perfect so I took a chance. I love it! I've never played another mandolin, but it seems well made, plays easily and stays in tune. The E string seems to lack volume but as a beginner's instrument it more than fits the bill. I will keep playing the mandolin!

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Surprising quality at this price point

By Beerman

from The O.C.

About Me Experienced

See all my reviews

Ask me a question

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Decent finish
  • Good Tone
  • Strong

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Jamming, plinking & plucking
    • Practicing
    • Recording

    Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

    Mandolin is not my primary instrument. It certainly is a sound that I've always enjoyed incorporated with other stringed instruments & that's why it was purchased. The mandolin was easy to set up. The tuners have held tune. The finish is good - no thin spots, no runs - it's a pretty little basic unit. Very enjoyable to play. If you're an experienced guitarist or even a violin or uke the mandolin is a breeze to pick up. My wife is having fun with it also, as it's an easy instrument to hold and for fingering if you have small hands. That being said, I have fat fingers (like BB) and I still do pretty well with the fretboard. Worth every penny!

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Great entry level starter or backup instrument for the price

    By Bikeopeli

    from Northern IN

    About Me Novice

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Consistent
    • Good Tone
    • Stays in tune, easy to setup.
    • Strong

    Cons

    • Crazy weird protective wrap on the pick guard.

    Best Uses

    • Backup
    • Beginner
    • Practicing

    Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

    I've wanted to add mandolin to some of the songs that our worship band plays but didn't want to drop a ton of cash on one just to see how it worked. This is a good instrument for the amount of money spent. You might want to swap out the medium strings for some decent light ones if you are just starting out as the mediums are a bit harder to learn on but they'll last longer and project better than the lights. This mandolin has surprisingly good tone and stays in tune. It's not fancy at all but it seems to be made of quality materials (According to Fender it's Solid Spruce Top and laminate back and sides) and was easy to setup. I would definitely recommend it as a great entry level instrument. As a comparison my brother had bought an inexpensive Washburn mandolin a couple years ago that was at the similar price point and we've had a heck of a time setting that one up and keeping it in tune and it doesn't have nearly as good of tone as this Fender. So for the $$ I spent this Fender is a great mandolin to learn on.

    The only gripe I could make was a super minor one but the crazy adhesive protective plastic wrap on the pick guard was nearly impossible to remove and had been applied before the pick guard was screwed down so I had to unscrew the pick guard simply to take the packaging off and then it left such a tenacious sticky residue on the pick guard that I had to use Goof Off liberally to get that off too. Not a big deal by any means in light of the rest of the qualities the instrument has but a bit of proper preparation on the Hunan Peninsula would've made that way easier to deal with.

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Great instrument for beginner or intermediate

    By Idaho Spud

    from Everett, WA

    Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

    I have had my FM-53S for three years, having never owned a stringed instrument before. After mastering a few basic chords I found myself unable to put it down and now play on a daily basis, both at home and bluegrass jams. The tone quality has always been satisfactory although the volume produced was somewhat of a disappointment initially. After some minor setup adjustment and trying different strings I have the sound and volume that can be heard while jamming with my bluegrass friends. For the money, you can't go wrong with this instrument. The key is starting out with the right setup and a change to higher quality light strings.

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Great for beginners.

    By Billy Savage

    from Los Angeles

    Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

    The set-up takes a bit of work, but what instrument doesn't? It came with the fretboard a bit chewed up, but not where it matters. Once I got mine dialed, I couldn't put it down. It's a great way to get in the game without dropping big dollars. Costs about the same as a Gibson A-style case. I liked it so much that I ordered an FM63 so I can compare them. I wonder how much better the 63 sounds? I can't wait for it to get here.

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    It's My New Best Friend!

    By Music-junkie Momma

    from New Hampshire

    Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

    I have owned this mandolin for a little over a month now, and am teaching myself. I have played guitar as a hobby for over 30 years, and was ready to try something new. This is a gem! It has a clear, bright, beautiful tone. It is so portable you can take it anywhere, and still get your music fix! It holds it's tune very well, considering I have been lugging it with me everywhere and practicing in my car while waiting for kids. I feel very happy with this instrument. If I knew more about mandolins, I'd feel justified in giving it 10's accross the board.

    (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

     
    3.0

    basic, no-frills with problems

    By Anonymous

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

    This Fender FM-53S is a $$$ mandolin, and unfortunately in the world of mandolin luthery, I guess $$$ does not buy you much.Fit and Finish: The lacquer is unevenly applied on my mando with spots where it is thick and other spots where it is thin. The sound holes were cut with little attention to detail as the hole edges do not appear to be sanded at all.Playability: As was previously mentioned, the frets need attention. Out of the box, both the 11th and 12th fret on the A-string gave me an "A." There was also lots and lots of fret noise on the D-string. The action needs to be set VERY high to eliminate the above problems. Additionally, after two trips to the luthier, the instrument is still out of tune with itself--(problem with luthier or instrument??).Sound: The sound (excepting fret noise and intonation problems) is louder and more warm than other mandos I have played in this price range.

    (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Great begginer mandolin

    By Anonymous

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

    I bought this mandolin as my first. I have played guitar for years and wanted a cheap mandolin to mess around and learn on. For the price, this Fender 53S is the best quality begginer mandolin. Great tone, and nice low action. My only complaints are that the binding from the neck to the fretboard is very sloppy, and there is a small dip in the neck that makes a few frets rattle a little bit. Also, the bridge is a kind of funny; it leans forward a little and the spacing of the strings is uneven. If you are a begginer, you will enjoy this mandolin. If you are an intermediate player, spend more money.

    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Fender Quality

    By Phillip

    from undisclosed

    See all my reviews

    Verified Buyer

    Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

    Excellent mandolin. it is loud and has a great tone when properly set up. Bought as an open box item for $$ and am more than satisfied.

    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    Nice

    By leftie

    from Huntington W V

    See all my reviews

    Verified Buyer

    Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

    Love this mandolin.. It is very well built for the price!!

    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Fun Fun Fun

    By Jim the runner

    from Ohio

    About Me Novice

    See all my reviews

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Good Tone

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Practicing

      Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

      Just got this and can't put it down. I'm sure that I could pay more for something with a bit better sound but this is a blast to play and I couldn't be happier. f

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      Excellent for the price

      By Mark

      from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

      About Me Experienced

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Cheap
      • Good quality
      • Good Tone

      Cons

      • Rough nut work

      Best Uses

      • Practicing
      • Rehearsal
      • Shows

      Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

      This was an impulse buy when the instrument was on sale. I've never owned a mandolin before this, so I don't have anything to compare it to, but overall I'm quite satisfied. It's a fun little instrument and from a quality standpoint it is a whole lot of instrument for the money. Be aware that when you get this instrument, you have to mount its bridge yourself. While this is no problem for me - I'm an experienced luthier - there were no instructions for doing so and this would confound a lot of people.

      The strings that came with it are gauged properly and sound good, but they're one of the first things I'll change. When I do change the strings I'll be doing some work on the nut - tuning is a little unstable on the instrument because the strings tend to catch on rough parts of the nut. A little smoothing with a nut file is all that's needed, but understand that a mandolin is hard to tune properly in the first place - and when the nut it rough, it makes it that much harder to get right.

      Overall: Great starter mandolin. Easy to play out of the box (after attaching the bridge and tuning). Good, loud tone and a flawless finish.

      (1 of 15 customers found this review helpful)

       
      1.0

      Waste of Money

      By Democratken

      from NE US

      Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

      Four months after purchasing this mandolin, the bridge needed ajusting already. In my assumption that it needed a simple tuning, one of the strings broke. Do you have any idea how hard it is to string one of these things? I was told by the music store where I bought it that it needing a bridge adjustment after such a short time is "normal". Are you kidding?! I must have used it only a dozen times. This instrument is a hopeless waste of money.

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Great A-Model Mandolin for the money

      By Texas Rocker

      from McKinney, TX

      See all my reviews

      Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

      Ever since I've played the mandolin, I've always tried many different brands. My great uncle owns this mandolin and I used it in a jam session at his house. This has got to be the best A-model I've played so far. This mandolin is much better than my crummy 1980s A-model mandolin.

      (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

       
      2.0

      Save money and buy the Rogue!!

      By Mike in KY

      from KY

      See all my reviews

      Comments about Fender FM-53S Acoustic Mandolin:

      I bought this model some time ago and the action was not very good and the tone was very muffled. I got rid of it because it was very disappointing. It's ok for a beginner, but I'm much happier with the Rogue mandolin that was almost 10 times less in cost. Bought the Rogue and am having a great time with it!

      Displaying reviews 1-20

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