Overall, Fender makes mostly budget and entry-level mandolins. Leo Fender started Fender Electric Instruments Company in Fullerton, California in 1946. The company was later renamed to Fender Musical Instruments Corporation under the new ownership of William Schultz.
Unfortunately, Fender’s level of expertise and quality for their guitars doesn’t seem to extend to their mandolins. They’re not horrible instruments to start on, but for a bit more money you can get a much better budget mandolin like a Kentucky. For this reason, they really are only recommended for first-time players and those that want to learn how to play, especially if they are on a tight budget. It could also be a good choice if you aren’t sure if you will enjoy playing this instrument or not, since it won’t cost a lot to try it out.
The latest mandolin series from Fender, the Concert Tone Series, is a vast improvement on their previous attempts. These instruments have a nice, complex tone that previous models have lacked.
The CT63S is among the best of Fender’s mandolins. It has a solid spruce top and maple sides and back with a rosewood bridge. Adjustable bridge and truss rod make for easy play. Out of all of the models offered by this company, this is their best that is available.
While it produces a great sound, there are a lot of people that would prefer other brands that sell for similar prices. This F-Style is much more ornate than the A-Style from this series, which is where much of that higher price comes from. 29 frets are on this mando, making it a great choice for anyone looking for higher notes than those typically found on most instruments.
For those looking to get the Concert Tone sound without the price of the F-Style, the CT52E is the perfect choice. It has a spruce top with sides and back made of mahogany.
Other nice additions include a Piezo pick up and rosewood bridge. This is priced so that it can also be a good choice for beginners.
Out of all of their mandolins, this one delivers the best sound for the price, which is why it is our recommended pick for this brand.
The FM101 is Fender’s most affordable mandolin, but it is also a lower quality than the Concert Tone Series. With that said, it usually takes an experienced musician to even realize that the sound is inferior. This makes it the perfect pick for a complete beginner that would like to try to learn how to play, since they won’t really be as picky about sound until they have been playing for a few years.
This instrument has a laminated top, back and sides. This is really the primary construction feature that causes it to have a bad reputation, since this is a practice only used on cheap models.