CD & Book Reviews
Review of Fender FM-62SE
By Chip Smith, Nashville, Tenn.
My experience with electric mandos goes back for nearly 20 years. I've played everything from Gibsons with the P-90, to my beloved Gibson A-50 with a DiMarzio contact mic (better for acoustic sound than the P-90) to putting a Fishman bridge on the A-50 (much better than the DiMarzio) . Still not the flexibility i enjoyed with the original Gibson with magnetic pickup. I just don't like the sound of a magnetic pickup on a mandolin ... I feel like it robs the instrument of its characteristic sweetness and sounds too much like a high-strung guitar.
I play with songwriters in country rock, swing, folk-rock, and Celtic-rock styles in small clubs in Nashville, so I generally plug in to DIs to go direct to the sound board, or carry a small tube amp.
I tried the Fender FM-62SE out in a music store, because I liked the price and look. I liked the sound unamplified and amplified, too, so I arranged to trade for some equipment I didn't need any more.
I love the sound this thing has through my amps and through the PAs! I generally use a preamp to give it a little more mids and punch, but it works OK just run direct, unlike the Fishman, which was very weak and tinny without preamp. Playability is excellent, feel is good, look is fantastic! More "bang for the buck" than any $500 electric/acoustic mandolin out there and it's a decent acoustic sound! And did I mention that chicks dig the way it looks on stage?
Seriously, though, a few weeks ago my trio went after a small band at a show. The band had a mandolin player who had a fine U.S. handmade F-style equipped with a Fishman bridge, I believe ... plugged straight in to a DI and into the PA. My Fender had much more punch and tone run direct without a preamp. Now was part of this because I was a better player? I think so ... but I give the Fender/Shadow combination part of the credit!