My guitar collection - Tacoma


The M3 was the upscale version of the flattop mandolin line by Tacoma with a 2⅛” deep body of 10.85” width with maple back and sides, Sitka spruce top, and Ivoroid binding. Instead of the more familiar scroll seen on F-style mandolins, Tacoma applied their Wing (paisley) sound hole on this model too. The bolt-on flame maple neck has an Ivoroid bound, radiused ebony fingerboard, 1⅛” nut width, and inlaid ivoroid logo on the headstock. The loose ebony bridge needs careful placement to achieve proper intonation for a 13⅞” scale length. This particular mandolin has quilted maple back and sides, a gloss Sunburst finish, all gold hardware including the tuning machines with pearloid buttons, and a Bill Baldock high-output pickup with endpin output. The oldest webpage available is an archived snapshot from March 2005. After Tacoma was shut down, visiting for the longest time would merely tell you they were “... seasoning the wood”. The archived Fender hosted Tacoma support page allows you to download the 2005 Catalog with the Wing mandolins on page 13. Note the specs mention a mahogany neck unlike the scan of page 5 in the 2001 Catalog which lists a figured maple neck. A scan of the 2001 prices is also shown below. Finally, I happen to know there were plans for a true carved archtop F-style mandolin much like the Archtop of the previous page. I even had one on order around 2003/2004 but it never materialized.


Tacoma M3E mandolin

The story behind this mandolin


Serial number:


Tacoma was well known for building high quality instruments for a reasonable price. Their mandolins were no exception. Spotted brand new on eBay, this M3ESB (‘E’ for the pickup, ‘SB’ for the Sunburst finish) quickly became part of the collection. Parsing the serial number shows this mandolin was the 19th instrument built on the 280th day of 2002, i.e Monday October 7. After many instruments with a flame top and/or back, this was my first instrument with quilted maple. That wood species is well known for its wavy figure. Hence, the back of this M3 would make you seasick if you stare at it for too long! Absolutely gorgeous. The fact that the neck is bolt-on is in no way detrimental to the quality of the sound produced by this instrument. A nice woody tone that serves its and my purpose. But get used to grabbing chords upside-down since the tuning is the mirror image of a guitar’s lower 4 strings.

The story behind this guitar



D’Addario EJ74 Mandolin Strings Phosphor Bronze Medium (11-40)