View Full Version : Older Washburn
There is a 1983 Washburn, made in Japan, M-4S-SB F-style Jethro Burns model mandolin for sale online for $800 in
near mint condition. How were the Washburns of the early
I think they were similar in quality to other Japanese made F's of that era - in other words, pretty good. I play in a mandolin orchestra with a fellow who owns a Japanese Washburn Jethro model. It is a very nice looking and decent sounding instrument, but the bass and chop are not as strong as some F's. One thing about the Japanese Jethro models - the fingerboards are not elevated above the top of the mandolin, but rest on it, which can limit bass response.
There was one on ebay for a buy it now at 600. There's one here (http://www.mandolincafe.com/cgi-bin/classifieds/classifieds.cgi) in the classifieds for 650. What Strado Len says also, good quality, nice playability. I don't think that any of the Japanese maodels, at least the ones I've seen, have the elevated fingerboard, with the exception of Kentucky. But all in all, the quality and playability on those is good.
My son had one and it was a real gourd. Never could get it to open up. No tone, no volume. The Kentucky's are a way better mando.
I have a 1989 Washburn (M3-SW, not the Burns model), which does have the elevated fingerboard. I'm really pleased with it: very nicely playable, good tone, my only reservation is that this one also has a somewhat limited bass response like the others discussed above. I think that may come from their choice of using very thick wood more than from the fingerboard elevation.
One thing I'm note sure about is exactly when Washburn switched from Japan to Korea and who built their initial Korean run (their current ones are made by Samick, but I don't know whether that was so from the start). My mandolin has no indication of the country of origin on the label at all; in fact the label appears designed to fool the uninitiated into thinking that it's US-made. This makes me wonder how other owners of 1980s Washburns can be confident that theirs are Japanese. As it happens, I asked Washburn about mine and from the serial number, they were able to tell me that mine is not Japanese, but Korean. So, the switch (at least for the M3-SW) happened before 1989.