Washburn M5 versus newer models available
I have an old Washburn M5S Jethro Burns mandolin which I bought used about 30 years ago. The tonality is pretty good and seems to have improved over the years. I'm not so sure about the playability, especially down the neck. I'm seeing a number of newer models, around the price point I paid for the M5S and am wondering if they might be better instruments to upgrade to or buy as a second mandolin. Specifically, I have been looking at the Loar LM600 (in black) or the Washburn M118SW (I like the distressed finish) but don't know if these really represent an improvement over the M5S. If anyone has any experience with the older Washburn M5S (or even the M6S, which I believe is similar) and also has experience with some of the newer mandolins, your thoughts would be appreciated.
Re: Washburn M5 versus newer models available
I have a Washburn M5S I bought new about 1977 or 78 and still use. I had been satisfied with the tone, except for the G-strings which tended to sound a bit lethargic. I bought a Breedlove Columbia used about 2006. I prefer the Breedlove tone overall and am thrilled to have a musical G course. The Breedlove has an oval hole. It is also above the price point you are referrinig to.
Unfortunately regarding your question, I have had little or no experience with the LM600 or the M118SW, but my experience with "some of the newer mandolins" leads me to believe that the tone of the M5S can be improved upon. Whether or not it is worth spending the money for the improvement over something you are reasonably satisfied with is a question only you can answer - probably only after having played a significant number of alternatives.