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Thread: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

  1. #1

    Default Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    Hey, guys I have been shopping for a mandolin to start playing on.. after some research and your suggestions I was really leaning towards the Kentucky KM-150.

    However today I found a nice gentleman that has a Washburn M108SWK. Its an f style and the antique looking finish is absolutely stunning. It is like brand new and comes with a hard case. The guy wants $350 for it and he is also willing to work out a trade + cash from me for a guitar I have so I can potentially get it even cheaper. Here is a link to the mandolin on Wasburn's website:

    http://www.washburn.com/products/blu...n/M108SWK.html

    So I am looking at spending about $350 on a new Kentucky KM-150.. or even less than that on the near new Washburn. After watching some vids the Washburn sounds pretty killer. But I really dont know what I'm talking about on mandos.. for all I know a washburn could have a reputation forsounding good but being horrible otherwise.. idk lol. Am I a fool for even hesitating lol? Or would spending a bit more on an entry level Kentucky still be the better choice? There is a major difference in price.. the Kentucky is about $350 new and according to ebay the Washburn runs $750+. Also I see a very notable difference.. the Kentucky has a solid top where as the Washburn is carved. Anyways.. not gonna lie.. I want to jump on the Washburn as its beautiful.. but as someone who has been playing guitar for quite a few years.. beauty means zip if it plays and sounds bad.

    Anyways.. what do you guys suggest?

  2. #2
    Registered User Chris Bowsman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    If you want the Washburn, go for it. I love the look.
    "There ain't too many folks, who can play too many notes... on the mandolin"

  3. #3

    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    KM 150 don't look back . with a good set up.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    If You like the washburn that's all that's matters. Not much positive talk here on washburn.I own one and like it.kentucky is what most folks here will recommend.With good reason.I think Washburn is starting to up their game some.I read their new CEO has said he will bring Washburn back to its glory days. Whatever that means.If You can play both that would help. What one likes another dislikes.good luck in which ever you choose.I think you will do ok with either one.

  5. #5
    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    I just bought a Washburn mandola on a whim at a local store. I spent an hour or two tinkering with intonation, bridge height and nut slot depth, but it sounds great for what it is. I've also played a similar Washburn mandolin and was relatively impressed overall. The finish is beautiful, aged-looking, although if you're scrutinizing up close, it's "rustic" at best. But it's pretty thin, so I don't think it negatively affects the sound.

    In short, if the F-style calls to you, get it. Worst case, you can resell it, or upgrade later and have a backup!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    Quote Originally Posted by choctaw61 View Post
    If You like the washburn that's all that's matters. Not much positive talk here on washburn.I own one and like it.kentucky is what most folks here will recommend.With good reason.I think Washburn is starting to up their game some.I read their new CEO has said he will bring Washburn back to its glory days. Whatever that means.If You can play both that would help. What one likes another dislikes.good luck in which ever you choose.I think you will do ok with either one.
    To be honest playing both wouldnt helpmme a whole lot.. I'd personally just listen to the tone and check out the action as i dont know how to play. Wish more people had experience with them both.

    I figured people would say go Kentucky.. just cause, well.. Kentucky. Its that name stigma... it doesnt matter if that Washburn is hand crafted with the finest woods available by the most skilled luthier... its still got that name Washburn on it and this other one has the name Kentucky. Would be nice to find someone that will look passed that.

    This happens with guitars too lol.. people love the #### out of Gibson guitars... I personally think they are trash guitars for the money they cost... never picked up a single one I didnt hate. They weigh a ton, action stiff as a board, sound/tone is sub par at best, and bending on those giant inlays feels like scraping nails on a chalk board... I feel like you're buying $200 worth of guitar, $400 worth of pretty, and $3,000 for the name.

    But like you said.. what one person likes another dislikes.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    I don't know if it is any help or not, but I have a recent Washburn M1SDL ('A' style / oval hole). $199. The action was INCREDIBLE, right out of the box. You can laugh if you want, but the only 2 mandolins I have ever played that had better action were my old Rigel R-100 and a Gibson Loar. The tone is decent, the volume is not loud - but for $199 it was a GREAT deal.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    Do you know anyone who plays mandolin? Get them to play both mandolins and see which one sounds better to you. The KM150 is a lot of mandolin for very little money as far as instruments go. So the Washburn will have to be good to beat it. Both mandolins would be good to get started on just don't play a "real" mandolin until you have enough money. Otherwise neither one will be satisfactory. Just my 2 cents.

  9. #9
    Down the road I go Trav'linmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    Spock, fwiw I used to have a 108. Like you I really like the looks. Once I tweaked it a bit and put a set oh GHS silk and bronze strings on it, sounded pretty good. However, I could not adapt to the wide flat fretboard . I seem to prefer a skinny neck. Who knew? Get it I think.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    Thanks for the responses guys. All very helpful.

  11. #11
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    Regardless which one you pick, remember it is only your first mandolin. You will be getting a second one eventually anyway. Yea, like you won't.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  12. #12

    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Regardless which one you pick, remember it is only your first mandolin. You will be getting a second one eventually anyway. Yea, like you won't.
    Of course.. lol. I still havent decided. Cant do anything about it at the moment anyways as I'm stuck at work :/

    Getting a little anxious though lol.

  13. #13
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    [QUOTE=Spock89;1582282]...Also I see a very notable difference.. the Kentucky has a solid top where as the Washburn is carved.../QUOTE]

    Not quite accurate: they both have carved, solid spruce tops.

    Overall, not a fan of Washburn instruments, for a couple reasons. First, Washburn spouts a lot of BS about their "long history," but it's all bogus. A century ago, Washburn was a high-end label for the big Lyon & Healy instrument manufacturing firm in Chicago. That company is only a remnant now, making concert harps and nothing else as far as I know. As of now, the Washburn label is owned by US Music Co., a big distributor, and Washburn instruments are made in Asia, with no relationship to the US-made Washburns of the past.

    Second, most of the Washburn instruments I've seen have stressed good looks over good sound quality -- beautiful (though too-thick) finishes, lots of inlay, that kinda thing. I've seen banjos and mandolins that looked like a million buxx, but sounded like $1.99.

    However, the M198SW you're considering is nicely understated in appearance, is made of comparable materials and with comparable techniques to the Kentucky, and is a bargain at that price, especially with a good hardshell case. If you like its sound and looks, no reason you shouldn't buy it. The Kentucky KM-150 is the "default choice" that Cafe members recommend as a first mandolin, but the Washburn looks like a credible alternative.
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  15. #14

    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    [QUOTE=allenhopkins;1582342]
    Quote Originally Posted by Spock89 View Post
    ...Also I see a very notable difference.. the Kentucky has a solid top where as the Washburn is carved.../QUOTE]

    Not quite accurate: they both have carved, solid spruce tops.

    Overall, not a fan of Washburn instruments, for a couple reasons. First, Washburn spouts a lot of BS about their "long history," but it's all bogus. A century ago, Washburn was a high-end label for the big Lyon & Healy instrument manufacturing firm in Chicago. That company is only a remnant now, making concert harps and nothing else as far as I know. As of now, the Washburn label is owned by US Music Co., a big distributor, and Washburn instruments are made in Asia, with no relationship to the US-made Washburns of the past.

    Second, most of the Washburn instruments I've seen have stressed good looks over good sound quality -- beautiful (though too-thick) finishes, lots of inlay, that kinda thing. I've seen banjos and mandolins that looked like a million buxx, but sounded like $1.99.

    However, the M198SW you're considering is nicely understated in appearance, is made of comparable materials and with comparable techniques to the Kentucky, and is a bargain at that price, especially with a good hardshell case. If you like its sound and looks, no reason you shouldn't buy it. The Kentucky KM-150 is the "default choice" that Cafe members recommend as a first mandolin, but the Washburn looks like a credible alternative.
    Thanks for the history on Washburn. Never looked into it myself. I completely agree with your sentiments about eye candy isnt ear candy lol.. Thats part of what I was pointing out above when I mentioned Gibson guitars(although most will disagree). So I am very weary of buying something just for its beauty.

    As far as carved/solid tops... for the Kentucky I was referencing specs on the Mandolin Store.. it just says solid spruce rather than specifying carved. Good to know though that they are even closer in comparison than I thought.

  16. #15

    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    $350 is a really good price. I am very familiar with the mandolin by way of selling a good number of the Morgan Monroe version (same instrument).

    For reference:

    M108SWK



    http://www.washburn.com/products/blu...es/M108SWK.jpg


    MORGAN MONROE MDFM-300



    http://www.morganmonroe.net/mdfm-300-mandolin.html

    -----------

    When people mention that most mandolins come from the same couple of factories, this is 100% true. The same for guitars, banjos, etc.. though there are more sources available for guitars.

    There is nothing wrong with these mandolins at all, and it is one of the few available with a wide nut near the price point. Maybe the lowest priced wide nut F out there. You would do fine with it. But if we base this purely on tone, it does not beat a current KM-150.

    For the most part, you can ignore specs when mandolin shopping. Not that specs don't matter, but you really can't tell anything from printed specs:

    Mandolins from these two sources, share the same basic specs.

    This is the factory that makes a good portion of the brands.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here is Eastman:
    Robert Fear
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  18. #16
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    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    The Washburn does apparently have a cast bronze tailpiece, a 100 dollar upgrade on most brands.
    Don

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  19. #17

    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    As a beginner, you will be playing and practicing by yourself for a while, so the only thing you really need is playability. Any mandolin, barring major issues, can be made to play well. Now the way you will get better faster is by putting in the hours, and if having a mandolin that pleases you for whatever reason gets you to play more, go ahead and get it.

    I have two mandolins, one probably close to the Washburn, another on an entirely different sonic level built by a one man shop. I'm playing the cheapo MK more for a variety of reasons. I keep it out where I can grab it, I have an attachment to it because of all the work I've done on it, it has a scroll ( never discount that if it floats your boat), and I don't much care if it gets knocked around. Yesterday I A/B'd them and couldn't believe I don't play my Silverangel a bunch more.

    So I say buy the one you want to play. Either will be replaced as you realize you can take advantage of a better mando. They all can make you happy.
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  21. #18

    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    Robert,
    I've seen a couple of different videos from the Eastman factory. Specifically their mandolin build. Just my opinion but after viewing the videos I look at them to be more of a custom builder (excluding doing any special request) than I do a mass assembly line type builder.

    Payton

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  23. #19
    texaspaul texaspaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    One of my friends has a washburn like the one you are looking at and ut sound very good in our jams. Only when you reach a level of preforming or recording will there be a substantial difference in this Washburn and mid priced mandolins. How it plays to you and you want to play it is more important.
    I have had a buch of mandolins some by majot shops and a few small builders. I can hear and feel differences that only about 10 % of listeners can, including my wife. When I ask her what she thinks about how each sounds, she says "Sounds like a mandolin". I have also had alot of guitars Marti, Taylor, Gubsons, Guilds, Fenders, Ibanez, Yamaha and Washburns. Each had a different voice. The Washburns were newer one and felt good, sounded good and looked great, however the two I had either had loose frets ir bad necks. So look carefully at the instrument you are buying.

  24. #20
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    Default Re: Low End Kentucky VS Washburn

    Quote Originally Posted by choctaw61 View Post
    ... I read their new CEO has said he will bring Washburn back to its glory days. Whatever that means.
    We should only hope he can actually do that. Going way back, guessing 1870's thru 1920's or so, Washburn was a premier maker, right up there with Martin.
    - Ed

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