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Thread: Washburn model M-3SW/TS

  1. #1

    Default Washburn model M-3SW/TS

    Hi yall, Im interested in finding out more about this mandolin that I purchased used in NC about 20 years ago. Serial number 9282048 (not real certain about the 8, could be a 0)
    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Washburn model M-3SW/TS

    Based on other Washburns I've seen dated by their owners and compared to the label, it is probably a 1992 model. You can email the Washburn customer service folks via their website and ask where the production line was at that time. Other than that, it is a solid wood instrument, carved spruce top over maple body/neck. With a good set up, these can be perfectly fine, nice sounding, instruments for folks who are looking for an inexpensive mandolin option. They won't necessarily compete against $1K axes, but certainly hold their own within their performance envelope. FWIW, I had an early 2000's Jethro model that was a great instrument. I only let it go as part of a deal that landed me Stealie, my custom Jerman 5-string.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Eastman 515, Shiro F-5, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
    Boards: Acoustic Electric
    Amps: Fishman Loudbox 100; Rivera Clubster Royale Recording Head; Laney Cub 10 & Cab, Peavey Studio Pro

  3. #3
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Washburn model M-3SW/TS

    As Dave has already said, the first two digits are the year, so yours is a 1992. I used to have one of those, the '89 model. That one was made in Korea, shortly after they switched production from Japan -- yours was made three years later, so it will be a Korean one as well.

    These late '80s/early '90s Washburn M3 are much better than the current ones with the same model number. It was their top model at the time, as they had discontinued the Jethro Burns model and the other "higher" F designations when they moved production from Japan to Korea. They were re-introduced in the 2000s, when production moved again to China.

    At the time, it was one of the best imported F-models you could get and one of the few with a genuine solid wood carved top (the "SW" in the model number). Mine had the tobacco sunburst, which I liked a lot -- I never quite figured out if the "TS" stood for "tobacco sunburst", i.e. light brown to dark brown, or "traditional sunburst", i.e. yellow/orange to brown, as Washburn seem to be inconsistent in their labelling. Finish a bit thick and glossy, and not much figure to the wood, but very nice tone. Improved tremendously when I upgraded the stock bridge to a Cumberland Acoustics one. The current M3 model is worse than yours, but generally the choice is much wider these days with some excellent imported mandolins.

    I sold mine a few years ago as I'm not much of a bluegrass player, but I always liked it. Perfectly decent mandolin, and outstanding playability and setup.

    Martin

  4. #4
    Quietly Making Noise Dave Greenspoon's Avatar
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    Default Re: Washburn model M-3SW/TS

    <<These late '80s/early '90s Washburn M3 are much better than the current ones with the same model number. It was their top model at the time, as they had discontinued the Jethro Burns model and the other "higher" F designations when they moved production from Japan to Korea. They were re-introduced in the 2000s, when production moved again to China.

    At the time, it was one of the best imported F-models you could get and one of the few with a genuine solid wood carved top (the "SW" in the model number).

    ...Perfectly decent mandolin, and outstanding playability and setup.>>

    Martin, you remind me of a Washburn in my "One that got away" files. Marked for maybe $200 at Wood Bros Music in Pittsfield, MA, maybe '07. Pretty basic looking, but incredible sounding. I regret it even more now. In hindsight, I realize it was likely one of the Japanese instruments made at the Matsumoku facility. These hidden gems are simply incredible finds. IIRC, the M6SW (Jethro Burns) might have been preceded by a M3 version. In either case, those axes usually broach $1K, and IMHO are outstanding examples of the high-end commercial Japanese shop work of the day.
    Axes: Rigel A Natural #1774 w/mods, Andrew Jerman Irwin-style 5 string electric "Stealie", Eastman 515, Shiro F-5, Crafter M85E, Dillion 335 style, Grandmom's solid-mahogany teens bent-top, Baglamas 002
    Boards: Acoustic Electric
    Amps: Fishman Loudbox 100; Rivera Clubster Royale Recording Head; Laney Cub 10 & Cab, Peavey Studio Pro

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