Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Is this Washburn worth anything?

  1. #1

    Default Is this Washburn worth anything?

    I picked up an old Washburn at an estate sale. Action is pretty high, but I don't know if could be rectified with a setup or if it needs a neck reset. The neck is straight and in line with the top. Sunburst but seems maybe like maple back?

    The only markings are a label inside which reads:

    Genuine Washburn
    Model# 5281 Serial# 755
    Distributed by Tonk Bros, Co. Chicago, IL

    I'm a little confused by the relationship between Washburn, Regal, Gibson, Tonk Bros, L&H as far as who made what for whom and when.

    I haven't found much on 5281 by Tonk Bros so any info you can offer on this particular mando is appreciated.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1403.jpg 
Views:	47 
Size:	670.5 KB 
ID:	185876Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1402.jpg 
Views:	52 
Size:	666.7 KB 
ID:	185875Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1404.jpg 
Views:	82 
Size:	672.2 KB 
ID:	185877

  2. #2
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC
    Posts
    2,402

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    Is that a stripe of wood down the back, or a separation? Both?

    I'm far from expert, but Vintage Guitar mag might help:
    vintageguitar.com/26801/tonk-brotherswashburn-5241/

    Given the closeness of the model numbers, a guess of late '30s / early 40s seems reasonable.
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
    Our mistakes weren't quite so easy to undo
    But by all those roads, my friend, we've travelled down
    I'm a better man for just the kowin' of you."
    - Ian Tyson

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    Ideally post a few more photos of the back of the headstock/tuners and and the whole of the front of the body and the fingerbaord and neck.

    There was a 5281- ebony board, maple body- the back of yours looks incredibly shiny and it is described as "artisically hi-lighted" what we would call a sunburst. It was $35 in 1939 and the ad mentions it is a "new type" so probably not a lot were made- presumably, by Regal before WW2 closed things down in the main. Depending on its condition it has some value and it was not a super cheap instrument at $35. The value will depend on its condition but it is worth a few hundred dollars as a player with no issues and cosmetically in good order. Is there a case with it?

  4. #4
    Teacher, luthier
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Southeast Tennessee
    Posts
    1,671

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    The simplest explanation of Washburn's history:

    Washburn started out as a name for a line of various fretted instruments built and sold by the Lyon & Healy company.
    After the onset of the Great Depression, Lyon & Healy stopped building and selling fretted instruments and sold the Washburn name to a wholesale distributor called Tonk Brothers.
    After Tonk Bros. acquired the Washburn name, they farmed out the construction of most Washburn instruments to Regal.
    Gibson also built a small number of Washburn branded instruments for Tonk Bros. from 1938 to 1940. Most of those instruments were guitars.
    Tonk Bros. stopped offering Washburn instruments by the end of WWII or slightly thereafter.

    Your mandolin was built in the 1930's in the Regal factory.
    I haven't played a Tonk Bros. era Washburn mandolin. I have played guitars from that era, and some are pretty good instruments.

    The Lyon & Healy company continued to make high grade concert harps, and still makes them today.

  5. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to rcc56 For This Useful Post:


  6. #5

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1407 2.jpg 
Views:	47 
Size:	1.58 MB 
ID:	185890Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1408 2.jpg 
Views:	40 
Size:	1.76 MB 
ID:	185891Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1409 2.jpg 
Views:	51 
Size:	1.51 MB 
ID:	185892Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1410 2.jpg 
Views:	44 
Size:	644.9 KB 
ID:	185893

    Here's some additional pics. It is in good cosmetic shape. The action was pretty high before i took the strings off. The bridge doesn't seem high to me so it might need a neck reset. Perhaps you could tell better than me what the neck angle is supposed to be.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    Here you can see the neck angle, though the lens distortion makes it hard to judge the angles. There is a slight relief in the neck (a little space between ruler and frets at the midpoint). You can see where the neck angle reaches the bridge.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1412.jpg 
Views:	59 
Size:	281.2 KB 
ID:	185894Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1411.jpg 
Views:	49 
Size:	295.1 KB 
ID:	185895

  8. #7

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    [QUOTE=EdHanrahan;1771391]Is that a stripe of wood down the back, or a separation? Both?


    It's definitely a strip. The joints are all in great shape.

  9. #8

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    Quote Originally Posted by NickR View Post
    Ideally post a few more photos of the back of the headstock/tuners and and the whole of the front of the body and the fingerbaord and neck.

    There was a 5281- ebony board, maple body- the back of yours looks incredibly shiny and it is described as "artisically hi-lighted" what we would call a sunburst. It was $35 in 1939 and the ad mentions it is a "new type" so probably not a lot were made- presumably, by Regal before WW2 closed things down in the main. Depending on its condition it has some value and it was not a super cheap instrument at $35. The value will depend on its condition but it is worth a few hundred dollars as a player with no issues and cosmetically in good order. Is there a case with it?
    It does come with a nice green velvet hard case. It's in good shape except cosmetically. The action was pretty high. Not sure if that's easily remedied or not. The next does not appear to be separating.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    The 1939 ad mentions the lamination of the neck is maple reinforced to avoid warping and an eastern spruce top. It is hard to judge the neck from photos, so I will not comment but I have a really nice 1930s Regal that is similar with a little bit of a bow just before the nut but it plays fine. I think judging an instrument when it is strung up is easier to do from photos but others may be able to offer some advice. It certainly appears to be in great cosmetic condition. One thing I find very odd is that although a circa 1939 instrument it has gear over worm tuners. Obviously, a hard case adds value to the mandolin even if it is not perfect but still protects the instrument. Show us the case, please.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1413.jpg 
Views:	30 
Size:	1.13 MB 
ID:	185899

    Here is the case. Basically in mint condition, other than the handle is missing.

    I mistyped earlier; it's the great cosmetic shape other than the high action.

  12. #11

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    You might get away with lowering the bridge and trying some light gauge strings. Or, saving the bridge for future use, and lowering a similar new bridge. Worth a try and only takes a few hours and some sandpaper, assuming the neck is otherwise straight.

    I keep a box of junk bridges and saddles for this purpose, so I can pop one on and see if it gets me closer, then try another etc., before actually taking the time to sand a good bridge down.

  13. #12

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    Good advice from Jeff Mando to ascertain your course of action and as he suggests this may be all that is needed as back in the 1930s the bridges tended to be quite high. That case is really nice- it is either a Geib & Schaefer or just plain Geib Inc- the name from 1937 onward. There should be an impressed mark that will show G & S or Geib. This may help date the mandolin but a case can stay in store for a while but as the 1939 advertisement stated it was a new model then I think it would be very late 1930s or early 1940s when the mandolin was made. I have a Regal Custom Shop mandolin shown in the 1939 catologue and that has Kluson tuners and I wonder if those tuners on your mandolin were being used up at that time. Kluson was making inroads into all the makers at this period with its new designs. It is at this link below and I posted up the 1939 Regal ad which features three mandolins. The oval hole mandolin the the middle is apparently a carved top, there is no mention of this in the Tonk Bros advertisement, so I imagine yours has a pressed top. https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...oint-Oval-Hole

  14. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,497

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    I usually make a new bridge for these, lower, and they sound good with a low bridge. I like a low action, but you may run into buzzing with a low action from the very top frets, by looking at your pic.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  15. #14
    Confused... or?
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Over the Hudson & thru the woods from NYC
    Posts
    2,402

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    A note of caution (from an amateur):
    The photo w/ ruler shows, IMHO, a lot of neck relief, enough to be an issue regardless of bridge height. Mandolins normally have barely perceptable relief (far less than guitars), and some swear by totally straight necks. Given the neck's lamination/reinforcement, "straightening" it might mean planing the fretboard w/ re-fretting.
    - Ed

    "Then one day we weren't as young as before
    Our mistakes weren't quite so easy to undo
    But by all those roads, my friend, we've travelled down
    I'm a better man for just the kowin' of you."
    - Ian Tyson

  16. #15

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    I'm not sure if the clear straightedge is giving a very accurate picture. Here it is with a metal straightedge. There is some space there, about a business card width, maybe .5mm or less.Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_1416.jpg 
Views:	36 
Size:	348.1 KB 
ID:	185904

  17. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    S.W. Wisconsin
    Posts
    5,497

    Default Re: Is this Washburn worth anything?

    You should be OK if you don't play up the neck too far. You can remove and reglue the fingerboard, I prefer this to planing. You could also file the offending frets over the body down, you can also remove them. Then you can have very nice action to the body.
    With light strings you should be fine without doing anything, but lowering the bridge.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •