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Thread: how much should I offer for this mandolin

  1. #1

    Question how much should I offer for this mandolin

    Hey Everyone,

    I finally just registered in this forum after having read along for a while when I was building my first mandolin.

    Today, I have a question for you. I was offered a mandolin for purchase. It's a Washburn M4S in a pretty good condition as far as I can tell. I have not played the mandolin yet but subject to it working to my liking I am struggling to find a good dollar value to put on the instrument. The seller isn't at all into mandolins and just happened to come into the possession of the Washburn and he expects me to make an offer.

    I have attached some pictures of the instrument and wanted to ask you if you could help me out a little bit in putting a reasonable price tag on the instrument. I am not familiar with the Washburn series that much and have not been able to find past sales of this specific model.

    Thank you for your help!
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  2. #2

    Default Re: how much should I offer for this mandolin

    Looking through Reverb listings, it looks like the asking price on that model is about $700-$800, with original case.
    Depending on the year, it may be made in Japan or Korea, with the Japanese models asking the higher price.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: how much should I offer for this mandolin

    Looks (from the pictures) it is in pretty good condition. The armrest is nice touch, I like them (since I bought a mandolin with one on it and I find it makes them more comfortable.) If the person just wants to get rid of it and it sounds like you want, I would offer $650 or so. You can always go up, harder to go down.

  4. #4
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: how much should I offer for this mandolin

    Asking prices have little to do with what things actually sell for. Here is every Washburn mandolin that has sold on eBay recently. Look for the green numbers. If it was me I'd offer much less but then again I'm not enamored with these. Carry on.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  6. #5
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    Default Re: how much should I offer for this mandolin

    Practically speaking, modern era Washburn's vary in quality of tone and construction from passable to pretty bad.
    The more recently made ones I have seen tend towards pretty bad.

    I would offer only what would be considered "good utility value," i.e. how does it sound, how well was it built, and what do similar instruments by other makers cost.
    Apparently an M4S would have a solid top, most likely machine-carved. The back is plain. Similar new mandolins by other makers run from $600 to perhaps $950, depending on the brand, the amount of figure in the back, and the details of the trim.

    Washburn's have no collector value that I am aware of. A rule of thumb for a clean used instrument is usually between 50% and 70% of the street price of a new one. In this case, I would say $300-$600 maximum. Personally, I would tend towards the lower figure.
    Last edited by rcc56; May-24-2020 at 1:25pm.

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  8. #6
    Registered User Buck's Avatar
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    Default Re: how much should I offer for this mandolin

    These were decent instruments when they were built. Very similar ones were marketed under various makers (made under contract in the same factory) and they were generally overbuilt, heavily finished, and typically weak acoustically. Not all were terrible, and as I said, they were decent for the time. Today there are better options at entry level prices. IF I liked the tone of this one in particular, and IF it needed no work at all, and IF it has a decent case with it, I'd pay no more than $450. Maybe they could get more in some other setting, but if I were going to pay $600-700 for it, I know that I could find a better sounding instrument.
    Todd Yates

  9. #7
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    Default Re: how much should I offer for this mandolin

    If that mandolin was made when I think it was, we had very limited choices in what was available.

    The local store that specialized in acoustic instruments carried Washburn, Alvarez, Flatiron, and Unicorn. Gibson was still owned by Norlin, Epiphones were available, and the F-5L's had just come out. Flatiron was still an independent company and had just started to make carved instruments. Except for Kentucky, and a small handful of individual makers such as Randy Wood, Bob Givens, and a few others, that was it.

    The imports were not up to the quality of what is available today. The F-5L's were expensive, difficult to find, and not really all that much better sounding than the imports. By far the best mandolins for the dollar were Rolfe Gerhardt's Unicorn mandolins, along with those by the few other hand makers; and the carved Flatirons.

    I ended up buying an F-4 for $1600. It was my upgrade from a Strad-o-lin, which cost around $80. The Strad-o-lin replaced the $40 Korean[??] entry level mandolin that lasted less than two years before the top caved in.

    I think Todd's assessment of $450 tops is reasonable. You can find a used Eastman 505 for $500, and it will likely be a better instrument.

    The introduction of Eastman mandolins ~15 years ago drastically changed the face of the mandolin market. You might or might not like them, but they raised the bar considerably for the quality of imported instruments.
    Last edited by rcc56; May-24-2020 at 2:11pm.

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  11. #8

    Default Re: how much should I offer for this mandolin

    Thanks to everyone for the thorough answers and the helpful information. I will play the mandolin on Friday and we will see what the outcome will be. He is expecting less than $400 so I might be able to get a good deal for what it is.

    Thanks again!

  12. #9
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    Default Re: how much should I offer for this mandolin

    Part of the equation is how badly you want the durned thing.

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    Default Re: how much should I offer for this mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesecake View Post
    Thanks to everyone for the thorough answers and the helpful information. I will play the mandolin on Friday and we will see what the outcome will be. He is expecting less than $400 so I might be able to get a good deal for what it is.

    Thanks again!
    Sounds like a good plan!

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