If you want a company with a lot of experience building mandolins, Washburn is a great choice. Washburn has been actively making mandolins since 1887, so there are not many companies that can claim something even close.
They are actually the first to ever manufacture mandolins in America, although they now do so in China with their current models. This brand was originally owned by Lyon & Healy, and they made these in Chicago. However, the brand has since been sold to companies that import and relabel instruments from overseas. Washburn is still officially located in Illinois, but they are owned by US Music Corp, which is a division of JAM Industries in Quebec, Canada.
With that said, Washburn makes a bit of a variety of levels of mandolins. Their low end instruments are not overly impressive for a company that has been in this business for so long, but their higher end models have beautiful craftsmanship at prices that are still affordable. If you are looking for one that would be great for a professional musician, you probably won’t find one offered by this company though. However, they are decent instruments for the price and their F-Styles have an amazing vintage look to them. In general, it is recommended to take a new one to a professional luthier, which can usually be found at any local music store that sells them.
The M118SWK features a Florentine design with a solid spruce top that has been carved and flame maple sides and back.
It has hardware and other features that have been aged to give them a worn look, which gives the entire instrument an impressive vintage design. The deep body design allows the sound to amplify and project more than other mandolins.
It’s also great for people with larger hands and fingers because it has string spacing and neck width that is wider than normal. This model does come with a case, even though a lot of online listings for it do not include that in the description.
The M108SWK is a similar mandolin, but it is not as ornate and uses mahogany for the back and sides.
This is also a great instrument for those with large fingers because it has the same specs as the M118SWK in terms of nut width and string spacing.
A lot of people actually prefer the look of this particular model because it is a simplified design of the more expensive model above, which really lends it giving it a better vintage look for a lower price. Also includes a case.
The M1S is a smaller and much cheaper mandolin than the previous two.
This makes it ideal for entry-level players because it is easier to manage and more affordable.
However, this model does not typically include a case with it, so you would have to purchase that separately.