Chicago-based Washburn Guitars has announced the debut of two new bluegrass instruments, aimed at players looking to move up to a professional grade axe, but with budget restrictions to consider.
A new banjo, the B160, and a new mandolin, the M120, will be introduced in January 2006 at the winter trade show of the National Association of Music Merchandisers (NAMM) held in Anaheim, CA. The B160 is a nickel plated maple banjo with a 3 ply maple rim, using a new fingerboard pattern and headstock shape, evocative of older banjo styles of the 1930s. The M120 is an F-style mandolin with a solid spruce top and carved, solid maple back and sides. It is finished with a sunburst and gold plated hardware.
No mention or description of these new models on either the Washburn mandolin or banjo sites, but Bill Henshell, the web developer for the Washburn site, said that he expected to have the new additions featured online early in January.
He offered these comments about the M120 mandolin:
“It was designed in conjunction with Richie Owens who is currently on tour with Dolly Parton. The body is slightly thicker than our M3SW & M6SW mandolins, and has a narrower headstock than our other F style mandolins. At Richie”s request it has an ebony, instead of rosewood, fingerboard, bridge & saddle – and the fingerboard has dot inlays. The production M120 will come with an Allen style tailpiece which is not shown in the photo. First shipments are due towards the end of January.”
The B160 banjo is being played by National Banjo Champion, Sonny Smith, and Henshell expressed some excitement about bringing such notable bluegrassers on board with Washburn.
“Working with Richie and Sonny is part of our plan to expand our Bluegrass line which will also include some resophonic instruments. Both of these new instruments are certainly pro level quality, at entry level pricing. The main emphasis is on tone over flash. These instruments really do sound great next to similarly priced and above instruments.”
The M120 mandolin will retail for $1238 with a hardshell case, and the B160 banjo for $1438 with case.