Washburn Guitar Review, Plus Our Top Picks

For over a century, Washburn produced high-quality guitars and mandolins. Despite the high quality, Washburn has not experienced the same popularity as well-known guitar companies such as Gibson or Fender. And with vintage-inspired designs and contemporary advancements, the Washburn acoustic guitar collection provides an option that every musician should consider.

Without Washburn, the world of stringed instruments would be considerably different today. In fact, with the debut of the Lakeside Jumbo in 1912, Washburn pioneered the dreadnought-shaped guitar and became increasingly associated with high-quality musicians. Many Delta Blues guitarists who came to Washburn’s birthplace of Chicago during the 1920s valued their simple playability and superb tone.

Washburn provides a mix for every style and taste, from cutaway acoustic-electric and vintage electrics to hollow bodies and even small travel guitars. The product line includes travel acoustic, classical with mellower tones, folk style, dreadnoughts, jumbos, and the Paul Stanley series. In contrast, Washburn’s electric guitars include Idol series, N series, Lyon series, Ian series made with maple wood, Hollowbody, and the Sonamaster series.

Washburn Bella Tono 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar on floor

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Washburn History

In 1883, the Washburn guitar business began manufacturing instruments in Chicago, Illinois, in earnest. Nearly 40 years later, the company found its footing as Washburn quickly became associated with the “Delta Blues” movement. This genre of music had the most impact on the evolution of both blues and rock ‘n’ roll music. Washburn guitars became popular because of the blues revival due to the well-known local artists who produced this music.

Despite its budding popularity, quick growth and the Great Depression led to Washburn’s downfall. By the 1930s, the company was sold to Regal Music Instrument Company to avoid bankruptcy. By 1940, production was halted due to the lack of interest.

Washburn Guitars was resurrected in the 1970s as the high-quality, modest cost instruments being sold under this brand quickly found a following. By the 1980s, Washburn’s Festival Series electrified acoustic guitars were well-received by popular musicians who used those on stage and in numerous televised performances. To this day, Washburn continues to be a popular option among guitar enthusiasts looking to add to their instrumental collection.

Top Picks

There are a wide variety of guitars from Washburn, ranging from inexpensive entry-level instruments to high-end professional devices. Naturally, the higher-end models have better quality, but that doesn’t mean the lower-end versions are not worth the money. Most Washburn guitars earn four or five-star ratings on music shop websites because their owners are delighted with the quality.

With such a variety to choose from, you might find it overwhelming to pick a model for you. Luckily, this guide will help you better understand the Washburn guitars on the market and which one might work best for your needs. Without further ado, the following are our top picks for your consideration.

Washburn Bella Tono 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Washburn’s design team set out to create an aesthetically pleasing and musically superior guitar and worked with the company’s engineers to bring this vision to life with the Bella Tono 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar. Washburn’s studio body type may be seen on every Bella Tono model, yet this form was meticulously crafted to preserve the best feature of a full-sized body reproduced in smaller versions. Despite their small size, these bodies produce a rich, full sound that is clear and projective. This streamlined body results in an impressive guitar lineup with the current neck design and a wide variety of eye-catching modifications.

The Bella Tono is made of laminate and has a spruce top with a walnut back and sides. It looks stunning for the price. For the neck, Washburn has used okoume wood, an African tree that yields a lighter and less-expensive material than mahogany. The Vite S9 is less daunting for new players than a dreadnought or jumbo guitar because of its shallow body and narrow C-neck design. Instruments like these will keep beginning musicians practicing for longer periods than other entry-level models on the market. Having an built-in tuner on a guitar at this pricing point is important as it provides a cost-efficient method for adjusting the sound without a separate piece of equipment. The LX4 uses a 9V battery hidden in a compartment on the bottom treble-side bout.

Washburn Bella Tono 6 String Acoustic-Electric Guitar

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Washburn Classical Series C5CE

The C5CE’s body is built of laminated wood, with the top layer spruce while the bottom and sides of this instrument are made of the catalpa tree. Unlike spruce, catalpa’s tone is concentrated and clear, making it an ideal choice for beginner acoustic and classical guitars. All 19 frets on the 25.5″ scale length are easily accessible with a flat cutaway on the guitar’s top. The fretboard is engineered wood, and the neck is made of mahogany. The rosewood bridge, Graph Tech Nu Bone nut, and chrome tuners in the slotted headstock are all iconic features on the C5CE. Its built-in pickup and EVT preamp set this ax apart from others. Players may connect the C5CE to any amplifier or PA system and boost their sound using the provided connection. C5CE can have simple modifications that will not take away from this guitar’s pristine appearance.

When it comes to unplugged tones, the C5CE is an excellent choice. A good amount of classical smoothness may be found across the spectrum. The bass notes are deep and rich, with a powerful projection and a lengthy echo. This instrument’s trebles are clear and bright for a classical guitar and give a sparkling feel when strummed. But when you connect it to a power source, the sound becomes more rough and biting, particularly in the upper register. However, the bass notes maintain some of their identity in high-pitched melodies with a distinct electronic flavor. The sound is not too bad, but you will need to modify your EQ settings a lot if you want to produce a good sound from it when amplified. Instead of plugging their guitar into an amp, some musicians choose to mike up their unplugged instrument.

Washburn Classical Series C5CE

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02/18/2024 04:04 pm GMT
 

Washburn DFEACE

The Deep Forest Series from Washburn Guitars has been introduced. Exotic timbers from throughout the globe are included in a line of acoustic guitars. The Ebony Collection is the first in the Deep Forest Series, currently a set of three new guitars presented at the Believe in Music Week virtual NAMM event. Now, these guitars are being displayed by leading dealers throughout the globe. The Deep Forest Ebony Collection consists of three distinct variations. Ebony tops with okoume backs and sides make up the stunning design of each Washburn Deep Forest Series. The Washburn team chose this combination to provide a warm and strong tone that can cut through any kind of music.

Deep forest ebony D is the type in this series with the most conventional sound profile. As a result, it is easy and enjoyable to play. On the other hand, the efficient structure of Ebony FE makes it a very easy instrument to play. This body shape further concentrates the tone which makes this model the most powerful of the three in the series. This variant was improved with integrated electronics: a Barcus-Berry active system with an integrated tuner. ACE is the most contemporary interpretation of the Deep Forest Ebony series. It is aesthetically pleasing and acoustically flexible. With the addition of a Barcus-Berry four-band equalizer and digital tuner, the ACE is now suitable for stage and studio use.

Washburn DFEACE

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02/18/2024 04:20 pm GMT

Washburn Heritage Series HD10SCE12

HD10SCE12 is the only twelve-string Heritage model across all five grades. It is an entry-level guitar with an exquisite design and rich, full sound. HD10SCE12 has a single-cut dreadnought body (Venetian cutaway, white binding, tortoise pickguard, and wooden rosette inlay), 25-5/16″ scale, dovetail neck joint with 14 frets, and chromed hardware. It is only available in a natural finish. There is laminated mahogany on the back and sides, a solid Sitka spruce top, a mahogany neck, and a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays and white binding string nut for Nu Bone strings.

Also included are quarter-cut spruce support, a solid rosewood bridge, Fishman Isys+ electronics, and die-cast tuners. A tuner isn’t necessary with this unit’s built-in Pickup 301T Tuner/Preamp, which is also plug-in ready.

Washburn Heritage Series HD10SCE12

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02/18/2024 05:43 pm GMT

Washburn RO10SBK-A

The Washburn RO10SBK-A is one of the best travel guitars on the market and can be used by players of all skill levels. With a full 23.75-inch scale length and a choice of finish options, this guitar is a joy to play, feel, and look at. In addition, it comes with a premium gig bag that makes transportation safe and simple. The Rover range of travel instruments, whether flat-picking or playing finger-style, at the beach or around a campfire, has a comfortable grip and a sound that is pleasant to the listener.

According to Washburn, the Rover is the pinnacle of travel guitars on the market today. It is intended to follow you everywhere you go while leaving the smallest possible imprint on your baggage. Each Rover travel guitar has a solid spruce top, laminated mahogany on the back and sides, and a premium gig bag. The Rover’s body design is eccentric and unique, and it delivers a punch in terms of volume. It is a thin and playable neck that accomplishes its purpose. It is available in the finishes of matte red, matte black, and natural. The inexpensive fretboard made of engineered wood has 18 frets with offset dot inlays. There is no option for onboard electronics or an integrated tuner on any model. The design of this instrument makes it difficult to get a comfortable grip for some musicians, much like the grip of a dreadnought guitar. The only alternatives that can match the Washburn Rover in terms of weight and size are the Martin Backpacker Guitar and the Ultra-Light Series from Traveler Guitar. The Rover seems to have the lowest price among these options, and it is similar in tone and artistry to the other two.

Washburn RO10SBK-A

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02/18/2024 06:23 pm GMT

Washburn Festival EA15 Mini Jumbo

Washburn created the Festival Series to meet the requirements of performing musicians, and it has been a success for almost 25 years. The Festival series was the basic acoustic/electric guitar used in MTV’s “Unplugged” series and has become one of the most popular guitars on the market. The combination of a comfortable body with superb Barcus-Berry electronics, hardware, and exquisite woods enables the pure, crystalline highs to merge flawlessly with a deep, well-rounded bottom end.

The EA15’s small jumbo body is more pleasant to play for individuals who find the dreadnought and grand auditorium forms awkward. The EA15 MJ is ideal for youthful players, beginners, or experienced performers seeking a guitar with a more concentrated and personal sound. These Washburn guitars are built with a cutaway to provide access to the higher frets. This Festival EA15 has a Tobacco Burst gloss finish to produce an instant classic appearance. The coffee-colored gradient goes from dark to light. The cutaway is of Florentine style, which is uncommon on acoustic instruments. This model’s back and side panels are constructed of catalpa wood while the top is made of maple burl. The top panel is white trim and polished with a high shine. The sound hole is adorned with a rosette comprised of three concentric circles.

The bridge section has a rosewood belly-shaped bridge. This model’s electronics feature a piezo pickup and an EQ-4T preamp. The neck is crafted from catalpa wood and has a dovetail joint. The fingerboard of rosewood has 21 frets with dot inlays.

Washburn Festival EA15 Mini Jumbo

Photo source: Washburn.com

Washburn WD7S-A

The Washburn WD7S-A body is made of a good-quality Sitka spruce top, which Washburn claims will enhance the tone as it matures. Whether or not this claim holds true, the body still projects its sound very well. The back and sides are constructed from mahogany with a glossy finish. The mahogany neck has a scale length of 25.6 inches, a rosewood fingerboard with 20 frets, and a bone nut. Your sound quality will stay uncompromised with its volume. When its steel strings are fingerpicked, the instrument reveals an incredible softness and mellowness that reveals a new side of itself.

If you’re searching for a pure acoustic guitar, the WD7S is a clear winner. It exhibits nothing but excellence in its tones. The neck design provides a level of comfort seldom encountered in a dreadnought. The instrument is ideal for beginners, but who’s to say that after you’ve mastered the basics that this guitar will continue to be your go-to instrument for years to come? It is a fantastic model at a great price.

Washburn WD7S-A

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02/18/2024 10:43 pm GMT

Why Should You Consider Washburn?

When choosing an instrument, musicians would be wise to look beyond the brand’s reputation and try to experience the artistry and soul behind the guitar. Selection is particularly important when purchasing inexpensive equipment. Some large companies create relatively low-quality budget instruments in the hope that consumers would believe that a lesser model performs similarly to one of their flagship models. Whether you choose a Washburn or a guitar from a different manufacturer, reading independent reviews and listening to sound demonstrations is a crucial step. Many guitarists feel compelled to remark on a guitar’s quality and whether they would suggest it to other players after purchase. As with any other company, Washburn provides both high- and medium-quality guitars. However, even lower-quality guitars tend to get positive ratings from Washburn users, including scalloped bracing, rosewood fretboards, and high-quality electronics that distinguish Washburn guitars from other budget instruments.

The kind of wood used to construct a guitar has a significant impact on its sound and tonal qualities. Washburn chooses to employ high-quality wood for their models, even the materials for its entry-level products. Washburn guitars use mahogany, alder, ash, and basswood, and maple for the necks. Rosewood, ebony, and maple are also used to construct the fretboards. The expensive versions are crafted from various exquisite woods, such as flamed maple, koa, Pau Ferro, and acacia.

Washburn guitars provide a combination of high-quality sound with exquisite materials. Certainly, Fender and Gibson guitars are well-manufactured instruments and have proven popular over time. Washburn, however, should be placed in this category of well-built guitars that yield distinct, rich sounds for the musician.

Washburn WD7S-A

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Final Thoughts

From jazz, metal, blues, folk, and country to rock, Washburn provides an enormous selection of entry-level, mid-range, and premium acoustic guitars for practice, performance, and recording. Nancy Wilson, Rudy Sarzo, Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dimebag Darrel, and Marzi Montazeri, among others, are among the illustrious performers who continue to use Washburn instruments. Washburn guitars are constructed with superior components and tone woods. In addition, they are one of the only companies that provide solid Sitka spruce in their entry-level models at absurdly low costs in comparison to other guitar manufacturers. No matter what model you choose, you will not be disappointed with Washburn guitars’ quality and user-friendly features.

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