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Thread: Washburn Guitars

  1. #1
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Washburn Guitars

    Recently I came across an article talking about Washburn guitars. That's a brand I haven't heard about since Craig Chaquico (former Jefferson Starship) was an endorser. Seems virtuoso Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) is also a fan/player. Well, I don't really glom onto gear that someone else plays unless I get a chance to play for myself. But I know our own member S. Cane has a Washburn acoustic that he says he really likes, so I thought I'd post about one model in particular, the G-Mini 55 Koa (I've also seen it called the G-55 Mini Koa).



    Washburn has created a line of acoustic guitars called the Comfort Series. These include "armrests" and gentle bevels (instead of cutaways). This particular guitar is listed as being solid wood - Koa top, back and sides. Not layered or laminated. It's got a mahogany neck with 2-way truss rod, ebony fingerboard, a Graphtech Nubone nut, ebony bridge and gold hardware. This is a small, short-scale guitar and compares favorably with Taylor's GS Mini. I love my GS Mini-e Koa!

    But these days, the GS Mini-e Koa Goes for $999. Its newer model, the GS Mini-e Koa Plus lists for $1199 (all US dollars). The Washburn? MAP is $379, at
    Sweetwater! Including a gig bag!

    I watched a
    YouTube video of a duet using a Taylor GS Mini Mahogany and the Washburn. Pretty darn close, if you ask me.

    So... What do you know about Washburn? I know they're made in China, which I consider a mark against, but for someone looking for an inexpensive, knock-around travel guitar, this could put the GS Mini on the shelf. Or maybe not?
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  2. #2
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
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    Re: Washburn Guitars

    Quote Originally Posted by OldStrummer View Post


    So... What do you know about Washburn? I know they're made in China, which I consider a mark against, but for someone looking for an inexpensive, knock-around travel guitar, this could put the GS Mini on the shelf. Or maybe not?


    I do like mine for very simple reasons.

    I am essentially an electric player, the strat being by far my favorite guitar. But I wanted a steel strung acoustic, just for the sake of owning one and writing music on it. Also, I like to have a guitar at hand wherever I am and my wife likes to travel to beaches, so an acoustic made sense.

    As a matter of fact I sought a cheap model that I wouldn't mind if it was stolen or damaged. I also wanted a parlor or 0 sized guitar, which is obviously easier to carry and store. I dislike proper "travel" or "baby" guitars. The parlor has an "old west" thing to it, which I like.

    It cost me very little money, about $150 back then, it's my only Chinese made instrument, but came surprisingly well made, with real bone nut and saddle, abalone inlayed rosette, mahogany neck, and rosewood back, sides and fingerboard. The finish is an awful matte stuff but I gotta tell you, it is still mint after years of being abused. I swapped the bridge pins, put some real good looking ebony/abalone ones. Only real downside is the cheapo tuners, but it sounds good and stays in tune so so far it's a non issue.

    As I began recording my own stuff, I bonded with this guitar a lot. I know it's no Martin or Waterloo, but it gets the job done quite well for what it is. Washburn, as I've read, never was a luxury or premium quality brand, they've always made what has been called "working men's guitars". I don't care for their electrics, but the vintage style acoustics are really worth the little money they cost, which can't be said of many expensive instruments out there...


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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Washburn Guitars

    Thanks Sérgio... er, S. If you hadn't noticed, I went and bought the G-Mini 55 Koa. It's nearly exactly the same size as my Furch LJ10-CM (Little Jane) but at a third the price. Which correctly suggests the Furch is the better sounding of the two. However, it's a good-looking little thing, with some interesting features ("comfort carve-away," armrest bevel). It needs a tiny bit of neck relief; fifth fret harmonics are dull, although 7th and 12th fret harmonics are spot on. I agree about the tuners; this guitar seems to need tuning every time I pick it up. The neck is thin (nut width is 1-11/16", or 42.93mm), which I like, although I've lately been playing guitars with wider nuts and it feels very narrow by comparison.

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    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
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    Re: Washburn Guitars

    I didn’t remember well how much I paid for mine, and looked for the invoice (I keep my guitar papers). I actually paid approximately $300 for it (I paid in Brazilian Reais).

    Apparently the model still costs around that:


    https://reverb.com/item/204149-washb...ood-back-sides

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Washburn Guitars

    I paid about the same for mine. https://reverb.com/item/64947267-washburn-comfort-g-mini-55-koa-travel-size-acoustic-guitar
    Striving to be ordinary

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    Re: Washburn Guitars

    One of the nicest acoustic/electric guitars I've ever owned was a Washburn, Cumberland. It had abalone everywhere, and the electronics had both a 1/4" and an XLR output. I had to replace a tuner, (they have a lifetime guarantee), but when I took it to my sister in law to get her opinion, she fell in love with it. It lives with her now, but she told me a while back her husband's nephew came to visit, and he played it. (Tobias Rene, "King of New Mexico Music"), he told her "never sell that guitar!"

  7. #7
    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Washburn Guitars

    The history of Washburn guitars is a long and winding road, as is true with most companies that can trace their roots back to the 1880s. One hundred years later, they were somewhat of a pioneer in electrifying acoustic guitars. Their Festival series was a popular stage instrument, and was played by the likes of Craig Chaquico, Nuno Bettencourt, and Greg Allman. Allman's black EA20 he named Melissa... Robert Plant also was seen playing a Washburn.

    It was through these associations that I came to recognize the Washburn name. When S. Cane bought his, I took notice. When I came across the very affordable G-Mini 55 Koa, I could hardly refuse...
    Striving to be ordinary

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  8. #8
    Forum Member S. Cane's Avatar
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    Re: Washburn Guitars

    Washburn made some nice, not so expensive parlor guitars in the late 1800s/early 1900s, mine is kind of a reissue of the Style 115, which you can see here:

    https://jakewildwood.blogspot.com/20...or-guitar.html


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    Forum Member gibsonjunkie's Avatar
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    Re: Washburn Guitars

    The guy I'm recording with has a bunch of guitars in his studio, including some rare or vintage guitars. On the other hand, he also has a bunch of Chinese knock-offs that he gets CHEAP! He has a few Tele and strat knock offs that he gets for $200 or so that are pretty darned amazing. Copyright infringment - yep - they even have Fender Logos... beautiful cheap guitars - YEP! They are really well made and play amazingly well.

    Mrs. Junkie has wanted a Paisley telecaster for years - I would never buy a Fender for something that would probably hang in the living room and rarely be played, but for $250 - I'd consider it!

    Bear Poked - have at it!!!
    "We catched fish and talked, and we took a swim now and then to keep off sleepiness." Mark Twain

  10. #10
    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: Washburn Guitars

    The issue I always run into when people ask me about acoustics is that they are all unique individuals. Just because the XYZ corp.'s model 123 that one person bought was a winner there's just as good a chance that the very next one off the line was a POS. So I guess what I'm saying is that if you want a good one you need to go shop for it. Ovations with one-piece mahogony necks have been the most consistent acoustics I've played but that's not a great guitar for the bedroom.

    The other consideration is how you intend to use it. I play mine onstage and so I'm more concered with how it sounds in the mains and monitors, how bad does it feed back? Do I need to find the dead spot onstage and face a certain direction or does it allow me to move a little? ( Next time you see a love concert, watch how when the acoustics come out so do the chairs onto the tape "x"'s on the stage, lol!)

    The answer to the "whcih guitar" question is always so subjective and situational nobody can clearly answer it.

    Country of Origin - meh. The way guitar labels are bought and sold as NFTs these days the name on the headstock is almost irrelevant. Some nice, nice guitars come out of low cost regions and some real POS's come out of the USA.

    Now, that said, there are some clues to look for. Nut and fret ends, quality tuners with no slip or backlash, quality fret wire that won't wear out in a year, etc., but unfortunately you can't tell these things from pictures and internet listings.

    Finally, the unfortunate truth is that most of the people giving some guitar a 5 star review can't really play too much.

    If a guitar makes you and your audience happy it's a good one. That's all that matters.

    Chuck
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

  11. #11
    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: Washburn Guitars

    As a long-time guitarist, one of my biggest regrets is that I got hung up on brands and mods and blah blah blah. 80% of all mods were a waste of money. The American guitars I have do please me a lot. My 95 Martin vintage reissue HD-28 is irreplaceable in my collection. A while back, I bought a $250 Fender acoustic as a knock around. I'd play it on any stage anywhere, if I were still playing shows.

    Even if I were playing at Carnegie Hall...by the way, how do you get there?
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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