Washburn is an iconic American guitar brand with roots that trace back to the 1880s. Their guitars have graced our stages and screen for decades and their innovative designs continue to attract new players to this day.
This article unpacks the history of Washburn guitars, their best uses cases, potential pitfalls, and important things you should consider when considering which brand of an instrument to buy.
Here’s The Answer To How Good Washburn Guitars Are:
Washburn makes a wide variety of high quality, affordable guitars with a range of models and styles to suit all interests and needs. For decades they have been hailed by amateurs and pros alike for providing guitars that ‘punch above their weight’ and outperform guitars that are much more expensive. Though Washburn guitars are mostly used by beginner/intermediate level players these days, there are some touring professionals who swear by their Washburns.
A Brief History of Washburn Guitars:
The Washburn brand had a unique story that has taken many twists and turns through its nearly 140 years of existence.
Though Washburn the brand markets itself as though these have been making instruments for the last 140 years, that is not quite an accurate representation of their past.
Washburn guitars were first made in Chicago in 1883 by George Washburn and in the early 1900s released the Lakeside Jumbo model, which is the first-ever dreadnought acoustic guitar. Following a later merger with the Tonk Brothers, the Solo Deluxe auditorium guitar style guitar was released which is one of the best selling guitars ever created.
Guitar production took a backseat through the World Wars until the Washburn name was resurrected in the 1970s.
Though much production was moved offshore Washburn carried in a USA handmade line of guitars which are now prized by their owners as instruments far exceeding the quality of similarly priced counterparts at the time.
The Washburn brand is now a subsidiary of the US Music Corporation, which is owned by Jam Industries.
This Youtube Video from Washburn gives a great overview of their history.
Where Are Washburn Guitars Made?
Throughout its history, Washburn guitars have been manufactured in a variety of different places. Since their inception, they were handmade in the USA, but more recently production has been outsourced to various other locations.
From the 1970s onwards production was largely moved to Korea and completed by Samick at their factory.
Then when Samick opened an Indonesian factory in 1992 this factory also started producing Washburn branded instruments. Throughout this period and to today, there is a small number of US handmade Washburn instruments, but the majority come from production facilities in Indonesia and China.
Who Uses Washburn Guitars?
Washburn has worked closely with a variety of big-name music artists over the years, and have had differing levels of popular adoption with professional players.
At different times Washburn guitars have been used by Robert Plant, Nancy Wilson and Howard Leese with Heart, to the hard rock and metal players like Rudy Sarzo and Nuno Bettencourt, as well as grunge icons like Dimebag Darrel, Ola Englund and Marzi Montazeri.
Are Washburn Guitars Good for Beginners?
These days, Washburn guitars cater to the beginner/intermediate market primarily, so yes Washburn guitars are good for beginners.
They are very affordable, and many claim that their cheap Washburn models outperform their very expensive counterparts.
Some Washburn models are extremely difficult to buy secondhand because they were produced in small batches and are not being given up by their owners.
How Durable Are Washburn Guitars?
Washburn guitars aren’t especially durable or fragile. Like any guitar, these are intricate instruments and vulnerable to harm if not looked after. If you don’t look after your Washburn guitar, you could expect it not to last long, but on the other hand, if you take careful care then it should last a long time.
You can maximise the durability of your Washburn guitar by keeping it not in a gig bag (soft case) but in a hard case when not in use.
Though we never expect bad things to happen to our guitars when we aren’t playing them, there are countless stories of ‘freak accidents’ such as dropping it and tearing the bag that it’s in or maybe knocking the guitar off a wall and cracking the neck.
Potential Problems with Washburn Guitars:
Like any acoustic guitar that has been mass-produced, there are always a variety of things that can go wrong in production. None of the issues here is specific to Washburn only but could be present with any guitars manufactured in high quantities.
Any new cheap guitar may have issues with frets, neck adjustment, poor quality tuners, string action, solid top quality and electrical components that are not functioning as required.
How Long Do Washburn Guitars Last?
Like any acoustic guitar, Washburn guitars last as long as they are treated and stored well. If you don’t look after your Washburn guitar, you increase the chance that it will not last long. But if you store it when not in use, and care for it, a Washburn guitar can last decades.
How Is the Warranty On Washburn Guitars?
Washburn Guitars provides a limited lifetime warranty that the guitar the original purchaser buys, from an authorized Washburn dealer, will be free from defective materials and craftsmanship.
This is consistent amongst other guitar manufacturers. Proof of purchase is required before any warranty works will be carried out.
Electronic components however are only guaranteed for up to 12 months.
Read more here: https://www.washburn.com/warranty-registration/
Which Brands Produce Guitars Similar to Washburn Guitars?
There is a broad range of guitar brands that produce entry-level to intermediate-level instruments including Ibanez, Epiphone, Fender, and Yamaha.
Each of these brands has a range of affordable instruments that would be worth considering if you are looking for an affordable guitar.
Can I Play Gigs With a Washburn Guitar?
Yes absolutely. Many Washburn guitars have pickups and produce a sound of good enough quality to support live performance. You would want to make sure you have a nice new set of strings, but many pros use Washburn guitars in live performances.
Can I Record Music With a Washburn Guitar?
Yes absolutely. Similar to playing live you would want to make sure you have new strings, so they are sound their best. But Washburn guitars have appeared on many famous records, and are used in recording music today.
Washburn Guitars Serial Numbers
If you have a Washburn guitar serial number and want to research more about the model there are two places with heaps of information about past models.
Go to the Washburn Guitars website (https://www.washburn.com/about-washburn-guitars/) and scroll to the bottom of the page and there is a section called ‘About Your Washburn Guitar’ which has lots of historical model information.
Another great resource is the Wikipedia page on Washburn Guitars (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washburn_Guitars) which has a lot of information about different model prefixes across their whole range of guitars.
Washburn Guitar FAQ’s
Are Washburn Electric Guitars Good?
Similar to the Washburn acoustic guitar range, the Washburn electric guitar comes in a range of styles, at a range of price points. The Washburn Electric guitars are typically considered fantastic beginner to mid-range instruments.
Are All Washburn Guitars Made in China?
Though a small number of Washburn guitars are still handmade in Cincinnati (at least they were until very recently), the majority of production is not outsourced to factories in Indonesian and Chine, depending on the model.