Washburn Guitars

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Washburn Guitars
Industry Musical instruments
Founded 1883; 134 years ago (1883) in Chicago, Illinois
Founder George Washburn Lyon
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois, United States
Area served
Products Electric, acoustic & resonator guitars
Bass Guitars
Parent US Music
Website washburn.com

Washburn Guitars is an American manufacturer and importer of guitars, mandolins, and other string instruments. The original company was established in 1883 in Chicago, Illinois. The modern Washburn is a division of US Music Corp..


Washburn Banjorine (1892).
Parlor guitar (1894) and "New Model" (1896)
right: archtop guitar model 5250 (1928).

Washburn guitars began making hand-crafted instruments in 1883 in Chicago, IL, as a division of stringed instrument maker Lyon & Healy.[1] Lyon & Healy sold sheet music, reed organs, and smaller musical instruments since 1864. Eventually, the firm began manufacturing a wide variety of musical instruments. Washburn (guitars, mandolins, banjos, and zithers) become the firm's premier line of plucked string instruments. The name "Washburn" originates from the middle name of George Washburn Lyon, one of the founders of Lyon & Healy.[2]

In 1912 Washburn introduced the Lakeside Jumbo guitar, which some condider the first dreadnought sized guitar.[3] It bridged the gap between smaller bodied parlor guitars of the late 19th and early 20th century and modern day dreadnought and jumbo acoustic guitars. Washburn currently offers a reissue of that model as the LSJ749.

In the 1980s, Washburn introduced the Festival Series of Acoustic/Electric guitars. They were thinner than standard acoustic guitars, thereby reducing the susceptibility to feedback that previous acoustic/electric designs were notorious for. The addition of patented sound slots further reduced the possibility of feedback and the guitars quickly became the go-to stage acoustic for artists such as Jimmy Page, George Harrison and Bob Dylan. In the early 1990s when MTV introduced their Unplugged series, hardly a show went by without seeing a Festival Series guitar. The design also lent itself well to acoustic basses and it wasn’t long before nearly every bassist of the era had to have one.

Washburn makes electric guitars, acoustic guitars, electric basses, acoustic basses, banjos, mandolins, travel guitars, ukuleles, and amplifiers. The company also makes accessories including guitar cases, clothing, and other parts like tuners, pick ups, and straps. Washburn is mostly known for its electric guitars and acoustic guitars.[4]

Past and present models[edit]

WG587 7-string guitar.
N4 Special
  • Anarchy Graphic Series – guitars featuring the anarchy symbol. (Discontinued)
  • Bantam Series (Discontinued)
  • Chicago Series (Discontinued)
  • Disney by Washburn (Discontinued)
  • George Washburn Series / Stephens Extended Cutaway (Rare) - EC26 (Atlantis), made in U.S.A. / EC29 (Challenger I), made in Japan / EC36 (Challenger II), made in Japan . (Discontinued)
J5 Jazz guitar.
  • HB Series - (hollow body guitars)
  • Heavy Metal Series-Guitars (Discontinued)
  • Idol Series
  • James Malone Series - James Malone (Arsis) signature (Discontinued)
  • Jazz Series (Discontinued)
  • Maverick Series (Discontinued)
  • Mercury Series (Discontinued)
  • Maya Series (Discontinued)
  • N Series – Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) signatures
  • Parallaxe Series - New metal/shred-oriented series for 2013, and Washburn's introduction of 8-string guitars
  • Paul Stanley Series - designed with the co-founder of KISS
  • Rocker Series (Discontinued)
  • RX Series
  • Scott Ian Series - Scott Ian (Anthrax) signatures (Discontinued)
  • Shadow Series (Discontinued)
  • Signature Series [Washburn has so many dedicated artists, with their own signature guitars that it would not be practical to list them all]
  • Stage Series (Discontinued)
  • Stage Series [Reissue] (Discontinued)
  • Stealth, 333/Floyd Rose, 332/Stop Bar and Culprit designs made for Dimebag Darrell of Pantera and Damageplan (Discontinued)
  • Travel Series
  • Wing Series (Discontinued)
  • X Series (Discontinued)
  • XM Series
left: AB-10 acoustic bass.
right: XB0-600 6-string bass (right).
  • RB Series (Discontinued)
  • XB Series (Discontinued)
  • MB Series (Discontinued)
  • SB Series (Discontinued)
  • Taurus Series
D100DL acoustic.
  • Apprentice Series
  • Augusta Series
  • Acoustic/Electric – acoustic guitars that can be plugged into amplifiers
  • Classical Series
  • Comfort & Comfort Deluxe Series
  • Cumberland & Cumberland Deluxe Series
  • Disney by Washburn (Discontinued)
  • Dreadnoughts
  • Southwestern Series (Discontinued)
  • Festival Series
  • Folk Style
  • Forrest Lee Jr. Bender
  • Harvest Series
  • Heritage Series
  • Jumbos
  • Lakeside Jumbo Series
  • Parlor Series
  • Paul Stanley Series (Discontinued)
  • Tahoe & Tahoe Deluxe Series
  • Timber Ridge Series
  • Travel Acoustic Series – small guitars.
  • Vintage Series

Notable Washburn innovations[edit]

Headstock of a Washburn RB2802 8-String Bass that uses the Buzz Feiten Tuning System.

Over the years, Washburn designed (patented and trademarked) several guitar construction features:

  • Buzz Feiten Tuning System — a corrected temperation tuning formula, which uses a compensated nut and saddle to correct the inherent intonation problems of the Western tuning formula. This system comes standard on some USA made Washburn guitars and basses and is featured on select imported models.[5]
  • Stephen's Extended Cutaway — special modification of bolt-on neck joint.[6]
  • Voice Contour Control - a special coil structure that allows a blend between a humbucker mode and a single-coil mode on the same pickup.[7]

Voice Contour Control[edit]

Many Washburn guitars equipped with humbuckers have a feature called Voice Contour Control (VCC). VCC is similar to coil splitting, in that it changes the tone of a humbucking pick-up to that of a single coil, but it does it by turning the tone knob. In doing so the musician can get every sound from the warm/thick humbucker to the P-90 to the thinner single coil and all points in between, all without the hum normally associated with single coils.


Washburn uses the mechanism of endorsements, where:

  • Manufacturer provides custom-shop instrument that suits the artist best, for free (or even paying artist).
  • Artists promotes his or her usage of that instrument and advertises manufacturer company.

The current list of Washburn Signature endorsers. Standard Washburn Endorsers.

Product lineup[edit]

Current Signature Product Lineup[edit]

N4 XX anniversary edition.
  • Nuno Bettencourt models are flagshipped by the American hand-made N4. The N4 guitar is a small reverse headstock super-strat that features the unique Stephen's Extended Cutaway neck joint for easy access to the higher frets. It also contains Bill Lawrence and Seymour Duncan pickups, and a Floyd Rose licensed tremolo. The production budget models of this guitar, which are machine built in Korea are known as the N1 and N2 and feature standard bolt-on necks and lower grade pickups and tremolo systems. The N3 (discontinued) was also produced in Korea and sported the Stephen's Extended Cutaway but used lower grade pickups. Nuno has also endorsed several Washburn acoustic models. There is also the N7 7 string model and an acoustic/electric based on the Festival Series, the EA20SNB.
  • Ola Englund Solar (2013/2014): Signature model announced by Washburn in 2013 for Swedish guitarist Ola Englund of Six Feet Under, Feared, and The Haunted. Specifications are currently unavailable.[8]
  • Warren Haynes - vocalist and guitarist in both Gov't Mule, The Allman Brothers and Warren Haynes Band, Warren is perhaps the hardest working musician in rock. He is known for his extremely tasty and heartfelt playing and is very particular about his tone. The Washburn WSD5249 acoustic guitar is based on the original Washburn Solo Deluxe from 1937, which is similar in size to the popular OM shaped guitars commonly found on the market today. We feature a premium Adirondack Spruce top with period-correct vintage sunburst finish. Hand-shaped scalloped Adirondack Spruce bracing masterfully joins the top and solid rosewood sides while the beautiful 2-piece back is split by a vintage-inspired 1930s zipper-style inlaid herringbone stripe. The top is framed-out beautifully by 3-ply ivoroid binding and the sound hole is expertly bound and finished by a gorgeous ringed herringbone rosette.[9]

Previous Signature Product lineup[edit]

DIME 333 (Dean ML-style).
CP2003 "Culprit".
  • Dimebag Darrell ML body style Dimebag Signature series. Washburn's Dean ML-style Dime 333 and radical Gibson Explorer-like Dime Culprit models were the most popular. The Dime 333 had a Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo, the 332 model featured a stop-tail bridge.
    The Culprit, with its sliced-up Explorer-style body, featured a Floyd Rose tremolo, a mirror pickguard and a pair of hot ceramic humbucking pickups with chrome cover.
Paul Stanley model.
  • Paul Stanley Current models as of 2014 are PS2014, PS2012, PS 12 and PS10.[10] Previous models have been the PS600 and PS800 (extensively used while touring with KISS), as well as the "Preacher" PS7000/PS7200/PS9000/PS9200 (which he used during his 2006-2007 tour to promote his solo album Live to Win). Stanley's line also includes the PS9 and PS11E acoustic guitars that feature his image on the front and come bundled with a custom gig bag.
  • Steve Stevens Signature Model (1993) SS80 and SS100 models made at Washburn's Chicago custom shop. The SS40 was mass-produced in Korea. The SS80 was produced in black with gold hardware and a Schaller-licensed Floyd Rose tremolo, Seymour Duncan JB humbucking pickups. The SS100 featured black hardware and Frankenstein monster graphics.
  • George Washburn / Stephens Extended Cutaway electric models were introduced in 1987 and designed entirely by Stephen Davies. Washburn intends them as high end instruments. The EC series had 3 models named Atlantis, the Challenger, and Spitfire. The EC 29 and EC 36 were the first mass-produced guitars that had over 27 frets. The EC26 (Atlantis) had 26 frets, was made in the U.S.A. and is a very rare model.
  • Nick Catanese Signature Model (1999) Idol Series for Nick Catanese.
  • Stu Hamm - Signature electric bass model designed by Stu Hamm.[11]
  • Dan Donegan Signature Model/Maya Series (2003): A six string electric guitar series for Disturbed guitarist Dan Donegan and named after his daughter Maya. There are currently two models of this guitar: Maya Standard guitar (DD70) and Maya Pro guitar (DD75). Both use Seymour Duncan pickups.
  • Bootsy Collins Space bass (2006): Signature model for Bootsy Collins. Features Fender Jazz Bass pickups.


  1. ^ Hubert Pleijsier (2008). Washburn Prewar Instrument Styles. Anaheim Hills, CA: Hal Leonard. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-57424-227-0. 
  2. ^ "History of Lyon & Healy - origin of Washburn name". Lyon & Healy, Inc. 
  3. ^ John Teagle, U.S. Music Corp. (1996). Washburn, Over One Hundred Years of Fine Stringed Instruments (1st ed.). New York: Amsco Publications. p. 73. ISBN 0-8256-1435-X. 
  4. ^ "Washburn History". Washburn Guitars / U.S. Music Corp., a division of JAM Industries, LTD. 
  5. ^ "Buzz Feiten Tuning System". Washburn Guitars. Archived from the original on 2011-12-21. 
  6. ^ "The Washburn Days". Stephen's Extended Cutaway. 2010. Archived from the original on 2012-03-17. 
  7. ^ "Washburn Voics Contour Control (VCC)". Washburn Guitars. Archived from the original on 2011-12-29. 
  8. ^ "Ola Englund Signs With Washburn Guitars". Guitar Noize. July 1, 2013. Ola Englund recently posted an announcement that he wouldn’t be renewing his contract with S7 Guitars and I also recently mentioned that S7G are no longer manufacturing the Strandberg Boden and Washburn have taken over those duties. Well it seems Washburn are making a big move back into the Metal guitar community as Ola Englund (not to be confused with Ola Strandberg) has just signed with Washburn to create a new Solar Series guitar, which will be part of the new Parallaxe series. Also Ola has just joined Swedish band The Haunted ... 
  9. ^ "Washburn WSD5249 Acoustic Guitar". Washburn Guitars. The Warren Haynes Signature Model WSD5249 / Proudly hand-built in the Buffalo Grove, USA Factory, the Washburn WSD5249 acoustic guitar is based on the original Washburn Solo Deluxe from 1937, which is similar in size to the popular OM shaped guitars commonly found on the market today. ... 2-piece back is split by a vintage-inspired '30s zipper-style inlaid herringbone stripe. ... adorned with a '30s style rosewood capped headstock with intricately inlaid pearl appointments and period-correct Washburn logo. 
  10. ^ "Washburn Paul Stanley Series Electric Guitars". Washburn Guitars. Archived from the original on 2014-08-12. PS10BK / PS10WHK / PS12BK / PS12WHK / PS2012B / PS2012WH / PS2014TS 
  11. ^ "Washburn Stu Hamm Series Bass Guitars". Washburn Guitars. Archived from the original on 2014-04-19. SHB30B / SHB30SVS / SHB40RS / SHB40TNG / SHB60NM / SHB60TSS / SHBH3N / SHBH3TNG 

External links[edit]