Washburn Guitars

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A Washburn headstock

Washburn Guitars is an American guitar manufacturer. It was established in 1883 in Chicago, Illinois. Washburn is a part of U.S. Music Corporation.


The Washburn guitar company started making guitars in 1883 in Chicago as a division of stringed instrument maker Lyon & Healy.[citation needed] Lyon & Healy was making plucked string instruments in the 1880s, with Washburn (guitars, mandolins, banjos, and zithers) being their premier line. The Washburn factory would later be involved with Delta Blues as a result of an influx of black people to the area in the 1920s. This type of blues would change the way blues music was played, and would also change rock and roll. This blues movement helped in the success of Washburn guitars at that time. The musicians played the guitars as well as making them by hand. The Washburn guitar and the blues movement that it was involved with are associated with Maxwell Street. This street is only a few blocks from the factory where Washburn guitars were first embraced.[clarification needed]

Early Washburn brand string instruments

Washburn makes electric guitars, acoustic guitars, electric basses, acoustic basses, banjos, mandolins, travel guitars, 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. The company makes eight different styles or “Series” of both electric and acoustic guitars.[1]


Washburn guitars have been gaining much recognition in recent years, particularly within the extreme metal, hardcore punk and post-rock scenes.[citation needed]

In 2013, Washburn announced a "return" to their electric guitar range, revealing the Parallaxe range of guitars, a new series aimed towards extreme metal players. This new line will be available with 6 and 7-string, and will feature Washburn's first production 8-string guitar. The guitars will also include Stephen's Extended Cutaway system, a feature that was only available for the Nuno Bettencort signature line and the older EC series, which will be available on several 6 and 8 string models in the series. These guitars will also have the Buzz Feiten tuning system.[2]

In the same year, Swedish guitar company Strandberg Guitarworks announced a partnership with Washburn Guitars, making his designs easier and cheaper to obtain. They will be built in Washburn's USA custom shop, with signature models for Paul Masvidal of Cynic and Chris Letchford of Scale the Summit announced.[3]


A Washburn Lyon guitar.

Voice Contour Control[edit]

Many Washburn guitars equipped with humbuckers have a feature called Voice Contour Control (VCC), which is currently available only on Washburn. 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 humbucker to the P-90 to the single coil and all points in between, all without the hum normally associated with single coils. In other words, it gives the player the option of a warm/thick humbucker sound, or a thinner single coil sound at the twist of a knob. With VCC at 10 on the guitar knob, you get a fuller, thicker sound characteristic of humbucking pickups.

Notable Washburn innovations[edit]

Here is a look at the headstock of a Washburn RB2802 8-String Bass which uses the Buzz Feiten Tuning System.

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


Washburn uses the mechanism of endorsements, where:

This process greatly promotes the whole industry. Beginning artists often try to copy the sound of their favourite artists and thus try to use the same equipment. Endorsements help both manufacturers and consumers: beginning artists get to know what kind of equipment their idol uses and can copy their sound easier, and companies raise sales.[citation needed]

The whole list of Washburn endorsers.

Product lineup[edit]

Washburn N4XX anniversary

Signature models[edit]

Washburn Paul Stanley model
Washburn DIME 333 (Dean ML-style)
Washburn CP2003 "Culprit"


External links[edit]