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Old 05-14-2004, 03:13 PM
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Jim Tozier Jim Tozier is offline
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Default Inexpensive all solid wood guitar

I was shopping for a "beater" guitar for somewhere in the neighborhood of $300, and I stumbled across the Washburn WD46S, which is part of Washburn's 120th Anniversary Rarewood Acoustics Reserved Editions (RARE?) series at Music123.com.

It looks to have some nice features: solid spruce top, Grover tuners, abalone trim around soundhole and top, standard molded case . . . and the WD46S has rosewood back and sides. The Music123.com website (as well as an on-line review) states that it is Brazilian rosewood; and although Washburn's website doesn't say so, some reviews mentioned that the back and sides were solid wood.

I decided to call Washburn to find out . . . and their answer was that these guitars definitely use solid wood for the back and sides, although they said it was Indian rosewood. Nevertheless, I figured that it would be worth taking a gamble on a solid-wood spruce/rosewood guitar at this price, even if it is made in China. And if I don't like it, I can always return it.

Does anybody own one of these Washburn rarewood guitars, or had a chance to try them out? I'd be curious to know what you thought; all of the reviews I could find were glowing, but it's hard to tell what the folks who write them are used to playing.

I'll do a little review when I get the guitar, because if it's nearly as good as it seems (between the features and the reviews), this would be a lot of guitar for the money.

There are three other models in the series:

WD41S (Macassar Ebony)
WD42S (Flamed Olive Ash)
WD44S (Hawaiian Koa)

Music123.com has the WD42S, too . . . cheaper than the rosewood WD46S. There's one on eBay right now, and the back wood is really cool.
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Old 05-14-2004, 03:22 PM
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I don't own a Washburn, but it seems that there are more and more low-cost, solid-wood guitars coming out of China, and the reports on them are good to excellent. Blueridge currently has the corner on that market, but I recently saw one of the new Guild GADs that was impressive, and earlier today I read a review of some new solid-wood Epiphones that are being built in China. Politics aside (I don't want to discuss that again) it looks like things are really heating up in the low-end guitar market.
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Old 05-14-2004, 03:41 PM
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are you planning on having some set-up work done to it once you get it? because if you are not, I would be VERY leary of purchasing guitars through the mail. My suggestion is to try and find an old 60s/early 70s yamaha (solid spruce top, solid mahagony back and sides) and pay a luthier to do bone nut and saddle and setup, then throw a set of grovers on there. You will come out about even price wise and most likely way ahead tone wise.......but I am biased, though.
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Old 05-15-2004, 03:07 AM
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larrivee parlour?
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Old 05-15-2004, 06:20 AM
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The store where I have purchased my new Taylors is a Washburn dealer. I have played several Washburns and they very nice guitars. They offer a good variety of models, woods and finishes. Unlike Taylor they are really very different sounding model to model. Maybe I should say there was a wider variety of sounds from the Washburn models I have played. Some I liked and some sounded like Gibsons or very boomy Martins. The quality of the build, fit and finish was very good on all the Washburns that I have played. I thnk they are a good value for the money.

My advice is to find the model you are interested in and play it first.

I belive that most of the good Washburns are Korean made. Probably by Samick. They also build their high end guitars in America and most likely they are sourcing the low end from China.

Washburn got into some troble with the FTC a few years back for removing the made in Korea stickers and replacing them with made in America stickers.

And they crazy part is that the owner of Washburn Guitars lived 7 houses down from me until about 3 years ago. I didn't know it at the time and it was before I got back into guitar playing. Small world Huh!
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Old 05-15-2004, 06:46 AM
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I have a Washburn Rarewood Maccassar Ebony/Cedar. The store where I bought it also carried the other Rarewoods. I played four or five of the Ebony before picking out the one I bought as the best sounding. It is a great sounding guitar for the price; I bought it as a full-size "beater." I like the sound of the ebony/cedar, a good full dreadnaught sound with a little dark color. For the price which includes a nice molded plasitic case, I'm happy.

Some caveats:

(1) I'm not sure I would buy by mail. These guitars in all the Rarewood lines vary from guitar to guitar in signnificant ways and some had intonation problems, buzzing, etc. The cosmetics are pretty uniformly good.

(2) After buying the guitar, I found that I was unable to change the strings. The store had to spend about 1-2 hours pulling the pins out. They had been put in while the glue was wet on the bridge or there was sawdust residue in the bottom of the drill holes. The softish plastic pins were more less destroyed in the extraction process but that was O.K. because I would probably have replaced them with tusq in any event -- which I did.

(3) There is a thread about these guitars on the unofficial Martin forum where someone claims that as a result of pressing customer service, they learned that only the tops are solid wood and that the back and sides of the Rarewood series are laminate -- make that solid wood laminate. I don't know but it would explain the price. My store insisted it was solid wood and the Martin thread indicates some customer service people at Washburn say the same thing, and indicate as do some in this thread that Washburn has a problem with consumer representations. As you've noticed, the company's site now dodges this issue.

(4) I thought my guitar was labeled as being made in Indonesia, I think, or somewhere else in that island chain. But I could be wrong as I'm not checking the guitar as I type.

(5) Music123 -- I have never mail ordered anything from them but know their descriptions can be unreliable. For several years, Music123 was using Zapf's Music in Cherry Hill, NJ to sell their "B" and damaged stock off when it was no longer suitable for internet sales. Some of what I heard made me a little queasy about using M123 in terms of product condition and description -- the closeout prices are some of the best though. However, they do have a return policy, and I would not buy one of these guitars without that option or otherwise playing it in a store.

(6) All the Rosewood Rarewoods I have seen were represented as Indian Rosewood and looked like Indian. Don't trust Music123 on this.
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Old 05-15-2004, 07:22 AM
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Good input Bstring.............
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Old 05-15-2004, 07:51 AM
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"Solid wood laminate" is an interesting term.

Does it mean that an EIR "solid wood laminate" is laminated pieces of EIR or does it mean that it is laminated pieces of Nato or Sapele with an EIR veneer?

I *suppose* what it really means is that it is NOT an HPL or some other man-made material or glued up sawdust!
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Old 05-17-2004, 10:01 AM
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I emailed Washburn, to follow up on what I'd been told over the phone. Here's the response:

The Rarewood series is most definitely all solid wood. There is no laminate in the body. We were able to offer them at those low prices because we were able to get a great deal on some bulk quantity of woods. When I first played one of the rarewoods, my first thought was wow what a great sounding guitar. My second thought was that it was going to be too expensive for me to purchase. Probably over $1000. When I heard how much they were going for, my jaw hit the floor. I didn't belive a guitar of that quality could be offered at that price. It's a great guitar enjoy it.
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Old 05-18-2004, 08:50 AM
WashburnGuy WashburnGuy is offline
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Hey Jim!

I'm a newbie here but, I'm a BIG Washburn fan.

I bought my first Washburn 2 years ago. At that time, based on the prices, I considered Washburn to be just another player in the ever-growing acoutic guitar market.

Turns out I was wrong BIG TIME! I bought my first Washburn 12 string (D12S-12) used and was amazed that for $125, I got a good quality 12 string guitar with a solid top! At first, I thought it a fluke. Then I played another Washburn. A brand new, leftover, Millenium Series DM2000S Limited Edition. Aside from being a real eye catcher, I fell in love with the sound and playability. I immediately sold my Seagull S6+ and bought the DM2000S. I've NEVER regretted that decision and have yet to come across another guitar that makes me want to replace my Washburn.

Since that time, I've played even more Washburns and each of them had an action that was VERY playable. Add to it the Lifetime Warranty to the original owner and you've got a guitar that you can trust for the rest of your life.

Stop by my site and check in. If you get the Washburn, be sure to leave a review in the Washburn Gear section!
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Old 05-18-2004, 10:28 AM
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I bought an old Washburn some years back for my wife. All non-solid mahagony, dread. Basic guitar.

Sounds incredibly nice! I am always surprised when I play it. Neck is too thick, body is too boxy. Sound is great!

I checked out a bunch of solid topped Corts this weekend. Another surprise! They were not bad guitars!

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Old 05-21-2004, 04:18 PM
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[QUOTE=Jim Tozier]I was shopping for a "beater" guitar for somewhere in the neighborhood of $300, and I stumbled across the Washburn WD46S, which is part of Washburn's 120th Anniversary Rarewood Acoustics Reserved Editions (RARE?) series at Music123.com.

It looks to have some nice features: solid spruce top, Grover tuners, abalone trim around soundhole and top, standard molded case . . . and the WD46S has rosewood back and sides. The Music123.com website (as well as an on-line review) states that it is Brazilian rosewood; and although Washburn's website doesn't say so, some reviews mentioned that the back and sides were solid wood.

I decided to call Washburn to find out . . . and their answer was that these guitars definitely use solid wood for the back and sides, although they said it was Indian rosewood. Nevertheless, I figured that it would be worth taking a gamble on a solid-wood spruce/rosewood guitar at this price, even if it is made in China. And if I don't like it, I can always return it.

QUOTE]

At least Washburn was honest that it is NOT BRAZILIAN ROSEWOOD. I would be leary of anyone (Music123) that made such an obviously wrong statement/advertisement.
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Old 05-28-2004, 08:48 PM
Matt McGriff Matt McGriff is offline
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I just wanted to follow up on the Washburn all solid question- I just received a WD44S I bought on ebay for $239-I swear the inside of the back looks like mahogany. The grain pattern is no where close. The koa sure is pretty, but I don't think its all solid. Not bad for a beater, though.
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Old 05-28-2004, 09:01 PM
Barneco Barneco is offline
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My 0.02. You said your intent was to find a beater. If that's the case, why even bother with solid back and sides? Do you want to have to fret over humidity with a beater guitar? Seems to me that's the purpose of a beater in the first place.

If the thing sounds great, looks great, and plays great, and I can get it for 300 bucks, that qualifies as a beater to me.

If you're really dead set on an all solid axe, then just ignore my criticism. I just love my wife's big baby, with the fact that it sounds like a million bucks, i can leave it on the stand all the time and not worry about cracking, and it was cheap! What more can a guy want from a beater?
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Old 05-28-2004, 10:27 PM
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Sam Ash's sale ends tomorrow--spend three hundred bucks on anything and you get a free Carlo Robelli 12-string or acoustic/electric dread. So you could pick up all the assorted guitar-related doo-dah you need and get a freebie beater to boot. And I wouldn't necessarily sneer at those Carlos, either--the guy who split an evening with us in Naperville a couple of weeks ago was playing one and it sounded surprisingly good.
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