The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 02-24-2020, 01:17 AM
Horst Horst is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 10
Default Vintage Brazilian RW Washburn Parlor

Hello all!

I am new to the forum after being a visitor for many months. I have learned a lot from you all. Now for my question.

Why are the late 1800s early 1900s Washburn parlors so cheap?
I understand that most of them have many repairs, including the one Iím interested in, but from what Iíve seen on here, that doesnít make a big difference tone wise if professionally done. I recently bought a Cocobolo with 4A spruce that had light repairs on the sides because of this. Am I missing something?
Brazilian rosewood sides and back, ebony fingerboard, spruce top, and ivory tuners. What's the deal? I see mahogany parlors go for more. With the age and materials, these seem like dream guitars at a steal of a price. Thoughts?

Last edited by Horst; 02-24-2020 at 01:19 AM. Reason: Missed something
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-24-2020, 03:39 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chugiak, Alaska
Posts: 28,013
Default

Horst, I think itís simply because of less player interest in that particular style of guitar. Although they have pinned bridges, most of those old parlor guitars are braced for gut strings, not steel. They tend to have 1 7/8Ē nuts rather than the wider nuts that are currently favored by classical guitarists, so theyíre not as useful to those players.

Last but not least, theyíre not Martin guitars, and much of the interest in that style of guitars is centered around old Martins.

Anyway, I agree, there are some beautiful guitars from that era made from gorgeous tonewoods.

I know I havenít fully answered your question, but maybe Iíve given you some ideas.

Hope this helps.


Wade Hampton Miller
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-24-2020, 04:03 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: UK/EU
Posts: 18,165
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Horst View Post
Hello all!

I am new to the forum after being a visitor for many months. I have learned a lot from you all. Now for my question.

Why are the late 1800s early 1900s Washburn parlors so cheap?
I understand that most of them have many repairs, including the one Iím interested in, but from what Iíve seen on here, that doesnít make a big difference tone wise if professionally done. I recently bought a Cocobolo with 4A spruce that had light repairs on the sides because of this. Am I missing something?
Brazilian rosewood sides and back, ebony fingerboard, spruce top, and ivory tuners. What's the deal? I see mahogany parlors go for more. With the age and materials, these seem like dream guitars at a steal of a price. Thoughts?
Hi, as Wade has said, small flat tops are almost all about Martins. The Washburns, and the Weymanns and such are unknown to many. If you look at the majority of posts on this forum they are about 14 fret Martin dreads and OMs with the occasional reference to 00 or 000 and of course taylors and Gibsons.

Old baby boomers like me started listening to scratchy old records of the old ragtime and bluesmen many of whom recorded before there were such things as OMs (1929-1933) and 14 fret dreads - 1934 on).

Martin has now, I believe discontinued their finest designs - 0,00, and 000, although thankfully Eastman are making perfectly good versions and Collings still make all incarnations of the old Martin catalogue.

A new generation is replacing us whose heroes don't go back much further than the '60s.

I remember Stefan Grossman telling me that in his teens and twenties you could pick up 0,00 and 000 45 level Martins for pennies as no-one wanted them.
__________________
Silly Moustache,
Elderly singer, guitarist, dobrolist and mandolinist.

Hey folks, I'm now offering one to one lessons/meetings via Zoom! See: https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/...d.php?t=589058

https://www.youtube.com/user/SillyMoustache/videos
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-24-2020, 07:08 AM
Lkristians's Avatar
Lkristians Lkristians is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mostly Palm Beach, FL; sometimes CT, USA
Posts: 2,761
Default

Welcome to the AGF! You've already been advised by 2 of the most prolific posters. Great start!
All the best,
LarryK.
__________________
LarryK.
AGF Moderator
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-24-2020, 08:15 AM
J Patrick J Patrick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 3,714
Default

...I own an 1889 Washburn parlor...size 2...Brazilian...an early X-braced example.......It still has the original saddle nut and bridge pins...and it is crack free....I bought it 3 years ago for 900 dollars....I probably got a good deal on it...but I think that the supply and demand factor keeps the prices low on them....

.....Washburn made a huge number of guitars...the serial number on mine is over 10,000 and it’s an early one....that combined with the limited number of folks interested in such a guitar....basically a little antique guitar...makes for a supply that exceeds demand....that’s great for folks that want a nice old guitar but are not prepared to pay the higher price that a similar vintage Martin goes for....

....fwiw my Washburn compares favorably with the old Martins I have encountered...very similar in pretty much every way...

Last edited by J Patrick; 02-24-2020 at 08:22 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-24-2020, 08:46 AM
ship of fools ship of fools is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Richmond BC
Posts: 2,246
Default Nice to see that

I myself have a true love for old Washburn Parlors and have had a great many go through my hands and also made a point of studying as many as I could.
They certainly can compare to many old Martins in my view and some were made for gut but they also made many very early model parlors for steel string and could be very ornate compared to what Martin was making at the time.
And you are right about them being very under valued on the market compared to Martins which is great for the buyer and I think with a good repair they play very nicely.
Good luck with your purchase and if you need any more info will gladly send you all I know and if I can't get the right info well my friend Hubert Pleijsier will gladly fill in what I can't and nobody knows more about pre-war parlors then him.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-24-2020, 10:50 AM
Horst Horst is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 10
Default

Wade,

That makes since. It’s a very unique size and style along with brand name not being as high as some. If nobody is looking for it it's not going to be bought.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-24-2020, 10:58 AM
Horst Horst is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 10
Default

Silly Moustache,

It's truly something what good marketing can accomplish. Not to say that Martins are all advertising, they make truly brilliantly designed and sounding guitars. Also, many other brands ”borrowed” ideas from the great Martin & Co. I can't imagine a time when old Martins were cheap.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-24-2020, 11:01 AM
Horst Horst is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 10
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lkristians View Post
Welcome to the AGF! You've already been advised by 2 of the most prolific posters. Great start!
All the best,
LarryK.
That's awesome, and thank you! I feel my journey with acoustic guitars will go a lot smoother with the knowledge people here have.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-24-2020, 11:07 AM
Horst Horst is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 10
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by J Patrick View Post
...I own an 1889 Washburn parlor...size 2...Brazilian...an early X-braced example.......It still has the original saddle nut and bridge pins...and it is crack free....I bought it 3 years ago for 900 dollars....I probably got a good deal on it...but I think that the supply and demand factor keeps the prices low on them....

.....Washburn made a huge number of guitars...the serial number on mine is over 10,000 and itís an early one....that combined with the limited number of folks interested in such a guitar....basically a little antique guitar...makes for a supply that exceeds demand....thatís great for folks that want a nice old guitar but are not prepared to pay the higher price that a similar vintage Martin goes for....

....fwiw my Washburn compares favorably with the old Martins I have encountered...very similar in pretty much every way...
What!?! Crack free?!? That's incredible to me, especially at that price.

I'm new to these guitars but have not found any that good. They mostly have had neck resets or crack repairs, but that doesn't bother me as long as it plays nice. That's good to know that it's similar to the old Martins. Makes me feel like I'm getting an even better deal.

I hope these aren't too overlooked and then neglected. They've seemed to survive this long though so I have faith in them.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-24-2020, 12:16 PM
Horst Horst is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 10
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ship of fools View Post
I myself have a true love for old Washburn Parlors and have had a great many go through my hands and also made a point of studying as many as I could.
They certainly can compare to many old Martins in my view and some were made for gut but they also made many very early model parlors for steel string and could be very ornate compared to what Martin was making at the time.
And you are right about them being very under valued on the market compared to Martins which is great for the buyer and I think with a good repair they play very nicely.
Good luck with your purchase and if you need any more info will gladly send you all I know and if I can't get the right info well my friend Hubert Pleijsier will gladly fill in what I can't and nobody knows more about pre-war parlors then him.
Hello and thank you for the reply!
This is good to see. I'm interested in both steel and nylon. Is one better than the other? I understand that steel would more closely resemble the Martins, but in terms of build quality. I've found some in the 1920s and some as early as 1894 to 1896. Are certain year's better also?
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 02-24-2020, 01:26 PM
Osage Osage is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 882
Default

I've been a fan of old Washburns since I was a kid. My Dad had friends who were into them in the 60's because they were cheap and good and I got to play these and always liked them. I currently own two Washburns but have probably had 6 or 7 and have worked on a fair amount more of them. They used to be down right cheap but they're still affordable and can be great guitars.

That said, the build quality is not the same as on a Martin from the same era. The tone rarely is as well. It's just not and as much as I wish it were, it's not the case. It's not bad but the work is sloppier in the way you would expect from a factory that was producing as many affordable guitars as they were. The wood usually isn't as good and the glue work is typically very sloppy. I'm not saying that they're bad at all, just not up to the high standards of Martin or the Italian luthiers in New York at the time.

As mentioned above, they were mainly shipping with nylon strings when new and weren't really built for steel. Many are ladder braced and while I love a good ladder braced guitar, the bulk of players over the past 75 years or so have gravitated to the sound of X-braced guitars. At least the players that could afford them.

One last thing, just because it's Brazilian Rosewood, there is no guarantee that it will sound good. Rosewood isn't a magic bullet of tone and there are tons of mediocre sounding Brazilian Rosewood guitars out there. When buying an old parlor guitar tone and playability mean far more to me than the type of wood used.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 02-24-2020, 03:22 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Chugiak, Alaska
Posts: 28,013
Default

I agree with everything that Osage wrote about old Washburns, and especially want to reiterate what he wrote about the tonal mediocrity of so many Brazilian rosewood guitars - not only from that era but right up to those still being built today. Thereís so much hype about Brazilian rosewood that many players donít actually judge those guitars with their ears, the way they would whenever any other tonewood gets used.

Based on the fairly large sample of pre-WWII Brazilian rosewood guitars Iíve had a chance to play, I would estimate that at least half of them lack the trademark glassy treble response and natural reverb that characterizes the best Brazilian.

Those are the old ones, the guitars that will cost more than your car. About half of them, at least, are nothing special from a tonal standpoint, and actually donít sound terribly different from Indian rosewood.

As for the modern Brazilian rosewood guitars Iíve encountered, maybe a quarter of them have that trademark Brazilian sparkle. Seriously. Even though many them are beautifully built custom guitars, again, most of them donít sound much different than Indian rosewood.

So honestly, having owned Brazilian rosewood guitars and mountain dulcimers myself, what I can tell you is that some of it is superb, most of it is pretty good, but some is downright mediocre.

I should mention that Hawaiian koa wood, my all-time favorite tonewood when you find a good set, has an even worse track record. There are lots and lots of mediocre- and downright bad-sounding koa guitars out there, especially those made in large factories.

But my main point here is that even back a hundred years ago not every Brazilian rosewood instrument sounded as good as the die-hard Brazilian rosewood fans would have you believe. Donít get me wrong - itís a great tonewood. But not every instrument made from it sounds great, and never has.

Hope that makes sense.


Wade Hampton Miller
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 02-24-2020, 07:30 PM
J Patrick J Patrick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 3,714
Default

....I will add to this conversation with a string recommendation....the John Pearse Folk strings that are manufactured for them by Thomastik Infeld are the bees knees...designed for guitars that would have been strung with gut strings they are like no others...spendy but very long lasting...

https://www.juststrings.com/jps-tho.html
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 02-25-2020, 12:26 AM
Horst Horst is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 10
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Osage View Post
I've been a fan of old Washburns since I was a kid. My Dad had friends who were into them in the 60's because they were cheap and good and I got to play these and always liked them. I currently own two Washburns but have probably had 6 or 7 and have worked on a fair amount more of them. They used to be down right cheap but they're still affordable and can be great guitars.

That said, the build quality is not the same as on a Martin from the same era. The tone rarely is as well. It's just not and as much as I wish it were, it's not the case. It's not bad but the work is sloppier in the way you would expect from a factory that was producing as many affordable guitars as they were. The wood usually isn't as good and the glue work is typically very sloppy. I'm not saying that they're bad at all, just not up to the high standards of Martin or the Italian luthiers in New York at the time.

As mentioned above, they were mainly shipping with nylon strings when new and weren't really built for steel. Many are ladder braced and while I love a good ladder braced guitar, the bulk of players over the past 75 years or so have gravitated to the sound of X-braced guitars. At least the players that could afford them.

One last thing, just because it's Brazilian Rosewood, there is no guarantee that it will sound good. Rosewood isn't a magic bullet of tone and there are tons of mediocre sounding Brazilian Rosewood guitars out there. When buying an old parlor guitar tone and playability mean far more to me than the type of wood used.
Thank you for this. This brings me back into reality a bit. I knew there had to be more than just branding for the reason they aren't selling high. The cosmetics not being as pretty as Martin doesn't bother me much. As for the tone, I hope for it to be awesome. I won't expect AS good of tone as I think I was after reading this, but still want to take a shot on one.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > General Acoustic Guitar Discussion

Tags
brazillian rosewood, dream guitars, parlor, spruce, vintage

Thread Tools





All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:45 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=