Washburn Strat - USA Made Reviews 4

I have played acoustic guitar since I was 11 (almost 40 years). Over the past 12 years I have played lead electric guitar in bands. I compose/write songs, and teach music theory with guitar. My favorite music to compose is jazz/blues, to play is funk or country, and to enjoy is classic rock (when lead artistry was in plenty).

I purchased the Washburn USA Strat used at a Guitar Center store for $155. I took plenty of time to play it side-by-side with MIM and US made Fender Stratocasters, on Fender and Marshall amps. I set the tone and vol knobs identically and played the exact same riffs, runs, chords - hammering, pulling, bending, double-bending - flat picking and hybrid picking to assess the way each Strat type guitar responded.

1) The color caught my attention 1st, a light banana yellow with a white pearloid pickguard - which stood out in a store with almost 300 units on display. 2) The all maple deep C-shaped neck, with a light satin finish, felt incredible, over any fret. I appreciate that they rounded the edges of the fretboard so graciously. 3) Notes blossomed out of the guitar like none other... they were anything but sterile. I would bend a note, and it would sound like it was phasing as I bent it. That added color to so many lines I was playing. The Fender Strats had a slightly clearer overdriven sound, and were better for chording, but I could not get them to blossom notes out like the Washburn did. 4)The metal hardware is brushed alunimum - way more understated than chrome! The tuners are Sperzels which lock the string in a vise on the tuning post, and the 2-point floating bridge is a Wilkinsen - in brushed aluminum. The tuning stays dead-on, even as much as I full bend the 2nd and 3rd strings. The tremolo bridge uses 3 springs, and the tension is set somewhat tight so that you can feel the strings working when you play the tremolo hard. I never use a bar, just the palm of my hand to tremolo notes/chords, and I can grab the back edge of the Wilkinsen and pull it up bare-handed enough to dive bomb about half an octave. It will return to tune even after that much, plus it makes for a signature sight - looks like you're bending the guitar into! Long live Wilkinsen!

1)The extra rounded radius on the fretboard edge keeps you aware of not pulling the 1st or 6th string over; takes a little getting used to. (You usually bend a note inward anyway) 2)What I don't like are the airheaded novices that look at the headstock and think they understand everything about the guitar because it isn't named Fender.

1) The one-piece maple neck is what sets it apart feel-wise. Washburn's wood selection was very unique on this run (manuf in 1994). The maple has almost no visible grain, and feels like clay with that light satin urethane finish. I have experienced no tarnishing whatsoever on the neck, and don't clean it that often. 2) The unit is incredibly light... you can dance, swing, spin and leap all over stage without hurting your neck. I called Washburn and asked if they knew what kind of body wood they used. Their information/records were somewhat sketchy, but he told me it was laminated! NOT! With tone that blossomed out like it does I would guess alder.

This was a sleeper deal... sold by a store that slept on Washburn anyway. Someone had spilled coffee on it that they didn't even wipe off! I played the guts out of it with hand-picked Fender Strats in the store and it beat them hands down in the singing contest. The closest one was a Jimmy Vaughn signature Strat. This has become my No 1 player out of the 14 guitars that I play, and inspires me in a new way every time I have it out. You can really sink in and feel it workin for you, and people like the banana yellow color on a Strat. It's so light that it almost feels like a natural extension of your arms and body. Please E-mail me if you know anything further about these Washburn USA Strats made in the early-mid 90's. They are difficult to find. Thank you in advance.

Wayne Orendorff rated this unit 4 on 2007-01-09.

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