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Topics - Tony Raven

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General Discussion / used Washburns on the market
« on: September 19, 2017, 05:13:47 PM »
I really enjoy browsing online for used gear. Fortunately, I have a budget, or there would be no room left in my house for furniture. However, I come across some VERY interesting items, & hope that other Washburn fans might benefit from this.

Lately, there's been some unusual Washburns appearing, & generally at a price you'd probably find pleasant. Here's this evening's run through the nation's Guitar Centers. And to stay true to my penny-pinching roots, I will not venture higher than $299.95.

...for instance, this J-5.

As well, a WI-66 PRO.

I see very few Folk models come up used. This one has not just a high model number, but Magic Letters: an F52SWCE, withcase yet, $280.99.

Lovely CB4QB bass, $299.99.

Always wanted a set-neck Wing? How about $199.99 for this SB-10.

Here's one someone recently asked about: one humbucker, big vibrato system, $249.99.

A buterfly-bridge D-30S, $249.99.

The J-47 doesn't often show up used. Recently lowered to $279.99, with case.

Even more unusual, an RR150 "Sammy Hagar" model, two HBs + piezo saddle with separate output, $279.99.

Blue WI-64DL, just $159.99.

While in plain black, I've never seen a P2 so low as $169.99.

One of the oddities: the Idol from the brief HM Series, $199.99.

Need a nicely decorated Grand Auditorium? Want it cheap? Just $199.99 gets you this WG-26.

Speaking of Idols: WI-26, $169.99.

A recurring question is "what's my D-9xLTD worth?" Here's the answer: D-92LTD, $189.99.

Good basic snakehead AG-30 dread, $149.99.

If you're in the market for a very decent LP clone, there's been much discussion online that has driven up the asking prices of the WE-22. That's insane, but here's TWO for $149.99 each, which is a deal.

Get your metal on: hardtail Vindicator, $199.99.

Don't see many of these: VBA30 bass amp, $129.99.

This looks a bit like a second-version X-40. For $80, how bad could it be?

But the one that really has me gnawing at the leash: WD-20S, asking a mere $109.99.

Vintage and Rare Washburns / older instruments: caution
« on: September 10, 2017, 12:04:48 PM »
Someone reminded me of this on another forum, & none of us could determine whether the matter has been settled somewhat better.

You may remember when Federal marshals raided a Gibson plant back in August 2011, and previously three plants in 2009.
They were enforcing the Lacey Act, a century-old endangered species law that was amended in 2008 to include plants as well as animals.
I'm all for protecting endangered species.

HOWEVER, the law has been interpreted as 100% retroactive.

That is to say, if you own (say) an African carving that your great-grandfather bought as a tourist in the 1950s, & it's made from some wood that has since become scarce, you might be violating Federal law to possess it.

The problem for us? Let me point out that pianos used to have coverings made from elephant ivory. Technically, the Feds can storm into any place that has old pianos or keytops, & lock everything down until they go through, piece by piece, & determine that none of the ivory is actually from an embargoed source.

This has -- thank heavens  :o -- settled down a bit. However, attempts to export or import old ivory keytops run afoul of U.S. Fish & Wildlife, & those Federal marshals.

Not that everything is so easy. Remember that carving? Let's say it was instead in elephant tusk. You may rest assured it's totally legal to own. long as you don't sell it, or buy it.  ::)

You CAN buy or sell if the ivory used is at least a century old (past the death of the elephant, one assumes). And it was properly brought in through a designated port. And it has been in no way modified (inclding any repairs). Naturally, you must have paperwork that proves its age AND importation path.

Certain woods are also protected. I find mention of ebony (Madagascar) & rosewood (Brazil & Madagascar).

You might get a great deal on an old Lyon & Healy. Is it crossing an international border to get to you? Are you certain of all the materials used in its construction? Do you have any sort of credible verification that you're correct? If you are a performing musician, do you travel outside your country with such an instrument?

If you have a higher-end instrument from the 1970s or even later, you might run afoul of the Lacey Act. As far as I can determine, even one little ebony chip in a headstock inlay might cost you the instrument. And until the Feds are entirely satisfied that your axe is legit, they'll happily hold on to it for you.

Any updates welcome!!

According to Blue Book Online:
Some models that were produced are not included in any catalogs that we have.

Washburn produced a line of basses with the Stephen's Extended Cutaway. They were produced for a brief time and were never included in the catalog for SEC. The B80 was a solid body with the vivid finishes the guitar SEC models had. The B90 had a flame maple top. The B100 had a solid flame maple body.

The headless English Status-style bass was reintroduced as the S60 and a Black Walnut version, the S70 (see Status Series).

A five-string bass made its debut as the B105.

From eBay --

From elsewhere on this site (2010) --

Festival Series / EA14 variant
« on: February 18, 2017, 07:49:15 PM »
Spotted at --

I shrugged it off, because it's not like I really need another a/e, even though it IS a Festival. Serialnumber begins SC02, so certainly MIC.

But then I noticed the shape of the headstock, & the echoing asymmetry of the bridge. Every Festival I can think of had themore typical symmetric Washie headstock (with a few snakeheads), & a fast whip 'round the Interwebs didn't net me even a glance of anything but the standard "batwing" bridge.

Anyone know about this oddity? I may bid, but mostly I'm just curious.

Announcements & News / Chicago Custom Shop -- HELP ME
« on: February 05, 2017, 11:23:48 AM »
I'm digging into some history research, but can locate pretty much NOTHING about Washburn's Chicago luthiery work, except that it's dead. :(

Therefore, I would greatly appreciate ANY info on the skunkworks, like
  • the street address
  • launch date
  • tales of notable visitors
  • email of someone who wouldn't mind a few stupid questions ;)
  • webpage where it's mentioned
Pray for me... ???

General Discussion on Washburn Electric Guitars / Tabu series
« on: November 30, 2016, 12:39:43 AM »
The TB models were short-lived, there's about zero info out there, & they're widely ignored in the used market. The closest I have to a reliable lifespan is "sometime around 2002." Pretty cool guitars, though, if you like a deep sorta-SG doublecut. I'm not feeling creative tonight, so here's my rough field notes.

TB400 -- 3-3 tapered head, carved top, no dots, 12th inlay, Rose, BFTS, deep doublecut, 2T2V + 3-way (all inset), bound neck, rosewood, h-h HeadHunter, seen (Sep 2016 Reverb) in silver (flake?), 2002, Korea, hardware looks more nickel than chrome, seller says made for retailer (unnamed), $299 + $20 inc branded OHSC

TB400 -- Grovers, black nickel hardware, bound top (white), 2002; 3/7/2015 sold 333 + 69 (no case)

TB300 -- thru-body TOM, bound qm top in CSB, mahog/mahog, set neck, bound neck/head, Head Hunter hh set, inlay only @ 12th (tribal style)

TB300 -- "1996-1999 only 900 made"?? (per Reverb listing), carved maple on mahog, silver metallic finish, mahog neck, 18:1 Grovers, BFTS, tribal graphic (blackish, diff from 200 below), thru-body TOM, inlay 12th only, pickups closed (black) w/blurred insig lower-left corner. sold $199 used

TB200 -- black hardware, 18:1 Grover, Wilkie 50 bridge (2-point), Head Hunter bridge/Shaman neck hbs, matte black finish w/custom "tribal" graphic in silver, inlay only "tribal" 12th, no s/n on head, medium frets, 24.75 scale; shows also in crimson

TB100 -- looks same as TB200, but hardtail (black); also Zzounds listing shows met med blue version, but no body paint.
Tuners: 18:1 Black Grover Tuners
Body & Neck: Superior Quality Hard Maple
Pickups: Two Humbucking Alnico
Controls: 2 Volume, 2 Tone, 3 Position Selector Switch
Tailpiece: Hard Tail, Black Hardware
Finish: Matte Black with Custom Tabu body and 12th fret graphics
Frets: Medium
Scale Length: 24 3/4 in.

TB400 ---

TB100 ---

TB300 ---

General Discussion / serial numbers: before you ask...
« on: November 27, 2016, 02:51:08 PM »
A lot of guitar owners read waaaaay too much into serial numbers, as though all they need is to find someone with the Magic Decoder Ring who can speak to the spirits & discern all sorts of secret lore & stuff about their one particular instrument.

Well, it's nonsense.

A serial number is NOT like a vehicle identification number, which often CAN tell you a lot about the vehicle it's attached to.

If need be, sit down with a dictionary & look up the word SERIAL -- it's part of a series. That's all. A Gibson-type serial stamp works a lot like a vehicle odometer, advancing the count one at a time & not allowed to turn backward

I work in an industrial setting, & not for the first time in 40+ years of employment, so I know somewhat about manufacturing. And maybe it's irony, but I learned a little about the uselessness of serial numbers from looking into the history of Lyon & Healy, makers of the original Washburns.
Serial numbers are there
  • for quality control purposes, so that if something goes horribly wrong with an instrument, the problem can quickly be tracked back to where the failure began.
  • for subsequent damage control, so that other instruments produced with the same failed techniques &/or materials can be collected for closer inspection.
  • to track output for a given worker, line, team, run, &/or plant.
  • to ensure that a contract manufacturer isn't selling your items "out the back door" or misappropriating components (like roughed-in neck assemblies).
In particular, note point #3. Given excellent records & intelligent workers, there's no reason NOT to have redundant serial numbers. Cue an illustration...

Let's say I've got two main products, maybe electric guitars -- call 'em the Bratocaster & the Helecaster. They look entirely different, even to someone who knows nothing about guitars. Therefore, anyone who finds a fault with Bratocaster #437  & places the blame on whoever made Helecaster #437 is gonna get fired for excessive stupidity.

And maybe I've got a small line of high-end fancy-schmancy Bratocasters -- again, nobody with two IQ points to rub together would mistake one for a main-line Bratocaster, & there's no reason not to also have a Bratocaster Superbo with s/n 437.

We also make a bass guitar. Guess what -- another #437 soon exists.

I get bored easily, so let's say that I sit down with my design team every 18 months & tweak stuff: headstock shape, inlays, pickguard, finish, & so on. My workers enjoy this & adapt readily; even the newest hires can recognize which "era" an older guitar came from -- it's a little more arcane than discerning a Helecaster from a Bratocaster, but (as the saying goes) it AIN'T rocket science. And logically enough, I "close the books" on the previous version... & soon enough there's more guitars stamped 437.

We decide to produce an inexpensive line of Helecasters at a factory in Iceland. There are minor but distinct differences with our domestic version. Rather than put the serial number on a decal, the import's number is stamped into the headstock before the finish is applied. Sure enough: here comes #437.

Consider the Fender serial number "system." Leo Fender was quirky, but meticulous, yet even he didn't have much of a system. He hand-built PA amplifiers in the late 1930s & started making electrified lapsteels in 1945 but the earliest known serial numbers arrived with the Esquire/Tele in 1950... sometimes with a three- AND a four-digit system being used at the same time.

Really, there's no Magic Decoder Ring gonna find secret wisdom in THAT. :o

It wasn't until halfway through 1954 that the Fender numbering system stabilized, AND it was "universal" meaning that the same numeric sequence was applied to ALL Fender instruments. (Even then there are apparent inconsistencies.>0) This was used to 1963. It ran to about 99999, beginning at 0001 -- rather _0001. In attempting to add another digit in 1963, someone used an "L" instead of a "1"; rather than having to go back & fix a bunch of errors, Fender chose to run with it & produced L-prefix numbers throuhg 1965. Under new ownership, Fender went the next decade with a system that ran from 100000 to 750000.

Notice: these are all serial numbers -- no Hidden Wisdom at all. ??? Twenty-five years & more than a half-million instruments.

Mid-1976, Fender introduced a new scheme, where the first character -- a capital letter -- actually DID indicate decade & the next digit the year. The letters are S ('70s), E ('80s), N ('90s), & Z ('00s). This was replaced in 2010 with a "US" prefix followed by a two-digit year code. The single-letter system, though, remains in use with the Mexico-made guitars, where Z was followed by X ('10s), so a guitar made there today would begin with MX6-.

All of that is hunky-dory... except, again, THERE IS NO SECRET CODE.  ::)

Most guitar owners who want the Real Truth about their instrument will have no idea who Zach Fjestad is, which explains a lot. :( Fjestad writes a column for Premier Guitar, which is THE magazine/site for people who care about gear old & new. Fjestad is also the obsessive guy behind the Blue Book of Guitar Values books & website, which has for years been THE place to begin researching instruments.

A few weeks ago, Fjestad responded to a reader with a Fender Stratocaster, serial number MN6xxxxx, & asked if he could determine which model it is.

I discovered this the hard way with Squier, the Fender sub-brand. There might be three or four or even more "series" of guitars being made at any given moment. Presently, Squier has the Classic Vibe, Vintage Modified, Deluxe, Standard, Affinity, & Bullet serieses. Fortunately, most are made by different contractors in various nations, so they have their own numbering systems.

But all California-made guitars use ONE serial numbering system between them... as do the Mexico guitars.

That MN6 guitar, sight unseen -- think of how many people show up here with a serial number & no photos, right? -- might have been a Traditional, a Standard, a Tex-Mex, or a Richie Sambora Signature; that's hundreds of dollars in difference (not to mention the quality swing) yet the numbers are all sorta mashed together. Fjestad figures it out by color, hardware, & deduction.

In recent years, Washburn has had the decency -- well, more than half the time, anyway -- clearly attach a guitar's model number somewhere. This isn't perfect, of course: a few years ago I saw someone selling a "BT-9" that was clearly a BT-2 with a trussrod cover they'd found somewhere.

Despite their internal mythos, Washburn really doesn't care much about serial numbers, much less about some sort of Grand Sceme unified system. To reiterate from an older thread,
The chances of identifying a guitar from its serial number are... well, about zero. You'll have to give us some minimal crumbs of info, like photo(s) or what it's a clone of.
I have a few examples within reach.
  • WE-3 -- no serial number
  • BT-6 -- 18091079
  • BT-3 -- 18113047
  • X-10 -- OC04049724
  • WI-66V -- N02040258
  • X-33 -- N05112239
  • WCSD30SCE -- SC15071184
The Washburn numbering system has got somewhat better since the 1980s, but only somewhat. Notice the Mavericks; these were made 1995-2000, yet "common wisdom" says the first two digits are year... which would make 'em either of 1918 or 2018 manufacture. :P The "backup plan" is that the FIRST digit represents year... um, dudes, meaning what, 1991 or 2001? >:( Four dates, & anyone who wants to BELIEVE in the Secret Wisdom should tell me which ONE is correct. ;)

That's barely 20 years ago, yet not at all useful beyond being a serial number. In short, I have reason to believe that the "system" is at best unreliable & at worst a pile of random garbage.

The current standard -- since at least 2002 in my list -- does appear to be one or two letters followed by eight numerics. For the last four on the list, the year is likely as you'd expect.

I've heard that the next two numerics are supposed to represent the month. However, I've heard of examples where those digits were "00" or "27" so I'm not sure I'd take it at face value -- after all, I work in a place that has a 50-week production year, & two digits would make it easy to map this. Industrially speaking, production is much easier to track consistently by the week (seven days, period) rather than month (30 or 31 days except when it's 28 or sometimes 29).

And common wisdom says that the final four digits represent the instrument's actual place in the period defined by the previous digits. That's probably correct but... well, so what? There's no reason to think my X-33 was part of a run of black X-33s -- that number merely happens to be what was waiting in the hopper when someone decided the guitar was completed. It might have been mixed in with various WI-64, X-40, HB-35, & T-24.

We don't even have a list of the factories indicated by the prefixes.

Until someone "in a position to know" blesses these Forums with those details, anyone who expects details about their instrument should... well, do their own research.

Nothing worth having is free. Customer Support is 1-800-877-6863. The main site has a whole bunch of archived catalogues & pricelists. Much info is available online at no cost from Blue Book. A account (no cost) gets access to values; an eBay account gets access to listings of stuff sold in the past two months.

Timbercraft Series / catching up with the Woodcrafts
« on: November 22, 2016, 12:40:19 AM »
Random data...

Presently, the only Woodcraft Series model listed on the Washburn site is the WCD50S.
SHAPE:    Dreadnought
TOP:    Solid Sitka Spruce
BACK:    Koa
SIDES:    Koa
BRACING:    Quarter Sawn Scalloped Sitka Spruce bracing
ROSETTE:    Custom Wood Inlay
MATERIAL:    Satin Mahogany with 2 way Trussrod
INLAYS:    dots
NUT:    Bone
NUT WIDTH:    43mm
SCALE:    25.5
BRIDGE:    Koa
TUNERS:    Chrome Diecast

The WCSD50S features a Solid Sitka Spruce top, Koa back, sides, bridge, headstock cap and pickguard, multi-lam binding, mahogany neck with maple fingerboard, diecast tuners, 25.5” scale, gloss finish, and comes equipped with DAddario® EXP-16 coated strings. It also comes with a gigbag and includes a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Striking features of the Woodcraft Series are the exotic back and side woods of Zebrawood and Koa with matching headstocks, bridges and pickguards plus a maple fretboard on select models. This series is comprised of 8 models available as dreadnought or dreadnought cutaway w/electronics. Models with 0 in the model name designates a maple fretboard and 2 designates a rosewood fret board.
Per a press release:
Buffalo Grove, IL (January 22, 2015) -- Washburn Guitars is excited to announce the introduction of our new series of acoustic guitars, The Woodcraft Series. Striking features of this series are the exotic back and side woods of Zebrawood and Koa with matching headstocks, bridges and pickguards plus a maple fretboard on select models. The new series is comprised of 8 models available as dreadnought or dreadnought cutaway w/electronics. Models with 0 in the model name designates a maple fretboard and 2 designates a rosewood fret board.

All guitars in the Woodcraft Series feature Solid Sitka Spruce tops, multi-lam binding, mahogany necks, diecast tuners, 25.5” scale, gloss finish, are equipped with DAddario EXP-16 coated strings, come with a gigbag and include a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

The WCSD30S/WCSD30SCE and WCSD32S/WCSD32SCE feature Zebrawood back, sides, bridge, headstock cap and pickguard. SCE models feature a cutaway for superb upper fret access and Fishman Isys+ electronics for accurate amplified acoustic tone. The WCSD30S/WCSD32S retail for $712.90 and the WCSD30SCE/WCSD32SCE retail for $819.90.

The WCSD50S/WCSD50SCE and WCSD52S/WCSD52SCE feature Koa back, sides, bridge, headstock cap and pickguard. SCE models feature a cutaway for superb upper fret access and Fishman Isys+ electronics for accurate amplified acoustic tone. The WCSD50S/WCSD52S retail for $890.90 and the WCSD50SCE/WCSD52SCE retail for $997.90.
Somehow, the excitement factor in Washburn ad copy continues to decline.  :o

Discuss Basses and Bass Playing / BEAD -- any players?
« on: October 16, 2016, 03:40:57 PM »
It's only in recent years that I bought my first five-string basses.

This was partially a matter of self-defense. There was an open-stage night that I quickly found myself anchoring, & the only space more overpopulated than singers is guitarists.

And most of the axe-slingers seem to gravitate toward doing EVERYTHING in E. It's my job as bassist to add not only tone but rhythm, to help keep the guitarists together. In order to hammer/slide up to an E, I'd have to move up an octave & then be competing directly with all those guitars.

Bringing a five freed me. I could stay comfortably mid-neck yet have room to PLAY a little, & still provide a defined bottom under everyone else.

But really, on a four I don't rely on the G, preferring to move up (or down when I can) rather than lay over, so I considered having a three-string bass built, skinny neck & all.

So why not put the bottom four strings of a five-set on a four & call it good? Less weight, less wasted real estate. I'd enjoy hearing from anyone who's done this.

Timbercraft Series / Woodcraft Series & Comfort Series moving in!
« on: October 16, 2016, 03:20:57 PM »
As grateful as I certainly am that these forums remain open, they really don't keep up with the changes in Washburn model lines.

So, as the proud owner of a new WCSD30SCEK, I hereby propose that the "Timbercraft Series" area -- which has not had a post in almost three years!! -- become home for the recent Woodcraft & Comfort Cut models.

All in favor?


General Discussion / The Eternal Question
« on: October 05, 2016, 10:48:53 PM »

I've been a guitar fanatic for almost a half-century, & in my declining years have enjoyed finally being able to indulge my obsession. In recent years, I've gotten really good at valuation. And I've fielded That Question literally hundreds of times --

What is my guitar worth?


That sounds smart-alecky & dismissive... but it's the absolute truth. Like, if you're truly desperate for cash -- as in your kid is critically ill & you need cash Right Damn Now for medicine -- you'll sell a 1957 Strat for $100 if that's all you can get.

So the longer version of The Answer is, "Whatever you can get for it, at the moment you want to sell it, where you happen to be."

While Fjestad's Blue Book publications are THE Bible of traders like me, the fact is that ANY moron can look in the same damn book & read off the same damn numbers. Problem is, The Book does NOTHING to take the actual marketplace -- real supply & demand, in the recent past -- into account, & at its best can be incorrect AND years out-of-date. (If it was truly definitive, it'd at least offer some production numbers, right?) However, Blue Book DOES give hardcores (like me) a great place to start from, & that research is why my services usually go for $50-$150. But I'm a generous guy, so here's some insights.

First, it depends on whether you actually want to sell -- maybe you're looking to insure it, or just want "bragging rights" when you tell others about the absolute steal you got. That's going to be the maximal "value."

Then there's time to sale. If you intend to sell it soon, you're a LOT less likely to max the price, compared to what you could make if you can locate some serious buyers & pit them against each other to bid up your guitar. If that can be done at all, it might take months, or even years.

If you want to maximize your price, you can sell it on eBay... which of course means fees, photos, & shipping; if you live in any moderate-size city, any of that stuff can be handled by one service or another (like the UPS Store)... which of course means more fees. If you already sell stuff there (or know someone), this is a good route, but it's a HUGE learning curve just to sell one or two items.

By comparison, you can bring your guitar to the nearest Big Chain Store -- specifically Music-Go-Round or Guitar Center, but there are regional chains like Sam Ash -- where they will likely offer you 40%-60% of Blue Book value. Last time I sold an amp at MGR, I got what I'd paid for it, walked out with a check, & it took all of a half-hour.

Consider straightforwardness, too. While Craigslist is a reasonable option, it can also result in someone showing up just to try wearing you down further. While there's apps that hope to get the cash before you meet, none really has much reach yet, but here's a few examples:

And let's not forget stupid blind luck. I still have my second electric guitar. Back in 1974, it cost me about $48 new, plus the fitted chipboard case (+$15) & shipping; all told, less than $80.

I was the only player I knew who liked the darn thing, & I've been told they were a common sight at pawnshops around the country, going cheap but no takers. Then in the early '90s Kurt Cobain started playing them, & when the Heart-Shaped Box video was released on MTV, the whole brand became "collectible." Now the mania's faded, but my axe has a quick-turn street value of $400, +/-$75.

Post your thoughts on Banjos & Mandolins / M1SDL
« on: September 29, 2016, 12:49:48 AM »
Okay, so the M1S is one of Washburn's longest-lived instruments. It's also... well, boring -- typical A-type F-hole in orangey sunburst.

I'd just sold my old plywood Johnson MA-100B for cheap because it was almost unplayable & really not worth  the time or cash to fix it... but at least it was gloss black with one-ply white binding.

So instead of the M1S, I found a Mike Kelly "A Solid" (yep, that's what they called it) in a satin-finish reddish two-tone burst, for maybe half what their F-types go for, & also more highly reviewed. Hand-carved spruce top, maple back & sides, no plywood. I tell you, the tone's so sweet it'd bring tears to your eyes. If I play it regularly, it'll only get sweeter.

And then I saw a Washburn M1SDL. Snagged one used for maybe half what the MK cost me, & included a good case.

The M1SDL suffers from being confused with the M1S & the even cheaper M1K... leading me to wonder whether Washburn goes out of their way to hire idiots to come up with sale-killing ideas. >:(

The M1SDL comes in some really standout colors -- gloss black (-DLB, which I got), transparent red (-DLTR), transparent blue (-DLTB). The colors cost a little more, but any can be had for under $200 new. It's also an oval-hole. And the headstock is an F-style silhouette, which makes me smile. And it's got a proper raised pickguard so I can brace my pinky for accurate picking. Compared to the MK, the tuners are more robust & the nut is better slotted.

Downside: the pickguard bracket is poorly fitted, & I'll have to get around to redrilling the hole. That's about it.

Did I mention the sound? Not so much the MK's sweet delicate tone. In fact, the Washburn has some serious bark to it, able to hold its own onstage. It's a great instrument for a guitarist who wants to double.

And that unfortunate model number means you'll find used ones racked right alongside its lesser siblings, at the same under-$150 price point & often a bit less. Unless you are pro enough to need an all-solid Washburn -- at triple the cost -- you owe it to yourself to try an M1SDL.

...because it's not like OS (much less Lyon) has their own site.  >:(

Though it's become a generic term, Autoharp is a company trademark (though only the cursive-lettered word is still protected).

I find myself with two 12-bars & a little 6-bar. There's not a whole lot of discussion, & I've yet to find any site that collects the history or lists known models.

But, maybe next week...  ;)

Guitar Care, Repair, Modification & Lutherie / Voice Contour Control (VCC)
« on: September 18, 2016, 05:20:07 PM »
Yah, I am resurrecting this topic again, because for some reason it pops up in conversation.

For those in the dark: up until a few years back, many of the midrange-or-better dual-humbucker Washburns replaced the standard "tone" knobs (actually just crude lowpass filters) with the Voice Contour Control (commonly abbreviated "VCC") circuit. The associated knobs are marked "VCC".

The VCC was marketed as being able to not merely produce a humbucker tone AND a single-coil tone (as with a standard "coil tap" switch), but the whole range of in-between sounds, & do so entirely without mains hum. This marketeering did make me grit my teeth, as (1) one coil of a humbucker does not sound like a proper single-coil pickup, & I'm tired of that myth >:(, & (2) that's NOT what the VCC is doing anyway (see below). But it certainly WAS an innovative idea, & most guitarists never use the "tone" knob anyway, so why not add to the options?

QUESTION #1 -- can anyone tell me what years the VCC was installed? The archived catalogs in the VCCs early days are gappy (like 1993, 1997-8, 2001, then 2005-now). I'm guessing the same span as the WI-64: 1999-2010.
QUESTION #2 -- any idea of exactly which models had the VCC?

Here's what purports to be an actual circuit diagram -- rather than steal his thunder, I'm gonna send you to the page:
the VCC (Voice Contour Control) on the Washburn WI64 guitar is *not* a spin-a-split pot (which varies the linkage from HB to single coil) but a dual-ganged 500k linear pot which varies the linkage from series HB to parallel HB.
Naturally, being as it's an innovation, & most guitarists are a bunch of slavish sheep who mostly want to "sound like THAT guy," the VCC was widely despised.  :P

Well, to be fair, I've always had my doubts, feeling that the circuit -- though it looks GREAT on paper -- should have been somehow adjusted (resistance or capacitance or maybe an inductor) for the particular pickup sets, for the type of amplifier, maybe for the guitar's construction & even the type of music & playing style for which it's intended. In any case, I didn't see where it was going to be a "one size fits all" game-changer.

Online, most VCC owners whined about it, even after admitting -- sometimes with pride -- they never used their "tone" knob anyway (as I predicted). You can easily find dozens of stories where they basically say, "I took the circuit out of my WI-64, put in better pickups with standard wiring, & now it sounds so much better!!" -- meaning "just like every h-h guitar ever made." ::)

Yes, you read correctly: they replaced the pickups, THEN blamed the VCC for sounding bad. This is yet another instance where I feel comfortable saying "clearly, many guitar owners are tone-deaf idiots." 8)

Any "four wire" pickup can be swapped into the circuit.

The single greatest innovation was (IMO) the WI-66 ProG, the goldtop with dual P90s. Actually, they're each stacked dual coils.

Guitar Care, Repair, Modification & Lutherie / Grover tuners
« on: September 15, 2016, 03:08:41 AM »
For no good reason that I can determine, I am a devotee of Grover tuners -- whether Rotomatics on a modern guitar or Sta-Tites on a vintage acoustic or elephant-ear 142s on a Precision.

Wait... no, I do have good reasons.  ;D Generally, if a used guitar has Grovers, it meant that someone cared about the instrument, whether the previous owner or the manufacturer. So, when I'm making a quick browse through a shop, used guitars with Rotos get high priority.

As for Washburn: the Mercury Series probably holds some GREAT guitars, but I don't own a single one. But I have three Mavericks.  8) All told, eight of my nine Washies have factory Rotos.

And they REALLY DO honor their "Lifetime Warranty." A few years back, I bought an Epi Stratoclone with busted-up Grovers. I sent an email to asking about this. Their rep said "send 'em in," so -- having nothing to lose -- I did. Back came a sealed fresh set of Minis... absolutely free.


I've collected a bit of data about the Rotomatics, & am trying to push it into some sort of order, with intent of eventually looking for a book deal if I can get enough photos. Meantime, if anyone is interested, I'd be happy to share chunks of it on this site.

(And if anyone's got an old set of 12:1 Rotos gathering dust, I'd maybe want them. :) I'm a player, not a collector, so not interested in paying premium prices for the "made in USA," & it's okay if they're a bit beat-up. I find modern 18:1 & even 14:1 to be too fiddly for my taste.)

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