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Topics - Tony Raven

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Idol Series / a "WI-65 SR USA"?
« on: May 20, 2016, 03:06:18 AM »
I found this on eBay, & it is just WRONG in SO MANY ways that I don't even know where to begin. Let's get the pictures first.
removed dead image links

Now, THIS is what a WI-65 usually looks like --

Among other differences, the black one has amahogany SET neck, Grover tuners, four knobs, VCC, & Tune-O-Matic. The few I've seen had no fretboard inlays.

Meanwhile, that red thing has the WI-14 forearm cut, & what looks like a built-in tuner (did Lyon use something like that?) or maybe practice amp.

The damned thing really looks like some sort of actual Washie, albeit elements of Oscar Schmidt or Lyon. My first thought was a WI-/OI-/LI-14 that'd gotten its control cavity crushed (hence the repair plate), but someone put a bit of effort into the logo decal & the lettering. Both faces of the headstock have the "end burn" I associate with a ham-handed sanding after a paint strip. The headstock actually appears to be the proper Washburn shape. :o The "serial number" is repeated, stamped into the headstock below the lower tuner pair.

I suppose MAYBE the Custom Shop let a "test bed" mutant slip from its grasp, but that's me being an optimist. Anyone care to venture their own guesses?

Signature Series / Jennifer Batten's other Washies
« on: May 08, 2016, 12:39:40 PM »
Before production of the JB series, Jennifer Batten apparently played a Centurion, but now I can't find my notes on this.

However, there's definitely some one-off Battens out there:

Her preference for string dampers is a giveaway.  ;D

For some reason, Batten is still listed as a Washburn Signature Artist, though she hasn't had a signature model since 2004.

Bill Nelson once reviewed a Variax 700, saying he wanted to enjoy the electronics but this was undercut by the not-so-great work on the guitar part. From the sound of it, Batten hit the same wall. Per an interview published last November --
I took a little hiatus from Washburn for a couple of years because I was so excited about the Line 6 Variax, but I'm back with Washburn and I've conned them into putting the electronics of the Variax into a new Washburn Parallaxe electric and I was hoping to take it out on this tour, but I've stumped them with the electronics.

They're going to have a big release in October, right when the tour is over. So what I'm taking out is my old Washburn that I've been using for 15 or 16 years; it's not available any more, it's called the JB100.
The only guitar she mentions on her website is indeed the Parallaxe, with a link to the Washburn site.

X Series / X Series, 2002-2010
« on: April 25, 2016, 10:29:06 PM »
I'm still working on my list of the X models. Naturally (being Washburn), nothing is simple. Okay, it's not as much of a mess as the contemporaneous WI Idols, but it's nowhere near so straightforward as the (somewhat messed-up) Maverick family.

Let's start it off with a few oddities.

Foremost would be the X-3, actually a group of models for which I can find reference only in Australia. If you were to believe the numbering system, it'd be reasonable to expect that this would be a short-scale version (like the X-5) &/or an "entry"model (like the X-10). Here's two retailers:
Washburn X3PRO Electric Guitar Solid Archtop Maple body, bolt-on Maple neck, Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlay, Tune-o-Matic bridge, string-thru body construction, 2 x Washburn HH pickups, 1 vol & 1 tone controls, 5 way toggle switch, diecast tuners. Includes paded gigbag.
WASHBURN X3 PRO BK Electric Guitar Maple Archtop Mahogany Body Bolt On Maple Neck Rosewood Fingerboard Tune-o-Matic Bridge String Thru Body Dual Washburn Humbucking Pickups Padded Gigbag Black Finish
The latter showed a version with no fretboard inlays.

There were also variants. Per my notes:
  • X-3PRO -- Solid arch Top Maple Body, rosewood fingerboard (BLK, WS) $599
  • X-300PROBSK -- Satin Top Mahogany Body, crossbones inlay, EMG HZ (Black Satin) $729
  • X-3QPRO -- Quilt Top, Mahogany Body, rosewood fingerboard (BC, QA)    $729
  • X-3QFRPROBCH -- Quilt Top, Mahogany Body, Floyd Rose Locking Trem (Black Cherry) $829
(Don't be too sticker-shocked: not only AUD, but MSRP, so an X-10 is tagged $349.  ::))

Devilishly difficult to find even THAT info -- any photos or hands-on reports would be appreciated!  8)

More recently, I made my first sighting of an X-29 -- h-h ("Select / Designed by EMG", closed covers), black carvetop w/creme binding (unbound neck), black headplate, maple boltneck, rosewood fbd, 24 frets, offset dots, through-body, TOM, Grovers, black hardware, 3-way blade, 2 knurled knobs (V/T), MIC.

It looks like a more "shred" X-30, plus that bound top. It's got a heel plate rather than the 30's ferrules. The 29 looks to be the highest-numbered X with offset dots -- everything above has either the fret-12 "X" or nothing at all.

A very pretty beast, & a worthy sibling of the X-33 if not X-40.

The marketplace is GLUTTED with X-10, priced anywhere $50-$200 (:o). Many of the sellers persist in calling it a "Pro" model; roughly half call it an "X Series" model & have no first clue what it actualy is.

I own one, & while it's not terrible, there's nothing to recommend it, particularly when you see all the $150 Mercury (MG) & $100 BT-2 out there.

And with such a wild range of pricing, higher-end X models show some confusion as well. Last week, I barely missed a $130 X-40. :'( I'm presently pondering TWO X-30s, $150 each -- one demure in Walnut, the other quite striking in gloss white with covered gold-plate pickups & white rings; a 2004, so no X inlay.

General Discussion / the REAL history of modern Washburn
« on: March 26, 2016, 01:16:48 PM »
One of my few quibbles with Washburn/SLM is that their claim of a 133-year history is tripe, an outright intentional lie. The modern Washburn brand is in no way actually connected to the original Washburn brand, much the same as Danelectro. The original brand was a hot item from the 1890s to the 1920s, but took a series of socioeconomic hits: the Great Depression, WWII wood shortages, the rise of the phonograph & movies & radio for entertainment. The Washburn brand unofficially died around 1940.

This took a little digging -- search engines are NOT friendly toward obscure topics  ??? -- but I found a 2005 post from a guy who says he was there at the time.

Edited for easier reading --
In the late '50s and early 60s in Chicago, there was a violin shop owned by two German immigrants, Eric Prager and Wolfgang Ritter.

At the beginning of the great folk music boom (or folk scare, take your pick) around the time the Kingston Trio became popular etc, generating a big increase in guitar sales, Prager and Ritter opened most of their floor space for guitars. It was renamed "The Chicago Guitar Gallery".

The place was really something. If you wanted to try one of the Martins, Gibsons, Ramirez or any high-end guitar, you were greeted by Eric Prager who would ask "You got money?" If you said no, he would respond, "you bring money, than you try guitar." (He was really a nice man, but in business, he made Ed Roman look like Mahatma Gandhi.)

They hired a young German Violin builder to become their repair man since he knew something about fretted instruments. His name was Rudy Schlacher. Rudy worked for Prager and Ritter for a few years, building a few guitars and being the main repairman. (For you luthier history buffs, this was about the same time Bozo Podunivac opened his first shop in downtown Chicago.)

Schlacher saw the potential in guitar sales, left Prager and Ritter, and opened his own retail shop, called the Sound Post, in Evanston.

Eventually Rudy decided retail music would make a living, but wholesale music might provide a fortune. Thus he started importing guitars, first reproducing his own designs, than copying others.

Looking for a marketing hook, Rudy knew the name "Washburn" was attached to a company whose products were now vintage, sought after, and -- unlike C.F. Martin -- were no longer available.

Any rights to the name "Washburn" were long expired, and no one had attempted to copyright or reuse the name.

Thus Rudy took the name "Washburn" for his line of imported guitars. Washburn was so successful, Rudy sold the retail store and concentrated entirely on his wholesale company, Washburn.
And there's an article somewhere online about the original rise of Washburn, which I have yet failed to find again.

General Discussion on Washburn Electric Guitars / a Mystery Case
« on: March 26, 2016, 12:27:15 PM »
Someday I'm gonna make up a gallery of Washburn guitar cases, because this isn'tthe first time...

Does anyone know what model(s) this case is supposed to fit?

Clearly for an offset body but larger than Fenders, so I was thinking maybe Maverick. The seller says the opening is too short for standard Fenders OR Gibsons. Per a close-up, the widest point across the lower bout is roughly 13".

My thought is that maybe this would be ideal for my JB-80, but as I've still got THAT dent in my wallet, I'm reluctant to leap without more knowledge than I have at hand.

(side-note -- I've been known to gamble on gear. Last year, I paid like $60 for a soft-side case on the basis of a bad photo; the seller had no idea what it was supposed to fit. Turns out to be form-fit for a standard PRS-type solidbody... of which I have a very nice Austin clone. As almost all aftermarket cases for these are either uber-pricey OR just a slightly wider version of the standard "openwork" generic case -- where the guitar body sort of "sloshes around." The best compromise is probably from PRS, but $200 is more than I paid for the Austin.)

Show Us Your Washburn / WM612 Custom Maverick
« on: March 26, 2016, 11:29:57 AM »
Not mine, but worth sharing as this is the only one I've ever seen for sale. (Apologies that the seller generally doesn't do good descriptions, but the photos are good.)

A thinline acoustic/electric 12 (should be piezo AND the humbucker) grafted to a Billy T body, lots of knobs, two 1/4" outputs.

I was taken aback by the $2,200 asking price, but then I remembered this is a USA, & not exactly common, only offered 1998-2000. The last MSRP on this was $4,000, after all.  :o

And unlike so many great Washburn guitars, there's a small demand matching the supply, so book value would be roughly $3,000. While not so treasured as the crystal-covered Bootsy bass (~$3,500), it beats out the legendary Dime 3 ST (~$2,700) to be Washburns second-most-valuable used guitar.

While I was talking about how underappreciated the JB-80 is, a friend admitted to knowing nothing about Washburn electrics, & asked me to recommend some lines that might show up used at bargain prices. So, here I sit with my 2008 Blue Book (all 1,267 pages), making lists. The tough part is establishing the criteria.

Well, let's look at the models that BBook valued at $1,000 or more in 90% (9 of 10, or Excellent) condition. No big surprise that most are USA builds --
J14 Regal
J15 Paramount
Dime 3 / Dime 3 ST / D3 Confederate
Dime ST Pro
Nextar NX6TM
PTK (the PT3 but korina & ebony)
WI68 / WI80 / WI90 / NC70
MR400 (with or without Bigsby)
WM612 doubleneck
DD75 Maya Pro / DD81 Maya / DD91 Maya
N4E SA / N4 Relic / N5 / N6 / N8
PS800 / PS2000 / PS9200
SI75 / SI81
X81 Face Eraser

(Not many basses get the respect they deserve: to the list add the XB920 / XB925 / XB926 / XB928 & the Bootsy Collins.)

Since not everyone buys a new guitar thinking "it could be worth something some day!" & treats it like a precious relic, Washburns tend to get played, & sometimes treated like the reliable tools they are. There's gonna be chips, dings, dents, & loose wiring on some still-sweet guitars. So, setting aside the obvious higher-end axes, let's look at the ones given a $500+ value if in 80% condition, much more likely to be overlooked.
J6 Montgomery / J6S
J9 Washnigton / J9G / J9VG
J10 (1989-1992)
CT3 / CTP Plus / P3
CT4 / CTSTD / P4
E100 / E300 / E400
Dime ST Pro / Dime V Pro
NX6 Nextar
Sonic 6 / S6
Sonic 7 / S7
WI70 / PI70
JB80 / JB100
WM100 / WM Standard / WM4
WM200 / WM Plus / WM3
MG142 / MG154
DD70 Maya Standard
N4 / N4QM
A20/30 Artist
EC36 Spitfire
SS80 / SS100
SB20 Eagle / SB100
X40 / X50 Pro FE

I remain dissatisfied, though. Really, this leaves out dozens of great "workhorse" guitars that can be had for $200 or $150 or even $100, often with quality components (Grovers, Rose, Wilkinson, Duncan...), almost completely ignoring the Idols, the Chicagos, the BTs, the MGs (even the USAs), Stage, Tour, & WIng.

Then again, my friend is going to keep his eyes open now -- maybe he'll spot me an RS10V or something. ;D

Signature Series / JB-80
« on: March 15, 2016, 12:11:16 AM »
On the way... fingers crossed...

Only the third JB-80 I've seen for sale, & while I really don't NEED another guitar, this was (literally) just too good to pass up.

I'm baffled that Washburn can't keep more of its distinctive (often innovative) "celebrity" guitars in production, even when the endorser has slipped away from superstardom. Heck, sign 'em up again anyway! Free exposure is free exposure, right? All that work to design something original in this copycat marketplace, then (aside from the "Nuno" line) chuck it out the airlock after a year or two.

At least, they could give a guitar a new prefix & a few different colors, et voila -- new model.

Batten sure seems amenable: the ONLY guitar mentioned on the "Gear" page of her website is the Washburn Parallaxe series. :)

Anyway, maybe I'll have to get some photos up when it arrives.

N Series (Nuno Bettencourt) / low-end Nunos -- worth it?
« on: December 12, 2015, 11:02:24 AM »
I have a friend -- actually, my former work supervisor :o -- who's all hot to buy "a Nuno." (Call him Miguel.) He's a decent-enough player, & though he's married & they've got two young kids, he's far from broke.

Now, to be honest, I've only played TWO Nunos in my time, & (being a gear fanatic) I'm more a fan of the SEC than of Bettencourt. I've been prodding Miguel to get "a real Nuno," by which I mean a branded SEC. My reasoning: he'll enjoy it more, he'll play it more, he'll get MUCH better resale if he eventually decides to move along. Doesn't have to be an N4, when the occasional $1,000 N3 pops up, & there could be an N24 that wins him over.

But, no, he's browsing online & seeing all these $500 Rose-laden N2, & rather than driving an hour (the nearest actual guitar store, up here) & playing one of the goshdarn things, he's all set to buy blind. I have to remind him that (1) it'll probably need to be set up & adjusted anyway, & (b) they CAN be found used for half that, & (c) it's a BOLT-NECK.

Now, I'm not a snob, & the vast majority of my guitars have been, are, & will continue to be bolties. (A Les Paul with a shot neck is major surgery & $$$. A Strat with a shot neck just needs a new neck, <$200.)

IMNSHO, the N2 models -- & while we're at it the Sonamasters :( -- are crass attempts to cash in on the Bettencourt association. They not only don't have an SEC but pointlessly maintain the SEC's distinctive shape as if to say "the kid who buys this ain't smart enough to know the difference, right?" The result is a third-rate "beginner" guitar with price inflated merely by the name -- as us Frugalistas say, it's a REALLY expensive decal. ;)

Then there's the Signatures, which replace the Floyd with a synchro, so the resemblance to an N4 is down to just the body shape.

Bad enough that I have to pry Miguel away from the "bargain" N2, but he keeps drifting toward getting a <$250 Signature even though I tell him he probably won't be happy long.

Now, am I being overly harsh? Let's pretend that nobody knew who Extreme was, much less their guitarist. Would the N2 be a decent guitar?

Is a Signature acceptable for a guy who actually does play (at home) on a regular basis? Now that the Signature is plummeting in price (was <$80 used, $130 new -- being tossed out at Guitar Center for $80 new), is that still cash that'd be better saved toward an N4/N3/N24?

Post your thoughts on Banjos & Mandolins / go forth & find thee an M1SDL
« on: November 22, 2015, 01:24:46 PM »
My first mando was a Harmony Sovereign (almost as old as me) with a split caved-in top that I continued to play for many years because it sounded decent & never let me down.

On to the second. Last summer, I sold my Johnson MA-100-B, which I'd bought new in 2002 for ~$85. Still beautiful, & decent tone at good volume, but the neck was clearly (to me) curved & it has a non-adjustable trussrod. The model is still around as the Rogue RM-100A, which can be had new for $60.

So, I set out to find a mando with an actual trussrod (just on case)... but while not a top-of-line -- I'm primarily a guitar player though recent years have seen me more on bass, & mando is a stretch down the ol' list -- it'snot as though I'm living in a cardboard box, so I wanted something that'd make me want to PLAY it. And for some reason I've always loved the tone & feel of A-style oval-hole mandos. Plus, I just thing they look better in ANYTHING but sunburst.

And that's how I picked up a clearance Michael Kelly A-Solid, in tobacco sunburst, with F-holes.



Nah, just messing with you. Well... okay, so that REALLY IS what happened. The MK certainly has a sweet tone, & it's a THIN mando with hand-carved top & back. I certainly wouldn't hesitate to record with it.

(FWIW, they're blowing out the last 18 on for $195 delivered, which is about what they sell for used.)

And the thing is, I loved it so much that I decided to ALSO keep an eye open for a proper gig-worthy mando.

So, I happened to be scrounging around for Washie guitars, & happened to spot a used M1S going cheap. But, heck: sunburst, F-hole, & now I had a nice one, so I set that thought aside.

Going to a retail site, I soon found the M1SDL, oval-hole, in gloss black... with a Florentine-style headstock, an in-joke that kinda tickles me. While nowhere near the quality of an all-solid-wood 116 or 118, it's also (at $200) less than 1/3 their price. And if the pressed-arch top eventually gave up, I wouldn't feel so bad as about a carved-top.

Then a site that normally gouges (especially on shipping) had one in near-new condition for a shade over $100 delivered, I had to jump.

To my shocked delight, it showed up in a near-new soft-side case. :o

It's a bit more than 1/4" thicker than the MK, & the tone isn't quite as sweet, but it's distinctly louder, so it'll have a better chance of cutting through onstage.

And I think the tuners are distinctly BETTER than the MK's.

The only downer? While I really like having the pickplate, its bracket is misinstalled, with the screw a good 2 mm further from the edge than it should be. If I'd got this new ($199), I'd likely have returned it; as is, I'll gladly live with it until I get the urge to fill-&-drill (the bracket will hide the off-center hole).

The model is all decked out in gold hardware. Besides black, t's available in red or blue as well. The blue is kinda funky (unless you're a Buckaroo) but the deep transparent red seems quite pretty.

If you're in the market for a mando to expand your repertoire, I've gotta highky recommend the M1SDL.

Discuss Basses and Bass Playing / great Washburn basses for CHEAP
« on: November 22, 2015, 12:37:32 PM »
No faint idea as to WHY, but a lot of sellers are totally blowing out Washburn-branded basses, particularly on Here's a few that catch my eye -- this is just from the "under $500" listings. :o Prices INCLUDE shipping.

red XB-200 P/J, $185

lightly beat-up '81 Scavenger, $235

aqua XB-600, $350

Tausrus T-24, $355

T-25, $340

black Hammerhead, $354

sweet CB-14, $558

two US-made XB-900 --
soapbars, w/HSC, $494
P/J, w/bag, $535

A pair of last-minute Guitar Center additions for the 900 --
StingRay-type two-coil pickup & circuitry, $440
unknown, but for $380...

REMEMBER: if you snag one of these, POST PHOTOS. ;D

N Series (Nuno Bettencourt) / What about the NX3?
« on: November 05, 2015, 10:54:23 AM »
I was offered a Nextar for $250. Yeah, I know it's not actually "a Nuno guitar," but close enough as makes no difference to heathens like me. And before anyone says it, MIK.

While I've long admired the Stephen's, I'm not a widdly-widdly player & spend most time around frets 5-14. And I'm not gigging so much these days, so there's plenty of frets around the house already.

Adding to the fog, I've seen these (non-reverse head is a giveaway) referred to as "NX2" & "N3" -- are there any such animals?? ::)

Any info appreciated.

The first Washburn instrument I owned was a beat-up XB-400 bass. I was totaly blown away by the active pickup system -- liked it so much, I bought a couple more.

But like guitars from B.C. Rich or PRS or similar makers with good-quality midrange electrics, I see posts all over the internet totally savaging the stock pickups. Compared to other companies, there's less griping about "designed"pickups; you know, "Duncan Designed" or "EMG Designed" or "Select" or whatever, which I often find to be MORE disappointing in tone than if the Big Name had been left off.

It's a given that NOBODY loves the "Egnater"- & "Randall"-branded pickups. Someday I hope to send a set off to a winder I know for a full-on autopsy, to determine why they exceed in suck.

The "Shaman" pickups are rarer, used only in a few models. While I haven't done a clinical side-by-side, the s-s-s Shaman set in my X-33 seem to respond well through my solid-state (non-DSP) Fenders.

No idea what the covered h-h set in my WI-66V are, but again, they work for me, with no glaring faults.

(INTERESTING NOTE: digging through the Official Washburn Pricelist archive, I note that the BT-3 (listed only for 1997 & 1998) is said to have WB 200 Series Humbuckers. Huh. :o Being it's one of the EIGHTEEN Washie models EVER made with an s-s-s config, I'm inclined to doubt the published "facts" here.)

Higher-end Washies simply gravitate either toward Seymour Duncan (Custom Custom, '59, Pearly Gates) or EMG.

But mid-range branded "W" pickups (like the 621/623 set) seem to get a little less flak than the Eliminators. In fact, I see less griping about the "200 Series" (as usedon cheap-end Mavericks in the '90s) than about generic "600 Series."

But I have certainly paid more for comparable-quality guitars with worse pickups. Sure, I suspect that some of the griping about how"the first thing I did was get rid of those crap pickups" is to justify the fact that the Washie kicked butt against their Gibson LP or JEM or whatever.

And sad experience has proven to some old-timers like me that if you LIE, tell a customer that the beat-up pickups in your guitar are actually first-gen PAFs, more than half of the players will rant on & on about how wonderful the tone is... even if they're actually a fresh no-name set you just got from Hong Kong for $10 (shipped). Given the eBay resale prices of "Duncan Designed" HBs, many players certainly seem to value hoodoo over actual objective response. :(

What do the Washburn Fans think?
Are there any "W" pickups you really enjoy?
Is it more a matter of playing style/amp/effects than of niggly pickup specs?
Maybe you've had a guitar where putting in a used Big Name pickup -- that cost you <$50 used -- substantially raised the price you got when you resold the axe? (I certainly have done that, using a $40 Bartolini to get another $150 out of the deal.)
Has anyone ever made a change only to find that the stock pickup actually suited the axe better than the $150 Big Name replacement?

Idol Series / WI-66V: first impressions
« on: October 14, 2015, 10:07:32 PM »
Like I need another guitar... but, for $200 (+s/h), I couldn't run away fast enough. Korea 2002, in a lovely burgundy (or whatever the hell it was called that season) & thick-bound top -- too bad those wing inlays ain't abalone, but wtf. :(

Sure, it's got a 1" ding above the jack; a nick on the back of the horn, too. And the nut has never been properly cut to height, with the high E taller than the B.

This is my first Idol, though I've been hoping to try one for a few years. I prefer Tele over (full-size) Strat, & the Idol body seemed to be a well-engineered melding of Tele & LP.

I've never been a big fan of the Les Paul due to weight issues, while I've had much affection for the SG. My first impression is that the 64V feels like an SG (though hanging much better!) but looks much like a flash LP. In fact, I'd say it adds some of the classic LP's richness to the SG leanness.

The twist here is the vibrato, a modified synchro style. The externals appear to be the same as used on the X-33, with extra metal on top surrounding the slugs on three sides. (I really wish, though, that this had been gold-plated, because that's a large chunk of bright chrome in the midst of all that color!) Though this unit adds some metal, the spring & block routs take out a big chunk of mahogany, making the 66V even more of a hybrid, with similarity to the modern chambered-body LP.

While the tremolo looks really good, it's using the little weedy pot-metal tone block that hassomehow become the standard for just about every inexpensive guitar on the market. Not difficult OR expensive for me to replace with brass or real steel, this does make me wonder how many similar Washburns got similarly short shrift. I mean, as an after-market mod it's $25 or even less, so when you're selling something like the 66V with MSRP $1K, maybe either eat the added $10/unit, or add that to the wholesale price.

And the pots are teensy, albeit Alpha. I don't want to mess with the VCC, but the volume knobs might get a full-size upgrade -- the good news being that the rout is generous. And the three-way switch looks moderately robust, &hasn't been overused on mine,so it's probably got plenty of life remaining.

It's got the BFTS, but as the guitar was clearly NEVER fully set up in the first place, any such artsy-fartsy niggliness is rendered entirely moot. Then again, that decal DOES bump resale value a few bucks.

NEXT: spending a few hours running the VCC through a few amps, to see why so many people just absolutely WHINGE about it. 8)

I was shopping online, spotted a few nice BT-prefix Mavericks, & it only now occurs to me to ask who the HECK the original guitar was named after. :o

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