After 137 years in the business, Washburn has mastered the craft of constructing affordable acoustic guitars that offer great tones and hassle-free playability. Check out our review of the best Washburn acoustic guitar offerings in 2020!
George Washburn Lyon and Patrick Healy came together in 1883 to setup Washburn Guitars in Chicago, America, with the common goal to build high-quality stringed instruments. Almost a century and a half later, this all-American manufacturer has grown into a well-established brand that has its own fan following and an equitable brand recognition across the world. Their instrument catalog boasts of stringed instruments like acoustic guitars, mandolins, banjos, ukulele, acoustic basses and electric guitars.
As far as acoustic guitars go, Washburn offers a wide range of products that feature everything from bare-bones beginner friendly acoustics, medium-range work horses to first-grade studio and stage ready acoustic-electric guitars. Based on the design and construction, these instruments are allocated to a series like the Woodline, Heritage, Festival, Bella Tono, Comfort, and many others.
Don’t get confused by the names. Allow me to explain how it works. The nomenclature like WCG25SCE lists out the specs of the guitar. WC stands for Washburn Comfort Series. G stands for Grand Auditorium (the size of the guitar). The number is the model number from the series and can wary. C means cutaway and E refers to the fact that is acoustic-electric (it has electronics). Another example would be the C5CE, this means it is a 5-series Classical Cutaway with Electronics.
We have handpicked some of the best guitars among various price brackets while keeping guitarists at all levels in mind. Whether you are a rank novice or up and coming songwriter, you can find yourself a high quality instrument that matches your skill and budget.
Table of Contents
#1 Washburn Rover RO-10 Travel Acoustic Guitar, Red
- Body type: Solid Spruce Top with Mahogany Body
- Wood: Mahogany
- Neck/Frets: Mahogany Neck with 18 Frets
- Electronics: N/A
- Inbuilt Tuner: N/A
- Gig Bag: Deluxe Gigbag
The Rover is, as Washburn likes to put it, the ultimate in travel guitar offerings in today’s market. It is designed for one specific purpose – to accompany you wherever you go with the lightest possible footprint on your luggage. All Rover travel guitars are constructed with a solid Spruce (yes, Solid!) top and laminate mahogany back and sides and ship with a deluxe gigbag. Considering that it retails for less than $250, I think that itself seals the deal for most customers. The gig bag is durable and convenient to carry. The backpack-straps from the gigbag are detachable and can be stored away.
The Rover body shape is quirky and unique and yet it somehow manages to pack a punch when it comes to tone. Now, keep in mind, we aren’t talking about anything extraordinary. This guitar is designed and priced for portability – to provide a reasonable instrument while on the go. There is nothing exemplary about the treble oriented tone. The lows are nothing to write home about and you are unlikely to use this for a serious gig or performance. But when you strum this petite thing at a campfire, you will turn heads and get everyone to sing along just fine.
It is a slim and playable neck that gets the job done. It is available in a red, black and natural matte finish. The economical engineered wood fretboard houses 18 frets with offset dot inlays. There is no option of on-board electronics or in-built tuner on any version. It will be best to leave the strap on this guitar because the shape makes it hard to get a comfortable grip as you would with a dreadnought guitar. The only other options that can compete with the Washburn Rover in weight and size are the Martin Backpacker Guitar and Traveller Guitar’s Ultra-Light Series. The Rover seems to beat the two in price and is comparable in terms of tone and construction.
In conclusion: The Washburn RO10 is the ultimate choice for a guitar you can carry along while hiking, backpacking or travelling. This inexpensive guitar edges out the competition with a full-sized neck, a solid spruce top, reasonable projection and value for money.
- Portability, Playability and Price
- Solid Spruce Top for an Under $250 Guitar
- Full-sized Fretboard
- Deluxe Gig Bag included
- A Clear Winner in the Travel Guitar Market
#2 Washburn C5CE Classical Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Natural
- Body type: Classical with Flat-Cutaway
- Wood: Spruce Top with Catalpa Body
- Neck/Frets: Mahogany neck, 19 frets
- Fretboard: Engineered Wood
- Electronics: EVT Preamp with Volume
- Inbuilt Tuner: Yes
- Gig Bag: No
The C5CE is a modern sounding classical acoustic guitar with a single flat-cutaway and a layered Spruce top. The Catalpa used for the back and sides is a cost-effective laminate that is similar to spruce in terms of the tones it produces. The Mosaic rosette is simple yet elegant and the body finish has a deep orange hue instead of a natural wood finish.
The 25.5” scale of the mahogany neck houses 19 frets and the back of the neck has a satin-finish that makes it easy to grip chords and shift up and down the neck. In case you are wondering, the neck material is called engineered wood. It generally refers to blackwood or similar lumbers that are used to keep production costs down. They are generally inferior to rosewood, ebony and other materials used for fretboards. The fretboard seems to do a reasonable job for the price and there isn’t any merit in comparing it to premium wood fretboards, especially in an entry-level guitar.
The overall tone of the C5CE is resonant with a fairly balanced sound profile. Despite the laminate Catalpa body, the Washburn C5CE manages to produce warm lows and clear highs. The guitar rings with an assertive projection and pleasing resonance as you fingerpick it. The fingernail tones really bring out the sharper and more shimmer-y traits of the instrument.
The EVT electronics do a surprisingly decent job of retaining most of that tone pleasantly when you plug it into an amp or a PA system. However, it can sound listless if you play it with a plectrum or if you play higher register notes. The bass also loses most of its warmth when plugged-in. But keeping the price range in mind, it offers a reasonable tone that can be used with some minor adjustments.
In conclusion: The Washburn C5CE is a great beginner classical guitar for students and intermediate guitar players looking for a moderately priced instrument. The quality-to-cost ratio makes it a desirable entry-point into a vastly different world of nylon-string guitars.
- Satin-finished Neck is Fast and Playable
- A Good Entry Level Classical Guitar For Beginners
- Good In-built tuner and workable preamp
- Modest price for reasonable quality
#3 Washburn Heritage Series WD10S, Natural
- Body type: Full-sized Dreadnought
- Wood: Solid Spruce Top with Mahogany Body
- Neck/Frets: Rosewood with
- Electronics: N/A
- Inbuilt Tuner: No
- Gig Bag: Yes
The WD10S is a full sized dreadnought acoustic guitar available in a natural finish that is a part of the Washburn Heritage Series. This lightweight acoustic guitar comes fortified with a solid Spruce top with a rosewood body and a mahogany neck. The quarter sawn scalloped Sitka spruce bracing is sturdy, much like the overall construction of the guitar. The tortoise scratch guard and Heritage rosette around the soundhole add an elegant touch to the natural gloss finish. It has the looks and sound of a high-class instrument.
Out of the box, the WD10S shows good intonation, medium-low action and instant playability. The neck is comparable to an electric guitar and satin finish on the back makes it easy to play quick licks and runs. The neck width and fret sizes are big enough to play barre chords and scales without any discomfort. It ships with a light gauge D’Addario EXP-16s that sound bright and enjoyable.
The guitar has an inherently sweet and pleasing tone that seems even across all strings. The solid Spruce top lends to it a qualitative ring that is complimented by the warmth of a rosewood body. The projection is loud and the overall tone has a fullness that no laminated top guitar can match. The frets are well finished and there is no noticeable fret buzz. The bass notes are deep/loud and compliment the richness of the highs. The sound quality is remarkably consistent while strumming, fingerstyle playing and Chet-picking while using a thumb pick. This basic model doesn’t include an onboard pickup or preamp. However, you can easily upgrade it with aftermarket parts or install a sound-hole pickup to plug it into an amp.
In conclusion: The Washburn WD10S is a solid choice for anyone looking for an entry-level guitar than can play as well as products twice the cost. It is a great practice instrument and can be a reliable backup guitar for professionals as well.
- Solid Spruce Top in an Entry Level Guitar
- Loud and clean project, balanced tone
- Sturdy construction and quality craftsmanship
- A league above other products in this price range
#4 Washburn Heritage Series HD20SCE Acoustic Guitar, Natural
- Body type: Dreadnought
- Wood: Solid Sitka Spruce Top with Pau Ferro Body
- Neck/Frets: Mahogany, 20 Frets
- Electronics: Fishman Presys 301T
- Fretboard: Ovangkol
- Inbuilt Tuner: Yes
- Gig Bag: No
The HD20SCE is the better-looking cousin of the classic dreadnought HD10S. Washburn has refined the previous design by adding a cutaway at the 14th fret and pairing a Solid Sitka Spruce top with Pau Ferro back and sides that are held together with a white plastic binding along the contours of the body. The mahogany neck is finished with satin on the back and topped with an ovangkol fretboard that houses 20 frets with dot inlays. As opposed to the usual chrome die-cast tuners, the HD20SCE arrives with swish-looking black ebonite tuners.
The HD20SCE sits in an overcrowded price bracket and manages to stand up to the competition with solid wood construction and high quality components like the ovangkol bridge, Graphtech Nubone nut and Cathedral peaked scalloped-X bracing. It ships with a light gauge D’Addario phosphor bronze strings and no gig bag. The intonation and setup is playable right out of the box and the fret work and body finish is immaculate. The neck is neither too thick nor too slender. It feels beginner friendly but it also has a sturdy feel.
As for tone, the guitar has all the bases covered with loads of volume, a powerful low-end and tone that retains a delicate sweetness even when you strum it hard. The projection is strong and resounding and there is a satisfying natural compression at loud volumes. The rich tone is beautiful to croon some jangly Bob Dylan numbers or playing fingerstyle blues.
The Fishman electronics aren’t standard in this price range and conclusively add more bang for buck to the instrument. It includes an under-saddle transducer that is controlled by a 3-band EQ and a Phase button. The tuner is well-lit and will provide sufficient visibility in low-light situations. It does a steady job of handling the tuning. Overall, this guitar seems a viable option for artists who perform at small/medium venues, open jams and coffeshop gigs.
In conclusion: This is a work-horse for the semi-pro guitarist that can find its way in the hands of a beginner who wants to buy a guitar for the long run. The sound quality and durability will ensure that this guitar serves its purpose and sticks around for a while.
- Spruce and Pau Ferro Tone Woods
- Top-shelf Hardware and Gold Finish
- Sounds majestic with lots of throw and projection
- +1 for Fishman Presys+ 301T pickup and preamp
#5 Washburn HD10SCE12 12-String Acoustic-Electric Guitar, Natural
- Body type: Dreadnought
- Wood: Sold Sitka Spruce Top & Mahogany Body
- Neck/Frets: Mahogany Neck with 20
- Fretboard: Ovangkol
- Electronics: Fishman Pre Sys Pickup & Preamp
- Inbuilt Tuner: Yes
- Gig Bag: No
Many acoustic guitarists are tempted to explore the enigmatic world of 12-string guitars but are held back by the cost. But how about a gorgeous 12-string acoustic guitar under $400 with a solid Sitka Spruce top and Rosewood back and sides? It may sound too good to be true but the HD10SCE12 offers that and so much more.
This dreadnought shaped guitar comes in a natural finish with a single cutaway for fret access up the neck. Though playing fast is hardly a consideration for 12-string guitars, the neck is inviting and the tone is pleasant. The mahogany neck is layered with an Ovangkol fretboard that houses 20 frets and is reinforced with a 2-way truss rod.
Right out of the box, the string action is medium-low and the intonation was decent. The guitar just needs a good tune to get started with strumming. 12-string guitars are notorious for needing constant and regular setups and I suspect this will need one in due time as well. However, the scalloped spruce bracing and overall construction seem solid. The saddle and nut are made from Graph Tech NuBone, which is common in most entry-level Washburn acoustic guitars. There is little to complain about as far as the fit and natural finish go.
The sound of the guitar has the quintessential chorus-like effect that 12-stringers are famous for. The lows lack some depth, the mids are warm and the highs have a pleasing chime-like quality about them. The guitar does a relatively decent job when plugged in. The stock Fishman Presys pickup is combined with a side-mounted preamp that includes a control panel to set bass, mid, treble, phase control, and master volume. The inbuilt tuner performs well under scrutiny, which will be handy for a quick retune between songs on stage. The chrome die-cast tuners and rosewood bridge seem sturdy as well. The headstock is a tad chunky and the overall sound is best suited for resounding strumming patterns.
In conclusion: The D10SCE12 is a judicious offering for people looking for a high-quality 12-stringer without breaking the bank.
- Solid Sitka Spruce Top
- Noteworthy Choice for Entry-Level 12 String Acoustic
- Good sustain and chiming highs
- Quality fit, finish and craftsmanship for price
#6 Washburn Bella Tono Allure SC56S, Natural Gloss (530)
- Body type: Wash Studio Shape w/ Cutaway
- Wood: Solid Spruce Top with Acacia Body
- Neck: Mahogany with 20 Frets
- Electronics: Barcus Berry Lx4
- Inbuilt Tuner: Yes
- Gig Bag: No
The Allure SC56S acoustic-electric guitar has a custom Washburn studio shape with a flat cutaway. The solid Spruce top is paired with solid Acacia back and sides and bound with abalone. It has a slender mahogany neck with a classy ebony fretboard that houses 20 frets. The other outstanding hardware features include the bone nut and ebony bridge, the abalone sound hole and premium die-cast gold 18:1 tuners. The overall construction and finish of the guitar are miles ahead of the price-tag.
The unique aesthetics of this guitar stand on the shoulders of stunning real Abalone purfling and maple binding on the body. Another standout feature is peculiar ‘turquoise island’ fingerboard inlays down the neck that includes an island and a seagull motif. However, if you find this too kitsch for your taste, you can opt for other subtle versions in the Bella Tono series.
This gentle guitar is a silo of authoritative projection that reverberates with a mellifluous brightness in the top end. Chords play with ample definition and licks sit perfectly well between clear attack and intriguing presence. The cutaway makes it easy to access the upper fretboard without any awkward stretching. The body shape/size is perfect for playing long sessions without any discomfort. It certainly sits ergonomically in the lap of a normal sized person.
The studio in the name is justified by the top-shelf electronics and flexible tone controls. Even plugged in it sings with the same punchy lows, focused mids and well-defined highs. Washburn decided to skip the Fishman’s and arm the SC56S with the ultra-cool Barcus Berry LX4 electronics package. The LX4 has a center detect system that allows your playing feel to cut/boost the frequencies. The onboard tuner is as good as they get and there is no boomy or boxy tone when plugged in.
In Conclusion: The Allure SC56S stands for serious consideration even among comparable models from big brands that are twice the price.
- Excellent Projection and Balanced Sound
- +1 For the Marvelous Barcus Berry Electronics
- First-Rate Hardware and Construction
- Unique Looks & Abalone Binding
- A Stand out product in this Price Bracket
#7 Washburn Comfort WCG25SCE Acoustic Guitar, Natural (849)
- Body type: Grand Auditorium
- Wood: Select Spruce Top with Mahogany body
- Neck: Mahogany, 19 Frets
- Electronics: Washburn Pickup/Preamp
- Inbuilt Tuner: Yes
- Gig Bag: Yes
The Grand Auditorium body shape is curvier and slightly tiny compared to the average dreadnought guitar. It is preferred for its rich lows and shimmering highs and the extra comfort on account of the reduced size. The WCG25SCE includes a Sitka Spruce top and Pau Ferro back and sides. The Spruce is a clear favorite among manufacturers for sheer resonance and flamboyant projection. The Pau Ferro, on the other hand, shares a tonal palette with the equally popular rosewood. The Venetian cutaway at the upper curve of the guitar’s body has a unique beveled armrest that is emblematic of the Comfort Series.
In addition, Washburn offers a premium bone nut for high-class sustain and the high-end 18:1 tuning pegs with black buttons. The hand-crafted scalloped-X body bracing allows the guitar to breathe freely and resonate better. This is the right guitar for those who want a versatile tone, smaller body size and premium components in an affordable package.
The natural tone of this guitar is better for players who like the bell-like chimes of Breedlove and Taylors. While the low-end is sufficient, it certainly doesn’t have the depth and warmth of Martin-like guitars. As far as electronics go, the Fishman Presys+ 501T is a common feature in many first-rate guitars. It has a piezo tucked under the bridge that can be adjusted to dial in some good warm/rich tones via the control panel. The control panel has a 3-band EQ with brilliance, notch and phase controls and a high-quality built-in tuner that works perfectly well. The guitar sounds good when plugged in, though the bass feels less pronounced and the tones sound a tad compressed.
In conclusion: As a flagship model of the Washburn Comfort Series, the WCG25SCE is the epitome of high-quality components at an affordable price. The distinct looks and classy finish make this guitar a good option for intermediate and advanced musicians.
- Spruce & Pau Ferro wood combination works well
- High Quality Electronics, Good Plugged in Sound
- Beveled Arm Rest is Very Comfortable
- Durable Construction and Quality Craftsmanship
A Final Word:
From jazz, metal, blues, folk, country to rock, Washburn offers an absolutely massive catalog of entry-level, medium-range and premium acoustic guitars that can accompany you in practice, on stage and in the studio. The legacy of famous artists who continue to use Washburn instruments includes the likes of Nancy Wilson, Rudy Sarzo, Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Dimebag Darrel, Marzi Montazeri, and many others.
Washburn guitars are built with quality components and great tone woods. They are one of the few brands that dare to offer Solid Sitka Spruce even in their entry-level models at ridiculously affordable prices. Besides, they have left-handed models like the HD10SLH and some extra-ordinary artist signature guitars like the Michael Sweet Signature Acoustic and the Nuno-Bettencourt Signature Acoustic-Electric Guitar. They also have an equally enthralling range of electric guitars that we hope to review and list out for you in the future.
That is it for our roundup of the best Washburn Acoustic guitars in 2020, happy hunting!